BLOG: America needs more major political parties

Tom Jackson
Mar 31, 2011

Thomas Suddes, one of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's better columnists, had a scathing piece in last Sunday's PD which roasted Republican lawmakers in Columbus for their Voter ID card bill and attacked Democrats for lining up to ban the Teach for America program in Ohio.

Teach for America recruits top college students for the public schools. The emphasis is on academic smarts rather than lots of education credits, so the education establishment doesn't like the program, although Barack Obama does.

"University of North Carolina research in that state suggests Teach for America teachers increase high school pass rates and middle school math test scores. Democrats evidently think Ohio schools need no such boost," Suddes observes. Suddes is too polite to say so, but Democrats evidently prefer making teacher unions happy than actually educating children.

Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing through a bill to require everyone who votes to produce a photo ID, even though, as Suddes points out, the bill is a fix for something that isn't broken. There are almost no examples of voters pretending to be someone else when they show up to cast their ballots.

"Except as a way to keep old or poor Ohioans from the polls, the ID bill is pointless," Suddes writes.

Suddes' column highlights a problem I have with America's political system, which divides power between just two parties, both which are captive to special interest groups.

Voters can go with the Republicans, who largely represent the interests of the rich and the corporations.

Or voters can go with the Democratic Party, which represents the interest of the rich, the corporations and the labor unions. 

That isn't the way the system works in other countries, which usually has a parliamentary system that makes it easier for multiple parties to elect at least a few lawmakers.

Left-wingers in Europe, for example, can vote for real Socialist parties. In the U.S., they have to live with endless compromise if they vote for Democrats.

Voters in Germany who lean Libertarian can vote for the Free Democratic Party, which is "liberal" on social issues — such as gay rights — but favors free-market policies and free trade. Similar voters in the U.S. have only the Libertarian Party, which doesn't have a single member in Congress.

Germany's parliament currently has members of five political parties: The Christian Democrats (equivalent to Republicans), the Social Democrats (resembling progressive Democrats), the Free Democrats (classical liberals, i.e. moderate libertarians), the Greens, and the Left, a democratic socialist party.

In other words, German voters have real choices. In the last U.S. election, voters chose between Barack Obama, who favors bombing Libya and sending more troops to Afghanistan, and John McCain, who favors bombing Libya and sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Is it time to talk about changing the system in the U.S.? More people would be inspired to vote if they could support a political party that actually fought for their ideas.

 

Comments

eriemom

True!

FUNNYMAN

 I have been saying it for years, EASIER BALLOT ACCESS. We need 10 parties, not 2. I am almost as tired of Democrats as I am of Republicans. I really liked the Tea party because I had alot in common with them. Taking back our government, controlling spending, cutting taxes, sealing our borders, and on and on. Turns out, all they seem to want is to break the unions and cater to the rich. What happened to the jobs? What happened to fixing the healthcare bill, not just repealing it? What happened to all of the rest of it?

These people in our government are supposed to represent us and yet, they continue to support big business, special interest, and their own personal agendas all while pretending they are listening to us. 

 Stop pushing our agenda on all these other countries. WE CANNOT SAVE THE WORLD. Bring our troops home. Stop wasting money we don't have.

FIX THE UNIONS. They are a necesary evil. I am so tired of these people calling to rid our country of unions, rather than fixing the problems. Neither party is fair in the union equation. Republicans are paid for by big business and are doing away with them. And yet, Democrats who claim to be for the working man have sold us down the river as well. Democrats overwhelmingly supported the McCain Fiengold bill for Campaign finance reform and sealed our fate with big business. I would also like to ask anyone with a smart alec comment to tell the crowd which party sent all of our jobs evrery where but here with all of the "FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS". ------- Oh that's right, it was both of them.

 

 Great article by the way.

FST

To funnyman......I agree with you and have been saying the same thing and many,many other people agree also. Our government has gottne out of control and no longer work for "the people".  A very large portion of Americans have lost faith and trust in our government. About the only ones who still believe the government is doing the right thing are those who are blinded by the lies they are being told by the media. Just look at how many people are complaining about their tax dollars being spent to help other Americans,BUT don`t seem to complain that the government "gave" Boeing over 5 million to out compete with the EU`s Airbus and that GE made record profits last year and have to pay NO TAXES on that money and the taxpayers still OWE them over 3 billion in tax subsidies. But our government is too broke to help out our own people in need. I`m not even going into what it costs the American taxpayers because neither party can keep their noses out of other countries business.. I believe that the Democrats and Republicans are in for a shock of reality come 2012. 

