The two-party system in the U.S. page 2

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I do think America might be better off with more voices to chip in, but I don’t see how a 3rd,4th, 5th, etc party would get enough political influence to do much.

Here in England we have a bunch of extra parties, and they pretty much end up useless. It was a huge surprise Lib Dems even got in by collation, but they’ve been completely subservient to the Conservatives

 
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Minority parties do have an influence, even if they seldom get a candidate elected. Nigel Farage’s UKIP prevents the Conservatives from becoming too cosy with the deeply unpopular Brussels establishment. They could split the vote at election time and cost the Conservatives seats. This forces Cameron to listen a bit more to public opinion and a bit less to the centrist trendies at Conservative head office. THe BNP can have an influence in (usually working class) areas experiencing racial tensions, and can chew chunks out of the Labour vote especially. It makes Labour take a good look at their perceptions of and responses to the problem.

Personally I am very happy to see minority parties active at that level. They keep the big boys on their toes. I am, however, not so keen to see them flooding into Parliament. I’m not a fan of coalitions – just look at what we have got now, and you will understand why.

 
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the Republican and Democratic parties would crush the other parties because of their influence
it wouldn’t work under the current american political spectrum.

 
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Would you like to elaborate on that? If they pick the right battles, small parties can punch well above their weight. A small party can get by on public donations. If a small party was making waves in selected parts of America and existing on small contributions, how could the big parties crush them? Even if they made the changes demanded, the small party would choose another fight, and just keep nibbling away to get further changes. Do American parties rely solely on donations from big corporations?

 
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Originally posted by beauval:

Would you like to elaborate on that? If they pick the right battles, small parties can punch well above their weight. A small party can get by on public donations. If a small party was making waves in selected parts of America and existing on small contributions, how could the big parties crush them? Even if they made the changes demanded, the small party would choose another fight, and just keep nibbling away to get further changes. Do American parties rely solely on donations from big corporations?

yes but the Democratic and Republican parties can pull even bigger punches AND can crush any small party because most americans have never even heard of most of the smaller parties therefore the Republicans and Democrats will allways have an advantage.
Its also the media’s fault for not giving ANY attention to the smaller parties.

 
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Originally posted by WanderingHero:

I do think America might be better off with more voices to chip in, but I don’t see how a 3rd,4th, 5th, etc party would get enough political influence to do much.

Here in England we have a bunch of extra parties, and they pretty much end up useless. It was a huge surprise Lib Dems even got in by collation, but they’ve been completely subservient to the Conservatives

that’s because the British system is hardly any better than the American (if at all). although you don’t formally have a first-past-the-post system, in practice it’s nearly that. it’s a disproportional distribution, so it’s no wonder third parties don’t have as much influence as they should.

additionally, you don’t even have a constitution, which also doesn’t help. in the Netherlands, two third parliamentary (and senate) majority have to vote in favor to change anything in it. that way third parties can be very relevant.

you just don’t have a fluid system. try any of the other Germanic countries for a better example.

 
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Its also the media’s fault for not giving ANY attention to the smaller parties.

That problem has come up before here. In the UK, any party which contests above a certain number (can’t remember how many off hand, but it’s quite small) of seats in elections is entitled to free television time. And they do get the chance to have their say during televised debates and discussions. They can get opinion pieces published in the papers, get interviews on the radio, and so on.

We do seem to be more politically aware on this side of the Atlantic, and that’s not entirely the fault of the media. America really ought to do something about that.

that’s because the British system is hardly any better than the American (if at all). although you don’t formally have a first-past-the-post system, in practice it’s nearly that. it’s a disproportional distribution, so it’s no wonder third parties don’t have as much influence as they should.

Yes, it is disproportional, but it normally leads to one or other of the big two getting an overall working majority. Voters know exactly what kind of government they are voting for. My big problem with PR is that you never know what kind of compromises will have to be made in order to get a working government, and you end up with a flavour of government that nobody actually voted for.

Bills presented to the House have to go through all-party committees, so all members of Parliament get the chance to make their views known at some point, and can still have an influence on final outcomes. But our present coalition has resulted in too much wrangling over minor details, and the cracks are beginning to show.

There are pros and cons in all voting systems, but I think that by and large the British public is satisfied with the present system. But there are ways for minority parties to exert influence without having any members of Parliament.

 
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it normally leads to one or other of the big two getting an overall working majority. Voters know exactly what kind of government they are voting for. My big problem with PR is that you never know what kind of compromises will have to be made in order to get a working government, and you end up with a flavour of government that nobody actually voted for.

but that’s a compromise. everything is always a compromise, anyway. if you don’t have a coalition, all power goes to one party, and that’s further removed from what people voted. nobody agrees fully with one party, so the only way to not compromise is making yourself electable.

a coalition is closer to what people voted, because it’s the sum of a majority, than a winner take all, because that’s the sum of a largest minority (aka plurality).

 
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It seems to me that saying the US isn’t a two party system is kind of like saying we aren’t a capitalist country. Sure, we have a few social programs, but that does not mean we are not capitalists primarily.

It’s really just a semantical (if that’s a word?) argument. Our politics work out into a two-party system, but that doesn’t mean we absolutely have to be and it’s not unreasonable to think that eventually the two parties we have will be something other than Republicans and Democrats.

 
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Originally posted by Ketsy:
Originally posted by jhco50:
Originally posted by EPR89:

The US has a two party system?
I always thought the majority of the Americans think they have a two party system and complain about the limitations that come with it, when in reality they don’t.

Truth is beautiful. Explain it to them please.

