Questions about the 2 party system

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InstinctSage
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Questions about the 2 party system

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:56 am UTC

I thought I'd post this in a new topic, because I have a number of questions about the system, but it stemmed from this post in the "Questions about Obama" thread:
Spoiler:
++$_ wrote:Okay. Seriously, though, this idea that we should vote for Nader because he's better than the two other candidates is ridiculous. It ignores reality. The reality of our voting system is that there is no runoff in the election, which means that if a certain bloc of voters splits their votes, they lose. For example, suppose that exactly the following people run for president at the same time:

Barack Obama
Ralph Nader
Paul Krugman
Claire McCaskill
Hillary Clinton
John McCain

Even if 80% of the country opposed John McCain and only 20% supported him, McCain would win if the liberal bloc split their votes among their candidates. If, as is actually the case, the split were closer to 55-45, McCain wins in a landslide. This is not what the Nader voters intended, but it's what they got.

That's why we have political parties in the United States. So that the vote isn't split over multiple, well-qualified candidates, which ends up handing the election to the opposition if they have formed a party.

Voting for Nader instead of Obama doesn't make it more likely that Nader becomes President, but it does make it more likely that McCain becomes President.

This seems really weird to me because I'm used to a preferential voting system, whereby candidates who actually have enough support to run (but not necessarily have a realistic chance at winning) don't simply get snubbed as irrelevant because they can give preference to another candidate. Therefore, voting for Nader under that instance would work, because Nader voters could give second preference to Obama. If more vote for Obama, the Nader votes go to Obama for the candidacy.

You can even have a 3rd party, such as the Greens or even Pauline Hanson's One Nation party running and winning seats in the House of Reps and the Senate. These minor parties can become important when they hold the balance of power between the two major parties.

I always hear that voting for a 3rd party candidate (with respect to American voting) is "throwing your vote away" and it doesn't sound like it's completely tongue in cheek, either.

How are independents and 3rd parties properly represented if people are encouraged to never vote for them until they become popular enough to win a majority?
How does the system prevent the Senate being overrun by the elected majority?
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Intercept » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:05 am UTC

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27060

This topic covers some of the same concepts and possible alternatives and solutions to the USA's current voting system.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby apeman5291 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 am UTC

When an American votes for a third party candidate, they don't expect them to win. The idea of a minor party in a two major party system is that if the minor party draws enough votes away from a major party, that party will be forced to adopt the main ideas of the third party to keep their votes. In doing so, the third party will be both killed off (because now you can vote for the major party with the same ideas) and preserved forever. The best example of this process is the Populist Party. Kinda zen.

Secondly, the Senate is not over-run by the majority because of a magical thing called filibustering. This means that anyone in the Senate can stand up and talk about anything for as long as they want and everyone has to give them their attention. The idea is that if the minority is about to get steamrolled, they can send someone up to the front to read the phone book for 24 hours, and draw out a compromise from the majority. Granted, the majority will always have the advantage, but they will compromise on issues they aren't quite as adament about.

It's not a perfect system, but what is?

EDIT: It sounds like the link posted above talks about the system you described as an alternative to the two-party system. It's worth a read.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Falmarri » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:17 am UTC

We vote for third parties because we refuse to vote for the lesser of 2 evils. It's a principle thing. The choice isn't Obama or Nader. It's Nader or not voting. Though voting for Nader is throwing your vote away anyway because Nader is terrible. If you want to throw your vote away, throw it away to the Ronpaul.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:37 am UTC

I hate when people insist that voting third party is "throwing your vote away". It's not. By voting libertarian i help add legitimacy to the libertarian party and i cast my vote for the candidate i want. The only reason the US has anything like a two party system is because that's what everyone thinks it is. If people would get their head out of their ass and see the alternatives things could get a lot better.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby clintonius » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:46 am UTC

I think a better way to give alternative parties credibility would be a change in the voting system. I wrote this in another thread a while ago about mixed member proportional systems:
clintonius wrote:Yeah, the way I understand it (and apologies for the serious off-topicness here) is that you play a more serious part in the primaries for the party you belong to, and candidates are ranked on the ballot based on the number of votes they received in the primary. Then, during general election, you cast a vote for a party rather than a candidate. The number of candidates that make it into office from any given party depends on the number of votes for that party, so it's important to do well in your primaries, especially if you aren't a member of one of the most prominent parties.

