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The Search for a Third Party's Place in the United State's Political System

Is there room in America’s strong two-party political system for a viable third party?
With what seems to be building frustration amongst both Republican and Democratic voters, America seems ripe for this kind of change - true?
Would a third party really help ease our country’s political hardships/woes by offering an alternative?
What would a possible platform of a third party be that could gain enough support to compete with the dominant two parties and appeal to/please the large amount of currently unsatisfied voters?
Is there already a party that could grow to compete against the Republican and Democratic parties?

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    Mar 6 2012: This year more than ever the politicians must please the growing Independents. They will carry the party sheeple but must garner the majority of the Independents to claim a victory. I do not see Independents as an alternative party but a force to be considered with at the polls. In reality Independents have more power than either if the two parties.
    • Mar 9 2012: That's an interesting point, and I think very true. So would you say that, in general, most candidates have to be fairly moderate to actually win an election?
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        Mar 9 2012: Not really but peception is half of the battle. The sad truth is that we often must vote for the lessor of two evils. During the last election in the US the people voted against the former party instead of in favor of the party that actually won. It really is sad that there are so many that are easily swayed and / or follow so blindly.
        • Mar 12 2012: I agree. Someone once told me that you can not logically convince someone out of an opinion if they did not use logic to form it. It seems that with so many people choosing parties for the "wrong" reasons and spending much time thinking about the decision, this saying applies well to the current state of American politics. Do you think the best way to change this would be by educating the people more about government and the elections, or do you think people are simply just not that interested?
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        Mar 13 2012: Aimee, there was not a reply button on your last statement so I am answering here. We do educate people on government and the election pocess. It is required for high school graduation. My opinion simply put is that the majority of the people have lost faith in the process. We have debates over the current president being muslum, not a citizen, kept zero campaign promises when he had a majority in both houses to fill the promises, etc ... We had impeachment process on morals charges with President Clinton, plus other issues, etc ... Money buys the Presidency. One President stated "If he wants a Ambassadorship it starts at $ one million dollars." If you are union they pretty much tell you who to vote for (always democrat). Most people vote the way their parents voted. In todays world the college professors told my daughter that Obama was the man. Ophra went on her show and convinced her watchers that Obama was the messiah and would not let anothers appear on her show. There was a couple of million votes. Obama promised free medicine, jobs, welfare, citizenship and all of the socilism vows and they bought into it. He is doing it again on his camapaign tour as we speak. As one woman told me "I voted for him and I want my money." The solution has to be to return to a Constitutional government. Promises would mean nothing at all levels. Most graft would be gone. Politics as a career would cease. Return power to the states. We have become a country of SHEEPLE. Best. Bob
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    Mar 5 2012: What disturbs me is the lack of civility and integrity, the elitism, and media agendas. How will a third party ever be able to take hold in such a milieu? Whatever this third party may stand for will be vilified as the two parties are now doing to eachother: the republicans (damn capitalists, evangelical idiots) and the democrats (socialist brats, intrusive nanny's). They stand in opposite corners of a boxing ring ready to knock the other's lights out instead of at opposite sides of a table ready to do what is best for America. What has happened to bring us to this? Who will ever be brave enough to enter a ring that will likely destroy you?

    I suggest a coalition of independent (not democrat, not republican) organizations that put America's future first as opposed to the prevailing 'now' mentality, and that have the necesssary resources to stand up to the machines with their own candidate.
    • Mar 5 2012: I agree with your idea for a coalition of independent organizations: a party that would redirect the focus to what is actually the best public good as opposed to conforming to a specific party platform to get reelected.

      Your point about the Republican v. Democrat boxing ring reminds me of Michael Sandel's TED talk, "The lost art of democratic debate." I think the two parties have definitely lost the ability to compromise and lost concern for what is best for the people. I wonder though if at some point, the match will become so polarized that someone (or some group) will become so frustrated and simply take over. With the shut down of the Federal Government and Senator Olympia Snowe retiring in frustration of the polarization of parties, I can't help but think there's only so much more the people can/will take -- or have the people of our country become so frustrated already that they've already become disinterested?
  • Mar 20 2012: The other option for a third party is to have a party aimed a being able only to write laws without using the governance that currently exist. The net allows us to collectively write and direct as well as reach consensual agreements without carrying what the government thinks. Creating a third party means in this sense means being able to get a 2/3 majority for the laws you are trying to write, and bullying your state to pass them, and this means we got to get back into the art of writing. If we do what no congress we elect can do maybe we can show people how to govern.

