Third Party Poltics

There are three things that stand out when looking at the third party issue.  The first is the obstacles preventing progress are so overwhelming they seem insurmountable.  The second is they have no chance without campaign finance reform and election rule changes.  The third is the time is more ripe for a viable third party since they were effectively throttled in the mid nineteenth century.  

I checked out a book written by Micah Sifry, titled, “Spoiling for a Fight, Third Party Politics in America” (copyright 2002), which presents an excellent overview of third party history in this country, efforts by Ross Perot, John Anderson, Ralph Nadar, Bernie Sanders, and the problems and possible solutions for third party success.…

“Public opinion surveys since the 1990s consistently have shown a high level of popular support for the concept of a third party. But in spite of such support for a third party, these parties face many obstacles. The most significant is the fear among voters that if they vote for a third-party candidate, they, in effect, will be “wasting” their votes. Voters have been shown to engage in strategic voting by casting ballots for their second choice when they sense that a third-party candidate has no chance of winning.”

However, if you want to get back at the democrats, especially those who’ve betrayed us.

“There is evidence that third parties can have a major impact on election outcomes. For example, a third-party candidate might draw more votes away from the candidate of the party more closely aligned with the position of the third-party candidate, thus enabling the other party to win the election – often without receiving a majority of the vote.”

Part of the problem is the inability of third parties to secure the experienced, prestigious candidates necessary for public attention.  

“There is a striking difference between the political backgrounds of major and minor party candidates. Nearly all (97.2 percent) of the 72 major party presidential nominees between 1840 and 1980 had held the post of president, vice-president, U.S. senator, congressman, governor, military general, or cabinet secretary. Less than 20 percent of the minor party candidates had attained these positions.  By now the reason for this disparity should be clear. The biases against third parties created by the single-member-district plurality system and ballot access restrictions, as well as their disadvantages in organization, resources, and media coverage, all effectively discourage qualified candidates from running under a third party label. Well-known, prestigious candidates know that a third party effort will be hopeless and can end their political careers. Only extraordinary circumstances will push established politicians (and voters) into a third party camp.”

Can you imagine if Obama had run as an independent, with enough money to present the same messages he did during his democratic campaign.   Can a third party get enough quality candidates and support that could counter the two party duopoly?

“All of these constraints, of course, are interrelated. The single-member-district plurality system discourages high caliber candidates from running outside a major party; if a weak candidate runs, he will attract few campaign resources, ensuring that most citizens will learn very little about him. This in turn reinforces the belief that the third party candidate cannot win, so citizens will not waste their votes on him. The weak electoral performance is self-perpetuating. People expect third parties to do poorly because they have always  done poorly, so only weak candidates run-and the cycle continues.”

Which brings it to us and people like us.

“Together these barriers, handicaps, and major party strategies raise the level of effort required for a voter to cast his ballot for an independent candidate. A citizen can vote for a major party candidate with scarcely a moment’s thought or energy. But to support a third party challenger, a voter must awaken from the political slumber in which he ordinarily lies, actively seek out information on a contest whose outcome he cannot affect, reject the socialization of his political system, ignore the ridicule and abuse of his friends and neighbors, and accept the fact that when the ballots are counted, his vote will never be in the winner’s column. Such levels of energy are witnessed only rarely in American politics.”

We are of the rare people.

The plutocratic two party system forced on the American people is a machine that may be too large to seriously challenge.  As Sifry stated in his conclusion, “There are no shortcuts”.  Creating a third party that can compete on the national stage and have influence on the key issues we face will take serious, long term efforts at the local and state levels resulting in elected candidates at all levels.  Without that, the corporate owned duopoly won’t be particularly concerned.  


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    • Underdog on October 17, 2009 at 04:57

    over the last few hours becoming an expert on this. 🙂

  1. Just saying.

    • Inky99 on October 18, 2009 at 05:17

    about anybody’s opinion about what’s realistic and what isn’t.   Who cares?   Right now we have One Party Rule.    So any “third” party will actually be a second party, not a third one.

    If you doubt me, check this out:

    One of the most sickening things I’ve ever seen:

    Change We Can Believe In: Obama Honors George H.W. Bush for Public Service

    George H.W. Bush is one of the most evil men to ever walk the face of the earth.  His father was even worse.   His son was a nothing but a tool of his empire, and so is his other son.    These people are monsters.

    They are monsters.

    And there’s Obama, yukking it up with him, and “honoring” him as any good Uncle Tom should.

    Disgusting to no end.

    So someone tell me again how we have “two” parties in this country?

    We most certainly do not.

    So I don’t really give a rats ass about anybody telling me how we should support Dems, how Nader was a spoiler, anything like that, we do NOT have two parties right now, our Constitution has been SCRAPPED by the son of this evil motherfucker in these pictures, millions of people have been butchered by these monsters, and we have people telling me “it’s not realistic” to have a new party?

    Who cares?  FUCK that.    Don’t insult my goddamn intelligence with that kind of SHIT.

    Right now we have NOTHING.    People like us, people who are not in the cabal of gangsters who took over this country, we have NOTHING.

    So if we start a new party, at least we’ll have something.

    • rossl on October 18, 2009 at 18:38

    And I think a lot of people on Docudharma might benefit from checking it out once it gets up-and-running in the next year or so.  They’re hoping to have a lot of local and congressional candidates next year.

    What they’re doing is getting as many existing statewide progressive parties to join in their effort as possible so that they starting off with a small base of supporters and they don’t have to fight to get on the ballot in a bunch of states.  Basically, they’re lessening the work load for getting started.  Off the top of my head, these are the parties that I’m pretty sure are joining in the effort:  Minnesota Open Progressive Party, Vermont Progressive Party (most successful third party in the nation, closely associated with Bernie Sanders), Oregon Progressive Party, Maryland Populist Party.

    Hopefully they can avoid the traps the Green Party fell into.

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