Do we need a third party?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
On another blog I called this a "dumbass" idea.

Maybe I was a little obnoxious [maybe] but I do have to admit that I am getting tired of this discussion coming about every ten years or so.

Other than Hillary Clinton who can benefit?

There are almost 300 million of us. There is no way two parties are ever going to please everybody and we do not have a Parliamentary system. That makes compromise inevitable.

So just because we can not all have what we want when we want it should we just keep dividing into more and more parties?

I mean if three parties is good, why not four?


chuck said...

Third parties seem to lead to anomalous presidential election results. To wit:

The Bull Moose party took 25% of the vote in 1912 which led to the election of Wilson with about 42% of the vote.

Clinton got elected with 43% of the vote on account of Perot taking 19%.

Nixon won in 1968 with about 43% of the vote because George Wallace took 13% from Humphrey.

So, while third party candidate serve to punish and may change party policies a bit, they also lead to minority presidents. That can be a problem. Better, I think, to get a strong leader who represents one's views into the House or the Senate. Both of these institutions is better equiped to deal with some diversity.

chuck said...

Oh, and Lincoln got 39% of the popular vote. Say what you will about the justice of the Civil War, I can't help but think that the split on the Democratic side helped bring it about. Link.

chuck said...

I guess I should also include Nader in 2000. Thinking it over, it appears that third parties have had an influence on American history all out of proportion to their actual size. It's another consequence of our winner take all system.

OK, I'll be quiet now ;)

terrye said...


Don't be quiet.

Your posts made me think about this differently. I guess there have been more third party candidates than I remembered.

I do agree that they are intended more to punish than anything else.

flenser said...

The effect of third parties is often to punish one of the two major parties, but that is not usually the intent.

thibaud, who constantly pushes this idea over at Rogers, seems to think that there is a majority in the country made up of pro-abortion Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats. I think he is kidding himself about the facts of the matter, but the intent is try to change the nature of the two parties rather than to create three permanant parties. At least thats how I see it.

Rick Ballard said...

Whoa, Chuck,

George Wallace doesn't belong on the list as a spoiler. Humphrey wouldn't have taken all five of the states that Wallace took. The DFL was characterized as a socialist/communist front among southerners way before '68 and McGovern fared much worse in the south than Humphrey did. LooK at Stevenson's showing in '52 and '56 for further confirmation. Third party analysis has to go to electoral votes rather than popular vote percentages. Henry Wallace's run in '48 almost put Dewey in office on that basis.

The south will tolerate glib southern liberals but not northern ones. Or at least that's the way it was through '04.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I think thibaud's constant push for a "third party" which happens to exactly agree with him is quite amusing. I suppose we all have our blind spots.

At this point in life, I agree with Terrye: dumbass idea.

terrye said...

Yeah well I suppose I could have been more diplomatic.

just settle for bad idea.

chuck said...


I think thibaud's constant push for a "third party" which happens to exactly agree with him is quite amusing.

I think thibaud is a formerly devout Democrat who is disgusted with the Party but he can't buy into the Republicans. Who can blame him for the comforting thought that maybe there is a party of the like minded just waiting to be called forth. Heck, I would like the same.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

chuck, I once remarked to Charlie (CO) that I would join a party full of people like him and he reminded me that that would make four of us.

I don't blame thibaud for wanting what he does; I "feel his pain". But I think he simply doesn't see how unusual he is. Much as Glenn Reynolds has a side which believes that the world will soon be full of techno-libertarians riding in their space elevators. That's why it's amusing. Sad amusing.

Rick Ballard said...


Nah, you got it right in one. It's a real dumbass idea. It's worked OK for a few spoilers at the Presidential level and there are a couple of local areas that support offshoots of the major parties but it is generally a waste of time. If it were feasible, the Kossack wingnuts would try it rather than purchasing the remnant of the Dem Party.

terrye said...


Yes I know what you mean. I get so tired of the singularity stuff and longevity, etc. Reynolds is super smart, but not very realistic.

People are more traditional than that.

and Rick:

ok, dumbass it is.

chuck said...


...the Kossack wingnuts...

I've been officially labeled a wingnut and I really, really, resent being associated with Kos. Wingnuts are us sane folks in the middle, it's a label to be proud of.

Anyone know of a wingnut bumber sticker?

Knucklehead said...


Perhaps I need to review my idea of what a "wingnut" is. I thought wingnuts were the Rightist equivalent of moonbats. Like, Buchananites are wingnuts. Some purist libertarian types would also qualify.

If you are, indeed, a "wingnut" please to define. I never thought of you as one.

Re: the notion, so vigorously promoted by Our Friend Thibaud, that there's some centrist party of like-minded folks waiting to burst forth onto the polical scene, apparently I agree with y'all. No such animal.

First off, most folks would self-describe as "moderate". Yeah, right. A goodly portion of them hold ideas radical enough to be downright dumbass (my word for the day, Terry, thanks!). But even those who could be considered legitimately moderate are moderate about different issues.

Moderation in all things, especially moderation.