Why don't Americans vote on other than the two right-wing parties?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by B_johnschlong, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. B_johnschlong

    B_johnschlong New Member

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    America has a de facto two party system, consisting of extreme-right wing Republicans, and ordinary right-wing Democrats.

    Nothing in the U.S. constitution forbids other parties from competing, and there seem to be some official third parties.

    The question is: who do so few Americans vote for these other parties? Why do they stick to the two big right-wing parties, when they have a choice to break up this two-party system, and turn America into a true multi-party democracy.


    Maybe someone with some knowledge about the history of American politics can explain why this strange two-party system is still so dominant, whereas in more advanced societies, we see multi-party democracies with coalition politics?
     
  2. sargon20

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  3. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    Simple answer... because there's no other candidate in the other smaller parties that ever stands a chance in winning. Despite their stances on issues which may strike a chord with people, they simply don't get enough campaign funds to get their message across the country. It also doesn't help matters that no news conglomerate in the USA even bothers to give these smaller political groups any coverage since they don't bring in ratings.

    And please, don't make this just an American issue. As far as I can see, every country tends to vote towards the parties that get the most airtime and coverage during election time. The ones that control the images you see also control the culture it creates. So until someone from the Green Party can generate enough funds to create a buzz in the media, they (and any other party just like it) will always get overlooked. Is it fair? Of course not. But hey, I'm not the one running corporate news.
     
  4. Domisoldo

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    At last an America-bashing thread! We had gone days without one.

    I am sure Pelosi et al would be amused to hear that they pass for "right-wing" and "ordinary" in some foreign circles.
     
  5. vince

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    The Republican party was a third party when it was born in the 1850's on a platform of anti-slavery and western expansion. Abe Lincoln, the first Republican president was elected in 1860. Sad to see what the party of Lincoln has become.
     
  6. kalipygian

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    I agree with your characterization of the two main parties.

    The constitution makes no mention of parties, the first president thought they should be avoided.

    I have voted for green Party candidates and independents on occasion, when my vote would have no effect on a race that mattered.

    Probably once in office, whatever their previous rhetoric, people would be co-opted.
     
  7. radicaldick

    radicaldick New Member

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    Its because of the machine...the establishment- alot to do with the media. You have to be connected, and blowing the special interest groups. Look at Ron Paul- he raised all his money through donations from ordinary people, he made alot of sense..was hands down the most impressive in the debates(the ones he was invited to)...yet he was never a major player. He was shunned by the media, and sad as it is, most Americans only know about what they see/hear on TV and radio. They are just too ignorant and lazy to think for themselves.
     
  8. SpeedoGuy

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    Ah, the euro snobs return to sneer and condescend from on high yet again.
     
  9. sargon20

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    Is everyone forgetting the 'electoral college' and how it's winner take all method and how it works at the state level that actually discourages third parties?
     
  10. Domisoldo

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    Sargon,

    It's been challenging enough to observe evidence of bi-partisanship in Congress of late...

    Can you imagine achieving tri-partisanship?

    Besides, check out the OP again, it's all pointless, garden-variety America-bashing propaganda with a touch of soviet-era nostalgia.

     
  11. Industrialsize

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    It takes serious MONEY to run a nationwide, presidential campaign. The 3rd parties just don't have the requisite infra-structure or supporter base.
     
  12. B_johnschlong

    B_johnschlong New Member

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    Maybe that can change as more and more people dump TV and resort to the internet for their information?

    Ron Paul's relative success was quite significant in this respect. I hope this is a trend that will become more powerful in the future.
     
    #12 B_johnschlong, Sep 1, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  13. Industrialsize

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    Please explain what you mean by "two right-wing parties"....
     
  14. Notaguru2

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    I think you confuse your more advanced democracy with it actually being an under developed democracy. The US is greatest nation in the history of the world, then there's everyone else. You would have no democracy without the US, as we have defined it for the world. Those that have adopted it, have been prosperous. Those that haven't... well... just leave it there.

    Our Constitution cannot be improved upon, but only followed. To go against our Constitution, would be our undoing.
     
  15. Domisoldo

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    Great!

    Now hailing from the "Heartland" we have the opposite extreme: ignorant "USA Is Numero Uno" gorilla chest-beating.

    Well, thank you both for defining the extremes...now let's search for the truth somewhere in the middle.

    :rolleyes:
     
  16. Drifterwood

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    I agree.

    I think the US has a model of low taxation and low central government intervention that goes back to Jefferson. These tend now to be associated with right wing thinking whereas a left wing system has a higher tax take to fund larger central government as you see in Europe, where the tax take is typically 40%+ of GDP, as opposed to the US 20%.

