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Is America Ready for a Third Party?

Politics Posted by Razorback 12 months ago

I am starting this thread because of an unexpected, yet very welcome, lengthy stream of comments that were posted on this Gentlemint tack. My intent here is not to spark any type of political debate. Rather, I would like to open it to a broader intelligent and courteous discussion on our current political party system.

I believe that we need more choices. The two-party cartel has run amok and I cannot affiliate with either of them exclusively. I have often said that the primary problem with this country is that we have divided ourselves into two choices. This, in my opinion, leaves a great deal of gray space in the middle. And it seems that nobody wants to step into the middle and have at-length discussions about how we come to agreement or at least become more agreeable.

I read a comment from the article linked to this tack recently that read, "The worst of modern-day America, a place fueled by fury, where winning an empty argument always trumps the harder labor of searching for common ground." This struck a chord in me and I felt it accurately summed up where we are today.

So, without further adieu, let us begin. How do we, as Americans, go about ensuring we have more choices in our political party system and what should they look like? How do we convince the current government to accept them, short of a violent revolution (which nobody should want)? Are you willing to bend on some of your personal stances in order to help create a more solidified nation?

26 replies

  • jordan

    Yes and no.

    Yes- most Americans realize something needs to change about the current political setup, and a third-party (or n-th party) system offers a theoretically easy alternative.

    No- Americans are glued to this us vs. them mentality. As much as "we" want the freedoms that "they" are controlling, we just can't handle the fact that "they" want to free things that "we" want controlled. Guns, health care, the environment, gay marriage, etc. Compromise is currently out, and the us vs. them continues. As much as the libertarian party is a 3rd party contender, I doubt most Americans could deal with the true libertarian hands-off approach and compromise on their favorite hot-button topics (not Gentlemint podcast ones. Those are ha-AUT BUTTTTON...topics). Ex. less gun restrictions go hand in hand with less abortion restrictions and the reverse.

    Aside comments: Government spending isn't a consideration in the party system at this period in history since both parties spend money at a furious rate, they just argue about how it should be spent.

    I'd be willing to bend on some of my own personal stances except for the preservation of public lands. I like my national parks, national forests, etc.

    Reply

    • Chet_Manly

      I get what you're saying. I have no argument with you on this, I'll just share some of my process in dealing with the problem you put forward.

      I have had to let go of some positions as I tried to become more consistent in my views. It has been good for me to reflect, see where my inconsistencies lay and then try to re-form more intellectually honest positions. I was aware enough that the typical religious and conservative views I had weren't consistent with where I wanted to be, what loathed most was the statist view. I labeled myself as anti-progressive more than anything but have backtracked to say that I am an anti-statist. This naturally sent me in the opposite direction of statism... Classical Liberalism.

      It has been Libertarian thinkers who have helped me with this. Penn Jillett and Andrew Napolitano for instance. They weren't trying to crap all over what I believe in as those in the R/D binary system may have, they just had better reasoned arguments than I did.

      This is what I see as key to this process for me: - being completely unhappy with the two options I had.... Many people are here right now.

      • being willing to face my philosophical inconsistencies.... This is where I see the greatest challenge in society.

      • seeking out intelligent sources to show me a better way. YouTube, Reason.com, Gentlemint....not hard to find.

      • simply be willing to listen thoughtfully and discuss and not argue to win or make a point..... This is also where our society struggles most. We likely won't ever move past this because winning is just what we like to do. I like to win most places, I've just realized that it got in my way intellectually.

      I guess most importantly though, a person has to want to become better and not intellectually complacent. I have never met an intellectual lazy libertarian.

      Reply

      • Razorback

        "simply be willing to listen thoughtfully and discuss and not argue to win or make a point"

        Ah, one can only dream and hope that this might one day be an option.

        I fully agree on your suggestion that we must always keep learning. Americans have become lazy. We want everything in 140 characters or less and preferably through a drive-thru window. Education, and its inherent value, has been so undermined in this country that it is now more of a burden than a benefit. There was a time in our history that men longed for as much learning as they could find. I fear this is now the exception rather than the norm.

