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Multi-Party System

  • Oct. 5th, 2008 at 1:03 PM
views_livemint
Cnst wrote in a comment to by post about the media's role:

"Do you trust the media and their covering of the election? I sure don't. Take a look at the front page of this community. What do you see in there? A picture of Obama/Biden on the left, and McCain/Palin on the right. Now tell me, are they the only candidates that are running?"


In India, there's a mutli-party system that constantly needs to create a tenuous balance of compromise to make sure the government can work. Why hasn't this happened in America? In a country as diverse as ours, why don't we move toward a more representative party system? Or do you like the two-party system?

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vernon_j wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
Because people can't get into office.
I'm sure back in the time there was more than 2 parties. But than it became either or.

Jesse Ventura got into the Governor's Mansion in MN. But he had no support in the house of MN. If a state could get 5-10% of the house elected officials, they would be able to do something.
manatees wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
In India, there are more ethnic groups who need representation to prevent fighting between them - this system of government also happens in Northern Ireland, for example, where Catholics and Protestants share power to prevent one group governing, which would cause conflict. Though the US is culturally very diverse, there is not enough conflict between these groups to warrant a more representative form of government as it is in the cases of India and Northern Ireland.
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 6th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
nebulosity wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
I think the United States definitely needs a multi-party system.
manatees wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
But surely a multi-party system would lead to a weak government a la Weimar Germany?
NO - vernon_j - Oct. 5th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: NO - manatees - Oct. 5th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: NO - villey - Oct. 6th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - castleclear - Oct. 11th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 5th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - castleclear - Oct. 11th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
torasama wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Nobody *likes* the two-party system. More choices would be great. As it stands, there's just far too much clout in the Republican and Democratic parties, which makes it impossible for a third-party candidate to get anywhere. We feel like we waste our vote if we don't vote on Democrat or Republican. The Green party (or any other 3rd party) just isn't going to win, no matter how much we'd like it to.
(no subject) - mamagaea - Oct. 5th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
"Nobody *likes* the two-party system." - cnst - Oct. 7th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC) Expand
Re: "Nobody *likes* the two-party system." - cnst - Oct. 7th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - castleclear - Oct. 11th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
janet_prime wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
As I understand it, other nations' multiparty systems never hold primary elections, and always schedule time for the winning candidate to put together a working, majority coalition AFTER the people have no more voice in the choices.

Isn't our primary system a formal way for the voters to put together the political coalitions that can work with each other and pick which of those holds the most votes and therefore heads that coalition? We most certainly do not need the formal time to make coalitions after the final election!
pennyann wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
As politics (and politicians) become more homogenized the multi-party system that may have been around in the early days of our government just gravitated into the two parties we have today. Do I think these two parties are representative of the population of the United States? No, I don't. But I think anything but the two parties we have now being truly viable would take a radical change in the way people think about electing officials, and I don't ever see that happening... even as unhappy as we generally are from time to time. You've heard a lot of the, "I don't like either candidate", but people don't reach out and investigate the other options, nor most times are they even aware that there ARE other options.

I don't think anyone prefers the two party system over a multi-party system. I know I don't. But I think we are too lazy to really look beyond it, especially when the media never says a single word about third party candidates and there is little other than grass roots movements to disseminate information about these parties so that folks are aware that they have other options. Let's face it, most people do not make the effort to do more than read newspapers, watch the nightly news or 24 hour news, maybe surf the web a little and make their decision. Until those sources of information (barring the internet) make a little more effort in presenting all of the options we can vote for or that are running, no one is going to even consider it and our thinking on electing politicians and the party system will not change.
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 6th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - pennyann - Oct. 6th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC) Expand
elliotengstrom wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Because India's system works so well, right?
eyenot wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Aren't we seeing more and more that "We The People" aren't having any real effect on the government? That the winners are getting more and more pre-determined over time? That we're starting to not matter? It's been the Democrats and Republicans who've brought us to this point. And yet they both claim origins in the Democratic-Republican party. Of course there's a little fraternal competition as to who can more rightly make the claim, but even that is built into their charters, sitting there ahead of time for their members to pick up and play, like a game. Do you ever wonder how much of their organisation and order is actually just to keep people occupied and to sort of corral them into predeterminable responses, reactions, and even opinions? And doesn't it seem quite logical that, even if at one point in time they did exist as and act as two genuinely opposed parties, that it was much more efficient and effective to really act as one party again, back to their roots, and just create the presentation or facade of being two seperate parties? Not just to fool people, but to cater to many civilized tendencies: to have an "us" and "them", to root for, to win against, to compete with; to have something just complex enough to be analysed but not so complex that it can't be easily grasped; to believe that membership makes a difference, not only in government but in your own life, that being included in some club or fraternal order will be an improvement over just being a human being and living and breathing; just to offer people something to belong to and believe in. If you can comprehend or empathise with their reasons or motives even as they do present publically, it can bring you a long way to understanding the probability and the reasons why that they really are just one big party at the top levels, probably involving people we don't know and will never be introduced to. This is somethign that any American can, and I believe should, take into serious consideration, now that our government had been a little more forthcoming with the fact there there is an entire copy of our government that is hidden and secluded, called "Shadow Government". I'm not saying they exist as other than what they are presented as, which is a backup or secondary government in case too many members of the public government are lost to acts of terrorism or war. But I am saying that we should all be mature enough to speculate seriously on the possibility of hidden levels of government. So, this is why I today believe that there is no Dems and no GOP -- it's just the old Democratic-Republic party. And they aren't forthcoming with that, and even to get this far in conversation as I've written here, with any of their members, is a distinct impossibility. And therefore I feel they are simply not to be trusted.

