Third party politics

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If you liked a third party candidate much better than the others, would you vote for him or her?

No.
2
3%
Yes.
42
62%
It depends on the election (federal, state, municipal/legislature, executive, judicial), or the likelihood of winning.
20
29%
Depends on just how far apart the third party candidate's policies are from the others'.
1
1%
Other.
3
4%
 
Total votes: 68

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Third party politics

Postby Lumpy » Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:52 am UTC

I took a look around the national and state affiliate websites of the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party today. I wanted to see how their primaries are coming along. The Green Party has a press release and news section that spells out plainly how many delegates each state gets, as well as results from the Super Tuesday states that had Green Party contests.

The Libertarian Party just noted which candidates were qualified and how much money they've raised. I had to hunt around for a long time to find out how I would vote in a primary if I were a Libertarian in my state. I have to ask the chair of the county affiliate of the Party for a certificate that I'd present at a state convention (sometime in mid-April, no telling where) in order to vote for the nominee, and my state gets an astounding two delegates. It doesn't sound very enthralling. No organized list of when contests occur or how they've voted so far---I'd have to go hunting through all 50+ local affiliate sites. There was a list of events that listed about six state conventions, though.

I checked out the Constitution Party website and it only mentions a national convention in April. There was no mention of state contests, who the candidates were, how many delegates they had, how much they've raised, or anything. I found out more about their platform, though. I always assumed they were a breakaway party from the Republicans for Pat Robertson extremists, even further to the right. But they're against the Iraq War and privacy violations like wiretapping without a warrant, against drug laws prohibiting marijuana, and they want to withdraw from most international treaties.

Anyway, I accidentally stumbled across the results of the Minnesota primary for the Constitutional Party. All names on the ballot were Democrats and Republicans. There was only one name I didn't recognize, and he was in the single digit percentage range, while the Ronpaul was over 80%. On the side of the Green Party, Ralph Nader has the most delegates after a 60% or so win in California. The Draft Nader Committee is putting one of their own on the ballot in states where people that aren't running can't be on the ballot, and that guy plans to transfer all his delegates to Ralph Nader.

Coming in second in the race is Cynthia McKinney, who has had plentiful media attention as a gaffe-prone House Democrat, who ran through the halls of the Capitol and struck a security guard with her fist, and said that "Al Gore's Negro tolerance level isn't very high. He keeps at maximum one Negro around him at all times." Then there's Kat Swift, former Texas Green Party co-chair who while running for president, is also running for San Diego City Council. Her site is riddled with rambling sentences full of capitalization errors, and it looks like it came from 1990s Geocities.

It's apparent just from looking around that these third parties have several problems. Most importantly, they're nominating people that aren't even running, or essentially giving them the delegate voting power to select a nominee for them, they keep shooting for the presidency before being elected to any other political office (why nominate someone with the crowning achievement of coming in 2nd place for city council), and they tend to renominate the same people over and over again on the pretense that they've ran so many times that the new guy won't have anywhere near as much name recognition. Also, it doesn't even seem like anyone in the Constitution Party is running for President.

If you were the chair of a national third party committee, what would you do to bolster your foothold in your nation's politics?

I'd consider supporting a Green over a pro-life, anti-flag burning, pro-Iraq War, anti-privacy Blue Dog Democrat like the one in my district, but there are no third parties on the ballot in my state. The Green, Libertarian, and Constitution state affiliates have put aside their differences and teamed up to sue for ballot access in a federal court. The Green Party strikes me as what the Democratic Party would be if they didn't have to run conservative candidates in the South to maintain a majority, except Greens want to decentralize power from the federal government as much as possible. Somehow such a compromise doesn't even seem needed in a liberal Obama supporting district.

