This is part one of a series on politics and parties, concerning how our system collapses into only two parties in today's USA. Part two will describe what the two parties really are, and part three will take a stab at defining the actual space of political orientations.
It usually doesn't take long into a discussion of politics, especially one in the USA, to devolve into what I've come to view as the idiocy of the left/right paradigm, or what is in broader terms a view of politics as having two opposite sides or positions on a single spectrum. This is usually presented as follows:
- Left vs Right
- Liberal vs Conservative
- Democrat vs Republican/GOP
- Communist/Marxist vs Capitalist
These dichotomies are not only flawed, but are so badly misleading as to be polluting to your mind and to cause drastic failures to comprehend the reality of politics and political structures. They're also so widespread that you'd be loath to find any mainstream political commentary, anywhere on the web, that doesn't use, either explicitly or implicitly, these types of comparisons.
In part, this comes from the fact that the USA now has, and historically has had at most times, only two political parties of any size or note. The phenomenon is in part caused by our "first past the post" voting system, in which the vote leader wins the election, regardless of how small a percentage of the vote they win, and in part by our "winner-take-all" Electoral College system in Presidential elections.
We tend to view all politic ideology as dichotomous only because all political activity in the USA is structurally confined to two opposing major parties. It's so retarded that the rank and file members and much of the intelligentsia of - ignoring the (((party elites))) for a moment - the GOP all agree that they're "conservatives" but couldn't define what that meant in fifty words or less if you put a gun to their heads.
How does this collapse into two parties happen? We'll examine that by looking at the recent history of attempts to expand the system into more than just two major parties.
In 1992, Ross "Big Ears" Perot ran as an independent against Bill "Cosby" Clinton (Dem) and George H. W. "Elder" Bush (GOP) and took votes from both parties' coalitions because he better represented what many voters wanted than either the Democrat or GOP candidates did; however, most of the votes he took were from the GOP side of the ledger. Overall voter turnout was better in 1992 than in either the previous or following cycles, pointing to Perot drawing previously unrepresented voters out to the polls. These Perot voters, as it happens, are what I call Fascists but what (((sociologists))) call Middle American Radicals or MARS. The election turned out as follows:
- "Cosby" Clinton (Dem) 45M votes, 32 States won (+DC), 370 electoral college votes
- "Elder" Bush (GOP) 39M votes, 18 States won, 168 electoral college votes
- "Big Ears" Perot (ind) 20M votes, ZERO STATES WON, ZERO ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES
IN THE US' SYSTEM, MINORITY VIEWS ARE DENIED INDEPENDENT REPRESENTATION IN GENERAL ELECTIONS, AND ESPECIALLY IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Almost everybody knows this subconsciously at least, and those who don't know it, are reminded of it every couple of decades or so.
Perot, smarting from the ballot access issues of running independent (worth a post in itself), then started a new political party, the Reform Party, and ran again in 1996. The next cycle, the GOP pitted Bob "Boner Pills" Dole against the incumbent Clinton. But people mostly learned their lesson from 1992 that votes for neither of the two main parties are essentially wasted votes, especially in Presidential elections. About 2M former Fashy Perot voters switched to Clinton, and about 10M other former Fashy Perot voters said "fuck it, ain't nobody running worth two shits and my vote's wasted anyways," and stayed home.
- "Cosby" Clinton (Dem) 47M votes, 31 States won (+DC), 379 electoral college votes
- "Boner Pills" Dole (GOP) 39M votes, 19 States won, 159 electoral college votes
- "Big Ears" Perot (REF) 8M votes, ZERO STATES WON, ZERO ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES
We can see the same dynamic to a much smaller extent in Ralph "Unsafe In Any Office" Nader's Green Party Presidential political campaign of 2000, where the votes he got came primarily at the expense of Al "Global Warming" Gore and damn near cost the Democrat Party the election, since Minnesota and Oregon almost swung to the GOP due to high Green Party vote-getting. In the end, however, it was Juan Ellis "Jebito" Bush who gave us George W. "Shrub" Bush as President via the Florida recount. Note the turnout here, it's notable that even with a good chance to swing the White House from one party's control to another's based on there being no incumbent President running, this election still had fewer voters than 1992. It seems that many of those Fashy Perot supporters, seeing nobody representing them again, stayed home for yet another cycle.
- "Shrub" Bush (GOP) 50.5M votes, 30 States won, 271 electoral college votes
- "Global Warming" Gore (Dem) 51M votes, 20 States won (+DC), 266 electoral college votes
- "Unsafe" Nader (GRN) 3M votes, ZERO STATES WON, ZERO ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES
If you look for them, you'll find several articles from the 2008 Presidential cycle which urgently call for any erstwhile Green voters to pull the lever for the "Magic Mulatto" instead of potentially costing the Dems the election.
Essentially the only way to field a truly viable "new" third party is to persist for long enough, and take enough votes from the two other parties, so that one or both of the major parties collapse, but that won't last long; within a Presidential cycle or two, maybe three, realignment will take place back into a two-party system. Under the USA's current legal framework, it's inescapable.
Part two will describe what these two parties really are.