        Reply

        • Chet_Manly

          Ha! Yes. I have considered the irony of what we have vs what we use as well. That's one thing that keeps me moving forward when I'd rather be lazy and hit click bait or something.

          Reply

    • Razorback

      I agree, especially about the us vs. them mentality. I think it has become so ingrained in American culture that it will be difficult to change and always impossible to remove completely. Just look at our sports culture. We thrive on us vs. them.

      Spending will not be stopped because that is how they make their money. I belive the old saying is, "You've got to spend money to make money." The exception here is that they are spending OUR money. And we don't have much of a say in it.

      I could not agree more on your public lands, national parks, etc. comment. This are some of the most valuable resources we have in this country and our government continues to take money away from them and in some cases, shutter them altogether.

      Reply

  • Chet_Manly
    1. "Are you willing to bend on some of your personal stances in order..."
    2. Yes. There isn't canidate I can support that doesn't require a little bending. Which requires the least bending?

    3. "How do we ensure we have more choices in our political system..."

    4. By supporting canidates outside the main stream system: with our votes and our money. The options we have will look like the options we support.

    5. "How do we convince the current government to support them?" Excellent question. This seems like a small follow on question but I think it is the biggest most important question you ask. How does a system that only acts according to its own self-interest to act differently? It doesn't and it won't. Violence is the worst thing to do. Ghandi and MLK have moth shown there is a better way. Provided the system hasn't become too corrupted, nonviolent opposition is the only effective way. But I believe there is still a constitutional possibility as well.

    I don't have a clear response yet. I'm going to let it simmer some more and better organize my thoughts ....the kids just finished with their class so I'm cut short anyway.

    Excellent questions, excellent thread; this is going to be fun.

    Just wanted to respond to the low hanging fruit while I had a moment though.

    Reply

    • Razorback

      I sincerely hope that we do not see violence as a means of opposition. Unfortunately, I believe small pockets of it will be inevitable. My biggest fear is that it will not be united against the larger problem (aka, the government). Instead, it will occur in small targeted pockets, a series of mini-wars created by those who have one or two things that just get up their craw. This includes racial conflicts, battles with police, religious differences, etc. And it appears there are already some people who were planning on it.

      Inside the Kansas militia plot to ignite a religious war

      Reply

      • bean

        We're straying off topic a little here, but there are basically three groups of people in the country with regards to violence:

        1. Those who look for a reason to be violent i.e. cop protestors. These people will take the setting of an african american police officer who shoots an african american, then run around smashing, smoldering, and stealing, all the while blaming white people...they were a riot looking for somewhere to happen. The firearms they procure are done so illegally and therefore are illicit in their posession. To these people violence is justified by their social agenda.

        2. Those who are largely peace-loving people. They go to work diligently. The mow their grassand wash their cars on the weekends. They take their kids to ball games and fairs. They participate in community activities. They may hunt and or fish. They organize thieir garage and keep their tools clean. They beleive in protecting what they've earned and worked hard for. Thses people see violence as a viable option, however a last resort. They own firearms that are viewed as inannimate objects, only moving at the direction of the operator. These firearms are merely tools to yield the will of the owner, either protection or sustinance. To these people, violence is an ultimate reaction when their way of life is threatened. Violence is an extremely regretful, but viable option.

        3. Lastly, there is a group of people, who are elites. They live in ivory towers. Either being career politicians, celebrities, bisiness executives, they live lives larglely "above" any violent acts. They dont pump their own gas, buy their own groceries or clean their own homes. Many enjoy a detail of protective force, which shelters them from the first group of people. This group may live their entire life inside the bubble of their own existence. The problem is they this group tends will attempt lobby and legislate the first group, however they encroach on the free and safe lives of the second. To these people violence is at best a contracted protection force to keep them shielded from common urchin. Vilence to this group is a result of lack of control and under regulation. The only caveat with this group is that not all politicians, clelbrities, and businessmen and women share this mindset.

        To bring this back on topic, we need someone who is savvy on the third party position on violence especially firearm regulation to share some insight.

