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Jill_E's avatar

Do you think there will be a big third political party in our lifetime?

Asked by Jill_E (885points) August 15th, 2007

My hubby and I consider ourselves moderates. Our friends and families seem to have the same views as moderates. Wonder if there will be a 'third' major party in our lifetime? We like some platforms on each political party.

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13 Answers

Perchik's avatar

There will not be a moderate party. Both major parties now are so close to the center line, they are moderate. Majority of Americans will say that they themselves are moderate, therefore the two parties have gotten closer to the middle to try to win those people over. More parties emerge, but they are either further left or further right.

hearkat's avatar

One can only hope! I am independent, politically, but if there is a Libertarian candidate, I always vote for them, because that is the closest thing we have to a 3rd party; and they are the closest to my political leanings. If you consider yourself a moderate, you may want to check out what they have to say.

gooch's avatar

no I dont belive so I dont think another party could service due to the financial backing it would need

mzgator's avatar

I don't think so either...however both the democrat and republican candidates are leaving me scratching my head and wondering.. Is this all I get to pick from.....gosh!! Note that this is being said by a lifelong republican... So say it again. ....gosh!!

hossman's avatar

I don't think there will ever be a big 3rd political party, as there are too many disadvantages built into the electoral, campaigning and fundraising process by the current parties, because if they agree on one thing, it's that they don't want another major party. The 3rd parties currently out there do not have sufficient unity or platforms to attract significant votes. What might happen is: 1) One of the parties collapses due to some outrageous scandal, to be replaced by a "new" party largely composed of the members of the old party, thus maintaining two major parties; or 2) An individual candidate runs independently, forming his own party, but that party invariably loses steam when that candidate is no longer viable, e.g. Ross Perot and Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose party.

Michael's avatar

The American political system is set up in a way that strongly discourages more than two parties. Because we have a repesentational system that is based on geographical districts and uses a "winner-take-all" voting system, there is a huge disincentive for voters to cast their vote for someone in a third party. Think about it this way...say you are going into your voting booth on election day undecided about whom to vote for in your congressional race. There are five candidates, your favorite is Mrs. Johnson, but you know that Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones are the frontrunners. You have to decide whether you want to cast your vote for someone who will likely lose, or instead cast your vote for one of the two front-runners, in the hopes of influencing the outcome so it is more to your liking. Most "rational" voters will chose to cast their ballot for one of the two front-runners even if they like someone else better because they'd rather participate in the outcome. This dynamic is played out over and over again across the country and as a result, most races are whittled down to two major candidates.

This phenomenon is the basic reason why the United States first developed only two major parties and has, for the vast majority of its history, only had two major parties. Of course, as others have pointed out, more recently there have been additional structural barriers placed on third parties, but the basic dynamic has remained the same. Even if we removed all barriers to third party entry, we would still only have two major parties because of how we choose our representatives.

hossman's avatar

An excellent analysis by Michael.

extolsmith's avatar

Party platform are house boats set adrift. Though two parties will always hold all the power, for reasons described by Michael, the people who support them is everchanging. With the parties, representives represent different points a view, giving voters choices more diverse than simple party lines.

zina's avatar

interesting post by Michael, and from experience I agree --- I have heard of systems that deal with this through 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices. for example, in your story i could put mrs. johnson as my 1st, then whoever of the biggies second. that way i express my opinion more accurately (vote for the candidate i actually like best) AND influence the decision. it could be that with everyone having the ability to vote that way, and vote tallies being able to look at more complex rankings of candidates, the outcome could be very different even in an identical political situation.

can anyone shed light on this type of system?

actually, i just looked it up and found this interesting article:

perhaps by changing the voting system a third party could enter US politics?

hossman's avatar

If we did have a 3rd party, I doubt it would be a moderate party. I believe moderates are probably today more comfortable with the two present parties than the extreme radicals to the right or left. Further, moderates by their nature tend to not be as active as radicals. If a 3rd party arose, I find it most likely it would be a liberal left party. I'm not sure, though, what issue it would rally around, as many on the far left are one issue type people. Radical environmentalists, for instance, would not necessarily be comfortable in the same party as Marxist/Leninists. One would think the Libertarians might have a shot, but their infighting has prevented any significant cohesiveness, and frequenty one element of the Libertarians with a specific agenda, say drug legalization, starts to gain power and frictions arise between those Libertarians and, for example, free market Libertarians. There is dissension among the moderates, as well. Some are economic conservatives and social liberals, some are social conservatives and economic liberals. And I wouldn't refer to Libertarians as moderates. Some moderates are actually far from moderate but try to self-label as moderates to make themselves appear more "reasonable." And of course there are the moderates who call themselves that because they feel guilty about refusing to commit to a position. The days when we might have had a Labor or Union party are expiring as organized labor is increasingly marginalized.

Jonsonite's avatar

Zina, the system you’re referring to is called Instant Runoff Voting, and if put into effect it would probably result in a multiparty democracy.

segdeha's avatar

As with other times in American history, if a major 3rd party forms, it will likely replace one of the current parties, rather than co-exist with them.

hossman's avatar

Got to agree with segdeha on that one. There seems to be something inherent in American politics that falls back into the same rut of two party politics. Looking at multiparty democracies like the U.K., Israel and Japan, I’m not sure more parties is necessarily a good thing, as inevitably a multiparty democracy always seems to devolve into two de facto parties, those IN OFFICE and the opposition.

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