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The Tea Party Convention a few weeks ago highlighted what could be a break from the two party system in the US. As support grows for these smaller groups who believe that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats stand for their beliefs, is there a possibility that third party nomination in the future may actually have a fighting chance. And more importantly will it be a good thing for the country?

At the moment it appears that any new third party nomination will be of a 'conservative' orientation. The Tea Party group has gained mass coverage recently with its convention and its keynote speaker Sarah Palin. Since then polls have already been put out to see where Tea Party candidates would come in election battles. And even though they are not predicted to do to well it does seem as through this movement has only just started to grow and much could happen in the next few years. Already there has been an announcement that a Tea Party candidate will run against Harry Reid in Nevada. Is this just a flash in the pan or are we heading towards a three party system?

Even if the Tea Party candidates don't win elections, they will most likely force the Republicans to the right so they don't lose their base. In the UK the British National Party, an extreme right wing party, gained national success in the 2009 European elections. Even though all the major British party's have publicly declared the BNP as racists, this third party has helped cause policy shifts. Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party have adopted stronger immigration rules. If third party's can cause policy shifts then maybe it will not be long before a more progressive party flanks the Democrats on the left.

If stronger third party's and more successful candidates start running then the face of American politics may completely change. A future of minority party's and coalitions may be on the horizon!

Originally posted to colben on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:23 PM PST.


If you had these four choices in the next election who would you vote for?

8%11 votes
3%5 votes
37%51 votes
51%70 votes

| 137 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I recently heard a pod cast (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, costello7, rossl

    stating that if the 40% independent voting block in his country could coalesce around a candidate, that it just might break the stranglehold of the two party (really only one party) system in this country.

    I think a lot of people are looking for REAL change now.

    •  The reality is, however many parties you have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trinityfly, soms

      there is the party in power and everybody else. If everybody else chooses to split themselves into a thousand ideolgical splinters the party in power remains in power.
      This is the corporatist's secret weapon.

      I heard some guy say that the arc of history bends slowly, but that it bends towards justice.

      by DaNang65 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 03:13:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Only If They Have a Way to Organize & Turn Out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      without depending on the mainstream media.

      And right now the only movement that has any strength and real-world institutional organizing/mobilizing support are the radical Christianists. And they have the media anyway.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 04:58:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's a Progressive Party in Vermont (11+ / 0-)

    that has had considerable success.  They're the most successful third party in the nation, in fact, since they currently have about half a dozen state legislators, the mayor of the largest city, some city councilors there, and other local officials.  Plus, Bernie Sanders is closely associated with them (he's officially an independent).

    I think you can just look at the example of Bernie to see what a moderately successful progressive party would get us in this country.

  •  I don't believe it's sustainable (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Judge Moonbox, Lost and Found

    unless the current system which is rigged to sustain a two party system is significantly changed (and it's unlikely that officeholders who are members of those two parties would do this.)

    Now what can happen is individual independent successes, and much more rarely the replacement of one of the major parties.

    He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

    by jrooth on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:33:47 PM PST

    •  What would happen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jrooth, trinityfly

      is that the third party would either merge with an existing party or replace it.  There are mechanisms (such as instant runoff voting) that could open up the process to a wider menu of choices, but it's not in the interests of our "establishment" to change the rules that keep them in power.

      A third party breakthrough is certainly possible; the climate for it is better than its ever been (in my lifetime, anyway).  But there will likely never be a continuation of having three or four legitimate choices, nationally.  That doesn't mean the two parties will forever be the Rethugs and the Dems.  They're both doing everything in their power to self-destruct.

    •  Americans too big on winning. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Morus, rossl

      I think that a big problem with 3rd parties in America is our fixation on winning. Coming in third all the time would be hard on someone brought up in our culture. I was thinking after seeing Ibsen's "Enemy of the People" (the Arthur Miller adaptation) that if I were a stage actor cast in the lead role, I'd eventually ask "When do I get to win one?"

      To be a long term factor, a third party would need a lot of people who see their role as not winning but in having an impact--that they would need to see how the major parties had to address the issues that they raised and not in electoral success.

      Greg McKendry, Linda Kraeger, Dr. George Tiller, Steven Johns. Victims of Wingnut violence

      by Judge Moonbox on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:58:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Until we adapt a rational voting system (8+ / 0-)

    third parties will hurt the causes they espouse.

    So, getting a tea party started would be good for Democrats.

    For more see my article plurality voting and better methods

    We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

    by plf515 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:40:21 PM PST

    •  I don't believe that's true (2+ / 0-)

      Because it ignores a lot of situations where third parties can have a very positive impact, although I do agree that we need a rational voting system.