One thing we can recall about India is that they are only recent without a governmentally imposed caste system, but that caste system still works and exists today. I find it difficult to admire certain aspects of the Indian culture for that reason. However, they do have an ancient monument there, as was rediscovered as the waters receded in the tsunami that was so destructive there. The local lore had changed this from being a reality to a distant legend, something believe in not since nine generations ago, but still talked about as a mythical story. Imagine the unique position of being a person who then sees the waters receded and this supposedly mythical thing rising from beneath the waves. I would consider that an improved-upon life, if it were my own. So, we know anything can change and improve, and that the reasons aren't always immediately discernable to us. And furthermore I have to say that any country harboring an ancient megalithic monument makes for worthwhile inspection and deserves some form of admiration. After all, it's not like it was forgotten, and the ancient texts recording prehistory still exist in India today. That's admirable. It's just that there's this caste society, and that really chaffs.
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 6th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - eyenot - Oct. 6th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC) Expand
pika_pik wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Why would anyone trust the media about anything? They are a business enterprise and even if they weren't would you trust anyone to represent the world?

Maybe a better question should be why should there be parties at all? How can anyone represent our particularity? They may not be the only candidates running but there is only one thing really running - representation.
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 5th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
sophia_sadek wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
A vote not discarded
I disagree that a third party vote is a discarded vote. It actually serves as a wake-up call that the third party's issues need to be addressed by the major parties in a future election. If the margin of loss is as large as the third party's support, this means quite a bit of attention to that party.
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 6th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
sophia_sadek wrote:
Oct. 5th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
The traditional role of third parties
Third parties have always played an important role in pushing the other two parties to face issues that they are otherwise unwilling to face. In San Francisco, Matt Gonzales leveraged a relationship with the Green Party to cause a significant change in Gavin Newsom's level of attention to environmental issues. This is one small example of the effect of smaller parties in American politics.

The two major parties are themselves formed from coalitions of minor parties. Sometimes the minor party has a presence in both parties. During the '50s and '60s, a minor social liberal sub-party within the Republican Party became the brain trust for both parties.

At the time that the Republican Party was founded by Lincoln, Stephen Douglass observed that the Republicans in Illinois could be divided into three sub-parties: Black Republicans in the north who favored emancipation with both civil and social rights, White Republicans in the south of Illinois who favored emancipation with neither civil nor social rights, and Brown Republicans in the middle of the state who favored emancipation with civil, but not social rights.

The Black Republicans of old were absorbed into the Democratic Party. The White Republicans are the David Dukes of today.
(no subject) - saavedra77 - Oct. 6th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
tyskkvinna wrote:
Oct. 6th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Re: A vote not discarded
The US needs a multi-party system. I don't see it happening any time soon, though. I think this country has become too divided in the concepts of "liberal" and "conservative", and anything that isn't is "independent".. and of course, all independent voters have the same views. ;) Everything is "Democrat" or "Republican"... it's so very polarised.

I prefer the party system in my home, Germany - there's more than one liberal party, conservative party. While some of the smaller parties would be unlikely to ever get a majority, they're large enough to have a significant impact on what they do.

