Why an American third party remains unlikely

Donald Trump would not be President today if he had tried to mount a third-party candidacy rather than running as a Republican. Bernie Sanders would not be a national leader if he had just stayed in third-party politics in backwater Vermont rather than caucusing with the Democrats and contesting for control of the Democratic Party. So the existing parties are a shortcut to power for ambitious politicians. The parties are porous to those ambitions. In the process, they take on new influences, and new policy priorities.

So it’s really remarkable when you reflect back on what the Republican Party was at its founding and look at what it is today. And the Democratic Party as well. They’ve literally exchanged places. The Republican Party was a Northern party that was for African-American rights, high-taxes, and internal improvements.

That is by Frances Lee, the entire symposium is interesting.  Christopher Caldwell tells us: “The Democrats have become the party of sexual morality.”


After equal legal rights have been established, being “for” progress on black rights or women’s rights necessarily means being for inequality under the law. We see this . illustrated so clearly in the countless examples of explicit anti-white male bigotry from the Democrat party in recent years. The last DNC chair election included a candidate who is an anti-Semitic, black nationalist and candidate who said that her job would be to tell white people to shut up.

It's just you.

Victim blaming people for noticing that Democrats are proud racist, sexist, xenophobes is nothing but a defense mechanism for racists to maintain the self-delusion that discrimination is okay.

So, white males born in the US are genetically superior to white male cousins born outside the US where whites and non-whites perform equally, and non-white black males born in the US perform worse than their male cousins born outside the US?

Meanwhile, white and non-white females born in the US perform equally, as in the rest of the world?

What other explanation could you give for the inequality in the US not seen outside the US?

Ie, if everyone has the same history and opportunity without discrimination, what explains significant differences in outcome but being born in the US causes black males to suffer significant genetic damage that does not occur elsewhere?

"outside the US where whites and non-whites perform equally"

He is presumably speaking of Wakanda.

Simple, the ruling structure is white and male. The majority of non-elites are also white and male. Elite white males ally with the left to enact race and sex based punishments on the broader white males to assuage the sins of the elites. Not a bad deal for them. Bloomberg is still a billionaire but is an ally, whereas the modal poor white is the enemy. It’s like Leo atoning for his carbon sins while still riding his Jet. I’m a bit skeptical and have an SUV so the climateers put Leo on a stage to lecture me. Bloomberg, the billionaire, and Leo, the small city of emissions pay their indulgences and are forgiven.

I’m having fun and yet I’m seeing it too. Is it racist? The far left insists that one cannot be racist to whites. So I don’t know if it approaches the level of racism, as I’m neither a lawyer nor a philosopher. But it is bigotry.

What I am saying is that I am a successful white man of a certain age. I cannot look back and see any place in my life where "anti-white male bigotry" set me on a different course. I can't remember seeing in the flesh.

I doubt that "anti-white male bigotry" is really setting alt-right fanboys on a different course either. They are just looking out, often across the internet and thousands of miles of real distance, to find examples to justify their angst.

Thomas has complained about Berkeley a dozen times. Does he even live within a thousand miles of Berkeley?

"I am a successful white man"

Are you a Jew? If so, you ain't white.

"Thomas has complained about Berkeley a dozen times. Does he even live within a thousand miles of Berkeley?"

Most politics is about complaining about things a thousand miles away. As in "the pale blue dot."


It's fun to watch the intersectionalists and their allyships work themselves up into a hysterical fury every day over Trump.

I presume this refers to my question addressed to you, which you have yet to answer.

You constantly denounce Trump and bring him up even when the thread has nothing to do with him as if your little obsessions are worthy of derailing the thread. It's almost as bad as prior's obsession with TC.

Anon7, it is incredibly foolish to say that "anti-white male bigotry” has nothing to do with Trump.

Also, I note that while you didn't like my post, you are good with Aeo. Co-tribal?

Have you considered that you might be projecting your own psycho-pathology onto others?

For that to be true, "anti-white male bigotry" has to be a real force in the world, and not just token words for a certain tribe.

You are claiming that, and you might even believe it, but it isn't true.

Having fun? I'm practically euphoric!