    Right now I think the most urgent one we need to rewrite into the constitution is a right that is already in there but being misused and that is the right to Habeas Corpus. If we jail people for wanting to correct our government we can never be free. Indefinite detention of Americans or citizens of the world with out a trial is unamerican, and I know our forefathers have died to protect us from this being taken away.

    Another that gets forgotten is the right to know the law. If people can't understand the laws they are supposed to be subject to they become impossible to enforce. Certain laws currently people have to pay to be able to read, and frequently you have to pay a lawyer to understand even if you don't have to pay to read the law.

    A third party trying to fix the holes in government having intelligent discussions, and not trying to increase the divide, listening and evaluating all the ideas, and trying to write smart solutions could be a boon not only to America but all the countries trying democracy for the first time. It could show a way to export democracy.

    And this party would not have to be geographically centric as they do not have to win elections except by the people. 2/3rds of the states ratifying an amendment gets in the constitution without legislators. Lets evaluate the middle ground and what we all need, and pass it without Washington.
  • Mar 12 2012: Electing people by geographic regions makes it very difficult for third party to gain power. If we elected one legislative body by percentage of the votes for them(parliamentary), we could have much better representation, and with more parties we be far healthier discussion.
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    Chad D

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    Mar 8 2012: I think the interwebs is the only place a third party could take hold. Introverts, activists, thinkers, anti-establishment types - they're the ones who are actively online, yet either rarely vote or hate the idea of just 2 choices. Fortunately, one website is trying to use the internet to create a third party - www.americanselect.org - and it might make a difference...though, maybe not. Something similar was tried 4 years ago with something called Unity '08. It petered out.

    The pessimist in me says that the traditional media is currently too powerful in shaping public opinion and catering to a large class: old people who are set in their ways. The optimist in me says this: if enough non-traditional people pledge to vote for whoever the Americans Elect guy/gal is, things could change.
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    Mar 7 2012: I was watching fox last night and couldn't get over how a television network could be so blatant in it's bias,we have a few biased news presenters but they get a slap on the hand if it gets out hand,no system is perfect but this does not compute?
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      Mar 8 2012: Ken this is prevelent in all media. Our radio and television stations have owners that participate heavely in politics. Try MSNBC if you want to see bashing. Listen to Limbaugh or other radio personalities. After a few minutes you will have a clear picture of who they are for and against. Even a the colleges and universities the professors make a case for their favorite. I have seen politics in other parts of the world and some are very rough indeed. If you think FOX is bad you have not been watching other media around the world. I am not protecting the US news or trying to justify it just saying this is common.
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    Mar 6 2012: I really hate to say this but the answer to your questions is no (at least not anytime soon).....its not that I do not think a third party would be effective but pretty much for all the reasons that Lynn Eschbach mentioned. So to avoid sounding redundant this is where I end this post.
  • Mar 5 2012: There are some major hurdles to surmount prior to a third party being able to enter the field in a meaningful manner. And those same hurdles must be surmounted in order to salvage anything left of the democratic side of our constiutional republic. At this moment our "democracy" is a fraud. A third party will not be allowed in by the very same forces which make a mockery of our purported democracy.
  • Mar 5 2012: Our winner take all system is the reason we have 2 parties. The coalitions have to be built before the election, rather than after. You have to accept your strange bedfellows and make your vote. I'm thinking that Instant Runoff Voting is the only mechanism that would allow minor parties to be viable in the USA. President Obama supports it as do some others in the major parties. It requires modern vote counting equipment so we need to push for it on the state and county level.
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    Mar 5 2012: It would be nice to see the americans have their own green party and grey party,the system you are under at the moment seems limited.I'm not saying it doesn't work it just seems that one has to be groomed to be your president by a select few.
    • Mar 6 2012: There is a saying that "all politics are local." The president is just one player in a big field. If we want a third party in the US we will have to build it from the local level AND institute some kind of instant runoff voting that allows us to vote for a candidate that we know won't win without throwing out precious vote away. In no way would it be easy to make this change. It would take leadership, organization, and dedicated volunteers working to change over at the city, county, and state level. It would be worth it to end the monopoly enjoyed by our two parties and shake things up a bit. Debates could be so much more interesting.