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Will We See A Successful Third Party in Our Lifetimes?


The government shutdown might have a consequence neither of the two parties anticipated: a little competition. Gallup reports that support for a third party is at a new high:

Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.

Third parties regularly fail in American life, but the hunger for an alternative to the two existing parties points to one of our core beliefs here at VM: the profound transformation reshaping America demands new ideas and new approaches that go well beyond the alternatives being offered by either party today. The Democrats are trapped by their nostalgia for a blue social model that cannot thrive under current conditions, and the GOP seems more eager to bash bad Democratic ideas than to develop serious proposals that would meet the needs of our times.

In the meantime, voter dissatisfaction with both parties grows. Third party or no, the Democrats and Republicans are going to have to significantly adapt to changing economic, cultural, and political realities in the coming years.

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  • Pete

    Depending on one’s age, a more relevant question might be is if we’ll see a United States in our lifetimes or could the country be broken up along red and blue lines..

    • Dusty Thompson

      It already has. America is being held up by a puppeteer strings of the corrupt Fed… When the s**t hits the fans as it absolutely will then we will see, not another American revolution but another French revolution and heads will roll…

  • Boritz

    … the Democrats and Republicans are going to have to significantly adapt to changing economic, cultural, and political realities in the coming years. –VM

    Or the 99 percenters are going to have to adapt to the ruling class. So far there isn’t much of a contest. One side grumbles and voices dissatisfaction and the other rams through what it wants and says we’re going to make you like it.

    • Corlyss

      The strong do what they will. The weak suffer what they must. – Thucydides

  • Anthony

    WRM, in some academic circles it has been proffered that the two-party electoral system performs the essential function of helping to legitimate the existing order. That is, it provides the form of republican government with little of the substance. Therein lies some of Gallup’s respondents dissatisfaction – which brings to mind: do the differences between the parties make a difference on most fundamental economic class issues. Nevertheless whatever their differences, the two major parties cooperate in various ways to maintain their monopoly over electoral politics and discourage third parties – thus, WRM’s call that Rep. and Dem. adapt to changing cultural, economic, and political realities or face implied 3rd party challenge faces myriad complications electorally.

  • Corlyss


    • Bruno_Behrend

      Yes. Perot and even Ventura were “successful” in that they changed the dynamic.

      On the day Clinton become president, the GOP picked up 5 seats. The 1994 elections were the result of the Perot voter, which is the Tea Party voter, which was also the Reagan Dem voter.

      These voters have no party, and tend to fade into the wood work in good times.

      All they need to do to succeed is to change the dynamic.

      Now, what is needed, is for the center right (Christie, Bush) to bolt from the Tea Party, letting them have the GOP.

      A Left-Conservative-ultra Conservative dynamic will be good for the USA.

      Changing the current dynamic, if only for a cycle or two, will be a smashing success. The current dynamic is killing us.

      blow it up

      • Corlyss

        If changing the dynamic is all a 3rd party movement does, but it fails to coalesce as a party, then it fails, period.The Big Two always co-opt the most successful platform planks. When it comes to some things, like out to change to survive, the Big Two are not ‘tupid.

        • Bruno_Behrend

          You make my point. If a third party’s most successful or popular planks are “co-opted” by one of the big 2 then the party is successful.

          You may define success as superseding and destroying one of the big 2. I do not.

          If a 3rd party or successful independent takes power in a state, fixes problems, and gains popularity, AND that popularity results in the policies being co-opted nationally, leading to more success, it is quite rational to call that party a success.

          I don’t care about parties. I care about dynamics, and the dynamic in the USA is horrible right now.

          The current dynamic must be destabilized.

          • Corlyss

            Then we’ll just have to agree to disagree about the definition of success. Organizations set themselves up primarily to survive as entities, secondarily to accomplish some goal. (If you think that’s not true, just watch what happens when the goals put survival in jeopardy.) I don’t think the Whigs would consider themselves successful.

          • Bruno_Behrend

            I don’t really disagree, but I care more about goals than the GOP or Dems .

            They can worry about themselves. Their demise/weakening couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

  • Jane the Actuary

    A third party makes no sense in a situation in with winner-take-all elections, except in a case where, in very short order, such a party has a chance to, in fact, win the plurality of votes.

    If we had a parliamentary system, with proportional representation and coalition-building, that would be another story!

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The TEA Party is in the process of taking over the Republican Party from the inside, so it is a third party just using a different political tactic to gain power. The reason why there is a civil war going on inside the Republican Party right now, is because the TEA Party clearly has momentum and the principleless Establishment Republicans (terrified of the coming primary season) see their jobs endangered which is all they ever really care about.

    • Bruno_Behrend

      Your description of what is happening is accurate.

      That is why we need a 3rd party. Let the GOP be libertarian and the Dems be socialist.

      The nation will need a center right party to manage the chaos created by these two extremes.

    • WildBill0283

      The TEA party needs to work covertly to get a liberal third party like the Green party more visibility. That could split the Democrat vote enough to have them both lose.