True, and there is not a dime's worth of difference between the two rump ruling parties.

It's not quite that. It's that there's a small but decisive caucus in the U.S. Senate which can frustrate any creative policy initiative. It includes Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander, Sleaza Murkowski, Dean Heller, Rob Portman, and the ever perverse John McCain. Both party caucuses are execrably led and Addison Mitchell McConnell is despised by Republican voters who know who he it. Congress is like the court system: lawyers getting paid to play footsie with each other. They're not paid to accomplish anything.

'and the ever perverse John McCain'

Blame it on him being tortured for years. The man just doesn't realize the real stakes in American politics, especially after being shot down and imprisoned for 6 years.

Charlie Rangell was an American Hero, so was Duke Cunningham. They were also pretty darn corrupt.

I don’t think McCain is personally corrupt, but I think his judgement is pretty darn awful.

I think his judgment is pretty good and Trump's is awful.

I was initially impressed with Sarah Palin too. She didn't stand up under scrutiny, although she is still an interesting and provocative character.

I was initially impressed with Sarah Palin too. She didn’t stand up under scrutiny, although she is still an interesting and provocative character.

As a character in a satirical political novel, perhaps. As a real life politician she is (was, I guess) more frightening than anything.

Yep - two party system requires an upstart to gain the support of at least about a quarter of the population. In Europe you often see third parties get like 5-10% of the vote and be included in the ruling coalition.

Check out, for example, Ulster Unionists in the UK. Or any number of tiny Israeli parties.

The trouble with the US is that it's built around the Presidency that is winner-take-all and dominates the political narrative.

If the emphasis were in the legislative branch (or if there were multi-round Presidential voting) than at the very least you'd see a break between the Tea Party and GOP the deep south and many rural regions. You could actually get proper coalitions in the legislative wing.

Or alternatively cabinet secretaries and the heads of independent agencies could just be individually elected positions. There's no reason that the Attorney General and Secretary of Education have to be from the same party. If American voters want a Republican CIA director, Democratic Fed Chairman, and Libertarian Postmaster, why not let them?

Why do we even need a single executive? Give defense power to the Defense Secretary, treaty making power to the Secretary of State, and domestic emergency powers to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

It also removes this massive winner take-all threshold effect to presidential elections. If one side musters a few hundred thousand votes they're totally locked out of power for 4 years. Democrats and Republicans would probably randomly roughly control the half and half of the executive positions.

Even Cities who use Commission government feel need to switch to Council-Manager government. without City Manager/Mayor for coordination, the agency/department would fight each other.

Israel's party system has been a consequence of an institutional feature - national list PR - which is unusual elsewhere conjoined to a mess of cross-cutting cleavages. In the U.S., cleavages tend to be correlated with each other, so you don't have the social and cultural basis for 15 notable political parties (in addition to the effect of first-past-the-post and sheer inertia). In Israel, you have Arab v. Jew, Zionist v. non-Zionist, religious v. secular, Marxist v. syndicalist v. managerialist v. liberal, hawk v. dove, Ashkenazi v. Sephardi v. post-Soviet Russian. You also have factional disputes which generate evanescent fan parties. Lots of permutations.

We'd benefit from a better electoral system - one making use of a sensible electoral calendar and ordinal balloting. We'll never get it. Politicians parliamentary and extra-parliamentary only get creative like that in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I think Lee's point is that the 2-party system endures here because a minority faction usually has more success trying to win primaries than by forming a third party. For example, would the House Freedom Caucus have more power as a minority party than they have in their present status as a faction within the Republican Party? They are already part of the "ruling coalition" and arguably have more seats in Congress than they would if they were a separate party.

On the other hand, I believe Michael Bloomberg would be President today if he had run as an Independent. I actually think lots of people could have run from the middle in the last election and won. Even Mitt Romney. The candidates on both sides were just so unlikeable.

Mitt Romney would have been the Hitler du jour, and Hillary would have won in a romp.

Bloomberg’s unpopularity between the Appalachians and the Sierra Nevada is weirdly unknown to certain commentators.

"On the other hand, I believe Michael Bloomberg would be President today if he had run as an Independent. I actually think lots of people could have run from the middle in the last election and won."