One of the biggest reasons I rarely vote for third-party candidates in the US is that I feel my vote is not useful enough. I like the idea of changing the margins and supporting something I truly believe in - but usually that is outweighed by the desire to *not* have a particular candidate in office. I would often stick with the other major party candidate that I'm lukewarm about and ignore the one I really support in an effort to keep the one I hate the most out of office. In my local elections this year there's a mix of both for me. I looked up my ballot and researched all of my candidates and made of list of who I'm voting for. For the record, I have a combination of Republican, Democrat, Green and Libertarian candidates that have my vote this year.

Back to topic..

The mainstream media, and too many people in the country, treat anything that isn't R or D as humourous, a novelty. "Oh look! The Green Party! How cute." It's really unfortunate, but I think the only way to truly overcome it is going to be a huge surge in money for another party. If people don't know about it and understand it, they've no reason to pay attention to it or even vote for a candidate running in that party.
bridgeweaver wrote:
Oct. 6th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
In order to foster the sort of change that would bring more than two parties to the fore, it would be useful to ask the question why the U.S. has evolved the way it has which is different than any of the other major democracies or republics in the world. What is the unique set of conditions that has put us in the grip of the two parties that hasn't happened in other democracies?
matgb wrote:
Oct. 6th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Duverger and state funding
Federal and state funding for the big two in terms of running candidate selection ballots and similar, combined with Duverger's Law and the single member constituency system in use (a lot of Duverger's first paper was an analysis of the US system, and mentioned a lot of the minor parties then around in the 1950s US)

All the members of my party in the UK get to vote for their local candidate, only we don't get any help paying for the ballot, we pay for it ourselves, no taxpayers money. US parties get paid-for primaries and caucuses instead. But only if you qualify for funding using the recognition criteria, which are quite steep.

Thus Duverger combines with funding to lock 3rd parties out.

That the 3rd parties are also frequently stupid enough to run independent candidates for the Presidency rather than building up local candidates first is also relevent.

In the UK, the '3rd parties', and I'm in the biggest, were pretty much non-existent 30 years ago. They've built up in specific aras, concentrating resources and campaigning, then building out. Now my partty is challenging Labour in areas that the Conservatives can't win, and the Conservatives in areas that Labour can't win, and increasingly replacing one or the other in some places as well.

The electoral system we share promotes two parties competing in each district. Wannabe third parties should fight in the 'safe' areas--the Greens are at least doing this, challenging the Dems in areas like San Francisco, for example.

There are a number of two-party countries, India was for a long time a one-party state with a bunch of also-rans, Australia is effectively a two-party polity, others can and do change.

Crucially, change the electoral system, the number of parties changes as well, loads of studies show that system begets diversoty (or lack of).
ysabetwordsmith wrote:
Oct. 6th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
Thoughts
>> Do you trust the media and their covering of the election? <<

No. They do an incomplete and biased job. To get useful information, I have to hunt across many alternative and often foreign sources.

>> Now tell me, are they the only candidates that are running? <<

No, but they're the only two with a real chance fo winning this election, due to media and party manipulation. That's immoral, but it's effective.

>> In India, there's a mutli-party system that constantly needs to create a tenuous balance of compromise to make sure the government can work. Why hasn't this happened in America? In a country as diverse as ours, why don't we move toward a more representative party system? <<

Because the people in power designed the system this way. It benefits them, they want to keep it like this, and they have the power to do so -- barring a truly vast upheaval in the balance of power. Such things always come about eventually, but not often, so the immediate probability is low.
morgaath wrote:
Oct. 6th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Something we've kicked around as an idea is having a third house of congress. One with a max of 200 seats with the seats getting filled by each 0.5% of the national vote a party gets (Two or more parties can combine to get the majority of 0.5% to get a seat. If there at times party's can't combine to get 0.5% then we might wind up with some empty seats till the next election). Votes are for the party, not a person. Allow a party to form by gaining at least 75,000 signatures from around the country.

First, this lets small parties with a spread out base still have a chance at a seat.

Second, by voting for a party, rather then a person, it means there should never be an empty seat for a vote. Plus if someone has to step down there is no need to vote for a replacement.

Third, it makes us willing to vote for a small party, and not feel that it is just wasting the vote.

Once we start getting a chance to see that some of the third party's can do some good, then they might start getting votes for other positions.
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