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Thread: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Several pieces I've read lately claim that a great many US voters don't feel that the chosen candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties represent their concerns. The dismay at Trump's takeover of the Republican party is strong among more moderate and practical members. While those under 30 who've voted Democratic are dubious about supporting Biden and other elderly leaders, who often have different priorities.

    When we lived in New Zealand, I was impressed by their political system, which emphasizes fairness and broad representation, and allows more than two parties to compete for legislative seats. Having to form a governing coalition seems like a method of incorporating a wider spectrum of views and priorities. The two-party winner-take-all approach in the US by contrast seems to foster a nasty dichotomy, leading to conflict, and to demonize the opposition in the minds of voters.

    Any thoughts on how to fix it, or what might be a better setup?

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    I don't have much of a clue on this one. My sense is that our Electoral College approach repeatedly takes a winner-take-all dynamic, and this, I suspect, means that parties that can't compete with the bigguys just die on the vine.

    Also, we have, basically, an unlimited spending approach to elections and no coalition-making structure, so how does a smaller party actually have a chance?

    But I dunno.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    The quality of our pool of candidates isn't always very good. Adding more parties could lead to more extremes; a circle had infinitely many points on its edge - far from its center.
    We elect based on a popularity contest with EVERYONE allowed to vote. Does everyone share the same ability to choose who's best when there is so much false information strewed in media and false promises by candidates to weed through? Perhaps we should vote on testing questions that the candidates must prove themselves worthy by answering without script writers.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    It's been a very long time, but in the past there have been more than two major national U.S. political parties at once. The 1860 presidential election is the most notable and possibly most momentous example.

    1860 presidential electoral college results: https://cdn.britannica.com/15/73715-...raham-1860.jpg

    This is a fairly good article about the election https://www.britannica.com/event/Uni...ection-of-1860, though it repeats the myth that Northern states were monotonically opposed to slavery. (New Jersey and New Hampshire were the last two states in which slavery was practiced, continuing even after the Confederacy was defeated. New Jersey had even ratified a constitutional amendment that would have made slavery a permanent institution. Illinois ("Land of Lincoln") may have been a third, records of the end of slavery in Illinois are unclear.)

    Two of parties won by far the most electoral votes in the 1860 election, but the overall outcome was not considered a certainty ahead of time. I believe few would have been surprised to see another instance where the House of Representatives elected the president.

    If this post has rambled a bit, it has rambled to this conclusion: We do have experience with more than two major parties. The Electoral College works against it to a degree regarding election of the president, but mustn't be tinkered with, as having it, along with the compromise of having both a House of Representatives and a Senate was the only way that the individual states consented to union.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    There are already more than two parties. The Green Party and the Libertarian Party are two of the largest. If you're tired of D's and R's, stop voting for them and ignore the "you wasted your vote" argument.

    Voters are clearly looking for something else, and have seen the problems with voting for a 3rd party candidate. Two populist movements attempted to nominate insurgent candidates - Bernie and Trump. The Democrat system is more corrupt due to superdelegates, which allowed Hillary to secure the nomination.

