Aug 9, 2006

On Third Parties, Voter Disaffection, and the Living Room Couch

The calls among Americans for a third party are louder than I can ever recall, and yet the movement for the creation of such a challenge to the Republicrat duopoly seems moribund.

Previous incarnations of disaffected voters – the Reform Party in 1992 and 1996, the Green Party in 2000 – revolved around charismatic candidates. No politician with true star power has yet emerged as a possible figurehead to match the enthusiastic campaigns that marked the presidential bids of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.

One might argue that the stranglehold on ballot access sustained by the Democrats and Republicans stifles third parties, leaving them stillborn. Others maintain that the influx of big money from special interests reinforces the status quo, as major parties can outspend their smaller competitors 1000 times over.

Both arguments have merit, but my suspicion is that Americans are simply too fat and lazy to provide the grassroots mobilization necessary to bring real change.

This sounds harsh, but conditions in this country are not sufficiently dire to bring enough Americans around to the conviction that they must throw the bums out.

Thus, we continue to whine about the war, a sluggish economy, massive budget deficits, and illegal immigration, but we are not motivated enough to get off the couch do anything about these problems.

Until our national apathy is cured, we will continue to see more of the same.


Brian1984 said...

The two party system has served us well through our entire history. It assures that something resembling a majority select office holders. A splintered electorate creates leaders selected by a small minority of voters. That's no good.

The reason third parties don't survive is because they usually organize around a single issue (Ross Perot), or organize at the political fringes (Green Party).

I think the third party movement that tried to coalesce around John Anderson in 1980 was a much more authentic third-party movement than the Reform Party which was driven much by Ross Perot's personality.

Anderson's failed candidacy was the death of liberal republicanism. But before it expired, it attracted some conservative Democrats.

Newsguy said...

It is a shame that Green Party politics can't attract enough voters to be a viable political choice. I would never vote Green, because it would only benefit the conservatives and reactionaries. Ralph Nader in 2000 is the perfect example.

Meanwhile, I am of the firm belief that the environment is THE crucial issue of our time. It makes terrorism look almost irrelevant. Quoting myself, "...the most "intelligent" creature, the one at the top of the food chain, does not have the intelligence to survive. Just enough intelligence to invent its own destruction. Not enough to prevent it."

And not enough intelligence collectively, to support the Green Party and its agenda of saving mankind through respect for the environment.

It is ironic, to me, that the Republican party is now in the grip of religious fundamentalism, a God fervor -- and at the same time the GOP leaders bless the corporate trashing of God's planet as fast they can drill, mine, bulldoze, spew factory smoke and poison the rivers, the oceans and the air. For profit.

So what kind of lousy political system do we have that discourages formation of a Green Party and discourages me from voting with them?

SSR said...

Very well paraphrased, we enjoyed reading this. It's good to se some innovative alternative research.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Right on target, Mike.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I think that you've hit the proverbial nail on the head my friend.

That, and the successfully downed-down American (lack of) intelligence have put any significant chance of any candidate other than a "D" or an "R" from winning office.

This is now a country ruled by the collective wills of the parties.

There is no longer room for independent thought, taking the best from both, and making a real difference.

Kathleen Marie said...

You know, it did happen in Canada and I know it took a lot of pull and I do think it can happen here.

I think or rather I really believe that if the RIGHT person (and I don't mean right winged) ran that the people would rally around that person. Charisma can draw votes.

I am not sure how bad things have to become economically but I do believe it can and will happen. If I lose hope, all is lost.