    • catorenasci

      The problem with taking the Republican Party from within is that the brand is so badly damaged among independents and traditionally Democratic voters who are thoroughly disgusted with what the Democrats have become, that it may not be worth much.

      As the Whigs died over slavery, the Republicans may die over the social issues, for the opposite reason.

      The damaged brand combined with distrust by the base of the effects of Potomac Fever (nice phrase) really make it problematic if the Republicans can govern in the future. One more terrible candidate in the McCain/Romney mode, and a couple of more backs of the hand to the Tea Party, and they’re toast

      • cubanbob

        You think ObamaCare,shovel ready BS, IRS scandals, Benghazi,Fast and Furious, stimulus and son-of stimulus and the current political agit-prop is helping the Democrat brand?

  • stan

    I’m always amused when people such as WRM claim that liberty is not a serious proposal.

    • Ritchie The Riveter

      Agreed … the one proposal that the GOP should be serious about, to meet the needs of our time, is also the one hardest to sell to whole generations used to outsourcing their responsibility and initiative to the “experts” of the Blue Model …

      … the proposal that we pull back government intervention to the limits of its legitimate mission: the tasks that directly pertain to securing life, liberty and the ability to pursue happiness.

      Every other need, is OUR job to fulfill, as individuals and neighbors.

      Problem is, that is not the foundation upon which one can build perpetual political careers or bureaucratic empires … not to mention that it opens one up to accusations of “heartlessness” and even “greed”, kicked by the jerking knees of those who have never taken the time to see any alternative to the Blue Model.

      That is why, with few exceptions, both parties propose anything BUT that.

      • Dusty Thompson

        I hate my neighbors. They are all jerks that have many generations of jerks all living in one house and Im forced to suffer because they raise generational idiots… Something is terribly wrong when you have great great Grandmothers living in the same house as their notso great great grand kids… All of them supported by the nanny state of Kalifornia in numerous and various ways. The trend now is for Mexicans that got amnesty on 86′ to claim “native American benefits”. They are nasty takers that in 30 years have literally destroyed my home town and my state and soon my country… But yeah, we need millions of more “immigrants”…

  • WilliamK

    The big problem is Potomac fever. Once they get there, both the dems and the GOP, they become part of the DC Chamber of Commerce whose goal is to grow the wealth of government so they an get a piece of it.

  • TheRadicalModerate

    It’s almost impossible to have a stable third party in a non-parliamentary democracy with plurality voting. I’m a big fan of instant-runoff voting as a way of giving third parties more power and a path to achieving a majority.

    But the US has had parties that fragment, leading to the emergence of a new two-party alignment. I have a feeling that the Tea Party is about to precipitate such a fragmentation. Note that this has only happened twice in American history. You could argue that it really only happened once but it took 30 years to happen. Either way, the results weren’t pretty.

    • RedWell

      Thank you. All the pop analysis on this topic is moot because the problem is a mathematical one: if you have single-member districts, you vote for individuals, not parties and winners only need a plurality of the vote, it is almost impossible for a third party to arise because it’s never rational to financially support or vote for one. There are occasional outliers, but they can only become a national movement if one of the two dominant parties self-destructs.
      Really, citizens are trapped in this system but most don’t even know that it exists.

  • Rick Caird

    There are few Republicans who represent their constituents. They basically represent themselves and feed at the trough. There are even fewer Democrats who are not tough feeder.

    We need a third party to get the self described elite out of Washington and back to their old homestead.

  • Peakbagger

    Run third-loser-in-a-row Christie and see what happens. There is already a third party — the one that sat out the last presidential election.

  • Dusty Thompson

    The American MEDIA would never allow it to happen. Its kinda cool and fun for them at first. Then when the challenge actually mate5rializes you will see the entire CRIME SYNDICATE come together and destroy that person. Ross Perot was no crazier at the start than the end of his campaign. The media NARRATIVE changed and has now officially become record. Ross Perot could have been Americas savior..

  • Dusty Thompson

    Most of us firmly believe in small Govt. This natural tendency prevents us from having any kind Party representation. Just as Perots party, the PROGRESIVE GOPers will assume control the second they think it is viable thus destroying what we are trying to create before its created..

  • Dusty Thompson

    The Marxist have no problem keeping the DNC functioning as a Political Party… It comes natural to a MARXIST….

  • robin hood in reverse

    The reasoning for a third party boils down to both parties being one party. The words are hard to find but three houses systemically sub-divided into 45 teams could work very well by being like the free market.

  • Tom Lewellen

    This is a great moment in American history to establish a new party. Both parties are held in low estimtion. Both parties are funded with massive donations that assure the status quo, that nothing real changes. Both parties run from big ideas that might fix the economic, social and cultural decline that is sure to continue unabated throughout our children’s lives.
    Peter Schrumpter would consider this is a perfect moment for creative destruction; to provide an alternative to the Edsel and Studebaker political brands in Washington.
    If anyone in Arizona is interested, we are starting a grassroots effort to create a party and considering is we can get a good kernal of people we would start something in January. tomlewellen12 @g

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