6079 Smith W
Ain’t gonna work.   There’s a big difference between parliamentary democracy found in Europe and elsewhere and the federal govt. with different branches along with the separation of powers as found in the U.S.    Most of the time in the U.S., minor parties tend to revolve around a single issue (populist, greenback, progressivism, etc.) and their ideas are eventually absorbed by the major parties if they have widespread support.     

 

Bess

Much  good would come from a multiple party system.  Much good would come from a dilution of the current power base.  6079 says "ain't gonna work" but it could if more recognized the multiple positions in our country and a forum was given to those not R or D.  Ask Ralph Nadar how these debates are run or anyone who was excluded.

FST

To Bess....He only makes negative comments.  I don`t remember him ever saying anything positive about anything...Oh..unless most other comments  are negative. Then he`ll will post a positive comment.  So Bess,it could very well happen. People are fed up with our government and realizing a drastic change is needed. 

Spy's picture
Spy

Politics is not black and white. Neither should political parties.

Factitious

OK, Tom, but you fail to ask or answer an obvious question - why do we have only two significant parties? One reason, surely the most important, is the "primaries" system, which the Demopublicans created to publicly subsidize their candidate selection process while while locking emerging "third parties" out of this benefit.

The observation that we have only two parties only partially answers the question of why the government is so unresponsive to We the People; it's because it's corrupted by money. We've been living with it so long we're blind to the corruption. At least in third-world countries, the payoffs are cladestine. Here, they're perfectly legal!

Germany has many parties because it's permitted, and payoffs euphamized as "contributions" are illegal.

The emerging Tea Party has no choice but to attempt to hijack the Republican Party, because on their own, they can not stand.

But I agree, We the People have a really crappy choice: the awful corporation appeasing Democrat capitulators or the awfuller corporation toadying sycophant Republican hypocrites.

man4451

   A waste of CASH.   $3.1 Trillion for NASA's WASTE. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_money_is_spent_on_space_exploration_each_year

fourth paragarph.

So WHAT could 3.1 Trillion dollars a year buy?

family medical, 3,100,000,000,000.oo (3.1 trillion) divide by 52 weeks $59,615,384,615.oo per Week.

Medical Health care cover,  (could cover a total) 701,357,466 Families. 

divide by $85 dollars per week per family medical, for the crappie 80/20

Consider, 305,000,000 USA population, 4.5 persons per family, 305,000,000 divide by 4.5 = 67,777,777 in the United States.

3.1 Trillion dollars could cover every Family TEN TIMES.

Talk about a WASTE of LIFE. People whom could have Still been alive Today.

This Waste could cover the population of 7,013,574,660 or the WHOLE population of CHINA.

And what LIES the government tells us. And what YOU beleive.

Captain Gutz

@ man4451,

Did you read the rest of the article you refered to? I think you are looking at the  wrong "waste".

It says:

For those who question the size of NASA's operating budget, in 2009 the US budget is split as follows:



National Debt Payment: $10.2 trillion (580 times larger than NASA's budget)

Department of Defense: $515.4 billion (29.3 times larger than NASA's budget)

Global War on Terrorism: $189.3 billion (10.8 times larger than NASA's budget)

Health & Human Services: $68.5 billion (3.9 times larger than NASA's budget)

Department of Transportation: $63.4 billion (3.6 times larger than NASA's budget)

Department of Education: $59.2 billion (3.4 times larger than NASA's budget)

Department of Housing & Urban Development: $38.5 billion (2.2 times larger than NASA's budget)

Department of Energy: $25.0 billion (1.4 times larger than NASA's budget)



If the above numbers are unsettling, consider the following: in 2009, the U.S. Congress passed a "stimulus" package of $787 billion for the Banking, Mortgage and Automobile industries for one year. That same amount of money could operate NASA for the next 42 years.