I checked on it before I bothered to post the first time, and I checked a bit more. According to both Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica (or rather, what I can view of EB), America is a two party system.

It seems to me that saying the US isn’t a two party system is kind of like saying we aren’t a capitalist country. Sure, we have a few social programs, but that does not mean we are not capitalists primarily.

If two party system means something else, I would love a more reasonable source than wikipedia and a the fraction of EB I have access to.

It was hard to decide which post to answer, so I picked yours. :) We have a multi-party system, but as mentioned above, there are mainly just two who are really electable. We have several minor parties such as the green party, socialist party (Karma’s people), communist party. independents, libertarian, etc. I used to think the independents would be the way to vote, but they usually side with the democrats on most issues. The libertarians are interesting, but I really don’t know enough about their ideals. Other than this, the democrats and republicans are what most people side with. I am conservative and the democrats are way left to me. The republicans have become quite moderate since the Reagan era. Even the Bush’s were pretty moderate when you research them.

Voter turn out is interesting to me. It seems people get frustrated with the candidates put forth by the parties. Sometimes this just turns voters off and they refrain from voting. I disagree with this as I think it is the peoples voice and should be heard. This is not just a US phenomenon, it occurs in many other countries that have the right to vote. Even in the Netherlands you don’t have a 100% turnout.

Dark, the reason I am voting against Obama is because I am informed. I am aware of what his promises were and are. I am also aware of Romneys shortcomings. Neither candidate sends chills up my spine, but I don’t like being lied to. Obama has lied over and over and if you had access to his political ads you would know what I’m talking about. He can’t run on his handling of the economy and so he is running trash ads against Romney. Some trashing is expected but not to the level Obama is doing them.

 
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Originally posted by beauval:

Would you like to elaborate on that? If they pick the right battles, small parties can punch well above their weight. A small party can get by on public donations. If a small party was making waves in selected parts of America and existing on small contributions, how could the big parties crush them? Even if they made the changes demanded, the small party would choose another fight, and just keep nibbling away to get further changes. Do American parties rely solely on donations from big corporations?

You are pretty much correct. the Tea Party is a grassroots organization that is giving both the Dems and the Repubs panic attacks. The TP is conservative and even Romney has tried to stifle their voices. They just won’t go away though and both major parties can’t hold them down.

 
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We have a multi-party system, but as mentioned above, there are mainly just two who are really electable.

You don’t have a multiparty system if only two are electable. First-past-the-post makes bipartisanship inevitable, as seen in the United States.

I used to think the independents would be the way to vote, but they usually side with the democrats on most issues.

You seem to misconceive the definition of independent politicians. Independents do not officially side with either party. Admittedly, I can understand your viewpoint here currently with the two current independent senators who caucus with the Democrats, but that is just currently. Each independent politician is there to represent their own individual political views without party affiliation.

The republicans have become quite moderate since the Reagan era.

What, really? Quite the opposite, mate. Today Republicans base their ideals on religion, something Barry Goldwater (Republican presidential candidate in 1964) very much feared. Rick Santorum is the epitome of the Tea Party ideals and America’s present religiously-based political conservatism. Republicans base their ideology on religious morality, while at the same time ignoring some parts of the Bible. Moreover, they often today seem to forget the First Amendment declaring the separation of Church and State while spewing and misinforming by saying America was based on Christian values.

Dark, the reason I am voting against Obama is because I am informed.

You seem to forget the fact that Mitt Romney constantly changes his ideology. Albeit claiming to be more in favour of gay rights than Ted Kennedy in the 1990s when running for Senate, he is now openly homophobic and bigoted.

Why hasn’t Obama done anything? Wait, what? He has indeed done quite a bit. But something you seem to forget: the House of Representatives has been Republican-dominated since the 2010 midterm elections, thus not allowing the Democratic Party to pass much of its promises as they are being opposed by the Republicans, who then have the vitriol to criticise the Democrats for doing “nothing”.

Romney is inconsistent, and is untrustworthy because of his unpredictability. At any time Romney will change his ideology to better suit his campaign. Look at how he ran Massachusetts and what he bases his ideas on now. He was quite a liberal Republican when he was a governor. Why? Because that is the only manner in which he could have been elected in such a state. He passed healthcare laws for Massachusetts but is now against healthcare. I can outline many more of his inconsistencies.

He can’t run on his handling of the economy and so he is running trash ads against Romney.

I’ll give you that: Obama is running trash ads against Romney. However, that vitriolic tactic has been the Republican Party’s tactic for decades—to run attack ads against Democrats. They are currently doing that now, the same way the Democratic Party is doing in the presidential campaign, and denying that is simply ridiculous and delusional.


The main problem the United States faces today is the fact that the Constitution created the Electoral College through the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Even though this would initally not pose a problem and Thomas Jefferson proposed a new constitution to be crafted by Congress every seventeen or so years, the United States is too tied up on its Constitution. Changing the Constitution is indeed quite complex and needs unanimity. Of course, the Democrats and the Republicans will not agree to such a ratification of the Twelfth Amendment, as it will not allow them to continue their mutually beneficial bipartisanship wherein political power is guaranteed.

How can you get rid of that? Electing third party representatives and senators, or independents who do not side with either major party. Although in some state legislatures and municipal elections they have already changed the electoral system, such as in the San Francisco local elections where they use instant run-off voting instead of first-past-the-post. Instant run-off voting and other voting systems allow for a greater diversity of the electorate to be represented and heard; it allows for a true democracy to occur—wherein you vote for your own personal ideals as opposed to voting for the candidate you dislike the least.