It'd be an interesting switch from our current, more or less adversarial system.
and I think it'd be great to see something like that implemented at some point in the future. Right now, I'm not sure we're up to it. But the two-party system is very real, and while gunfingers, etc may toss their vote to another party, it doesn't have much effect. Also, the bigger the election, the lower the chances of actually electing a third-party politician (we've got a few independents in Congress, I believe, but there's not a chance in hell of getting anybody besides Obama or McCain in the White House this election).
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:01 am UTC

clintonius wrote:Right now, I'm not sure we're up to it. But the two-party system is very real, and while gunfingers, etc may toss their vote to another party, it doesn't have much effect. Also, the bigger the election, the lower the chances of actually electing a third-party politician (we've got a few independents in Congress, I believe, but there's not a chance in hell of getting anybody besides Obama or McCain in the White House this election).

Okay, so there ARE independents in congress, and they're there thanks to voters like gunfingers who go for the independents? This is what I don't understand.

Intercept wrote:http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27060
This topic covers some of the same concepts and possible alternatives and solutions to the USA's current voting system.

This thread explains a lot about alternatives, but not much about the system as is.

With all this focus on who is going to be the President, and all this hullabaloo over the primaries, I get a bit lost. Hilary and Obama had a run off for the Democratic Party Nomination, so since Obama won that, Hilary doesn't get squat? Do her supporters get any representation in congress or will everyone be towing the Obama Democratic Party line now?

And if the Democrats were to win say, 55% - 45% over the Republicans, do they have a majority in congress, or does that get split differently?
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby roc314 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:07 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:And if the Democrats were to win say, 55% - 45% over the Republicans, do they have a majority in congress, or does that get split differently?
Congress is elected completely differently from the president (which is one excellent thing about the USAian system). Each congressperson is elected separately in whichever state/district they want to represent.* It's in no way decided by the presidential election; in fact, it is quite common to have congress controlled by one party while another has the presidency.

EDIT: So to have a majority in congress, the party would have to win a majority of the 438-439 different congressional elections that year (and since two thirds of the senators aren't up for reelection that term (they are staggered over a 6 year basis by 2 years each), you would need to also overcome any senators the other party would already have).
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Intercept » Tue Oct 14, 2008 3:23 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:
Intercept wrote:http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27060
This topic covers some of the same concepts and possible alternatives and solutions to the USA's current voting system.

This thread explains a lot about alternatives, but not much about the system as is.

With all this focus on who is going to be the President, and all this hullabaloo over the primaries, I get a bit lost. Hilary and Obama had a run off for the Democratic Party Nomination, so since Obama won that, Hilary doesn't get squat? Do her supporters get any representation in congress or will everyone be towing the Obama Democratic Party line now?

And if the Democrats were to win say, 55% - 45% over the Republicans, do they have a majority in congress, or does that get split differently?


Ah, sorry, I didn't notice you were Australian and assumed you understood the current system. My mistake. As pointed out above, congress is elected completely separately. As for say, Hilary's situation, yes she gets squat. In fact, she does not, and did not get the running mate spot. That is just decided by the winner of the primaries and their camp. One could argue this is flawed: Clinton did better in the primaries and was more favored by the voters over Biden. However, the primaries are strictly to see who gets the presidential nod. This allows the winner to pick a running mate that compliments him better.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Oct 14, 2008 3:43 am UTC

I wouldn't think the running mate spot would go to the 2nd place candidate. I just wondered whether the second place candidate got anything. But it makes sense that she'd simply remain a senator for the Democrats. Just like a leadership challenge in Australian government.

