I am thinking about the results of recent primaries, and the
presidential race. I cannot help but wonder about the significance of
1) absence of passable and half serious Republican candidates, as well
as 2) the fact that both Bernie as well as Trump are essentially
outsiders to their nominal political parties. Does this possibly mean
that the end to the two party system is near?
Let me give you a better answer than "no."
First of all, we *have* a multi-party system. It's called the
primaries. Unlike parliamentary systems, the compromises and
coalitions in the US system are formed in the primaries, rather than
in parliament itself. We have a huge variety of disparate interests
competing in the primaries. Then they compromise and coalesce around
candidates, and the coalitions stand for election -- as coalitions,
which is our version of parties.
This has traditionally led to two close-to-center parties competing in
elections. What's different now is that polarization is pushing the
parties farther apart. This is not new; it's just new in our
lifetimes. We've had extreme polarization in the past, many times.
Whether this is a symptom or a cause of our current conflicts, and to
the collections of pandering freaks who run for election, is a point
debated among the political scientists.
Structurally, our system eats third parties up and spits them out.
This is not a simple issue, but the primary one is well understood,
and has been for most of a century. I took an entire course in it at
the Univ. of Lausanne, in 1968 -- comparative politics -- and the main
factor hasn't changed.
It is this: In a parliamentary system, where a prime minister is
chosen by parliament, groups of the parties (usually) have to form
coalitions in order to elect a prime minister and to acquire the power
that accrues from being on the same side as the prime minister. This
varies among the various parliamentary systems, but that's the general
In the US, we have a separate election for president, and Congress
doesn't have that power that parliaments have, to elect the
government's high officer. There is no incentive for disparate parties
to compromise and to form coalitions. This can lead to gridlock with
no resolution. Candidates for office know this, so, like it or not,
they participate in one of the two parties in order to acquire the
power that comes from being on the president's side. If they lose,
they have far more power as the opposition than they would have if
they were one of five parties, say, that were out of power.
In summary, the incentives in our system are for two parties to form,
rather than many, because you have no power in our system if you
aren't in the majority or in a unified minority, and you have no
ability to elect the high officer of government as they do in
Third parties in the US become nothing but spoilers, unless they
emerge with a majority. That has happened a couple of times, but only
in the early days of the republic. It soon settled down into a
two-party system, for the reasons above.
Compounding the disincentive to form third parties is that the
spoiling, which almost always occurs, results in taking votes away
from the existing party to which you're closest in policy and
direction, and forfeiting the election to the party you most oppose.
That's happened two or three times in our lifetimes. Bill Clinton and
GW Bush won elections that way. Nader swung the election in 2000;
Perot, arguably, swung the 1992 election to Clinton.
So the results of third-party participation generally gives a result
that the majority hates the most. Thus, we don't do it much.
He shows his brilliance with every post, doesn't he? Actually, I
suspect he's a Bot, and an outdated one at that. A good Bot is more
creative and not repetitive or banal. So, who do you think owns the bot?
I used to think he was kind of bot-like, when he started repeating the
same lines over and over, but I don't think so. You'd have to program
the Bonkers-bot to act like a complete twit. Bot programmers usually
make a stab at making them sound like they have some sense.
But, maybe it's a tricky bot-programmer who is trying to con us into
thinking it couldn't be a bot, because no bot would sound so much like
a twit. So maybe it *is* a bot.
The candidates still have too many chances to screw up for NH to pick
the winner so early. What we do is give them all the opportunity for
low-cost in-person face time with the voters, a prescreen in front of
the finer filter of the other primaries.
When I listened to and then talked with Kasich there were only 24
voters at the meeting. At one point he need a $20 bill to make a
point, and wouldn't take the one I offered him. Have you ever heard of
a politician refusing money?
He's what's called a "policy wonk", a capable, detail-oriented manager
if not so much an inspiring leader.
Such aspects of a candidate don't come across as well on TV as in
face-to-face meetings where they have to respond to unexpected
questions from the audience, non-media people with real jobs who often
have had a problem dealing with the bureaucracy.
They tend to circumlocute the question or BS us less in person here
than they do on camera with attention-deficit national commentators
more eager to ask the next question on their list than to adequately
explore the previous one. We listen patiently to the full explanation.
The brief version of what I learned in high school is that unlike some
other countries, notably France, the parties here are inclusive
election machines more than exclusive magnets for narrow political
viewpoints. In NH the Libertarian position gets a lot of verbal
support from both sides but can't pull 3% in an election.
Trump is running as a Republican and Sanders as a Democrat. If they
want to win, it's one or the other.
The two-party system isn't going away. The party characteristics may
change, as the Democrats did when the conservative southern Democrats
moved mostly to the Republicans and left the Democratic Party as
largely left-of-center, beginning in the mid-'60s. But it's almost
impossible for a third party to get a toehold at the national level,
with a separately-elected president and a bicameral legislature.
Nobody in their right mind would get into politics in the first place.
So, the parties act as clearing houses to at least condense the field.
Three or more parties would dilute the vote so that a small minority
idealistic group could gain power.
How can voting for your choice of candidates ever be considered
"diluting the vote", Tawm? It only seems that way to folks from one
of the two totally corrupt parties, don'tcha know?
When someone who is not a Rep or Dem does well, what part of "over 33%
of Americans want this guy" don't Reps and Dems understand? And how
would that be a bad thing?
Ross Perot and Donald Trump are the only two guys I've considered a
positive in voting for in the past 30 or so years.
I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people
who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
Duh...if you didn't notice, Trump is running as a Republican. No
spoilers, no split vote. If he's the nominee, he'll be head-to-head
with the Democrat, and will win or lose without a third-party spoiler
Tom is right. Third-party candidates for president can produce two
results: either they take votes from the minority party, in which case
they're irrelevant and quickly disappear; or they can take votes from
the majority party, in which case they can (and often do) wind up
putting the party into power which had the *minority* of the vote,
effectively electing the party disliked by the majority of Americans.
Third-party voters can trash an election and wind up with *everyone*
hating them for their self-indulgent, anti-democratic antics. Like
If Trump looses the primary and runs as an independent, the Democrat
will win with less that 33% because the conservative vote will be split
among Trump and the Republican even though the total conservative vote
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