Monday’s Mtg: Winners and Warts of Our 2-Party System?

Sixty percent of Americans now say it’s time for a third party.  Dean thought we should talk about why our system seems to be rigged for two parties only.  I’m not sure I would call it rigged, but the obstacles to the emergence of a genuine third party (beyond some billionaire’s quixotic presidential bid, like Perot’s) are pretty large.  I’ll ask Dean if he wants to give any opening remarks and then maybe say a thing or two about what the big obstacles are, according to (I think) the polysci crowd.

In light of the usual howls of laughter from the GOP over the proposals in Obama’s state of the union address, maybe it would be enlightening to discuss whether the two-party system is a part of the paralysis problem – or, as the last links below argue strongly, whether it’s one of our political parties that is broken instead.  Please read these links if you don’t know what I mean.

Discussion Questions –

  1. Why is America’s two-party system so stable?  Is it the Constitution?  The way we structure elections?  Money?  Merely the weight of the two major parties’ long period of dominance?
  2. Could it be public opinion?  The public says it wants a third party, but does it really?  What big segment of the electorate is not being served by the two parties?  To ask another way, what could a third party in America stand for that the other two major parties do not?
  3. Why have third-party presidential candidates in recent years (Perot, Nader) not ever sparked a genuine third party?
  4. What conditions would be necessary to form another major political party?  Are we getting closer?
  5. Hypothetically, what do you think might happen if a third party sprang up that got, say, 20% of the presidential or Senate votes?  Cui bono?

Links –

NEXT WEEK:    The Apocalypse.  I mean, our discussion of it and why many people believe in it.


2 responses

  1. We’ve had “independent” Governors and members of the Senate. It’s a tough position for them though, because where do they find their friends? Generally, they end up aligning with one of the two parties.
    We have had reasonably strong third parties in the past, just not recently. A related question might be, why no Socialist party?

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