      There are a lot of places around the US where locally there is a one party system instead of a two party system.  Near me, in Philadelphia, the Democratic winner of any primary is considered to be the winner of the general election, for instance.  We need a second party.  And in Oklahoma, every single county went to John McCain in 2008.  They could probably use a Tea Party or something like it, if only for a bit of diversity and competition.

      •  Well, in effect, we have a one party system (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ChicDemago, Elise, Eryk, soms

        here on the upper west side of Manhattan, and in other areas of NYC.  But it gets us some very good Democrats.

        My own rep, for instance, is Nadler.  Pretty liberal, a very good guy, and has a safe seat for life.  He was wrong on impeachment but I haven't disagreed with him on anything else major.  Hard to imagine a progressive party finding much to complain about with him.

        By and large, the districts with the most Democratic voters get the best Democratic reps (there are exceptions).  NY, which has several of the most Dem. CDS in the USA, also has a lot of good reps.  Similarly for other big cities - Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco.  

        OTOH, a Tea Party would be a good thing for Democrats, nationally.

        We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

        by plf515 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 03:05:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  One party systems also breed corruption, (0+ / 0-)

          incompetence, and negligence of the voters' will.  Just look at William Jefferson.  Or Maxine Waters, who is generally looked at as progressive, but is still undergoing an ethics investigation.  There is something fundamentally wrong about a republic that has no competition - it defeats the purpose of a republic!

          •  I agree, somewhat (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elise, soms, rossl

            I just think that 3rd parties will not work, with plurality voting.

            But I wonder if the representatives who got (say) over 80% of the vote are any more corrupt than those who got 80% or less.  I have no idea how to determine this.

            We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

            by plf515 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 03:24:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Where there is only one party, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              they will be second parties, and plurality voting is not a factor.  That is how the Vermont Progressives got their start in Burlington.

              Another interesting fact related to this - every election year, about 40% of state legislative races go unchallenged.  There is where third parties could be making moves (and one of the reasons why I'm helping a Green run for state legislature near me).

              •  But I don't think helping Greens (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                helps Democrats; or, rather, I think helping Greens will move Democrats to the right, because that's where the votes will be.

                A Democrat can't out-green a green, so, he/she will move to the right, to go for some of those votes.

                Now, there may be individual exceptions - Sanders in VT is an excellent guy, and doesn't seem to have hurt the Democrats.

                But if Greens start to win, then the party starts getting taken seriously, and then we lose, nationally, in a big way.

                We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

                by plf515 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 03:31:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not interested in helping Democrats (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I'm interested in helping to create progressive policy.  And I disagree about what would happen if the Greens were successful.  Based on what's happened throughout American history wrt third parties, I think that the Democrats would actually move left, if they're affected at all.  They would be forced to pander to progressive voters, since progressives would have the option of either a Democrat or a viable Green.

                  •  There are mathematical models of this (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    that tend to support my view.  Some of these have been done by Andrew Gelman.

                    But, of course, all models are based on simplifying assumptions, which could be reasonable or not.

                    We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

                    by plf515 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 05:36:14 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Could you give me a link, if there is one? (0+ / 0-)

                      The math's probably way over my head, but I'd be interested in looking at it.  Have you ever read the book Third Parties in America?  They use mathematical models to look at third parties' influence and prominence throughout history, too.  I couldn't understand that part of the book, but the historical stuff was fascinating to me.

  •  What if we stopped dreaming and started living? (11+ / 0-)

    There are no third party dream fixes to our problems. Teabaggers will vote Republican and if you want to stop them you will have to vote Democratic. As long as there are shades of gray there will be better options and worse options and you'll never get exactly what you want. You either vote for the party that will mostly or even half the time do what you like or do your part to help elect the party that will mostly do what you don't like.

    "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."-Jessica Rabbbit

    by Common Cents on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:41:12 PM PST

  •  I think about 3rd parties a lot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista, soms

    My thinking is along these lines -

    1 The GOP's best play is to meld with Teabaggers so they don't divide the conservative vote.
    2 Both the GOP and Teabaggers are too "far gone" for legitimacy at this point.  They'll both have to come a long way to be viable again.
    3 Democrats have virtually adopted any position of value held by Republicans (and many with no value), and actually made them happen.  Which means that . . .
    4 Democrats have become the new Republicans.
    5 Which should be the conservative survivors, and they should be pushed from the Left.
    6 A third party is all but impossible as things currently stand, largely thanks to the Supremes.
    7 Unfortunately.

    In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. - Shunryu Suzuki

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:42:33 PM PST

    •  This is how it always happens. (5+ / 0-)

      The two major parties assimilate the values of any hint of a third party. The populists and progressives of the late 19th and early 20th century could have showed you that.

      The two party system doesn't kill third parties by rigging the system, but rather they kill it by adopting the ideas they present and offering a much larger coalition of voters, thus a greater chance of implementing those ideas.