 

Joker

We don't need more parties, we need intelligent people who aren't brainwashed by Republicrats anymore.

trucker

What are you talking about? For years all i heard was Republicans are for big business, yet these past 2 yrs have been solely protecting big businesses, big union business, big banks and big pharmaceutical. Were trillions given to oil companies? No! WHY? because they have a product people want, not products that the government force on us thru mandates. All i can say is if Democrat ideas are sooo good, why must they always become law? Before the masses will participate..

trucker

Only way is for multiple. Not just one more. That would be a split of the republican party. Then we would end up dealing with democratic progressive ideas, cows would have rights, all be eatting tofo, and whipping our rear with one sheet of toilet paper. Split it several ways and see where most people stand and THAT would be what the middle aisle is.

Rabbi

Very true.  Partisan politics has eroded what American Democracy is all about, and the Democrats and Republican know it.  They prey on American voter's ignorance.  They know that if they thrust millions behind their handpicked candidates, they will be the only ones anyon know anything about come elction time.  Lazy voters who do nothing more than watch the televisions fall victim to the slant of liberal and conservative media networks and commercials designed to discourage voting- yes, that's right- they want you to give up and walk away- the Democrats' and Republicans want you to become so frustrated that you simply don't vote.  How's that for looking out for your best interests! 

Voter's need to take some time to seek out other viable candidates when elections roll around.  I would suggest starting with those who have no intentions of getting re-elected.  That way you know their intentions are pure.

goofus

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/153079-gop-says-5000-non-citizens-voting-in-colorado-a-wake-up-call-for-states

Funny you should mention voter ID's. The democrats have for years registered felons and dead people with the amazing fact they've voted for years. If you can't win with your philosophy, cheat!!

brutus smith

 If they let you vote, anyone should be allowed to vote, live or dead.

Centauri

http://www.uwsa.com/books/Uwsabook.html   United We Stand by H. Ross Perot. Online book free to read.

People were fed up with the two party system nearly 20 years ago and a third party almost emerged.  Yet people continue to vote for the lesser of two evils or don't bother to vote at all. Both the Democrats and Republicans are controlled by special interest groups and their money. People need to stop listening to Feel-Good rhetoric by politicians and start thinking and voting intelligently. Nothing is going to change with the two party poitical system until the voting habits of the people change.

http://www.uscentrist.org/  America is 70% Centrist. So why are we letting 15% from the left and 15% from the right control our nation?We need to support Independent and Centrist candidates, or risk losing another election to special interests.

SamAdams

We already HAVE a multi-party system. What we DON'T have is enough voters inclined to vote for candidates representing other than the "big two." Some things that might help:

1. LEGITIMATE campaign finance reform (maybe a big public pool where all candidates split the money equally -- and when it's gone it's gone?).

2. Debates that include ALL candidates, and dont exclude those the media deems "marginal" or who "can't win." Who's the media to decide that? And how can people determine they might like a candidate from another party if they're never exposed to that candidate's ideas/proposals?

3. Voter ID laws (such as is currently being proposed in Ohio) to ensure that ONLY citizens, and ONLY those who are NOT dead or named "Mickey Mouse" can vote. (And no nonsense about the poor or elderly here -- other states implementing comparable legislation have issued FREE state photo IDs to those who don't drive/can't afford ID otherwise.)

4. Get voters interested and educated so they vote for what they actually WANT instead of toeing the same party line dad did, or their friends do, or their union boss demands. And no, I DON'T have any suggestions as to how to fix this problem, but it's probably the biggest of them all.

Germany, etc. gets minority party reps because people VOTE for them. We don't because we don't. The US has all of the minority parties other countries do. We just diminish them.

man4451

--> Captain Gutz

I sure am glad you noticed, I can read almost a whole paragraph. I have trouble anymore.

thanks Captain Gutz

6079 Smith W
@ Bess and FST:   Neither one of you obviously know American political history.   The last “third” party that gained stature was the Republican Party and only because the Whigs became irrelevant.   The U.S. Socialist party platform was largely appropriated by FDR after the 1932 election.   The American Independent Party of Geo. Wallace and the Reform Party of Ross Perot have largely found their place in the conservative policies of the Repub party.   The Tea Party (more of a movement than a true party) has elements of both of these former parties.   There have been many American third parties, like the Populist, the Greenback and the Bull Moose Party that no longer exist.   It’s nice to dream, but our govt. structure doesn’t easily lend itself to a successful multi-party system, rather only variations of a theme.    