David Brooks posts here?

At some point US political reality has to catch up with US political rhetoric. How a winner-take-all system can blithely be deemed “representative” or “a democracy” is an enduring mystery. “Median voter” justifications don’t resolve the problems inherent with a system that leaves substantial portions of the populace excluded from their governance. And the much-vaunted ideal of “inclusiveness” that so many claim to value stands as indictment of the blatant hypocrisy that characterizes US culture. The US is a sad and ugly little country that will wallow in its pathetic squalor until it’s people can assert their right to a modern, ethical system of government.

There is not a system in the world that guarantees that more than 50% of voters + 1 will be included in governance.

Net migration numbers say you're wrong.

He's breaking character. Forgot the coda on the greatness of Brazil.

The US is a two party winner takes all system. China is a one party system. In both cases to rise to power one has to enter in a party and gradually build their power inside of it. Difference is that in China's system you get executive power with 100% probability after climbing to the top of the party's food chain while in US you get executive power with only 50% probability due to a national referendum between the two parties. So, how is the US much more democratic than China? In my opinion a true democracy is only direct democracy or lotrocracy where people are not elected but drawn randomly from the population. Ancient Athens was a true democracy where each citizen had equal political power to every other citizen while the US is a dual party representative oligarchy where a single all powerful leader is selected from two candidates choosen by each of the two parties to rule for 4 years.

Duverger determined that voting structure determines number of political parties. In a multi-member proportional representation system, you will have multiple parties. But in winner-take-all single member districts -- like the United States has -- you are limited to two parties. William Riker helped popularize this concept, which is now called Duverger's Law. In sum, we have NEVER seen a sustainable third party in the United States, and we never will so long as we have winner-take-all single member Congressional districts.


"In sum, we have NEVER seen a sustainable third party in the United States"

Never is a long time.

The Modern Republicans were a third party at their start with Lincoln their first presidential success.

That's really at steady state. They can totally be there, but eventually they break up or absorb one of the two parties.

The northern whigs met in Ripon in 1854, they did not invite the southern "cotton" whigs. There were a lot of cotton whigs but never enough to carry states in the south. The election of 1860 included 4 parties.

They were a nascent Second Party from the beginning, Fremont came in second in 1856, he won all of New England, New York, Ohio, and Michigan, plus Wisconsin and Iowa.

The Whigs had been utterly destroyed in the North in the previous four years, and the No Nothings were not going to be the replacement. If you look at the campaign of 1852, Wingield Scott did a lot worse than Fremont.

Canada, Australia, and Panama provide examples of 3 party systems where you have first-past-the-post.

"They’ve literally exchanged places. The Republican Party was a Northern party that was for African-American rights, high-taxes, and internal improvements."

In some ways, but there's another way to look at it: the Republicans have always been the Core party and the Democrats the Fringe Party, but Core and Fringe have shifted over the years. The Republicans from 1860 to 1960 were the party of Northern, White protestants, while those who felt in some way alienated from the America that arose out of the Northern victory in the Civil War, Southern Whites, Catholics, Jews, and labor movement supporters were more likely to vote for the Democrats.

It's true that throughout the past 150 years, both parties have changed a lot, but I think we may see something different in the coming decades. Historically, the parties have always been big-tent and non-ideological. Northern Blacks and Southern segregationist Whites could for decades vote for the same party because they saw it as a coalition. Now, the parties are increasingly ideological. Dan Lipinski, the last pro-life Democrat in Congress, just narrowly won a primary challenge which was supported by national pro-choice groups eager to see pro-life Democrats go extinct. I've done volunteer work for my state Republican party, and as a result I get a steady stream of spammy emails asking for money, most of which state not just the Republican position on issues, but go on about conservatism this, conservative values that, with no thought to the possibility that we may be nationalist, libertarian, or moderate and not identify as "conservative." The very organizational power these parties have now that they lacked in 1960 will make them more inflexible, scaring away ideologically diverse newcomers.