Additionally, the Democrats in my state legislature seem as corrupt to me as the '04-'06 Republican Congress. Six legislators indicted for bribery in an FBI sting, one House Judiciary Chairman arrested for drunk driving (who then called the police Nazis, and later went missing until found in a casino), and a state senator using his status to try to gain an advantage in appraisal of his property. The Democratic Majority Leader wants to soften ethics laws to allow lobbyists to spend $350 on them for wining and dining, each, $75 per meal, and kept talking about how he felt so embarrassed when the Retired Teachers Association insisted he pay his own way. So for me, I would vote for a third party candidate to the state legislature, and maybe over my current Congressman, but not anywhere else, because they strike me as being too close to Democrats to make it worth it.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby 4=5 » Sun Feb 17, 2008 3:06 am UTC

my parents consistently vote third party because they believe there should be one. Once this election is over I think I may follow their example

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Re: Third party politics

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:10 am UTC

There is no way I'd vote third party simply because I believe a third party should exist. I would only vote third party if I liked the candidate better.

I don't base my votes on groups - ever. Only on individuals. I don't care about the name of the group they belong to - just their opinions and beliefs.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby 4=5 » Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:05 am UTC

well they also thought that all the options sucked.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:31 am UTC

4=5 wrote:well they also thought that all the options sucked.


Hm If all the options were REALLY pathetic then I wouldn't vote (well - I'd have to in Aus).

Otherwise I'd vote for who ever will fuck up the least until next election.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Sunsnail » Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:44 am UTC

I vote for who I like. I don't care if I'm the only person in my county to vote for that person.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby Lumpy » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:29 am UTC

Reinforcing my notion that Democrats and Republicans in Tennessee tend to be just alike on privacy and social issues, differing only on fiscal and sometimes foreign policy, a Democrat in the state legislature has co-sponsored a bill banning unmarried couples from adopting. The defense? Mom and Dad need to both be there. Single parents, though, can still adopt. http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll ... 09/RSS0102

Meanwhile, the scumbag Democrat that tried using his political status as a state senator to influence appraisals of his property, and car crashed while drunk driving, has been fined $120,000 for putting $94,000 in campaign funds into his personal account. http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll ... 09/RSS0102

The sad thing is that most of the time these people have no primary, or general election, challengers at all. When they do, the incumbents usually win by ridiculous margins. Now, there are two ways to get a candidate identified on the ballot. Either that party's nominee gets 5% of the vote in the gubernatorial election, or you can get an amount of signatures equal to 2.5% of the amount of voters that showed up for the previous gubernatorial election. With the latter, even if you get the 45,000 required signatures, you have to do the same thing...every year.

It's crazy that you have to get 5% of the vote for a candidate that isn't on the ballot, solely through write-in votes. You'd have to do the latter several times to stand even a chance. Even then, what if I don't like the scumbags in the state legislature, but I like one of the gubernatorial candidates just fine?

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Re: Third party politics

Postby Namaps » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:44 am UTC

If I recall correctly, France's presidential election works so that there's one stage in which people vote for whatever candidate they support the most, and then there's a second stage where people vote between the two candidates who got the most votes in the first part. Personally, I think a system like this would be great, as it would prevent people from having to worry about the electability of their candidate of choice, which could conceivably give third party candidates a fighting chance.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Malice » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:58 am UTC

Sunsnail wrote:I vote for who I like. I don't care if I'm the only person in my county to vote for that person.


Don't take this as an attack, but there's something about that attitude I don't agree with. I think that an important part of being President is being able to get things done--which means appealing to a lot of people. I mean, you could vote for the person who matches your views perfectly and is, in your opinion, the best man/woman/horse for the job; but if that person doesn't have the support they need, how are they going to translate those positions into actual policy?

So I think that when you vote, you should take into account the person's popularity/respect among others. It's not a matter of voting on the person who can win, exactly; it's voting on the person who can govern effectively, ie., the one who has best balance between skill at governing and the support of the people. A good way to determine who has the most support happens to be the election itself, in that if you're the only person in the country voting for the candidate, he probably isn't very popular.

I do think that the two-party system distorts that measurement toward the party candidates and away from independents and third parties; but I do like the self-correcting mechanism for this, which is that third-party issues are adopted by the main parties over time. This is, essentially, all that's important; third party candidates are just as likely to be corrupt, they just have different ideas. As long as the ideas transfer, it doesn't matter if the candidates can actually get elected.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby DaDane » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:33 pm UTC

I think that an important part of being President is being able to get things done--which means appealing to a lot of people. I mean, you could vote for the person who matches your views perfectly and is, in your opinion, the best man/woman/horse for the job; but if that person doesn't have the support they need, how are they going to translate those positions into actual policy?


