Editor’s Note: For an alternative viewpoint, please see: Point: Third Parties as Drivers of Change

Is it time for a third party? This is a question that gets asked every four years or so, but it is moot. Americans will have a third party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. The Libertarian Party is America’s third party. There will also be a Green Party candidate on the ballot in many, but not all states. So that’s four.

The real question to ask now is whether there is a hill of beans’ worth of difference between the two major parties. Maybe what we really need is a viable second party, because from any objective point of view the Republicans and the Democrats care about only one thing: the acquisition of power.

We really have a one party system at present. So what if it has two different wings that want slightly different outcomes.

They have taken great pains to present themselves as different animals, but for the last 60 years or so they have succeeded only in making the government bigger and more intrusive into the lives of American citizens. And they have done a brilliant job of crowding out any possible dissenting voices. How brilliant? “Minor party” candidates are not even allowed into the presidential debates unless they poll at 15 percent nationally. But their names are not included in the opinion polls that determine who gets in. Who set that system up? Republicans and Democrats.

Who says they can’t work together?

But it gets even worse. The major parties have managed to convince rank and file voters that a vote cast for anyone other than one of the two major party candidates is actually a vote for the other party. So typical Americans will not consider voting for the candidate of their choice because that would be “a vote for Hillary.” Or for Trump, if you prefer.

One party expands government by taking away people’s civil liberties. The other expands government by taking away people’s economic liberties. But they both expand government, and they are bankrupting the country.

No longer are we a nation of free people governed by constitutionally constrained laws. In 2015, federal regulatory agencies enacted more than 3,000 new rules and regulations. In that same year, Congress passed and the president signed only 150 new laws. Every step in the process that gave us those 150 new laws is controlled by voting. The people elect representatives to Congress. Congress votes for or against bills. The president, elected by the people, either signs or vetoes the bills.

But no step in the process that gave us those 3,000 new regulations is controlled directly by voting. Unelected bureaucrats simply enact regulations without any real accountability. And soon, everything not forbidden will be mandated.

Republicans and Democrats set this system up by working together.

Presidents often find the Constitution to be an impediment. But that’s a feature, not a bug. The Founding Fathers gave us an amendment process to bring the Constitution into consonance with the wants and needs of the people, but only through clear and convincing majorities. The amendment process is difficult for a reason. But when those in power get around constitutional constraints — whether by executive order, or delegating to regulatory agencies or creative interpretation — they take on the totalitarian power of tyrants.

This is what Republicans and Democrats working together have achieved.

The real question isn’t whether we need a third party. It is why we accept two parties that offer a distinction without a difference. They have, in their quest for power, aligned with each other, shredded the Constitution, and put the American people under their regulatory boots. The question, friends, is why you put up with it when there are options available right before you.

If you think that a “minor party” candidate cannot win, and thus cast your vote for a slightly more palatable version of the worst possible answer, then you are the problem. You are what allows Republicans and Democrats to run up an unpayable debt while simultaneously stripping you of your heretofore inalienable rights. And you will reap what you sow, as voters always do.

So if you vote for Hillary Clinton to keep Donald Trump out of the White House, or the reverse, you have guaranteed a victory for the status quo. And that’s exactly what the Republicans and Democrats want you to do.

It’s time we had a second party.