        Reply

        • Chet_Manly

          You beat me to the idea so I'll use your terms and add my thoughts. I think we will be ok if we can keep things at an 80/20 balance. Group 2 at 80% with groups 1 & 3 not growing beyond 20% total. I think due to human nature there will always be those groups, the challenge for a system of government (which is supposed to be "we the people" so this IS our problem) is how to keep groups 1 & 3 from growing too strong and gaining too much influence. And it's tough when group 3 likes to fund group 1. (Soros funding BLM and other groups who foment "discontent"...to follow your examples.) The first step that I see is to shine the light of day on funding and influence peddling. Make society aware of where the money comes from. Exposing groups like the Tides Foundation, Occupy, Acorn, etc. I'd like to be balanced but I honestly can't think of a single comparison on the other side that gets big money from donors. This administration shut down the tea party via the IRS, but you can not truly compare the TP to any group on the left because actual violence was never perpertrayed by the tea party. But I digress....

          Full exposure is the first step that I see. While I don't like the idea of Wikileaks stealing data, I'm torn because they are exposing things and showing who our leaders really are. Like Snowden/NSA, Wikileaks hacking is a complex issue and I can't seem to find a simple response to it.

          Reply

          • bean

            Ditto! I often type as thoughts come to my head so I hadnt even allowed the thought to develop further but I totally agree. That groups 1&3 should be limited to a fraction. The only obstacle to that would be that simply exposing the corruption of group 3 is meaningless to group 1 because of said corruption. And the cycle continues. As long as the entitlements from group 3 continue, group 1 will drone along in rank and file. Group 1 is none the wiser that they are being blackmailed by group 3 in fear that the little that they recieve will be cut off. The end result is that group 1's ambition is decreased while dependence and poverty increase. And group 3 loves to have it so.

            Reply

        • Chet_Manly

          I'm in agreement with your comment on the second amendment. I went a little long there but wanted to add that protection of the first and second amendment are of highest priority. So that influences my opinions heavily. I see "gun control" and political correctness as our two biggest ideological enemies to upholding freedom. And I have come to libertarian ideas because I feel they have the least heavy handed approach to these two ideas.

          Don't want to be a single issue voter but those two issues are the ones that I see as most fundamental to preserving liberty.

          Reply

          • Razorback

            The problem is that we should not even be discussing the possibility of changing the amendments. I believe they use these as bright shiny objects to distract the people from what they are really doing...gaining massive amounts of wealth in not-so-scrupulous ways.

            Reply

        • Razorback

          Glad you found your way here Bean. I was hoping you would join the conversation. And yes, we did stray off topic a bit. Thanks for pointing that out.

          Reply

          • bean

            Thanks, Razorback. I am unsure of my stance on your warning on changing ammendments. They are, after all, paradigms that were seen fit to ammend to the original document after it was penned. However, extreme caution and conservatism should be employeed. I will almost always err on the side of caution and conservatism, especially when matters of the constitution are at stake. So, to bring things more to the original topic, and also to revisit sam_acw's tack, I pose several rhetorical questions. Is America ready for a third party (if so what unifying platform(s) does it claim? Boil it down to the bare bones and tell me what makes it different from the other two and why these differences make the third party significant. I like Razorbacks link to the three party differences and libertarian similarities, I think I just want to hear THEM say it, or do so more early and often.) OR do we reform the parties we have now (Is that even possible or are the ones we have beyond reform?) , OR do we already have a third party in the Trump/Pence ticket? (Is there a political re-enlightenment taking place in the form of the GOP nomination?) To begin answering my own questions, I assume the next couple weeks will tell the tale with regards to the essence of the two party system, and the potential for a legitimate third party.

            Reply

            • Razorback

              Yes, to clarify I am not opposed to changing the amendments if it is for the greater good of the country and does not impede inalienable rights. I think the bigger point I was trying to get across is that they wave the possibility of this in our face constantly because (I feel) it distracts us from what they spend most of their time doing, which is creating wealth for themselves and their wealthy donors.

              As for party reform/creation, you bring up several good questions to which I do not have the answers. I do not believe they will do it themselves. Why would they bite the hand that feeds them? That being said, if enough were to leave their party to join a third party, that could eventually move the needle.

