According to Pro-Democracy Campaign
literature, this plank is described as follows.1
two-party system, third or fourth parties face a host of
institutional barriers, from getting on the ballot to being
included in debates to broadcasting their views. This
discourages people from voting because alternative voices
help enliven the political debate that is at the heart of
any healthy democracy. Prohibitive ballot access
requirements should be altered, debates should be open to
all ballot-qualified candidates, and all such candidates
should receive free air time."
Let's address this plank section by
"In our two-party system…"
The two-party system in the United States
emerged from the earliest days of our Republic. They were
naturally emerged creations of opposing political philosophies
where each shared, at their core, common concerns. The
two-party system has yielded relative stability in our political
processes compared to other nations, despite the ravings of some
liberals. We should not allow their emotional reactions to
recent events to endanger our Republic.
"…third or fourth parties…"
come into being because the major Democratic and Republican parties are
perceived as ignoring their constituents' needs or concerns.
Third parties hope more to influence the platforms of the
major parties than they hope to actually assume power
themselves. In the
majority of cases they have been identified, rightly or wrongly,
as single-issue parties or otherwise narrowly focused.
Third parties act as magnets for what some people derisively
call the lunatic fringe, often undeserved simply because their
narrow focus makes them appear out of touch with mainstream
America. Candidacies such as Pat Buchanan's or Ralph
Nader's (and they are very mild examples from our history) have
caused the defection of voices that the major parties would have
otherwise had to contend with or accommodate in their own
platforms. In other
words, "good riddance!"
In some instances third parties are weakened or die
completely because parts of their agenda are eventually co-opted
by one of the major parties. It has also been the case where major sections of both
the Republican and Democratic parties have been splintered
because the major party temporarily strayed from its political
base. This has had
the effect of delivering the presidency to the opposition, even
though weakened and without claim to a clear mandate. It is this ability that yields power and influence to
third parties in indirect proportion to their numbers of
parties are useful creations because they are barometers
offering a window to the public mood.
parties have manifested themselves throughout our history, and
in presidential elections have certainly influenced outcomes.
Ross Perot's 1992 bid netted more than 19 million votes,
essentially delivering the presidency to Bill Clinton because
Perot pulled predominantly conservative votes from President
George Bush. In the 2000 election there were several
presidential candidates; between them almost 4 million votes
were garnered. Remember
however, in our Republic, the popular vote nationally does not
matter; it is the popular vote within individual States that
determines which candidate gets electoral votes. Third party influence is such that they can swing
electoral votes between the major parties within the States, if
not to themselves.
What are most interesting are the approximate popular vote
tallies represented by third party candidacies since 1972.3
The following table reveals a degree of popular
discontent with a major party or both major parties,
particularly since 1988. This
is a barometer that should influence major party behavior, but
is not necessarily a reason to scrap our two-party system.
For each election year, signature reasons
can be cited to explain defections (or lack of them) to third
parties. In 1980, for example, there was extreme
dissatisfaction with the Carter presidency. 1984-1988
numbers can be accounted for with a conjecture that the majority
of Americans accepted Ronald Reagan's prescription for economic
recovery and defense of freedom. (His electoral counts for 1980
and 1984 were overwhelming.) 1992 was a watershed for
third parties. The large defection can be explained by
extreme dissatisfaction with President Bush's about-face on
taxes, combined with distrust of and disgust with Bill
Clinton. If 1996 and 2000 defections were increasing
numbers, the major parties would be in extreme danger.
However, as they have before, in order to defend against third
party incursions, they must eventually adjust their policies
without losing the essence of their philosophy.
The Institute for Policy Studies, Action
Agenda for Electoral Reform.
2 I will use the term
"third party" or "third parties", implying
any number of additional parties.
3 All figures except 1996 and 2000 are from http://www.sddt.com/features/convention/elections.
1996 and 2000 are from http://www.presidentelect.org.
Copyright © Copyright © 2020, 2003, 2004
by Michael A. Wallace & America's Voices, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Wallace is a registered Republican, a former
Eagle Scout, a Lifetime Member of the National Rifle
Association, a strong believer in Second Amendment rights, a
retired Marine officer, and a pro-life advocate –- all things
liberals seem to dislike. In addition to his affiliation with
Voices, Mike is a founding member of ConservaVets,
a conservative veteran's organization (which has since become Rally4America).
Mike uses thorough constitutional and historical research to analyze and
explain key moral and political issues of the day. He particularly
enjoys debunking the myths and lies perpetrated by the many liberal
groups who claim to speak for most Americans and by those who
misrepresent Constitutional principles to further their own agendas. E-mail
Mike at email@example.com.