    Of course the US is a very different place to that of Jefferson's post colonial republic and is not really now comparable as a single nation state to those smaller ones in Europe. I gather from some of my US friends that local taxation can be very high and this is a bit more like Europe when you also take the central tax into consideration.
     
  17. sargon20

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    Competition in all it's forms is better than none. In the science of making effective decisions the more heads at the table the better the decision.
     
  18. ital8

    ital8 New Member

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    This is a good topic. I'm independent and a moderate. So I usually vote for the candidate who I feel is best fit for the job regardless of what party they belong to. But it would be nice to see a third party that would allow for more options. I just feel that this country is too far divided. We have the extreme right and the extreme left and our Congress can't seem to agree on anything, therefore little productivity gets done. Not to mention that there are divisions within each party, which doesn't help matters.
     
  19. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    There are a number of reasons.

    First is that there is no benefit to a third party because of the way Congress works. In a parliamentary system, coalition building is the norm because those coalitions can create an executive if they're powerful enough to control parliament. You cannot be top dog no matter how much of congress your party controls. If the Republicans had all the seats in the House and Senate, a Democrat could still be President and therefore control the executive. So in federal elections, the chances of getting your party in as President only matters in presidential elections.

    This is further reinforced by the electoral college system. In that system, each state gets a certain number of people who are electors. The number of electors a state gets is based upon the number of Senators and Representatives they have in Congress. That means every state gets at least three electors. There is no connection between electors and Congressional Representatives or Senators, it's just a way of figuring the number of electors per state. What matters is who the people of a state votes for as electors. When Americans vote for President, they're actually voting for electors. If you pull a lever for McCain, then you're voting for state electors who are pledged to vote for McCain in the Electoral College. If you pull a lever for Obama, then you're voting to send someone pledged to vote for Obama to the Electoral College instead. While Electors are not legally bound to vote for the candidate they're pledged to vote for (amazingly), they usually do.

    What kills this system for third party candidates in Presidential elections, is that the states themselves can decide how votes are applied to electors. 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have a, "winner takes all," system. So if a state with say, 10 electors has a 51%/49% vote between two candidates, all 10 electoral votes go to that 51% winner. Once again, as with lesser elections, the loser gets nothing. The US has a "first past the post," election system. Whomever gets the majority of votes, no matter how small, wins. So let's say there are five parties vying for one seat. If the votes are evenly spread, even two or three or even one vote pushes the candidate of one party into office even if they only received 21% of the vote.

    The second is that we have a single member voting system. Under that system, local and regional elections are rewarded with only one person being elected to office. Under plurality systems, even small parties have a chance of getting a few seats in various types of government even if they don't win a majority of votes. In the US, if your party doesn't win the whole election, you get no seats and no power.

    The third reason is that historically, third parties that get popular tend to have their planks co-opted by the larger parties in an effort to stifle third party popularity.

    In the US system, to get representation, you stand a much better chance of doing so if you belong to one of the two major parties. There are third parties, yet only one state, Vermont, manages to vote for non-major party members in big elections. Vermont is tiny and has two Senators (as all states only get two) and only one Representative in the House (every state must have at least one). One Senator is a Democrat, but the other, Bernard (Bernie) Sanders, is a Socialist. The term, "socialist," is so loaded with Cold War overtones of Communism, that he instead describes himself as, "Independent," for the sake of his ability to do business with the Democratic party with which he is aligned. The Democratic party never uses the term, "socialist," and if they were to allow Bernie to join in coalition with them, then the right wing would be all over them for associating with a Socialist. That's how tough it is to be an outside candidate in this system.

    As the world having to thank the US for democracy.... uh no. Ancient Greece pretty much invented democracy and modern democracy is universally acclaimed to have started with Magna Carta, gradually developing into parliamentary democracy. Other countries such as The Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, and San Marino have been democratic longer than the US has even been around. Yes there were restrictions, occasional setbacks, and revisions, but do recall that when the US was founded, the poll tax limited voting to the landed and merchant classes without giving suffrage to slaves or women or the poor.

    American democracy, as it is writ, is not terribly democractic. The system I described above illustrates why. Parties without the majority in any election get no representation. In many parliamentary democracies, this isn't the case at all. Small parties that represent particular interests can usually get a few seats in parliament and even gain voice far beyond their numbers if the members of that party gain concessions from the larger parties in exhange for creating coalitions. In these parliamentary systems, more voices are actually acknowledged and given a modicum of power than in the American system.
     
  20. Drifterwood

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    Thanks Jason.

    The European Parliament is the antithesis of your system, giving a level of proportional representation to the smaller parties.

    Socialist is not Communist, and I do wonder why "The Man" in the US perpetuates this misconception.
     
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