              Reply

              • bean

                Razorback, thanks for the clarification. I had an idea that was where you were going, but wasnt certain. It is true that our politicians seem to amass wealth for themselves while taking a pass on things that we are forced to endure ie Affordable Care (which ironically, has just been proven to be an oxymoron). Being that I brought it up, I feel that most of what goes on in Washington, the ACA for example, was never designed to succeed. Think of it like this when government programs fail, then the government then rides in on a white horse to save the day. In this case, ACA is the vehicle that will usher in single payer insurance plans. The older I get, the more I worry not so much about what politicians and salesmen are telling me. I worry more about what theyre NOT telling me.

                You also hit the nail on the head by remonding us that they will never bite the hand that feeds them, which is why I have said for years and even on this thread, that they will never pass legislation limiting their term in office. As for the third party, I suppose my question is narrowed to this: What will it take for enough conservatives to abandon their party for another? Your term "eventually move the needle", though a true assessment, points out the reality of the uphill climb of the third party. For as much as it could have a positive impact, a significant earth-shaking political event could possibly usher in all sorts of negative ramifications.

                Reply

                • Razorback

                  Let's start simply with the idea. What if Americans voted in a third-party president, but Congress remained two parties? Does it move more toward the middle or create chaos?

                  Reply

                  • bean

                    ...and just when I thought it couldnt get any more conplicated, there isbyet another pandoras box of hypothetical situations. I really am at a loss of words. With the "rogue" agenda of the current slate of politicians, its really difficult to say, they could on one hand yoke up with the third party president-elect, the could risk not being re-elected in midterm elections, that is assuming the electorate is full-bore behind the new third party guy at the helm. There are probably a matrix of possibilities, but these are the first two that come to mind.

                    Reply

  • sam_acw

    There is already a third party - Trump. He has broken so far from the traditional GOP that he has effectively forged a new way. The Democrats drift harder and harder to the left in terms of social policy and the republicans make sure to stay only a few years behind them (hence the 'cuckservative' meme) whilst both parties seem to support globalism, massive state power and spending, crushing the middle class, wealth redistribution and serving the interest of the 0.1% Personally I've floated the idea that there ought to be 5 state funded parties - far left and right, centre left and right and a centrist/third way party.

    Reply

    • Razorback

      Interesting concept. Would love to hear more on how you think this might work. I like the idea because it could possibly create parties that are in the middle. I believe that is where a lot of voters would prefer to be.

      Reply

      • sam_acw

        It's also intended to stop what happened in the 1990s and early 2000s when every party in the UK tried to crowd a very narrow range of policy stances. I remember voting in 2001 and there not being a single candidate who was against the Iraq war out of the four I could choose from. If parties were constrained slightly in terms of policy and still guaranteed some funds then you'd hopefully get differing policies rather than the massive overlap that chasing the centre (or elite money) produces. I don't know how it would work but it's an interesting thought and highlights some of the current problems.

        Reply

        • bean

          Ah interenting indeed. Thank you for your post. Go further, sam_acw and develop, for us, your thought on all parties being "constrained slightly." Would this constriction be ideological? Legal? And to parallel a musing of mine a few tacks ago, like the libertarians, what concrete platform examples would we expect to volley? Please elaborate on this intriguing possibilitiy.

          Reply

  • What's this? Not a single, solitary reactionary, fear-fomenting comment? Am I still on the Internet?

    I love the idea of the n-th party systems because of a broader reason: it puts the WORK of liberty back in the hands of citizens. In the two party system, especially in its present American manifestation, it's Rince Pribus and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who are doing the work of politics and running ad campaigns trying to convince the masses to choose their respective ways. So many people radically reduce one's "civic duty" to pulling the lever for someone else who's going to do the work. The first benefit of multiple political parties is that more people would be involved with working for the the public good. And I don't mean campaigning for a politician. I mean working to make a difference in the lives of people that live in the same place that you do.

    Just look at this sample of extraordinarily thoughtful guys on this site. Clearly we are passionate about the good of our country and I know I'm not alone in feeling straight-jacketted by our present environment. Other parties would release the political energy for good--as opposed to the "anyone but" mentality we have today.