As far as I see there are 2 independent seats in the Senate and none in the lower house. Yet parties are listed that got fewer than 200,000 votes? The reform party got only 53,000... How many supporters do you have to have to form a legitimate party and run?
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Griffin » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:49 am UTC

How many supporters do you have to have to form a legitimate party and run?


To form a party?
Yourself, and thats it. Parties are not in any way governed or decided by the government, so there's no governmental limitations on forming them. However, for people to actually talk about you, well, that's a different story.

To run a candidate?
To run, you also need no supporters. Technically, everyone is "in the running".

Now, as to legitimate... Thats all in the eyes of the public. My favorite part is the Cool Moose party, but of course its composed of one person running for one office, and is very local. (His first action should he be elected would be to abolish the office, the one power that office actually has). He came very very close to winning last election and I was glad to support him.

I think in other countries where parties and government are explicitly interwined, they don't understand that parties in America are nothing more than groups of people who advertise candidates they like - as far as the system is concerned, they mean nothing whatsoever. They're just particularly powerful organizations built around voting blocs who figured it would be in their best interest to coordinate.

This is why last election I voted for a two republicans, one cool moose,three democrats, a handful of independents, and someone who's party I can't remember.

Also, the way the parties primaries are organized they essentially are the elections, with the real election being the run off between the last two candidates.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby btarlinian » Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:57 am UTC

It seems like the OP is a bit ignorant of the American political system. Basically, the Congress (i.e., the House of Representatives and Senate) and the Presidency are two entirely separate branches of government, (except on one minor occasion, the vice president casts tie breaking votes in the Senate). The seats in the House of Representatives are alloted by the states' population. For example, California gets 53 Representatives while Wyoming gets 1. In the Senate though, each state gets two Senators. The election for each senator or representative is self-contained. In fact, Representatives typically represent districts within a state and only the people living in that district get to vote for that representative. The general elections for the House are held every two years in November along with 1/3 of the Senate. (A Senator's term is 6 years, so 1/3 of the senators are up for reelection each 2 year period.) Typically in a general election you will see a democratic candidate, a republican candidate and some minor third party candidates. It is certainly possible for third party candidates to win House of Representative seats, especially in extremely liberal or conservative areas.

The primary elections are what decide who the democratic candidate, republican candidate, (various other third party candidates, etc.) will be. Usually each state sets its own primary election date. The rules governing primary candidacy probably vary from party to party. The Republicans may have their own rules on who can run, the Democrats their own, etc. (I do not believe that any of these rules are restrictive in any meaningful way though. It's just that more obscure candidates will never garner enough votes to win.) Typically only party members can vote in a specific party's primary election. However, Democrats typically allow unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary election and some states require all parties to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary election. The winner of the primary election for each party is nominated by his or her respective party for candidacy in the general election. This is how the process works regardless of office. (Obviously for senators and representatives they only vote within their respective states/districts.)

In the general election, anyone can get their name put on a states' ballot. Each state has its own rules for how you can get on its ballot. Typically a petition with X number of signatures is required. However, only the winner of a party's primary election can put its name in as that party's candidate. For example, if Hillary Clinton wanted, she could run as an independent in the general election, but not as a democrat since she didn't win the Democrats' primary. In the general election each states tabulates votes for each candidate. The candidate with the most votes in that state gets all of the electoral votes of that state. (Some states, such as Nebraska and Maine split their electoral votes among their Congressional districts.) Hence, the focus on battleground states. It is practically guaranteed that Obama will get a majority of the votes in California. Therefore, it does him no good to campaign here. An additional vote in California for Obama doesn't do anything. (Neither does one for McCain either, unless there are enough to make McCain voters the majority).