      Another reason third parties can't survive is that we use votes as ways to express dissent as well as support and sometimes a vote is best used simply as a way to block another candidate which is why the two-party system thrives.

      "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."-Jessica Rabbbit

      by Common Cents on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:47:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And that's part of the reason many third parties (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trinityfly, Judge Moonbox

        have started - to influence the major ones and influence policy.

        •  They do influence through assimilation. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          They just become a new coalition member of the big party. But the reason the third parties disappear is because, any one interest group can't survive in national politics due to our diffuse interests and political leanings in a nation of 300+million.

          And any third party that wanted to broaden its base to survive would have to do so at the expense of its purity.

          Third parties usually fail because they are a breakaway of purists from one of the major parties, and purity can't expand nationally in a nation of 300+ million.

          It requires extremely amazing circumstances for a third party to rise and kill off another party. The Republicans had to have slavery, Whig destruction, territorial expansion, and secessionist insanity to grow. I'd argue without every single one of those factors that the Republicans wouldn't exist today.

          "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."-Jessica Rabbbit

          by Common Cents on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 03:10:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but that's kind of oversimplifying it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in favor of making third parties look like they're futile.  They're not always futile.  The Populists were very short-lived and were mostly assimilated into the Democrats, although they also led to the progressive movement of the early 1900s, and they were very successful in having their platform adopted.  Since they were not a single interest group or purists, I think that they demonstrate that a third party CAN be successful in getting its platform adopted as government policy, even if it doesn't create a permanent party - and that's actually the goal of most third parties.  Just for an idea of what they accomplished, without Populists we wouldn't have the eight hour workday, initiative and referenda, direct election of senators, and many other reforms.

    •  You've just set up the Hegelian Dialectic (5+ / 0-)

      If the Dems have assumed the "legitimate" Conservative position (the Rethugs having gone too far to be taken seriously)--and I think you're right on that--then the Rethugs would vanish from relevancy to be replaced by a new Progressive party.

      Well, technically, that's not precisely a Hegelian Dialectic, but the principles are similar.  

  •  If the Baggers get on the Ballot (5+ / 0-)

    It will be great for the Democratic Party.

    Do you remember what happened when Ross Perot ran for President?  We took the White House as a result.  Do you remember when Ralph Nader got on the ballot and it cost us the White House?  Sure you do.

    I would just love to see the Rebublicans and Baggers duking it out for the same voters while we walk off winners.

    Is 11 dimension chess really just magical thinking?

    by Zinman on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:45:52 PM PST

    •  Only in the short run (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In the long run, it could be disastrous.  It would shift the political spectrum even further to the right (a truly horrifying prospect), and the Republicans would become the de facto "middle of the road" party, and would appeal to moderates as such.  The Democratic Party would become leaner, but probably wouldn't be any more progressive, since they would still ignore their base and would chase after votes on their right flank.

      Two right-wing parties + the Democrats is a nightmare scenario, if you ask me.

      •  No, it wouldn't. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It would give room for Republicans to move to the center, and push Democrats further left.

        Nature abhors a vacuum, and a particle can only occupy one physical space at a time.

      •  Predictions (0+ / 0-)

        It would be good to see solid polling on how the generic ballot might work out now.

        I suspect that a Bagger/Rep split would result in large Democratic gains across the board, guaranteeing much greater majorities than we have at present.  However, I suspect the Right would see the foolishness of allowing such a split and try to buy off or squash the Baggers right away.  They understand the three way split strategies as was shown recently when they were funding the "Green" candidate (in Michigan I think) who was trying to get on the ballot.

        Is 11 dimension chess really just magical thinking?

        by Zinman on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 04:34:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't think so.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even if the Tea Party candidates don't win elections, they will most likely force the Republicans to the right so they don't lose their base.

    I think it is actually the reverse. The Republicans are picking up a significant number of former Democrats in Appalachia and now also in Eastern New England. These folks are not small government conservatives, many are union members who hold traditionalist values. They are the kind of Republicans the Tea Party folks like to refer to as Liberals.

    Eastern MA has been trending to the Republicans for some time now, consider the following map showing the change in the vote between 2000 and 2008. Note that Gore did better than Obama in almost all the Eastern counties outside of Boston despite Nader's presence on that ballot:


    This will force the Republicans to be more of a big government conservative party supporting authoritarian traditional values but also forced to at least not be antagonistic to labor and New Deal programs. The tea party paleocons will try to control the party then break off when that isn't possible, but there aren't enough of them to be a problem without the rest of the Republican coalition.

