CBS News just ran a pretty good editorial. The title, “America Vs. Third Parties”, pretty much foreshadows the theme of the entire article.
Here’s one section I found especially compelling:
Yet we are stuck with the same two parties, ad nauseam. It’s like a world where there are two baseball teams, the Yankees and the Dodgers. Every year since the 1800s they have played 162 games against each other, and then played each other in the playoffs, and then the World Series. The players change, but never the teams.
It’s “Groundhog Day” meets Sartre. No wonder people tune out.
The Constitution says nothing about parties. The great and wise founding elders detested political parties, and promptly formed them and divided up. Thanks so much.
The Civil War gave birth to the current two-party setup of Democrats and Republicans. That should have been a warning.
In 1942, an early and eminent political scientist named E.E. Schattschneider declared flatly that the two parties had a “monopoly on power” in America. Nothing has changed since then. Absolutely nothing.
Still, that doesn’t mean third parties candidates are prevented from winning elections at any level. So here’s where the monopoly parties come in. First, they set up rules where Democrats and Republicans automatically get on ballots, but third parties have to jump through petitioning hoops. There are 51 different sets of laws to get on the ballot in this country, one for every state, plus Washington, D.C. Next they make it hard for third parties to raise money. Then they sleep well at night.
In the cycles of politics, we’re probably due for a major third party presidential candidate. The fact they have had so many close elections indicates the opportunity is real. Contrary to popular belief and punditry, close elections do not mean the country is deeply polarized.