In this year's election it is also predicted that the Democrats will win more of the House of Representative and Senate elections due to dissatisfaction with the Bush presidency and a myriad of other factors (bad economy, etc.). But these elections are completely separate, in a legal standpoint, from the presidential election.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:33 am UTC

btarlinian wrote:In the general election, anyone can get their name put on a states' ballot. Each state has its own rules for how you can get on its ballot. Typically a petition with X number of signatures is required. However, only the winner of a party's primary election can put its name in as that party's candidate. For example, if Hillary Clinton wanted, she could run as an independent in the general election, but not as a democrat since she didn't win the Democrats' primary. In the general election each states tabulates votes for each candidate. The candidate with the most votes in that state gets all of the electoral votes of that state. (Some states, such as Nebraska and Maine split their electoral votes among their Congressional districts.) Hence, the focus on battleground states. It is practically guaranteed that Obama will get a majority of the votes in California. Therefore, it does him no good to campaign here. An additional vote in California for Obama doesn't do anything. (Neither does one for McCain either, unless there are enough to make McCain voters the majority).

First up, thanks for the run down. The separation of congress from Presidency is what keeps throwing me. Well, that and the way it all seems to add up to joining the hegemonic entities of either Democratic or Republican parties. I mean, how can you have different candidates standing for different issues all fighting to be the representative of a party that's about to walk into an election? A leadership change before an election is generally a sign of instability, but it seems the system is geared specifically for it.
And if your views aren't catered to by the Dems or Republicans, it seems the best bet is to join the rank and file of the closest and try to enact change towards your policy from there, because you won't even get a look in anywhere else.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby qinwamascot » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:16 am UTC

People tend to vote for 3rd parties based on logical decisions.

For example, right now I live in Oklahoma. This is an amazingly Republican dominated state, for those who don't know. No matter who I vote for here, it is a waste, so I might as well vote for a candidate who I agree with on most of the issues. This would likely be some leftist candidate. I could logically even justify voting for someone farther from center than me, because it makes a stronger statement and the person won't win anyway. In this case, I might even vote for a communist candidate, just to make a strong statement that change is needed.

In my actual voting state, New Jersey, it's slightly closer. Voting for Obama could make a difference in a worst-case scenario. So I could justify voting for him, even though it is not all that close and we don't agree on some things. This is what I plan to do.

If I lived in a close state, like Florida or Pennsylvania, I'd probably ignore which candidate is the closest to my position, and vote for Obama or McCain regardless. If I really didn't care, then I'd vote 3rd party, but even a slight preference would be enough to sway me to either one.

3rd parties often are based on issues. The green party wants to end Global Warming. The legalize marijuana party (which consists of just one man who runs in one state (New Jersey), yet is the single most successful 3rd party in the state) wants to legalize marijuana. Other parties emphasize a particular ideology, like socialists or libertarians. Voting for these is a signal to the people of support for this ideology or issue. If a candidate gets enough votes, the media will start to cover the success. This forces the 2 major parties to either adopt the issue or risk losing dominance to the minor party.

You could think of third parities as a check on major parties. Although the independents will likely not ever become dominant, they can press issues well.

As for the independents in the Senate, there are 2. One is a Democrat who got kicked out of the party, yet maintained support in the district. Impressively, he beat out both the Republican and Democratic candidates from the district, even while splitting votes with the Democrat. However, he has become more unpopular and has a good chance of losing in the future. The other one has been in the Senate for quite a while. Both of these are rarities, because the way the voting system works gives tremendous power to 2 parties and only very small power to others.

Independent candidates or 3rd party people also tend to do better in more local elections, where the money is not nearly as large and there is less media coverage.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Kachi » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:20 am UTC

If all you're going to do is cast your vote for a third party, then yes, it's pretty much a throw away vote, particularly if you have any preference at all for one of the candidates that actually has a shot in that election.

Assuming that you had absolutely no preference for either of those candidates, then a third party vote would be fine.

If you just want to add legitimacy to a third party or influence politicians, there are far more meaningful and effective ways than throwing away your vote.

My honest opinion is that aside from very centrist politicians, third parties are a waste. Even the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats do not lean too radically out of the middle. Sure, you have your libertarians and your socialists, but the general population will never vote for them because they're too "out there" as a matter of policy. They propose more rapid policy change than human beings will ever be comfortable with, I think. Personally, I'm more of a socialist, but I'm perfectly content to vote socialist-lite (democrat), realizing that there is an ideological shift in that party which will over time lean towards my views.

