Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Political Realities: Third Parties

In the wake of the liberal outrage at Democrats, talk of a third party has popped up. Obviously most of it from Naderites and deadenders who never wanted a Democratic majority to begin with, but the talk is there.

But as much as I know some of you don’t want to keep pretending to be lackeys for the Democrats…third parties would be counterproductive and would hurt progressives more than Democrats. Here’s why;

Third parties are great, if you want Republicans to control everything. All you need is a plurality to win.

Clinton and Bush both won office because their opponents saw votes sucked away by third parties.

Unlike parliamentary systems, we don’t have coalition government.

Let’s say for instance, the vote breaks down 45% Republican, 40% Democratic, 15% Independent Liberal guy. Well in our system Republican wins. (Remember that 2000 was Gore 48%-Bush 48%- Nader and others 4%)

In other systems, Independent Liberal guy is out of the race and a runoff occurs between Republican and Democrat and progressives who voted for ILG would have to decide whether or on to vote Democrat or stay home and let the Republican win. If this happened here in 2000, it’s very likely Gore would have defeated Bush in a runoff, because Naderites would have been forced to pick between Gore or Bush…but because we don’t have runoffs, Bush won with a plurality.

If it’s 45% Republican, 35% Indepedent Liberal guy, 30% Democrat, then runoff is between Republican and Independent Liberal guy.

Democrats would have to decide whether or not to vote for ILG or vote Republican or stay home.

Similarly, in other parilamentary systems, if Republican wins 44% of the seats in Congress, Democrats 40% and Independent Liberal Party wins 16%….ILP and Democrats would have to form a coalition to govern together. That gives ILP some control, but not total control and they would still have to cater to the moderate Democrats who could, at any moment, go to the Republicans, issue a vote of no confidence and the whole government comes crashing down and new elections are called.

No matter what we do, we’re still going to have to cowtow to moderates and sometimes Republicans to govern effectively, unless progressives are able to win an outright majority. The only way to fix the problem is to get rid of moderates and conservatives all together and the only way to do that is to get rid of their votes so that they’re completely behind progressives and not “moderates” and “conservatives”

Get progressives elected in Republican and Moderate Democratic seats…so far, we haven’t been doing that well. For the most part we’ve only been able to beat Republicans with Moderate Democrats and we haven’t been able to succesfully primary moderate Democrats except in liberal seats and Democrats who we think are progressive become moderate as soon as they are elected (Jon Tester, Jim Webb, Larry Kissell).

If people like Scott Kleeb, Andrew Rice, Jim Martin, Rick Noreiga, Darcy Burner, Mark Pera, Annette Taddeo, Tom Allen, etc would have won their elections, we would’ve been well on our way.

Remember that if Democrats lose power, you lose more than the Democrats. They may lose their jobs, but they’ll still make money, a nice pension and probably get a job somewhere else…you are the ones who will get screwed…so punishing the Democrats with a third party vote isn’t punishing the Democrats, it’s punishing yourselves.


  1. …especially for those of us outside the US who don’t have a pure two party system. I remember the joke about an African dictator arriving the US and being quizzed about his ‘one party state’ and his reply…

    Of course, you have a one party state too. Only with typical American luxury and excess, you have two of them

    But I fear this diary might get lost because of the Iran news. I’ll endeavour to make sure it’s bumped at a later date.  

  2. “Maybe all these moderates can form their own party so us Democrats can really push for Liberal policies.”.

    This translates – to my ears – into: “I really hope the Republicans get elected into power soon.”

    Caught a glance of a poll on CNN that had respondents identifying as:

    40% conservative

    35% moderate

    21% liberal

    The Democratic Party is benefiting from the support of virtually every liberal, almost all moderates and a surprising number of conservatives (even a few Conservatives, in my experience).  This is a coalition government already…

  3. Shaun Appleby

    Voting at council (town) and Senate level under proportional representation (eat your hearts out) for minority candidates who consistently get elected.

    Go Greens!

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