The power of a third party, far out of proportion to its size

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Fraggle Rocker, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    One of the most tightly contested races in the 2006 "mid-term" U.S. election [the President is elected only in years divisible by 4] is one of the two Senate seats in the state of Virginia.

    Incumbent Republican Senator George Allen is a "good ol' boy" in the Southern tradition. He wears cowboy boots, supports the war in Iraq, is fond of the Confederate flag, and shamelessly appealed to redneck conservatives in Virginia's heartland during his campaign with a public statement insulting an ethnic minority. His Christian churchgoing mother chose the month before the election to reveal the family secret that she is Jewish by blood and that her parents were persecuted by the Nazis, giving him many opportunities to commit gaffes that were widely reported.

    Democratic challenger Jim Webb is a Vietnam War veteran and former Secretary of the Navy, is critical of the Iraq war, has written novels with steamy sex scenes, and has plenty of indiscretions and intemperate remarks in his own past. In short, he is the type of person who appeals to the liberal, well-educated professionals commuting to Washington DC from the suburbs in northeastern Virginia. This community, with large proportions of "expat" Yankees, black Americans, immigrants and other ethnic minorities, has grown so large and is so politically at odds with the rest of the state that it has generated a schism in Virginia politics that impedes the functioning of the factious state government.

    This morning, 36 hours after the polls closed, the race is still not decided. Out of 2.4 million votes, Webb is leading by 7,000: less than one third of a percentage point. The paper absentee ballots are being laboriously counted by hand and when it's finished there will almost certainly be a mandate for a recount.

    Where am I heading with this?

    America's most popular third party, the Green Party, fielded a candidate in this race. Glenda Gail Parker, a retired budget analyst whose political experience, as far as I can tell, is limited to being a civil service employee, ran on a single-issue platform: building a high-speed rail network to solve explosively growing suburban Virginia's crippling traffic problem in an environmentally conscious manner.

    Parker received 26,000 votes in this election. That's more than one percent of the vote, nearly four times the number hanging in the balance between the two major-party candidates.

    If either of the Republocrat parties (as we Libertarians call them since there's so little substantive difference between them) had co-opted the Green Party platform and appealed to the voters on an issue that affects their lives, a victory would have been announced yesterday morning. Instead, the major parties quibbled over philosophical issues with little practical impact such as gay marriage and whether a candidate who was born in California has the right to call himself a cowboy.

    You can bet that in Virginia's next election, both parties will devote a lot more attention to serious environmental issues so the Green Party's share of the votes doesn't reach the six-figure mark.

    This is how a third party can have an impact on American politics without spending a lot of money and actually winning major elections. All it has to do is scare the big parties by siphoning off enough votes to swing an election, and it gets taken seriously.

    The American Communist Party did the same thing with great success. During its heyday between the two World Wars a few candidates made it onto school boards, city councils and other local government bodies, but no Communist was elected to a national office. Nonetheless the growth of their influence was noted and extrapolated. The Republocrats began falling all over each other in an attempt to woo the voters back into the mainstream, by shamelessly endorsing what had been derided as Communist positions.

    When President Eisenhower established the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1953, he completed the assimilation of the entire 1929 Communist Party platform into the structure of the American government. No candidate in his right mind would now argue against government central planning in key industries like education, charity, energy, transportation and health care, the nanny state's intrusion into our private choices about safety, fitness, sobriety and childrearing, the government labor force of uncountable millions who "administer" each other while pretending to do this work, or the confiscatory tax rates that make it all possible. America has been transformed into a quasi-socialist state without the minions of Communist patriarch Eugene V. Debs ever winning an important election.

    This is the power of third parties. Do not dismiss them. Do not believe that if you vote for one of their candidates, your vote is "wasted." On the contrary, it can have a far greater impact than one of the millions of votes for the Tweedledees and Tweedledums of the mainstream.
     
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  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    If the voters want someone other than one of the two main political parties, they can vote for them. Otherwise, ...? there's nothing stopping a person from running for office (other than the usual laws, rules). If they run and win, then that's what the voters want.

