James, Third Parties Don't Work Here
James Hall - From the Left
Sorry, James, but the American system of winner-take-all and independent elections
for the House of Representatives, the US Senate, and President of the United States all but guarantees that small parties
have no direct voice in government. American politics revolve around two political parties, one in existence since the Civil
War, and the other since Thomas Jefferson was elected president, and that's not likely to change, despite efforts by fringe
groups to make it so.
Yes, third parties can influence the election of one or the other of the major
parties, but they generally put in power the party most at odds with their own platform. Ex-Republican Teddy Roosevelt helped
elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson over Republican President Taft, the largely conservative Reform Party helped elect Bill Clinton
twice, and we now know that the Green Party put Arsenic George Bush in power over Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore. Punishing
the major party closest to your own ideology is hardly a good argument either for creating or supporting a third party, as
many voters have belatedly realized.
I'll grant that third parties can be an important place to gestate political
ideas. Teddy Roosevelt's progressive ideas gained a footing in subsequent legislation with his campaign as the candidate of
the Bull Moose Party. New York's long-standing Conservative Party has nurtured ideas for Republicans, while most recently
Ross Perot and the Reform Party created support for a balanced budget and campaign finance reform, ideas accepted in different
forms by both major parties.
But people don't join third parties to develop ideas for the Big Two, James.
They join them because they're dissatisfied with the Big Two. Sadly for these people and their small parties, they've always
failed to budge the two major parties, who are more successful than ever these days. Virtually every politician in most state
governments and in Washington these days is a Republican or Democrat, with those who aren't often affiliating with the major
parties to get things done.
Plenty of people are disgruntled by the major parties, but even more people
are simply disinterested in politics in general. Critics like James argue that the nearly half of Americans who don't vote
are just waiting for the right third party to come along to get their support. Balderdash! Third parties abound in America,
from the secessionist Southern Party, Reform Party, to the Libertarians to the Greens, Socialist Workers Party, and Communists.
There are even parties for those who want to legalize marijuana or encourage us all to practice meditation.
The hard fact for James and other third party advocates to grasp is that most
American non-voters are simply satisfied with the status quo. Nearly half don't care whether the White House has a Republican
or Democrat in it; and many others cheerfully split their ticket to keep the government balanced between the two major parties
in the middle of the road. When more Americans than usual show up to vote, it's usually against a candidate who pushes the
country too far to the left or to the right.
Republican and Democratic politicians understand this, and most of them refuse
to be drawn into divisive, partisan conflicts. Yes, there are some ideological hot-buttons that divide the two major parties,
mostly because of their different core constituencies. We know them well--Republicans support privatization of government
programs, defense, pro-life laws, and strict constructionism in the judiciary; Democrats support continued government programs,
pro-choice positions, the environment, affirmative action and judicial activism.
But two party conflict often resembles a World War I battlefield--the battle
lines are drawn, the trenches are dug, and both sides sally forth to engage in hand to hand combat. Yet nobody wins the battle,
not to mention the war, and the lines don't shift about all that much. That's the way most voters like it, too; or they would
have changed things a long time ago.
If we were a parliamentary democracy, with everything depending on a single
vote for one party seat, we'd have a single government under one party (as in Britain), or perhaps a coalition of parties
(as in Israel) with various ideologies, held together by the desire to govern and grab a slice of the governmental pie. But
we don't. Our system works well with a choice of two parties. We can split our tickets and elect people who largely govern
from the center with strong forays to the left and to the right occurring at each party's political risk.
At best, third parties remain the refuge of disgruntled outsiders, the political
fringers of left and right, the largely irrelevant. That's what most Americans want, and what they've got.
James, if you think that a Third Party is going to suddenly come out of
the woodwork and challenge the Big Two, then it's you who are living in Fantasyland. You suggest that non-voters are Dopey;
I think they're disinterested. Plenty of quality third parties with well-established ideologies exist in America today, but
Republicans and Democrats meet the needs of the average American, and no third party has come close to challenging in 150
Both major parties do a good job of representing the interests of their
core constituencies on the left and the right and reach out to moderates in the middle where common ground can often be found.
That leaves little political ground left for a third party to stake out. Ideologues like you and I may fight over the issues,
but the average Joe is satisfied enough with things as they are. He regards going to the polls as a waste of his time. Or
he thinks that things won't change, regardless of how he votes, which is essentially the same thing.
Yes, there are frustrated and unhappy Americans out there like you, who
hate the Big Two. If there were enough of you, and if all the Americans who don't vote were of like mind, then you'd be in
position to create a truly dominant third party in America. But there aren't, and you can't. For now, third parties remain
the refuge of outsiders and disgruntled losers. And only winners get invited to enjoy Disney World, James.
James, from the Left
The Meaning of Third Parties in America
Since the Nation was formed as a Republic, underlying principles of Democracy have been hailed as the bedrock
expression of authority. The practice of one man, one vote; evolved into the basis of legitimacy, as the consent of the citizen
was registered for their form of government. With the creation of political parties, the organization of public power was
instituted. Parties became the repository for election seekers to gain office. They also developed into organizations where
patronage was gained, policies could be influenced and access to political favors could be secured. The duopoly rivalry that
emerged over the centuries, grew from the reality of being 'in or out' of power, more than deep seeded ideological principles.