Do you realise that this is the first time I have experienced a legitimate reason for invoking a Hitler/Nazi comparison? where will you draw the line?

at the last elections for Parliament in DK, I voted for a party that didn't get in, and the guy I voted for got twelve votes in total (I can't be bothered to look up the figures, but there are a few million people in Denmark registered to vote). and I did not waste my vote. you could say that since the party I voted for didn't get any seats, and so my votes counted nowhere, I should've just stayed at home. well, much the same argument could be made for anyone who voted for the ruling party. if you remove any one person's vote, nothing would change. it only matters if a lot of people does differently. but that argument applies to my situation too! imagine if a lot of people thought like me, and decided to vote for my party, then my vote would count, by just the same argument that made me go down there in the first place.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby DougP » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

I would absolutely (and will, if I vote at all), vote 3rd party. The two party system is incredibly broken. There will be no significant changes made with either a democrat or republican in office. We can debate the definition of "significant" but I don't see anything useful coming out of either party.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby cypherspace » Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:30 pm UTC

I would, have, and do. Voted Green at the last election and Lib Dem at the one before that. I will vote for the candidates that most represent my beliefs because I think that's what democracy is about. If they don't get in, that's not an issue for me. I voted to show where my beliefs lie.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby mosc » Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:45 pm UTC

First I look at the two major candidates and see how close the race is. If the race is very close, than I would not consider any third party candidate. However, if the race is not very close, I will consider the third party candidate on equal footing to all the others. I may be even more likely to vote for a third party if the race is not close at all.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby btilly » Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

One thing I should point out. My answer to this question depends upon the electoral system that I am voting in.

In the USA it is usually useless to even think about voting for someone who is not Republican or Democrat. All that votes for a third party really do is help the main candidate you could have voted against. In a country like Canada it is often worthwhile to vote for second, third, or even fourth parties. But only so long as those parties have local support within your district. In countries with proportional representation it generally makes sense to vote for whoever you want to vote for. If you live in such a country then the extent to which the US political system discourages third parties will likely be a shock. (Random irony. The US political process was originally intended to run without having national parties at all. As shocking as that oversight was it is understandable - the Founding Fathers didn't exactly have a lot of successful democracies to look to so they didn't really know how theirs would work.)
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Dobblesworth » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:03 pm UTC

I am in support of a 3-or-more party system for politics. It provides an extra wing to the opposition, so ministers have to take into account the various contrasting points of view. I can't see myself voting for the Liberal Democrats any time soon (some of their environment/science-technology policies need rethinking in my opinion), but they (and other smaller parties) be maintained in British politics, to ensure a wide range of opinions continue to be aired.

An example that springs to mind was when Gordon Brown delivered one of his later Budgets as Chancellor. David Cameron and the Conservatives led the way in ridiculing certain elements of the economic policies being set out, while Ming Campbell and the LibDems focused on more specific issues, such as environmental taxation and its extent.

So definitely keep third party politics alive. I might not immediately vote for any candidate of their allegiance, but if a specific candidate has a better local/national agenda than the other 2, then they are more than welcome to have my vote.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby Malice » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:32 pm UTC

DaDane wrote:
I think that an important part of being President is being able to get things done--which means appealing to a lot of people. I mean, you could vote for the person who matches your views perfectly and is, in your opinion, the best man/woman/horse for the job; but if that person doesn't have the support they need, how are they going to translate those positions into actual policy?


Do you realise that this is the first time I have experienced a legitimate reason for invoking a Hitler/Nazi comparison? where will you draw the line?


I'm afraid I don't see the comparison, except that Hitler was elected by popular vote.

I'm not saying that the only important thing to consider in a candidate is whether or not he is going to win; that's silly and, on a large scale, circular. I'm just saying that whether or not he is likable/respectable, or whether or not a lot of people like/respect him, is one of the many considerations that should be, well, considered, because it's basically a required part of the job.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Ari » Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:22 pm UTC

Malice wrote:I'm afraid I don't see the comparison, except that Hitler was elected by popular vote.