In American history it has always been a reversion to the mean and to think that somehow it's different this time is foolhardly.

 

 

FST

@6079 smith.....We can all vote for the Independant party. I do know history and it is time to make history again by not voting for Democrat OR Republican parties. Just look at what the Republicans are TRYING to do.

Republicans’ Radical Agenda for America
1. Destroy 700,000 middle class jobs.
2. Zero out federal funding for National Public Radio and public television.
3. Slash $1.3 billion from community health centers and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.
4. Slash nearly a billion dollars in food and health care assistance to pregnant women, new moms, and children.
5. Slash support for Head Start, dropping 200,000 vulnerable children from pre-school.
6. Slash support for education to states which will eliminate 65,000 teachers and aides and dramatically increase class size.
7. Slash financial aid for 9.4 million low- and middle- income college students.
8. Slash $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, a cut that will “send shockwaves” through cancer research.
9. Eliminate $400 million in support to the U.S. Weather Service’s early warning system for tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes.
10. Slash by 50% the number of veterans who get housing vouchers this year, which will increase homelessness among veterans by 10,000.

How can any veteran support these cuts? Most of all the last one?  And just to show how much our leaders are in touch with reality.GOP Congressman (and former Real World cast member) Sean Duffy (WI-07) complained about his $174,000 Congressional salary to constituents at a town-hall meeting in Wisconsin, even though his salary is 4 times more than the average Wisconsin family in his district.

Despite sitting on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) said this about Libya: “Do we go into Africa next?"Libya, of course, is in Africa.
In a incredibly revealing moment, Republican Leader Eric Cantor said that “we have to come to grips” with the fact that Social Security “cannot exist” any longer. House Republicans have already begun pushing forward on budget proposals that include privatizing Social Security and cutting benefits for senior citizens.

So I ask you 6079,goofus,pete,thinkagain and taxpayer ....Who is out of touch with reality?  How can anybody with a sane mind AND claiming to be a Christian, support these people?  Explain to us what good these cuts are going to do to help "everybody".  Congress is so far out of touch with what is good for AMERICA.  If these things were so bad why didn`t any of them attempt to make cuts when people were working and making money? Why wait until there are no jobs and so many thousands of AMERICANS are unemployeed and in need of help?  Why can`t you see that the only ones to make out from these cuts are big corporations and the wealthy?  BOTH parties PROMISED the people JOBS. Where are they? There aren`t even any signs that they have been trying to create jobs either. All they are working on is making cuts to the budget and getting re-elected. If Congress would cut THEIR  WASTEFUL spending, it would save BILLIONS OF DOLLARS But we won`t see that, will we.  The ONLY way America is going to make it is if we elect a NEW party into control..and I sure don`t mean the Tea party either.

 

workingmom

I vote for abolishing political parties. If every candidate had to run on their individual merits, with no party affiliation, financing, or platform, and there were no D's, R's, L's or any other letters after a name on the ballot, then maybe voters would actually choose who they think best represents them.

 

KURTje

imo Soon (within 40-50 years tops)  America will be no more.   One money, one leader  world-wide.   I feel most would sell their soul for daily creature comforts & or employment

Centauri

Workingmom made a very good comment subject to debate. I view political parties as nothing more than factions. They all stick together and disregard the needs of the constituents that they are supposed to represent.
 

6079 Smith W

 @ FST:

Both the Dems and the Repubs have absorbed and incorporated popular third party ideas into their platforms for several decades - that fact would be indisputable if you actually knew U.S. political history.

There is no national "Independent" party and hence voters must typically choose between candidates from those who have the money and the organization - the Dems and the Repubs.

So the alternative to the minor Repub cuts (about 2% of the total U.S. Federal debt) is what, more taxing, spending and printing while bankrupting the country by the Dems?

 

 

felixmiller

A political row has created concerning a South Carolina facility Boeing is starting to produce the Boeing 787, which is being called the “Dreamliner” Dreamliner production being moved from Boeing's locations in Washington state is taken as offensive by organized labor in the Boeing ranks. I found this here: Politicians wade into squabble between Boeing and unions, newstype.com.