    Note also that this effect seems to be limited to a few areas. Appalachia (which is solidly Republican now), Eastern New England and perhaps Eastern NJ and a few other places. The swing of these groups to the Republicans won't be enough to reduce the Democrats majority in any significant manner. Ultimately MA and RI could become swing states, but not CT, NH and VT.

    This will also strengthen the left-wing libertarian motion to the Democratic party we have seen recently (Obama made massive gains in the mountain west) and help cement an emerging Progressive/Liberterian alliance going forward.

    We see this emerging already in Obama's policies. Cap and Trade instead of a Carbon tax, Health care exchanges rather than single payer etc... These are all attempts to use the government to create a market in which competition creates the best result rather than creating a large government agency to accomplish the goal. This I suspect is what we will see more of as this new coalition emerges.

    The progressive aren't a majority and won't be a majority. However, as this evolves they are becoming the center of our politics. With the Paleocons isolating themselves I see somewhat of a minority government situation with the Progressives able to work with their own libertarian wing but also from time to time with the minority Republican party.  

    Think of it this way...

    In the 1930's .. Democrats were Progressives and Neocons with Republicans Paleocons.  Individualist libertarians were out in the cold. The Neocons were essentially the center.

    Now... Democrats are becoming libertarians and Progressives and the Republicans Neocon. The Paleocons are heading out of the mainstream and the progressives becoming the center.

    I don't think this is heading toward emergence of a successful third party but rather the isolation of many in the tea party movement as they build brick walls around themselves ideologically.

    •  Coakely lost because the turnout in metro areas (0+ / 0-)

      was downright pathetic, in the low 40s in metro Boston.

      Those red outer suburbs while not having as much in terms of population density hurt, when you can turn out 60 to 70% like Staplenutz did.

      •  I agree there was a combination of reasons why (0+ / 0-)

        Brown won the election. Low youth turnout due to a negative campaign and no outreach, low turnout in other places, high conservative interest, questionable campaign giving the impression of arrogance etc.

        Nevertheless, there was a category of voter who voted for Obama then Brown. Polls taken that night seemed to indicate they were not opposed to Obama but rather wanted Brown to work with Obama. This category of voter seems to correlate with the working class white voters Obama was unable to win in MA and RI in the primary (but many of whom later supported him but perhaps somewhat skeptically in the general).

        I think it makes sense. Many of these are probably of Irish Catholic descent. Now that the descendants of the puritans are largely aligned with the Democratic party it stands to reason that this fault line reappears as it has time and time again for past few hundred years.

        I think the trend is real, and MA won't be the Democratic monolith it has been. This election was close both due to this factor and due to the the other factors mentioned above so it may take some time before this becomes a regular concern.

  •  Campaign finance reform first. eom (0+ / 0-)

    Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican. - Lisa Simpson

    by LaFeminista on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:50:43 PM PST

  •  Can't work with our voting system (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, soms

    As long as we have "first past the post" voting, the two parties that are most alike will split the vote and give the win to the candidate they are most opposed to.  

    We need voting method reform first.

    Oh, change the "y" to and "i" and add "-es"

    I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

    by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 03:25:21 PM PST

  •  My campaign (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    gift to the teabagger party:

    Teabags are vital, more purposeful than just to shelve;
    Send Sarah Palin and Orly Taitz to D.C. in 2012.

    In addition to providing great fodder for SNL and comedians, the tea party through its potential placement on ballots would be most helpful in electing Democrats.

  •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

    I been a Dem longer than most of the punks who want to pull it to the right. It's my party as much as theirs. Why should I marginalize myself by voting third party?

    By the way, I HAVE from time to time voted Green and WFP (before they went corrupt in my local area). But only when there was no chance of a Republican ever winning the district.

  •  We already have... (0+ / 0-)

    ...all kinds of "third parties."  Socialist Labor, Socialist Worker, Communist, Constitution, Libertarian, Green, etc., etc.  The problem with creating a viable "third party" comes down to the usual "hot-button" issues such as reproductive rights, gun control and environmental protection, to name a few.  Citizens who have common interests on issues like health care, workers' rights, economics, etc., will part ways if they aren't on the same page with the "hot-button" issues.  And then that "third party" goes "POOF".


  •  I'm a member of the Democratic Socialist Party, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but vote for Democrats. I don't vote for 'parties'.

    I vote for the best candidate in the Democratic primary [NH requires we 'declare' membership, so I am listed as a Democrat]. I have yet to have a situation where a 3rd Party candidate with any appeal in my State has run.

    If I lived in Vermont, obviously this story would be different.

    "Parties" mean very little to me, especially if they stray far from their stated goals and platform; if just so happens that Democrats in my State offer the best candidates, without exception.

    I wish Democrats would show some party discipline nationally and would adhere more to their stated Party platform. If that were to happen, I'd consider rejoining the Party.

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