Saturday, February 06, 2010

Tired of the Duopoly Yet? [UPDATED]


If, as the Los Angeles Times claims, Americans are deeply dissatisfied with both of the dominant political parties, my question is: are we ready to start supporting candidates from the other parties?

Are we willing to send a Libertarian to our state legislature? Or Congress? Someone who would likely caucus with Republicans but break with them on matters of principle, particularly with respect to budget and investment.

Or a Green? Maybe elect a Green to some local regulatory commissions? Or Congress?

Or a Socialist? Imagine an intelligent and policy-oriented socialist caucusing with Democrats in the House -- a new Bernie Sanders.

Or a Constitutionalist?

Americans like to grouse. Whether they will do anything remains to be seen. It is true that these two political parties are not serving the republic well, and I have been arguing for years to anyone who would listen that they need to lose their joint monopoly on power.

I'll believe Americans are truly dissatisfied when other parties attract more support.

Also, we do not have to content ourselves with the standing alternatives. The Greens are a frustrating party for those who believe in its principles. The same, perhaps, with the Socialist Party USA. These parties have their own internal divisions and battles. The Greens, I would argue, are not seriously preparing themselves to hold office at a national level, and rest instead on being a party of critique and protest. I would like to see more policy.

Anyway, the people can also form their own political parties: smaller, locally-focused political parties. This is a movement I would really like to see. For all our talk of democracy and representation, we Americans do not treat democracy like a participatory sport: we enact and re-enact the old habit of supporting nobility.

Having served on the platform committee of a new state party, I will testify to the value of creating a party and doing the work of defining its principles and its solutions to problems.

More parties, please, especially at the local level.

6 comments:

Adam said...

agreed. I haven't voted for a Democrat or Republican for Pres in the last two elections (was too young in the one before that) and seek out alternative party candidates whenever they are available. I also refuse to vote for a "lesser of two evils" when it comes down to the big two. I'd rather abstain.

Nathan said...

This Tea Party movement, sadly, might be it for the time being. And that's one group I want as far away from political power as possible.

I've voted constantly for third party candidates myself, and I talk about it openingly with others as necessary, but people are still too comfortable on the whole to press beyond the two party prison.

Algernon said...

By the way, for lots of good reading about dumping the duopoly, check out the Poli-tea blog.

Kyle Lovett said...

You know what, I'm glad for the Tea Party. It further splits and fractures the political right.

Kelly said...

I have often voted for the "lesser of the evils" because a third party has seldom stood a chance. I know... it's just that attitude that keeps a third party from working.

It's still a long way off, but I may well have to vote third party (or abstain) in the next presidential election.

Adam said...

Kelly - one thing to keep in mind is that when a party recieves 5% of the popular vote, they will recieve federal matching funds in the next election. Ross Perot achieved this when he recieved 18% of the vote the year he ran, so it's not impossible.