    The electoral system doesn't inherently have a "winner take all" flaw. Maine and Nebraska allocate theirs. Other States could follow suit, and many (if not most) could circumvent the parties with constitutional amendments put on the ballot by petition and decided directly by the voters. It is perhaps flawed in requiring a majority (defined as more than 50% rather than simply the greater number) for the election of President.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    The electoral system ... is perhaps flawed in requiring a majority (defined as more than 50% rather than simply the greater number) for the election of President.
    But that is an argument in favor of democracy, which is one of the worst possible forms of government.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Niner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    The electoral system ... is perhaps flawed in requiring a majority (defined as more than 50% rather than simply the greater number) for the election of President.
    But that is an argument in favor of democracy, which is one of the worst possible forms of government.
    As you have made that statement perhaps you could illustrate examples of a better form of government (not a democracy) that works at all scales of population.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Niner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    The electoral system ... is perhaps flawed in requiring a majority (defined as more than 50% rather than simply the greater number) for the election of President.
    But that is an argument in favor of democracy, which is one of the worst possible forms of government.
    As you have made that statement perhaps you could illustrate examples of a better form of government (not a democracy) that works at all scales of population.
    You've cornered me with "all scales". Democracy sometimes works acceptably in tiny populations. At the level of a U.S. state or higher, a constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives is the best form yet seen. In the U.S., at the county (or parish as it's called in Louisiana) level, state constitutions are in force, so I'll say that at the level of a U.S. county or higher a constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives is the best known.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Niner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    The electoral system ... is perhaps flawed in requiring a majority (defined as more than 50% rather than simply the greater number) for the election of President.
    But that is an argument in favor of democracy, which is one of the worst possible forms of government.
    No, because the electoral system only applies to the Presidency. There are 538 electoral votes distributed among 50 states. Currently a candidate has to get 270 (half plus one) or more to win a Presidential election. Hypothetically, a viable 3rd party candidate would just prevent anyone from gathering 270. Were majority defined as simply the greater number, it would be easier for a 3rd party to win, with say 40% of the electoral college (and 30% each hypothetically going to two other candidates).

    Back to the OP, other parties are viable but they seem to want to start with the Presidency - which is essentially impossible. They need to begin at the State and local level and work their way to the national. Few of them have a platform. The problem with Libertarians, for example; is that they individually are absolutist on particular issues and can't build the consensus required for a platform. The successful ones get elected under the Republican umbrella (e.g.: Justin Amash, Thomas Massey, etc...). The same happens with Greens/progressives and the Democrat party, but they've been more successful in their party hijacking.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    I misunderstood or perhaps misread your earlier post. It appears that we're in agreement about how the Electoral College functions at present, with the House of Representatives electing a president of none of the presidential candidates receives a majority of the electoral votes. I believe it would be a gross mistake to allow a candidate to win outright with a mere plurality, but I don't consider it to be a democracy versus constitutional republic issue.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Niner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Niner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    The electoral system ... is perhaps flawed in requiring a majority (defined as more than 50% rather than simply the greater number) for the election of President.
    But that is an argument in favor of democracy, which is one of the worst possible forms of government.
    As you have made that statement perhaps you could illustrate examples of a better form of government (not a democracy) that works at all scales of population.
    You've cornered me with "all scales". Democracy sometimes works acceptably in tiny populations. At the level of a U.S. state or higher, a constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives is the best form yet seen. In the U.S., at the county (or parish as it's called in Louisiana) level, state constitutions are in force, so I'll say that at the level of a U.S. county or higher a constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives is the best known.
    Isn't that what the US is, a constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives?

    No intention to corner you, but perhaps you could give some examples of government better than democracy at various population levels instead?

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    If I was a political strategist, I'd replicate the GOP process of electing local candidates and concentrating on state legislatures, courts, etc. There are states where Libertarian, Green, Progressive, and other minor party folks could win office.

    The recent election in Australia shows how events (drought, bushfires, floods, meddling by China) can unseat a formerly dominant party: the Liberal/National coalition, despite the name, a conservative party in the grip of mining and other industries.

    While the L/N Coalition was soundly defeated, the results did not translate to a landslide victory for Labour owing to successes by independent candidates and the Australian Greens. Six formerly safe Liberal seats in urban and suburban areas, most held by the L/N Coalition for decades, were won by TEAL independents, unseating Liberal incumbents including Treasurer and Deputy Liberal Leader Josh Frydenberg. The Greens increased their vote share and won four seats, gaining three seats in inner-city Brisbane, the first time in the party's history it won more than one seat in the lower house.

    The combined major party vote for Labour and the Coalition was the lowest on record at 68.3%, while the minor party and independent vote was at its highest at 31.7%.

    Most striking is the success of the loosely organized TEAL independents.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australi...ralia-election
    Last edited by Chip; July 14th, 2022 at 11:09 PM.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    [QUOTE=Empty_of_Clouds;371633][QUOTE=Niner;371620]
    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Isn't that what the US is, a constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives?