I'm not saying that the only important thing to consider in a candidate is whether or not he is going to win; that's silly and, on a large scale, circular. I'm just saying that whether or not he is likable/respectable, or whether or not a lot of people like/respect him, is one of the many considerations that should be, well, considered, because it's basically a required part of the job.


Well, for sure wide support is important in a government, but where do you stop this logic for the individual candidate? There are a ridiculous amount of voters in the United States, yet it's incredibly rare for anyone who isn't either a democrat or republican to win a seat. To those of us with representative systems where we're used to seeing a minimum of five different parties with the occassional independant in parliament, it makes the US system seem incredibly suppressive of minority views.

I think it's the important part for politicians and political parties to be represented as far as their own views represent their populations. In my view, having a multiplicity of parties actually helps focus parties into more cohesive groups. You'll notice that both the republicans and democrats in the USA represent an incredibly wide political spectrum- even within just the democratic party you have far leftists like Kucinich, who would be perfectly comfortable in a communist party meeting, to centrists like Hillary, who would get on incredibly well with the leader of the opposition here in New Zealand, who is a member of our second-most right-leaning party. The only thing that binds those parties together really is the fear of having to run as an independant or member of a third party. the Ronpaul, who is indisputably a Libertarian by political philosophy, had more hope of successfully running for president as a Republican, despite the ridiculous amount of support he had from people disaffected with Republican policies.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Malice » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:49 am UTC

Ari wrote:
Malice wrote:I'm afraid I don't see the comparison, except that Hitler was elected by popular vote.

I'm not saying that the only important thing to consider in a candidate is whether or not he is going to win; that's silly and, on a large scale, circular. I'm just saying that whether or not he is likable/respectable, or whether or not a lot of people like/respect him, is one of the many considerations that should be, well, considered, because it's basically a required part of the job.


Well, for sure wide support is important in a government, but where do you stop this logic for the individual candidate? There are a ridiculous amount of voters in the United States, yet it's incredibly rare for anyone who isn't either a democrat or republican to win a seat. To those of us with representative systems where we're used to seeing a minimum of five different parties with the occassional independant in parliament, it makes the US system seem incredibly suppressive of minority views.


Actually, the US system is only incredibly suppressive of minority candidates. Because, as you noted, the two major parties cover a wide range of political views, third parties tend to be more extremist (sometimes simply by virtue of their focus on single issue, such as the Green Party). In order to maintain their hegemony, the two major parties tend to absorb a less extreme version of those views. The Democratic party, for instance, while not as extreme as the Green party, has become the side concerned with mitigating our negative effects on the environment.

It's a system whose efficiency I kinda like; if we had proportional representation, the same thing would probably happen, just in Congress--third parties wouldn't get enough seats to ram through their own policy, but they could use bloc voting to extract some kind of consideration from the majority party.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Ari » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:22 am UTC

Malice wrote:
Ari wrote:
Malice wrote:I'm afraid I don't see the comparison, except that Hitler was elected by popular vote.

I'm not saying that the only important thing to consider in a candidate is whether or not he is going to win; that's silly and, on a large scale, circular. I'm just saying that whether or not he is likable/respectable, or whether or not a lot of people like/respect him, is one of the many considerations that should be, well, considered, because it's basically a required part of the job.


Well, for sure wide support is important in a government, but where do you stop this logic for the individual candidate? There are a ridiculous amount of voters in the United States, yet it's incredibly rare for anyone who isn't either a democrat or republican to win a seat. To those of us with representative systems where we're used to seeing a minimum of five different parties with the occassional independant in parliament, it makes the US system seem incredibly suppressive of minority views.


Actually, the US system is only incredibly suppressive of minority candidates. Because, as you noted, the two major parties cover a wide range of political views, third parties tend to be more extremist (sometimes simply by virtue of their focus on single issue, such as the Green Party). In order to maintain their hegemony, the two major parties tend to absorb a less extreme version of those views. The Democratic party, for instance, while not as extreme as the Green party, has become the side concerned with mitigating our negative effects on the environment.

