A time for third parties to emerge

Democrats divided over the war in Iraq

The Democratic Party’s split over the Iraq war cracked into view Tuesday as liberals hissed New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s opposition to setting a date for U.S. troops’ withdrawal and cheered Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s call to bring them home by the end of the year.

Kerry should have done that while running for president, when it would have made a difference. Talk is cheap. If he truly believes what he said, then why isn’t he saying so on the Senate floor? Still, the fractures in the Democratic Party are obvious.

In Kansas, a troubling fissure for GOP

Political observers say the fracture within the Kansas GOP may foreshadow the future for the national party. The division between moderates and social conservatives is expected to define the contest for the party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

Ah, so Republican moderates are finally tiring of having their politics dictated to them by the equivalent of the Flat Earth Society? In Kansas, no less. Interesting!

If ever there was a time for third parties to make a strong move, it’s now. The voters in both parties are clearly tired of the status quo. The Green Party could make an impact, however they’re hampered by internal squabbling and lack of organization at the national and state levels. Not that I’m all that sold on electoral politics, far from it. But this sure looks to be the time for some bat-out-of-nowhere third party (or parties) to explode upon the national scene.

  • Wood

    “Reporting for duty.” Hah. Hypocrite then, or hypocrite now. Who knows? he was a rubbish candidate, and I partly blame him for Bush getting re-elected.

  • Bruce Lundeen

    I am weary of the far left and far right, I will support
    any candidate from any party who take a balanced view
    of the issues.

  • Jasen Palmer

    I hope we all remember the title of this article “a time for third parties to
    emerge” two years from now. Unless a miracle occurs it will be the same old
    Democrats vs. the same old Republicans in 2008. Not to reopen an old debate, but
    Nader was 100% correct to run in 2000 and 2004. I hope that if a progressive
    third party candidate emerges that other progressives don’t trash him like they
    did to Nader in 2004. Even if you don’t agree with a third party candidate,
    progressives should support doing away with restrictions on access to the ballot, and
    we should encourage the inclusion of ALL candidates in local and national

    “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for
    something you don’t want and get it”
    Eugene V. Debbs

  • Wood

    Hmm. What scares me – and this looks like it might happen in Britain, too – is that a third party (in our case fourth) that emerges doesn’t turn out to be progressive but in fact is ultra-conservative, near-fascist, racist, religionist, every-ist you can think of.

    Or am I just being a pessimist?

  • Bob

    Balanceis great, but when the political focus has moved so far to the Right, then it needs to be shifted back.

    Torture, government spying on citizens, the war in Iraq don’t require a balanced view. They need to be opposed.

  • The discussion of voting systems, which directly bears on the very possibility of third parties, must be rooted in Social Choice branch of Game Theory of mathematics.

    It is entirely and 100% hopeless for third parties under the current system. I have no proof of that, but anyone can clearly see that a stable two party system has always existed, except for brief periods after one of the two collapses.

    I resent attempts to destroy the Democratic Party, in order to create a space for Greens, but that’s another matter.

    Both the Green Party and the Libertarians support Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and this is being implemented in San Francisco and Vermont.

    IRV is stupid. The Greens and the Libertarians are stupid for supporting IRV. I can’t totally blame them, since even the political philosopher David Hume liked it. Even the Australians use a nearly identical system (STV).

    But, as voting is mathematical, the solution is not arbitrary. The best solution I’ve seen is called the Schulze counting method. From the voter’s perspective, it is just like IRV (except a bit easier). The added complexity comes in the way the votes are counted.

    There is a chance America would then turn into a stable three party system, with a center, a right and a left, but that’s just a guess.

    I have a nice looking chart of a variety of voting systems and their advantages on my blog, here.

    CONCLUSION: To get third parties you MUST get voting system reform. Voting system reform can not be done like the Greens and Libertarians want it, since that’s almost as stupid as what we have now. Mathematicians must do this work.

  • America’s political discourse is defective. Where is this “far left” that Bruce Lundeen is weary of? And why would America need a fascist third party when it has the Republicans? And spying? What’s alarming about spying is that whole legions of fools can be recruited for Federal spy agencies that will confuse anarchists with terrorists, just as cops have typically confused marijuana smokers and LSD users with criminals, and locked them up for long prison terms.

  • The split in the Kansas GOP is well documented in “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” simplified as a contest between the country club conservatives (“Mods” for Moderates) and the bible-thumpers (“Cons”).

    It is one thing when an active faction helps keep you in power, and another thing altogether when the new folks try to reign.

  • Bob

    IMO, the US needs a parliamentary system. If you get 5% of the votes, you get 5% of the seats.

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