Government & Law

The Third Party Scenario

February 26, 2018

Recent history has seen the word compromise dropped from the vocabulary of our national politicians.  It has become a contest – win at all costs.  The polarization has become extreme.  This is not democracy.  A healthy democracy sees the leadership put the interests of the nation and its citizens as the top priority, not the interests of the political party.  Our constitution defines a government and political system that is inherently a two party system (see:  Why are there only two parties in American politics? – The Washington Post).  People who have studied this situation have suggested that a strong third party would be a solution.  No single party would have a majority and force compromise to achieve resolution.  This may be true but reality is that history shows third parties can’t succeed in our system.

Political parties and what they stand for have evolved in the two plus centuries of our democracy.  Given the current political climate we may be at the beginning stages of further evolution.  In both parties, but more so with the Republicans, we see division between the extreme and the more centrist.  On more and more issues the parties are having difficulty achieving a consensus within their own ranks.  Could there be a new centrist party in the future?  I think that that is a possibility.

Another potential result of the discord within parties is the rise of independent candidates.  Independent can side with either major party dependent on the issue.  This could be a very good outcome.  Independent can be on a ballot without the burden of an established third party.  There are so many diverse, divisive issues today that Independent candidates may have an advantage.

Independents have a zero chance of taking the Presidency, but can greatly influence the effectiveness of congress.  The big hurdle here is money.  We have seen and talked about the power of money in politics and its ability to distort outcomes against the general interests of the nation and the majority of the electorate.

This leads us to a possible path out of the ills faced by our democracy – reduce the impact of big money in our politics and bolster the number of independent candidacies.

Photo by dbking

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