Thursday, November 24, 2011

Third party vs. four-party system

There has been various chattering about the need for a third party in our political system. We occasionally have a third-party candidate, but no true, durable alternative to the current two-party political system. Recently some liberal progressives have been muttering about their disgust with Obama and the need for a much more left-wing progressive liberal third party, and now we read in The Washington Post in an article entitled "Moderate Americans Elect group hoping to add third candidate to 2012 election ballot" about the efforts of a group called Americans Elect to prepare for running a moderate centrist candidate to be picked using a populist Internet voting system. I'm all for moderate centrists, but with so many groups jockeying for who would be the third party, I don't see that any third party would really be able to win out over the two entrenched parties. Sure, a third party gives one group of voters a sense that they had a voice, but to what end other than merely to have a voice just for the sake of having a voice? My preference would be to have two new centrist parties, one moderate conservative centrist and one moderate liberal centrist and let the left and right-wing extremists who "control" the two existing parties keep them.
So, what I envision is simultaneously and symmetrically creating those two new moderate centrist parties and then encourage the moderates from the Republican and Democratic parties to migrate to their respective moderate centrist parties. It might take a few election cycles to complete the transition, but eventually we would have a four-party system in which everybody gets a much stronger voice to express their political views.
I think this would be a win-win for all parties and the American public individually and as a whole.
Hard-core conservatives would control the old Republican party and not have to feel that their positions and policies are being "watered down" by moderate centrist conservatives.
Hard-core liberal progressives (and even socialists) would control the old Democratic party and not have to feel that their positions and policies are being "watered down" by moderate centrist liberals.
Moderate centrist conservatives would control the new center-right party and know that they can "compromise" and work with the new center-left party without being restrained by far right wingnuts.
Moderate centrist liberals would control the new center-left party and know that they can "compromise" and work with the new center-right party without being restrained by far left wingnuts.
Voters would be able to express their votes in a way that more truly expresses how they feel, and in an average election a voter for either moderate centrist party could sleep well at night knowing that a win by the other moderate centrist party is not going result in feeling that they are going to get really screwed as seems to be the case today.
Voters would also be able to cross over and vote for the other moderate centrist party if they felt that it was better positioned to win or had a more appealing candidate, or if the opposing wingnut party was actually threatening to attract a winning collection of voters due to some special issues in a particular election. And, sometimes, one party simply doesn't offer a truly great candidate for the voters.
Sometimes both centrist parties may have very similar goals, but one has either a more appealing plan or a candidate who just seems more capable of pulling off the plan (and being elected first.)
There might even be situations where the two centrist parties decide that their agendas are close enough and that one or both of the wingnut parties is a big enough threat that it makes more sense to pool their interests and have one of the two centrist candidates voluntarily drop out and strongly urge his or her supporters to vote for the other moderate centrist candidate.
To me, this would be a much more sensible political party system and go a long way in addressing the complaints of both the left and right extremes and citizens who feel that the extremes have two much power in their respective parties and are preventing desirable moderate centrists from being nominated.


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