    No intention to corner you, but perhaps you could give some examples of government better than democracy at various population levels instead?
    I'm very intentionally making a distinction between outright democracy versus the constitutional republic with democratically elected representatives. I'm considering that there is something of a spectrum with those being the two endpoints and I claim that things are best on the republic end.

    About cornering, I didn't mean that I'd been somehow aggressively cornered. I meant that you had exposed a flaw in my blanket statement.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    The Founders and Framers did not make this sort of distinction between democracy and a republic. They aimed at a government where "the people" ruled, intending to eliminate any power of a hereditary aristocracy. They questioned how far the vote should be extended, but landed, at first, on property-holding. A voter should hold a certain amount of property. However, property in the American colonies, and then states, was so widely held that about 2/3 of people in Massachusetts could vote. About 50 years ago, there was a great debate among historians over whether "merely" 2/3 of Massachusetts white men could vote, or "fully" 2/3. Whether it was fully or merely 2/3, the vote was wider in the US than anywhere else.

    Over the next three or four decades, the states extended the franchise, dropping the property qualification.

    Lincoln summarized the American notion when he described the US government as "of the people, by the people, and for the people".

    Time to ditch the two party system? Not so easy.

    The "duopoly" is not obvious within the US Constitution or in the constitutions of the states, but it is there. The US, like the UK, has single-member districts settled by winner-take-all elections. If a protest party, a third party, gets 20% of the vote and the next party gets 30% and another party gets 50%, the protest party loses everything. A Green Party could get 20% of the vote in every state and still get no electoral votes. The same thing would happen in Senate and House elections, and in state elections.

    A third party could not grow even to be a main opposition party unless it contested city, county, state, and federal elections all at once.

    There are a couple of exceptions. In 1850, the Whig Party began to split over slavery. The Republicans came out of a group of Northern Whigs who refused to support slavery or to ignore it. So, a regional split around a political issue. In the UK, the labor unions backed a labor-based party, leaving the Liberals...who have never held power since. The Scottish National Party built itself around issues important to Scots, and, as best I can tell, took their votes and their parliamentary seats from Labor.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    The Founders and Framers did not make this sort of distinction between democracy and a republic.
    See Federalist 10. It's the main topic and specifically mentioned, and they designed a republic.

    "The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic, are first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended."

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    The Electoral College, which is an abomination, has given us two recent presidents who lost the popular vote: George W. Bush (with help from an activist Supreme Court) and Donald Trump.

    Both did a lot of damage to the office and the country.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    I wonder if Democrats won presidencies in years that they lost the popular vote by winning the electoral college if you'd still object.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
    I wonder if Democrats won presidencies in years that they lost the popular vote by winning the electoral college if you'd still object.

    Typos courtesy of Samsung Auto-Incorrect
    Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what they did with their leadership. Lie to a country as a pretext for war and state-sponsored killing of our own soldiers and those of another country? Maybe. Or lead a country out of a recession into an actual budget surplus? Maybe not.

    By the way, the only reason that I rue HRC's loss is that it meant DJT won. I didn't like her as a candidate, and I don't spend much time defending her. But, below her in the barrel is the Donald. She is flotsam. He is bilge.

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
    I wonder if Democrats won presidencies in years that they lost the popular vote by winning the electoral college if you'd still object.

    Typos courtesy of Samsung Auto-Incorrect
    Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what they did with their leadership. Lie to a country as a pretext for war and state-sponsored killing of our own soldiers and those of another country? Maybe. Or lead a country out of a recession into an actual budget surplus? Maybe not.

    By the way, the only reason that I rue HRC's loss is that it meant DJT won. I didn't like her as a candidate, and I don't spend much time defending her. But, below her in the barrel is the Donald. She is flotsam. He is bilge.

    Sent from my moto g power using Tapatalk
    Maybe, but wouldn't the last 6 years have been much duller, even with COVID, had she won? 😆

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    A: No you didn't; no, you came here for an argument.
    M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
    A: It can be.
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    A: No it isn't.
    M: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.
    A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
    M: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'
    A: Yes it is!
    M: No it isn't!

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    Default Re: Is it Time to Ditch the Two-Party System?

    Please let us have a dull presidency!

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