    Baron Max
     
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  5. Prince_James Plutarch (Mickey's Dog) Registered Senior Member

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    Ross Perot showed that a third party is possible. In fact, a Paleoconservative party financed well, appealing on a populist platform, and focusing on illegal immigration, taxes, and middle-class jobs would do extremely well.
     
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  7. zanket Human Valued Senior Member

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    You can bet that the Republicans gave generously to the Green Party in VA. That's how they got 1%.
     
  8. The Devil Inside Banned Banned

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    ross perot didnt do anything that remarkable.

    i would be willing to bet that he spent at least as much money advertising himself as did the other parties.

    that, in essence, is the lifeblood of american politics. whoever holds the money will end up making the laws. its quite simple, really.
     
  9. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    The US doesn't need more than two political parties, it just needs two new ones.
     
  10. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    You sure know shit about American politics and the way how elections work.
    Read about Ross Perot and see what he got. He got 20% of the votes and the voters in return got shit. Thanks to the winner takes all and the EC...
     
  11. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Quite to the contrary!! It showed that the trick called Electoral College very nicely protected (as it was designed) the incumbent 2 parties and just how hard to get a 3rd party into the arena...

    Sorry, I misspoke. The incumbent 1.2 parties. America really need a second party...
    This whole "winner takes all" election structure just makes it sure that in practicality it is impossible for a 3rd party to come into power. In democratic countries people in the minority still get representation....
     
  12. infoterror Registered Senior Member

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    I'd love to see a green candidate. A nationalist, socialist, green candidate for president.
     
  13. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry, indeed.

    The Electoral College is mostly about State's Rights, not individual's rights.

    Federated Republic.

    Individuals vote for their local representatives.

    States vote for their federal representatives --originally, anyway.

    Public -- teacher/curriculum coordinator unionized -- education, right?
     
  14. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    12,671
    Sure, but luckily not in the USA. But anyway, what you mentioned doesn't effect the OUTCOME of the voting system. The EC should be done with and there should be a representative House and Senate, where the chosen ones actually vote according to the wishes of their constituents...

    By the way you said the US doesn't need more than 2 parties. Why not? You think 2 parties can cover all the different interest groups/ classes?? Evidently they can not, so there should be at least 4-5, just like in any other real democracies...
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It turns out that a third party actually did swing a major election. The Libertarian Party is responsible for the Republicans losing the Senate.

    In Montana, Libertarian Senate candidate Stan Jones got 10,356 votes. The Republican incumbent Conrad Burns got 195,967 and Democratic challenger Jon Tester got 198,702 votes.

    As you can see, if the people who voted Libertarian had voted Republican, Burns would have easily retained his seat. If the Libertarian candidate had not been so popular, it's likely that most of those votes would indeed have gone to the Republican, because most Libertarians (unlike this one) tend to feel more sympathetic to the conservatives if they have to make a choice.

    The loss of that one seat tipped the balance in the Senate from Republican to Democrat. Ten thousand votes for a Libertarian in a state with one of the smallest populations in the country changed the political landscape of the nation.

    Let's see if the Republican party takes notice. Will the "Small Government Party" try to woo the Libertarians back? Work to lower taxes, decrease the national debt, reduce the size of the government work force, stop the nationalization of the education, transportation, charity, energy, and health care industries, call a halt to preemptive warfare, and let the Iraqis kill each other off without our help?
     
  16. zanket Human Valued Senior Member

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    The "Big Government Party That Lies About Being a Small Government Party" would never do that.
     
  17. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Two's a company: three's a crowd.

    It just steals the votes as was clearly shown in the last race between Gore and Bush.
     
  18. alain du hast mich Registered Senior Member

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    "If the voters want someone other than one of the two main political parties, they can vote for them. Otherwise, ...? there's nothing stopping a person from running for office (other than the usual laws, rules). If they run and win, then that's what the voters want.

    Baron Max"

    Without money for advertising in enough states to make a difference, a third party can have no impact (besides that mentioned by Fraggle Rocker)

    In Australia, we have the almighty preference system. So a person can vote the greens first, which has the effect FR mentioned, and then preference Labour second so that in the end it gets coutned as a vote for the lesser of two evils
     

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