For in its bare raw brute reality, politics is about power. How you get it, what you do when you have it, and how you keep
For those who are motivated by causes and philosophy, the either or nature of the majority and the loyal opposition
have been wanting. Ideas don't always trump self interest. When both parties fail to heed the call for reforms, the most committed
or the naive, form competing parties. Seldom has a third party gained widespread office that is so necessary to implement
the policies that are the fundamental reason why the new organization was created. Why is this? Certainly, it is not because
the ideas for reform or change in direction of policies don't have merit. Quite to the contrary. Examples for Third Party
platforms being integrated into the majors over time, are plentiful. So what is the motivation for establishing a new party?
Third Parties are forged out of frustration! If changes were deemed practical from within, the need to organize
from without, would not be necessary. And if the political aspirant sought solely, access to the levers of influence; surely,
the path would be through one of the major parties. But how does all this play with the electorate? Most citizens historically
have desired to live peaceful lives with the least government intervention. But over the last century, the proper role between
the individual and society has transformed into a relationship that our Founding Fathers would hardly recognize.
If elections are an expression of consent, why is turn out so low for Third Parties? And if discontent was
heightened, why are there not more Third Parties? The answer lies in the election returns. The fact that a majority of eligible
voters no long take part in the process speaks volumes of their support. The public is stating their choice loud and clear:
"NONE of the ABOVE". This is the Third Party that wins the election. When the public deems that there is no 'real' difference
between the two parties and that their self interests cannot be furthered with their vote, the electoral system breaks down.
Yes, the public is frustrated; but they conclude that their vote will never, effectively, change the status quo among the
choices that are available. Their lack of participation, should not be misread as satisfaction for the current condition.
The solution to implement meaningful reform is to defuse the political power that is presently concentrated
within the 'Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee' parties. The notion that differences between them are based upon core principles,
denies the unending descent into 'collectivism'. The edges have varied shapes, but the centers are formed from the same sponge.
The pace descends a little slower under Bush, but the slope is still downward. Education is on the road to
Federal control, is but one example that the direction of government has not been reversed. In a two way race, Nader votes
would win Florida and New Hampshire for Gore, with 296 electoral votes. Yes, Third Parties shape political realities! Not
only have they played the role of spoiler, but they infuse intensity and passion into the debate. Compromise is the true art
of politics. It is the natural order for decisions. And Third Party pressure demands that detours be taken, on the road that
marches into the abyss.
If democratic principles are the rule for governance, what more clear voice
do you need to hear than the majority who reserves their consent for the current drop of politicians? When the people, finally
awaken from their long lethargy; they will conclude that shared power in the legislative process is their best chance for
representation. The time is long overdue, that Third Parties become a permanent fixture to American Politics. Without competition,
you are doomed to elite arrogance. For those who resign themselves to the lessor of two evils, you choose your own bondage.
Resistance to tyrants is your duty. And voting for a Pat Buchanan, with limited odds of victory, has more honesty than casting
a ballot against the one most hated.
This many not be marketable advice for a political consultant, but the
election record has not exactly bestowed legitimacy to the process in a very long time. The choice is yours, isn't that what
a vote is all about?
James Hall - aka SARTRE
The Philistine nature of the public is evident in their blindness to the
political choices. Now you are contending that this ineptness is confused with satisfaction? It would seem that there is a
similarity between their plateau of sophistication and the elevation in the area where you reside. The Magic Kingdom may rest
on flat land, but that is no reason for your confusion to rest at that level! The history of Third Party successes is NOT
the issue. The reality that NO 'real' choice currently exists IS the dilemma. And to say that people are just disinterested
in politics, is to treat the public with even more disdain than I.
The hot sunshine bakes the brains of many of your neighbors, but even 'Goofy'
recognizes that all is not well in Never-Never Land . . . To equate resignation with glee is a serious miscalculation. You
are 'thinking within the box', and seek to equate a content docile sheep with an over fed sow. Both go to the slaughter pen
and are butchered by the same device. The Democrats and The Republicans are that machine, and the voter is the last to know!
You have them 'whistling while you work', all the way to their demise.
By your standards of apathy, you have the public all eating the poison
apple. The witch is a queen for you, and the prince is your officeholder. Are you so sanguine with his kiss that you accept
comfort as a substitute for consent? Must it take a catastrophe to force fundamental reform upon the political aristocracy?
It will never happen, on its own; from within the two carbon copies of these same 'mirror, mirror on the wall', impressions.
If you contend that all is well, you must be one of those 'fun loving sort' of Americans that want it this way! But for me,
I would rather call them by the name that we all know him by; Dopey. So rethink your position, for this tale will not live
happily ever after, as long as America has but one political party, with two reflected images; the Queen and the Witch.
James Hall - 'The Right'