If I had any faith in libertarianism, I'd feel sorry for them, because ideologically they should just vote Republican, but especially in this election, and more importantly in general, the Republican party doesn't weaken government the way it says it will, historically.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Griffin » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:25 am UTC

A leadership change before an election is generally a sign of instability, but it seems the system is geared specifically for it.


Parties don't really have "leaders" the way you seem to describe them here... sure, the party in the presidency might have a "leader" in the sense he generally guides policy, but he can also be totally ignored by his own party and in the case of a term limit his "leadership" HAS to change. Parties are coalitions, not dictatorships.

Both of these are rarities, because the way the voting system works gives tremendous power to 2 parties and only very small power to others.


OR because candidates aren't stupid, and they realize taking one of the labels, even if they ignore the party pretty completely, gives free votes? And people stupid enough to turn down free votes generally don't get elected to national office.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby btarlinian » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:30 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:I mean, how can you have different candidates standing for different issues all fighting to be the representative of a party that's about to walk into an election? A leadership change before an election is generally a sign of instability, but it seems the system is geared specifically for it.
And if your views aren't catered to by the Dems or Republicans, it seems the best bet is to join the rank and file of the closest and try to enact change towards your policy from there, because you won't even get a look in anywhere else.


Basically there is no formal idea of a party leader. Sure there are some leaders. But there is a sharp division between party leadership and government leadership. For example, the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee is Howard Dean, but that in no way makes him a governmental leader. Admittedly, if your party holds the presidency (and the president isn't wildly unpopular, ala Bush), the president is often viewed as the leader of the party. In presidential election years, the nominee is typically considered the party leader. But it is important to note that there is no legal concept of party leadership. Even in the senate where you hear terms like Senate majority leader, etc. What that means is that when the Senate voted on who their leader should be the majority voted for that person. (the guy who came in second place is the minority leader). The same goes for the Speaker of the House in the lower Congressional body. In a sense all of these people can be considered part of the party leadership. Especially if one group holds power in the Congress for a good deal of time, the Speaker of the House or Senate Majority leader can become quite a powerful political figure, even though they only officially represent a small district or state. Newt Gingrich is perhaps one of the best examples of this. He was basically a Republican icon during most of the Clinton years since he was the Speaker of the House for a rather long time. In fact, his being forced from power was a rather important event in recent political history.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:34 am UTC

@ qinwamascot

Ah, that's a better explanation of what apeman was getting at earlier. It's still a little hazy, though. If 3rd parties are based on issues, why aren't there any issues neither party will want to risk picking up, yet still have a strong following? You know, something that gets a significant percentage of the vote in a number of states, yet a large percentage of both parties would be opposed to adopting as policy. Is that just really rare when you have 2 parties who are willing to oppose one another on issues just to keep the battle lines drawn?

And, similar to what Kachi is saying, ideological shifts in both parties seem inevitable when they're a sort of political amorphous glob absorbing issues. Maybe it's just the scale that's confusing me on that point. It's probably perfectly reasonable that you could vote Republican/Democrat your entire life and agree with the ever changing party line your entire life, but it seems like a strange idea.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby qinwamascot » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:58 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:@ qinwamascot

Ah, that's a better explanation of what apeman was getting at earlier. It's still a little hazy, though. If 3rd parties are based on issues, why aren't there any issues neither party will want to risk picking up, yet still have a strong following? You know, something that gets a significant percentage of the vote in a number of states, yet a large percentage of both parties would be opposed to adopting as policy. Is that just really rare when you have 2 parties who are willing to oppose one another on issues just to keep the battle lines drawn?


Usually the number of people on one side or the other has to break through some critical point. Before that, the parties, as a whole, won't even talk about issues. For instance, gay marriage is supported by the Democratic party (somewhat-it's sort of a debate within the party) but opposed by the Republicans. However, a little while ago, both parties were opposed to it, so it remained a fringe issue. A few politicians on both sides were in support, but the consensus was opposition.