It's a system whose efficiency I kinda like; if we had proportional representation, the same thing would probably happen, just in Congress--third parties wouldn't get enough seats to ram through their own policy, but they could use bloc voting to extract some kind of consideration from the majority party.


I'm tempted to disagree with your assertion that it primarily effects candidates. At least on the left wing of the political spectrum, you have surprisingly few radicals, and on the republican side, the party is practically full of radicals. It's hard to tell if this is just that Americans are bigger fans of democratic conservatism, or whether this is actually an effect of your non-proportional representation in Congress and the Senate, the electoral college, and/or executive presidency system. It's really hard to tell. But it does mean that radicals are forced to prove themselves to the two core parties, and try to win over them by capitulating on matters that they might not have to as an organised independant party. Whether there are radical candidates or not, I don't think you can argue that their success in passing legislation is much lower than it is in countries with viable tertiary parties.

Also- looking over the US Green Party website, it has all the usual multifaceted Green principles that come along with the movement, such as grassroots democracy, support of diversity and racial equality, democratic reform, social justice, nonviolence, etc... Labelling them a one-issue party is purely a matter of perception- I don't blame you though, they have to fight that one in most countries they contend in.

The Democratic Party really isn't doing anything for the environment in a significant sense. Oh, it does actually care, but it doesn't have any sort of rigorous environmental policy passed, which is the kind of response you'd be looking at given the incredible environmental risks we're taking right now. It's simply not hostile to the environment. I don't think their inactive commitment here make the Green position look extreme, for instance, although maybe you just meant that more in the sense of having the strongest view on an issue.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:33 am UTC

I"d stop wasting time with presidential candidates.

I'd run candidates for mayor. For city council. In small towns, medium sized ones, eventually big ones. Once you have a firm grasp on local politics, then you can think about a few Reps, Senators, maybe a governor or two. That said, there are some pretty good advantages to a two-party system, in that it forces compromise when disparate interests make coalitions within a party.
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Re: Third party politics

Postby Cooley » Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:40 am UTC

I agree with Sir Elderberry. Power typically comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. It's just flashier to see someone elected president and say, "Oh, they have a ton of power." But then you look, and, at least in America (can't really speak for foreign countries, here) you see that a lot of decisions that actually impact people directly come from the local, county, and state levels rather than the national level. It's not what the President says that matters, it's how the people that have to carry out his orders misinterpret them. Plus, the way it's set up, he's basically riding 50 horses at once and trying to get them to work together so the rest of the world can do business with us in a way that makes at least some kind of sense.

I doubt I'll see third party candidate for president elected in the next 20 years. But it's almost guaranteed that a third party candidate for something like city council or mayor or state senator will be elected. The way politics are monopolized by two parties trying to please everyone, third parties really belong at the local and state level, until one gets big enough there to grab some House or Senate seats, against the most vehement Republican and Democrat opposition.

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Re: Third party politics

Postby turnwrite » Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:13 am UTC

Voting for the candidate who fits your beliefs perfectly seems all good and well, until you look at what your vote has actually done.

Let's say you have the following opinions of three Presidential candidates:

Candidate A: You support him entirely. Everything this man has to say is solid gold.

Candidate B: Decent enough. A tiny step in the right direction, some of the right ideas, but not nearly so holy as that unparalleled Candidate A.

Candidate C: Ehhh. Obnoxious. Several steps in the wrong direction.

You know going into the election that Candidate B is supported by about half the country, as is Candidate C. Candidate A is backed only by a marginal fraction of the country; probably not even one percentage point.

You throw your vote in for Candidate A, because he is the messiah. And then Candidate C gets elected by a very small margin.

Look what you've done.


Voting for the lesser of two evils is still better than making some naive statement about how the "system is broken" and then in your ineptitude helping the greater of two evils prance his way onto the White House Lawn.

(And don't give me any crap about how there aren't any differences between Democrats and Republicans; there are obvious policy differences between the two, they just aren't so great as the differences between these two very dissimilar parties and your raving fringe of a third party.)
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