Do You Think a Third-Party Will Get Into Office Anytime Soon?

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We know the two major parties: Democrats and Republicans, and general disputes between them. We don’t hear about other political parties in the U.S. as much, though. These parties include the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party (as well as many relatively minor third-parties).

These parties are generally ignored. They do not have formal debates with the other candidates like Democrats and Republicans do. The media rarely does any coverage on them, if not never. They haven’t won presidency since Millard Fillmore (13th president) under the Whig Party (a no longer existing party) in 1850 to 1853. That means it’s been shy of 170 years since an Independent party was president (although quite a few made it into Congress). Will that number turn into a 0 anytime soon?


I think that a third-party will only make it if there’s a really significant change, both in the U.S. and outside of it. Examples would be a huge war, media coverage, arising problems, etc. Either that, or when people grow tired of the donkeys and the elephants.


Brief Description on Libertarians and Greens:

Libertarians are on the right-wing, generally conservatives that have come to disapprove of Republicans. They believe in liberty, anti-war, and civil rights.

Greens are on the left-wing, generally liberals that have come to disapprove of Democrats. They believe in the environment (as top priority) and progressivism.

These two third-parties are sometimes predicted to, eventually, be the "future" of the political spectrum, taking over Democrats and Republicans. These two parties are also, for the most part, not hostile to one another, due to them both disapproving the two major parties. Will the future some talk about ever come?

 
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“Into Office” is very broad. The Green Party is currently in one state legislature and has been in a few in its history. It’s been in other offices too, such as the current mayor of Richmond, California, a city with over 100,000 population. It’s slowly building up.

However, for many the Green Party’s, as well as the Libertarian Party’s, views are much too radical. What is necessary is a centre-left party (since both major parties are currently centre-right and right).

Nevertheless, all this is impossible when most people don’t bother to learn about other political parties; as well as the current first-past-the-post electoral system. Alternative vote or something similar is necessary so people aren’t “throwing away their vote” by voting third party.

Also, it always seems odd to me that in most elections at smaller levels when it’s either a Democrat or a Republican without one of their bipartisan enemies against a small party such as the Libertarians and Greens or other such parties, the Democrats or Republicans always win. Republicans end up voting Democrat instead of a third party when there is no Republican candidate and viceversa. This is bizarre. I can give examples of this.

What is necessary is for Libertarians and Greens to run seriously for Congress. This year, to the sadness of many, Ron Paul chose to not run and thusly will be replaced next year by a generic Texan Republican. But in a congressional district that voted for a libertarian decades-straight, why didn’t the Libertarians simply put millions into that congressional election? I’m sure they can, but they just don’t. Also, I’m sure San Francisco, liberal as it is, could have a Green congressman or congresswoman. The Green Party ought to invest in the 2014 election in that district because they actually have a chance there. The same way a suburb of Vancouver and Melbourne voted Green in first-past-the-post elections, San Francisco is liberal enough to do the same. But nope, let’s spend millions on Jill Stein and Gary Johnson to “send a message” which is ultimately useless and easily forgettable. Disappointing it is.

 
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Will the future some talk about ever come?

I doubt it. Historically, whenever a third party garnered enough support, their views were absorbed into one of the main party’s platforms.
It only makes sense, the two main parties wouldn’t want to lose votes, so they incorporate views to regain votes.



Also, technically speaking, it is highly doubtful that a Third Party Nominee would become President at any point for quite some time.
To become President, they would need 370 Electoral Votes.
Electoral Votes are given entirely to nominees who win an entire state, by relative majority..
So if a Third Party wins 15-20%, which is a large amount, and Main party wins 40% their vote would count for nothing in the Electoral College.
Furthermore, it’s against the laws in most states for Electors to vote against their state on the first vote.


So not much will happen in the way of third parties for President.
They’re too small to impact the Electoral Colleges vote, unless laws change, and if they get too big, they are absorbed.

 
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Last week I was chatting to an American medical student who frequents the same fish and chip shop in London that I do, and I asked him about the electoral college system, since it got a fair bit of negative feedback on this forum. Although he thought it is outdated, his main gripe was about the superPACs. His view is that nothing will change in American politics until they are outlawed. They have far more power and influence than is good for the American people, and no interest in politics beyond promoting their own vested interest groups, i.e. the corporations or the unions.

So I did a bit of reading, and it seems to me that while small parties or independents may do relatively well in local elections, when it comes to competing in the big league, they haven’t got a hope on account of the huge sums that the superPACs can spend in order to retain the status quo.

