Political paries and USA.

I am always amazed to hear how many strange groups/organisations there are in the USA: amish, neo-nazi’s, hustlers, communists, Bagwan worshippers, etc. Yet on every election there are only 2 political parties, and not 200 as one might expect.
What’s the straight dope ?

Welcome, Zweistein!

Is this a debate about whether or not there should be only two political parties that are serious contenders in American elections, or a question about why there are only two parties? If it’s a question, then it probably will receive a better response in the General Questions forum.

If it’s a debate: Heck, I wouldn’t mind a few more choices at the electoral buffet.

People don’t vote for someone to win. They vote to make the other guy lose.

I’ve never heard of hustlers being counted as a political group. In this country hustlers refers to those who cheat or gains what they want through less then honest methods usually involving a charming personality and deception.

There are in fact more then two political parties in the United States. The Green Party, the Libertarians, and the Bull Moose party are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. But I’m sure you’re wondering why we tend to think of the big two at election time and laugh at the third parties.

We’ve got a long history of having two primary political parties here in the states. During the Consitutional Convention in the 1780’s we had Federalist and Anti-Federalist. During the first few Presidential elections we saw Federalist and Democratic Republicans. And during the 1850’s we saw Democratic and Whigs. So part of the reason for the two party thing is because it has always been that way.

And although I admit to having my problems with the two party system for the most part it has worked. Of course President Washington warned the US about political parties in his farewell address. I don’t remember the jist of them but I think he feared party interest putting national interest in the back seat.


Could it be that most US citizens are not interested in politics ? That they vote based on actualities, and not on political programs ? That the election campaigns of the 2 candidates looked very well orchestrated, only to lure voters ? That the 2 parties are so powerful, that there is no room left for a third party? I wonder…

In the past both political parties were broad coalitions. For instance a Democrat in the past could be anything from a traditional left wing “liberal”, a blue collar union worker, , a very conservative white Southerner, to an Irish, Jewish, Italian, or Polish American who voted Democrat out of ethnic loyalty. All of these constituencies felt “at home” the Democrats.
Likewise a Republican could be anything from a relatively liberal northeasterner, a Midwestern farmer, a suburban homeowner, a devout Presbyterian, or a western rancher, yet all equally were attached to being Republican.
Now that the Democrats have essentially become a center-left party (shutting out Southern whites, many Catholics) and the Republicans have become synonymous with conservatism (causing many of its constituents to flee), a lot of people out there are left to either choose between the lesser of two evils, or potentially become swept up in a new party.
A socially conservative and economically leftist party could appeal to many religious voters, and perhaps a socially liberal and economically conservative party could win the west and the suburbs. However, as long as we have the current electoral college system, it doesn’t make much sense to have more than two parties.

Male, alligned with Libertarians

My problem with the two party system is that we only get one more party than Cuba.

Its basically common sense nowadays that you can support a third party all you want during the campaigns but come election time, most people vote with the two parties they despise the most. Why this phenomenon? Money.

For comparison’s sake, look at the U.S. Military. We are already so far ahead of the rest of the world in capabilities and spending yet we continue to spend more and more money on the armed forces. We are pulling away from the pack, so-to-speak. The Democrats and the Republicans are the two richest parties by far and have the most power now. They are still focused on the parties’ success and wealth over the will of the American People.

Just when we think there can be a change to the system, a coward like Dennis Hastert halts even small progress using summer vacation as his excuse. America, there won’t be any changes any time soon.

I think the reason we have only two major parties in the US is due at least in part to the uniqueness of our political structure, esp. the Electoral College. In order to win the presidency, you have to assemble a fairly broad coalition.

In addition, historically, when new parties have arisen with some new issue or policy as a platform, either the Democrats or Republicans (or sometimes both) have absorbed that plank into their own platforms, leaving little appeal for the new party.

Also, because the U.S. has a “winner take all” electoral system. If there are 3 parties in a race, and party X gets 40% of the vote, party Y gets 35%, and party Z gets 25%, party X wins everything. This means, if you’re a small party with a narrow base of support, you might keep someone from winning, but you probably won’t win yourself.