However, the number of voters who started saying that this was an important issue increased, particularly among Democrats. Politicians started losing potential votes due to their positions on this. There are a variety of ways to inform a politician that an issue is important, like sending mail. But the most powerful is to vote. Democrats were never really in danger of losing to more liberal people; the lost votes actually made it dangerous against the Republicans. As a result, the issue became adopted by them. The Republican base was opposed to this, so the Republicans didn't change. Thus, it became a controversial issue.

Usually, if an issue is strongly supported, it is disproportionately supported by one of the two bases, so that party stands to lose votes and possibly seats if they don't adopt the issue. It's sort of like in economics, where if enough people want to buy something, suppliers will make more. I'm not saying that individual politicians are that fickle. In some cases they are. In others they are replaced by people who are more in line with current ideas.

And, similar to what Kachi is saying, ideological shifts in both parties seem inevitable when they're a sort of political amorphous glob absorbing issues. Maybe it's just the scale that's confusing me on that point. It's probably perfectly reasonable that you could vote Republican/Democrat your entire life and agree with the ever changing party line your entire life, but it seems like a strange idea.


You wouldn't necessarily agree with the party on everything your entire life, although you potentially could. It's the fact that you agree with the party on more things than not. Remember that a large portion of voters will always vote for one of the two parties. If I am far to the left of either, but don't want to vote for a third party, I may very well vote for the center-left guy my whole life, even though I don't agree with him on everything. Also, although these kinds of changes occur, they are generally spread over decades, and tend to only happen in a few issues. The issues shift in and out of focus, but positions on them change more slowly. So, for an average human lifespan, it isn't unlikely that only a small portion of the issues will have actual shifts in position. As an individual voter, I might be totally concerned with other things.

Perhaps the problem is understanding the scale of this effect. It is very slow and hard to observe directly, but we can see historical examples of it. Like when socialism became immensely popular in the early 30s, Roosevelt and the Democrats adopted some of its policies, while simultaneously rejecting socialism as a whole. However, the conversion of the Democratic party to these ideals took well into the 50s, and possibly later. It's hard to say.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:09 pm UTC

To the OP,

Something else you might not be aware of is the phenonom known as the "American Ideological Consensus"

I don't know if you have ever taken a political ideology quiz, politicalcompass is a decent one, but Americans are remarkable similiar.
90% + of Americans are basically identical in their political ideologies with only minor differences. Of course we think the differences are enoromous, but in fact they are not.
Republicans want to take the rich at 23% Dems want to tax them at 30%.
Nobody likes Abortion, everyone hates communism, everyone hates racism, we all like having a strong national defense, etc etc.

There are a few deviants in here in American who fall outside these political norms, but for the most part the answer to the question of "Why do we only have two parties?"
Answer: Its all we need. We have two parties that fall right in the middle or at the center of political ideologies, with minor minor differences.

So if you actually went out and formed a communist party or fascist party or a hardcore libertarian party, you would quickly find that you will find almost no support. There just aren't that many Americans whose ideologies are going to mesh with most of the 3rd parties.

Furthermore,
The most affective way to change the party system in America has always been to infiltrate the party and try to change it from within. (See the Ronpaul)

Ixtellor
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:27 pm UTC

Do the third party voters actually get anything out of getting votes? Or is it, in practical terms, useless (especially in a majority state, for example)? Basically is there a practical difference between voting third party and just not voting (or spoiling your ballot)?

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:57 pm UTC

Who is voted for is recorded. If a third party get's 10% of the vote, people will know that 10% of the population care about what that party thinks. Even if that particular party doesn't get elected, it motivates the more established parties to try to cater to that 10%.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby qinwamascot » Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:13 pm UTC

If even 2-3% of the population votes for a 3rd party, it is huge because of how little media coverage they get. In the future they will be taken far more seriously, like Nader is now (although everyone realizes he won't win). It forces Obama and McCain to accept some of his agenda, or else they will lose votes to him. Probably more Obama than McCain in this case.

