Q&A Friday #24: Could There Be Strong Third Party In The US?

Question: “Do you see a possibility of there being a strong third party or maybe fourth party in the near future? Would this be a more realistic possibility if it were initiated from a grassroots level or from within the current political ‘moderate players’ of each party?

I would invite a new credible party just to create a truer environment for a free market place of ideas.

As a southern demo, I have been feeling very alienated from my own party within the past few years. And seeing the new debates rising within the Rep party, I can see where the same feelings might be true for some Repubs. The environment may be ripe for change.” — southern_demo

Answer: For it to actually work and not just be a parasite that siphons votes off of one party or the other, leading to defeat for both, there would have to be a platform that would appeal to large numbers of people who currently lean to the left and the right. Moreover, the issues the party ran on would have to be ones that the other two big parties couldn’t or wouldn’t “steal” because their constituency groups wouldn’t allow it. In my opinion, that’s too fine a needle for any third party to thread.

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Then there are the problems of raising money, getting organized nationally, getting skeptical voters who normally vote Republican or Democrat to switch parties, and coming up with an effective counter to the whole “you’re throwing your vote away by voting for those guys because they can’t win” argument. Again, those are almost insurmountable obstacles to overcome.

Let me also add that in my experience, many of the people who are unhappy with their party are upset not because they don’t like the agenda, but because the politicians don’t have the guts to actually carry it out once they get elected. Keeping that in mind, even if there was a successful third party, would its members think it was all worth it when the compromising began?

As a side note, I think this is one of the things that a lot of people who actually vote Libertarian don’t really think about. The reason Libertarian politicians can be so ideologically pure is because they’re not in power. If the Libertarians were to ever actually start to win a lot of elections, they’d start compromising their principles on a regular basis to stay in office, just like the Republicans and Democrats do.

So a strong third party just doesn’t look to be in the cards.

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