Consider the following: in 1988, Bush Sr. won in a landslide, with only ten states voting for Dukakis. Among them was West Virginia. As late as 1996 Clinton did better there than he did nationally. Realignments happen and will continue to do so, and as people leave one party, they will find the other one closed to them. Support for the standard Republican platform of economic conservatism and lip service to the American flag and Jesus collapses among the younger generation on the right, which is interested instead in libertarianism, social conservatism, men's rights, and nationalism, and except among the libertarians they increasingly see corporate America as hostile to their interests. I was hoping that with Trump the GOP would move in a smarter direction, but it's been a disappointment so far, with the only real "accomplishments" being tax cuts and more pork for the MIC. If it continues to be the stupid party, young people on the right will look elsewhere. As we've seen in Britain, the first past the post system biases toward a two-party system, but does not guarantee it.

George Bush the Elder had a 7.8% margin. That's not what 'landslide' means.

Whatever the parties advocate or do not advocate, it get's fed through the DC meat grinder and ends up a series of payoffs to well-connected sectoral groups. About the only accomplishments the Democrats can point to since 1974 have been Obamacare (which was badly structured and is failing) and a series of social policy measures imposed by the judicial ukase. About the only accomplishments the Republicans can point to were achieved with appointment power, executive actions, or payoffs to constituency groups. Henry Paulson was asked to explain some of his actions in 2008 and his reply was on the order of 'Congress does nothing unless there's a crisis'.

George Bush the Elder won 40 states, which shows how the EC turns a not-landslide into a landslide.

That was Rove, in early 2000 he blanketed the state with pamphlets about gun control. He didn't name any names, figuring the hill-billies could figure that part out. They did.
Five landslide elections in W.V which used to be a Democratic state.

That was Rove, in early 2000 he blanketed the state with pamphlets about gun control. He didn’t name any names, figuring the hill-billies could figure that part out.

Rove's not an ignoramus. He's perfectly aware that West Virginia is populated with small town and rural wage earners supplemented with a modest local bourgeoisie. He's also aware that Deliverance is a work of fiction. When you've figured that out, get back to us.

You don't need a third party when Republican party has a big enough tent to include an American Nazi Party candidate: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/us/politics/arthur-jones-illinois.html

No need for a third party when the tent includes racists.

Who said this:

"Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor," he told the crowd at the party congress.

No one took the bait, or perhaps they knew the answer.

It was Steve Bannon.

The flaps of the various tents are not nailed tightly. We can term that freedom if you like, Bill. That means creeps can wiggle in, as they do all time if they don’t disclose truthfully or the vetting of candidates is done poorly. Look at the anti-semites and black nationalists — not to speak of revolutionary communists — the Dems have had in their party.

You're quite patient with him. Much more than he merits.

Thor, I agree with you that the tents are not nailed tightly. You just need to look around and ask if you agree or support the candidate.

There was no vetting. No one was running in the race because there was no point,so he got a hundred signatures or something to get on the ballot

Yea, where i live a homeless guy ran for congress for the D's. The district was so R locked in that no one worth a shit would run, so a hobo won the primary.

It is unfortunate that some people in businesses tied to marriages lose their livelihoods in cases where their stated open rationale for denying said services is in contravention of law. However, this is viewed by many as necessary in order to ensure that if a good or service is marketed to the public, that all members of the public can access the good or service.

Only a very small minority will take active pleasure out of observing the negative impacts on these people's social and/or financial situations. Regardless of whether such attitudes are held by homophobes against gays, or by anti-homophobes against homophobes, the fact of the negative social and/or economic effect should not itself be a source of pleasure.

Being pleased about bad things happening to others, and most especially searching for any possible justification to rationalize it, is a wrong state of mind and should be avoided. This can be considered separately from whether one, in balance, supports use of state force to cause that negative effect - the negative effect being motivated by end results, not the desire to obtain pleasure from the harm caused to the one who openly flouts the law.

The clerk who lost her job should have sought new work before seeking to extra-legally impose her views. The cake bakers could have made some excuse instead of proudly declaring their discrimination.

“Donald Trump would not be President today if he had tried to mount a third-party candidacy rather than running as a Republican. Bernie Sanders would not be a national leader if he had just stayed in third-party politics in backwater Vermont rather than caucusing with the Democrats and contesting for control of the Democratic Party. So the existing parties are a shortcut to power for ambitious politicians.”