But ultimately, if you want to directly get something done, not just by sending messages to the government and the media and the public, then voting for a 3rd party is pretty useless. You'd be better off running yourself.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:37 pm UTC

If you're gonna go that route, voting in general is useless. Not like one candidate is going to win over the other by one vote.

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:40 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:Perhaps the problem is understanding the scale of this effect. It is very slow and hard to observe directly, but we can see historical examples of it. Like when socialism became immensely popular in the early 30s, Roosevelt and the Democrats adopted some of its policies, while simultaneously rejecting socialism as a whole. However, the conversion of the Democratic party to these ideals took well into the 50s, and possibly later. It's hard to say.

By scale I was more referring to the size of the population base and the means by which one can find their own political ideology supported by choosing one of two opposing parties who both seem destined to be forever embroiled in internal conflict over the many issues being absorbed that aren't supported by the majority.

Like if you expanded the concept out to encompass a world government with two opposing parties, rather than just America. Two political parties couldn't possibly encompass the broad range of political ideologies and even though there might be 5% support for one ideology, it couldn't possibly be simply absorbed into a larger party without constant debate over issues.

But this seems all answered by Ixtellor:
Ixtellor wrote:American Ideological Consensus:
Why do we only have two parties?
Answer: Its all we need. We have two parties that fall right in the middle or at the center of political ideologies, with minor minor differences.
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby a thing » Wed Oct 15, 2008 2:30 am UTC

Third parties are not just to raise awareness of one issue. Some, like the Pirate Party and Legalize Marijuana Party, certainly are. However, some have a broad platform encompassing many issues, such as the Libertarian Party and Constitution Party. Some independents, most notably Ralph Nader, also have broad platforms encompassing many issues.

The two party system is driven by FUD of change. The "political suicide" of mentioning unpopular and unconventional issues is too. There are some very serious issues that the RepuliCrats do not even really consider (if at all), such as the incredibly bloated military budget, the failure to persecute corporate criminals, the utter failure and intrusion upon civil liberties that is the War on Drugs, the RepuliCrats active efforts to silence third parties and independents, the impeachment of Bush, direct democracy (National Initiative For Democracy), the MAFIAA's War on Sharing.

(Yes, I do support Ralph Nader.)
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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby darlets » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:49 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Something else you might not be aware of is the phenonom known as the "American Ideological Consensus"

I don't know if you have ever taken a political ideology quiz, politicalcompass is a decent one, but Americans are remarkable similiar.
90% + of Americans are basically identical in their political ideologies with only minor differences. Of course we think the differences are enoromous, but in fact they are not.


This pretty much sums it up. America actually has a one party system. The business party.
There's a closing gap between our two main parties in Australia too in terms of outlook.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzeaWG9Dx50

It's important to note from an Australian point of view, the U.S left wing party is more right wing than our right wing party. If you like, the U.S has a right, right wing party and a right, right, right wing party.

I once thought the U.S would benefit from a preferential voting system, now I'm not quite so sure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting

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Re: Questions about the 2 party system

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:20 am UTC

darlets wrote:This pretty much sums it up. America actually has a one party system. The business party.
There's a closing gap between our two main parties in Australia too in terms of outlook.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzeaWG9Dx50


This is unfortunate, but there is a lot of truth in that.

It's important to note from an Australian point of view, the U.S left wing party is more right wing than our right wing party. If you like, the U.S has a right, right wing party and a right, right, right wing party.


Very true. moderate liberals in other countries are seen as extremists here. Myself being very liberal in the UK, I am basically a communist here. Check this to see how bad it really is.

I once thought the U.S would benefit from a preferential voting system, now I'm not quite so sure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting


There is a lot of debate about this. Some say it will improve the chances of 3rd parties. Others say it will eliminate them from the equation. There really isn't a good solution, although removing the electoral college would be a good first step.
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