 
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I think that a third-party will only make it if there’s a really significant change, both in the U.S. and outside of it. Examples would be a huge war, media coverage, arising problems, etc. Either that, or when people grow tired of the donkeys and the elephants.

While not President, VT Sen. Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist and has been one of their Senators for quite some time. Jessie Ventura was an independent Governor of MN. The current Governor of RI is an Independent.

Non two party candidates have received either governorships or federal posts before and will continue to do so. I submit that a regional candidate that isn’t a Republican or a Democrat (for instance, a Southern Republican running in 20 years could sweep the South) and at the very least throw the Presidency to the House.


So I did a bit of reading, and it seems to me that while small parties or independents may do relatively well in local elections, when it comes to competing in the big league, they haven’t got a hope on account of the huge sums that the superPACs can spend in order to retain the status quo.

The problem has more to do with individual contribution limits than it does superPACs (which aren’t even PACs, nor or they super). Third parties have to spend such large portions of their money just on name recognition alone, let alone trying to explain why their own views are better than what the GOP/Dems are throwing out there. If contribution limits are eliminated (as they should be), a third party can get larger contributions (say, $5m+) and would be able to compete financially with the two major parties.

 
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I see that Karl Rove is known as ’Bush’s brain’, which is a bit of a backhanded compliment to say the least.

But in your example he still scored a million dollars worth of success. To a small party struggling for recognition, that’s a great deal of money, and we’re looking at one of the superpac’S failures here. What about their successes? They are going to steamroller all over the little man, aren’t they?

If contribution limits are eliminated (as they should be), a third party can get larger contributions (say, $5m+) and would be able to compete financially with the two major parties.

I take the point, but aren’t the big spenders – the corps and the unions – already committed to the big two parties. It would be good for politics if there were rich boys ready to back a long shot and support the greens etc., but do they really exist?

 
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I take the point, but aren’t the big spenders – the corps and the unions – already committed to the big two parties. It would be good for politics if there were rich boys ready to back a long shot and support the greens etc., but do they really exist?

True, the corps and the unions are generally committed to the two big parties. I think the big problem is in order for large contributions to be coordinated and contributed via the (super)PAC structure, one has to meander through the labyrinth that is FEC regulation. It’s such an institutional behemoth to tackle and really only the GOP and the Dems have serious experience navigating it.

Would a wealthy person be willing to back a Green or a Constitutionalist if they could just cut the check out directly? I would imagine there probably would be one at some point. As Jaume hinted at earlier, I think it would take a special set of circumstances for it to happen. I think if the economy would continue to remain stagnant, I don’t think it’s that farfetched to see the Tea Party break off from the GOP, under the financial aid of the Koch Brothers, dip their toes into the water by trying to win some House or Senate seats in deeply red districts. Likewise, it is equally plausible to see someone like George Soros fund a Green. I would say the chances of it occurring are slim, but the chances of it happening under the current FEC landscape are nil.

 
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oh i hope so. third parties whittling down the dominance of the red-and-blue tyranny will probably save america.

 
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Originally posted by OmegaDoom:

oh i hope so. third parties whittling down the dominance of the red-and-blue tyranny will probably save america.

That’s some edgy shit there.

I’d say it’s very likely that the Libertarian Party will start to cause a vote-split among the more fiscally moderate democrats and socially liberal republicans.

 
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right. that will whittle down the power of the red-and-blue tyranny.

i mean…one form of modern dictatorship we see in some countries is a single party dictatorship, where they do have a parliament, but there is only one party in it, which is controlled by either a small group of people or simply one person. in fact that’s what feeds the power of most of the famous dictators you hear of, some of whom have recently be dethroned.

but then i ask you, what makes a one-party system a dictatorship, that would not apply to the American two-party system? how do a one-party system and a two-party system actually distinct themselves enough so that one is a dictatorship, the other is a democracy?

 
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Thesis and antithesis, Omega. Disagreements between the two major parties cause enough divide to turn absolutism into a tug of war, as opposed to one person dragging a rope around.

 
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so if i have a country of 300 million (lets say i split off a tiny bit of India and call it a country), and i place two people in control of it and have them make a whole public display of a tug of war, it’s a democracy?
and mind you, diarchies have happened, so it’s quite realistic.

no, some fighting between them is just a display, genuine or not. that doesn’t explain why it should be a democracy. try again.