    So I suppose this is just a long answer to the first question above: "How do we, as Americans, go about ensuring we have more choices in our political party system?" I think the answer is by normal, industrious, clear-thinking people, like the guys here, growing their influence on the common good in our own communities. To often it is the radicals and power-hungry that fill this role instead of the hard-working, responsible people like you and I.

    For many reasons, I'll be voting for the American Solidarity Party in a few weeks.

    What are the long-term prospects for this politics of individuals working for the common good in their own communities? To quote Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov,

    "[W]e must keep the banner flying. Sometimes even if he has to do it alone, and his conduct seems to be crazy, a man must set an example, and so draw men’s souls out of their solitude, and spur them to some act of brotherly love even if he seems crazy, so that the great idea may not die."

    Reply

  • Titanheart

    I do love this site! If I may add fuel to the fires of revolution...

    In reality that is the way talk like this should be viewed after all. We are, if even just in thought revolting against the established system. While I think we can all agree that the established system does not wholly resemble the original blueprint, I feel it should be pointed out that in a world of "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" an assault on established thought is every bit as violent as shooting a president in the head and declaring the same to all tyrants.

    For my own part I am more or less a Libertarian at this point. With my background it was not a particularly easy leap to make, once one challenges their preconceptions however it becomes an obvious choice. In my mind the party system itself has come down to, rather than if we should meddle in peoples lives, but in what way should we meddle this week.

    Let me also state, though I feel I have rambled enough by way of introduction, that I feel violence is necessary. I do not condone violence, nor do I welcome it, however I fear that if for a moment a President, Congressman, Clerk of Court, or any other governmental body should stop fearing violent repercussions against their own person as a possibility, then their actions can and, by way of powers corrupting influence, will take a more directly sinister turn.

    As I said before, I am a Libertarian currently. I wont vote for Johnson, as I don't agree with a lot of his politics. Many people wont switch to Libertarian because many of the issues they advertise do not resonate. Primarily you will never get my mother to vote for anyone campaigning on the idea we should legalize pot. I think it is a matter of presentation, and no matter how good a candidate the party may crank out, they will be tainted by the over advertising of such a small thing. Seriously potheads are not a very sexy image.

    So I guess when it comes down to it we need a party that people can join more easily. The Democrat and Republican parties are huge business and I don't think nearly as many people relate to them as they used to, but they are familiar. Tea Party and Libertarian parties have the look of crazies and potheads associated with them so it is hard for the more serious crowds to take them seriously at all. I think what we really need at this point, and I think this is the point in history where it is most needed, is a marketable party.

    Reply

  • bean

    Swadustinmybeer and Titanheart, great thoughts they are identical to my own line of thinking! Thank you for your contribution. Again, I echo beifly, the need for diversity in political choices is greater now than ever. That being established, it seems a bit self defeating to rely on those who may not be totally convinced of it to abandon their status quo. The lacking quality in our discussion is the precipitous moment in time to turn the arguably 80% of two party believers. The momentum neccessary to catapult the "other" parties is such an enormous obstacle to overcome. While some gains are undoubtedly made each election cycle for those other than the two main parties, a significant event horizon certainly persuade many more potential voters. I say this because, in my short adult life, I have seen the shortening of people's attention spans effect the way we view right and wrong. The wheels of justice have grown slower and slower. It seems that many these days procrastinate until the general public forgets that Americans lost their LIFE as a diredlct result of derelection of duty, that people have lost jobs and had insurance premiums skyrocket on a theory that the average household would actually see a drop in insurance costs, that the Secretary of State and presidential nominee BROKE THE LAW on numerous accounts, that the borders of our country are being bombarded by people who, through the guise of assylum, seek to illegally prosper from our generosity, and on and on we go. As a society we have become entertainment driven and seekers of instant gratification. Therefore, if we aregoung to expect intatnt potatoes, instant coffee, instant grits (for the southerners) instant pudding, instant tax returns, instant cell/internet service, instant socila media responses, it follows the same line of thinking that we have instant revolution politically be it by exposing corruption and abandonment of the traditional or maketing into a new era political party. We want, as Sawdustinmybeer appropriately reminded us, to have active part in our own civic duty, but I am unsure that our society has the capacity to endure it. In the mean time, I stand as a skeptic voting for the one I that I would rather have than her...

    Reply