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Do we need more political parties?

Gallup has been asking, since 2003, this question:

"In your view, do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people, or do they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed?"

The latest result, out fresh today, finds that a majority says "yes", by 52-40 percent, (with 8 percent no opinion). That's down from 58 percent the last time they asked it, but the yesses have been greater than the no's the last five times Gallup asked the question.

Unsurprisingly, those who consider themselves political independents have always been mostly likely to say yes, but -- a tad surprisingly -- the yesses are now coming more often from Republicans than from Democrats and have for the last three rounds of the question since 2008. The current result has 68 of independents wishing for a third party, 52 of Republicans and just 33 percent of Democrats. And 60 percent of those who describe themselves as Tea Party supporters say a third party is needed.

Or do they?

Of course, the way the question is phrased, you can't really tell whether those saying yes really want a third party or whether they are responding to the part about whether the existing parties do an adequate or a poor job.

Also, most people don't have a free-floating desire for more parties. They have something more specific in mind, generally one of three somethings: a party to the left of the Dems, a party to the right of the Repubs or a centrist party in between the Dems and the Repubs. Until you know which of those people are craving, you don't know much.

And, as Gallup's brief analysis of the result suggests, the U.S. system is stacked pretty heavily against third parties being taken very seriously, winning many races, or lasting very long. Remember that the most successful of recent third party presidential candidates -- Ross Perot who got 19 percent of the popular -- managed to get zero electoral votes.

Look around the world and you see very few such sturdy, smothering partisan duopolies as ours, and you see many different ways of awarding seats that make it much easier for a third or fourth party to at least have a meaningful role or voice.

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Comments (3)

If we had a parliamentary system, it's interesting to speculate about what coalitions might form a government.

The political parties have not represented the "people" in decades. I'm a Democrat, but I don't see all that many Democrats to vote for who truly reflect Democratic Party Principles. There are possibly a handful in both the state legislature and Congress.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are fighting to serve the same master, i.e. the ultra wealthy and powerful monopolistic corporations. Their servitude has resulted in a corporate communism at its worst which has more to do with our economic woes than any other issue. Yet both elected party representatives play good political theater that serves as a con on the people to distract them from getting their pockets picked and the slow erosion of our standards of living.

It is rather rich now to hear about corporations like Walmart cry about their customers running out of money resulting in declining sales. The very voluntary corporate servitude by both the Republicans and Democrats in implimenting trade and immigration policies to export jobs and import cheap labor to make cheap crap is what has destroyed their biggest market in the world, Americans.

It is the policies of the Republicans and Democrats that have served to give virtually free money to banks and international corpations while watching those same corporations perform financial con jobs on the American public, especially small businesses, through contracts with large hidden land mines, and userous interest rates.

It is both the Republicans and Democrats who have sat by idlely by watching the credit scoring industry colude with the financial sector in developing further manipulative ways to pick the pockets of Americans and further erode their standards of living.

It is both the Republicans and Democrats who have played the health reform con on the American people by turning us all over the to the health insurance industry instead of creating an affordable solution to health care access to ensure the burden of healthcare is finally off the backs of our employers.

All these policies of both Republcians and Democrats have prevented the great entrepreneurism that has made us strong for over 200 years. So, no, I don't know that a third party is the answer. A third party will eventually follow in the other parties' in turning their backs on the people and dropping to their knees to serve the same master. The solution is to amend the constitution to get money out of politics and hold the respective party members accountable to accurately and properly vet the candidates instead of having blind love fests with them and their propaganda. Then it is time to hold the elected representatives accountable to adhear to the party principles upon which they were endorsed and elected. By that standard, nationally, Obama should be the first to go. The next for Democrats in Minnesota is to force Amy Klobuchar to transform herself from being the queen of the mugwomps to an actual Democratic leader.

In other words, the question is how to go from 'one dollar, one vote' to 'one person, one vote'.
Right now (due in good part to recent Supreme Court decisions) it's virtually impossible to run a political campaign beyond the local level without millions of dollars (even congresspersons such as Bachmann and Walz raise in the millions).