Note the false equivalence. Trump’s voters rejected what the party was offering (and offered in 2008 & 2012) while the feckless Bernie voters watched as Crooked Hillary stole the nomination. The GOPe continues to treat Trump as a foreign intruder, while the Democrats struggle with their gerontocracy and crazy Russian collusion.

Maybe it's just me, but I see white nationalism as partly an angry reaction to anti-white racism by leftist idiots. As Gerry Rafferty wrote, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle"

It's just you.

I was actually responding to a poster who began with "Maybe it’s just me." For some reason, that post was deleted.

> Christopher Caldwell tells us: “The Democrats have become the party of sexual morality.”

And if you were to ask Christopher Caldwell to define "morality", he would only hem, haw and obfuscate.

"Caldwell: We have had, just in the last couple of months, something that will be a great surprise to anyone who has sort of formed his opinions of parties over the last generation: The Democrats have become the party of sexual morality. There were signs of this starting in the 2012 election, when Obama talked about contraception as a kind of values issue. We see it now full-blown in the sexual harassment cases that have come up since the Harvey Weinstein revelations. The Democrats really want to talk about what constitutes decent sexual behaviour. The Republicans are more inclined to take the role that the Democrats took 20 years ago and say that your sexual comportment is none of our business. I think that that’s a big surprise."

It shouldn't have been. The Left has never been sexually amoral, it's a myth they sometimes promoted as a way to appeal to young guys who liked to imagine they'd be getting a lot of sex, but it was always clear that their ideology was puritanical at its core. But whereas Puritanism gave us strong families and communities which looked out for one another at the price of sexual repression, feminism leaves us with nothing but destruction.

The article may explain why a candidate looking for an experienced campaign manager might join a large party, but it doesn't explain much else. In particular, voters have no real reason to prefer incompetent and unethical legacy party candidates once an alternative is actually on the ballot. Many candidates are already rich enough to buy the office by the time the enter the primary, otherwise they would lose. Trump didn't need to raise any money for his campaign. If you are willing to throw enough money at it, you can probably get people at least as good at sending out postcards as anyone else. And in many cases alternative candidates are objectively better on any objective metric one might chose.

There is a psychological block keeping people from acting rationally and for this reason you can't really predict what might happen or why.

Christopher Caldwell tells us: “The Democrats have become the party of sexual morality.” Just as stupid as saying:“The Democrats have become the party of sexual behavior.”

"Christopher Caldwell tells us: “The Democrats have become the party of sexual morality.”

In the 90s and early 2000s, sure. Back when being democrat meant being cool and being anti-Bush and swearing and...

Things are so much less cool now. The pearl clutching over Trump's promiscuity reveals their true colors. They hate the idea of women making themselves pretty for high status men because this conflicts with their identity politics narrative. They don't care about sexual permissiveness, they care about signaling and tokenism. The weirder the token, the stronger signal.

It's not even gay sex anymore. Because almost everyone <40 is indifferent to homosexuality. They're forced to bend over backwards and emphasize weird sex. Not even sex, actually. Bathrooms and pronouns? Because still, no one cares what people do in their private lives. Liberals have to bring the fight out of the bedroom and accuse normal people of being worse than Hitler for simply having an unwoke opinion about gender.

Last time I checked, the whole premise of being socially liberal was that arbitrary preferences are ok. Except if you have the wrong preference you're a bigot.

NB that other fringe sexual groups, like furries and sub/dom lifestyle, can never be used as tokens. These groups are low-status and cannot be shoe-horned into the liberal narrative that queers are middle class/responsible/normal just like us. The left will champion the weak only insofar as it raises their own status. That's hardly "moral".

unlimited amounts of personal and corporate money going to political parties is what lead to this (and to so much corruption in US politics).
money will always go to existing parties with influence.

look at France: corporate donation to political parties is not allowed. and personal ones are capped at 7500 euros/ person.
this lead to the rise of Macron and progress.

compare and contrast with the Wilbur Ross situation and Carl Icahn situations................................. appalling.

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