I mean “best chance” on a very slim-chance scale, of course, what I’m describing hasn’t happened in America since the Republican Party was founded. What it would take to change the two-party system to a multiparty system is a different discussion. Assuming some third party might rise to join the two-party system and supplant/marginalize either the Dems or the GOP, what would it most likely be like, and why?
Politics1.com calls the following the “Big Three” third parties in America today:
The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party seems to have a little something for everyone. I’m not convinced that they’ll be able to find a small-government solution for eliminating the Jews thats also environmentally friendly though.
I don’t know if its still true, but at one point the Vermont Progressive Party was the most successful third party in the US in terms of actually having members in political offices. I think thats actually a better way of building up a national third party, start in a region naturally sympathetic to your aims, get a bunch of people in local offices so that you have a bench of proven office holders and then go from there.
It seems like most of the third parties you hear about just run a guy for President every four years as a publicity stunt, without any hope or plan of actually winning.
There is also the Working Families Party, a more-or-less successor of the effort to establish the New Party. The WFP had some success in New York because that state’s laws allow for the New Party’s core strategy of electoral fusion (where one candidate gets to run as the nominee of more than one party). And then it expanded into other fusion states.
Ideologically the WFP is more or less identical to the Vermont Progressive Party, and if they ever form a national WFP I would advise the VPP to merge into it. Their politics are “progressive” as the term is now used in American political discourse – i.e., something well to the left of “liberal” and well to the right of “socialist” – in European terms, social democracy.
I like social democracy. But can it be the wave of the future in America? Looking at the 2011 Pew Political Typology, I see problems building a majority or plurality constituency for it. The Solid Liberals, yes; the Hard-Pressed Democrats, definitely; beyond that, I dunno.
I think there will a bona fide political party that represents the Tea Party constituency, it will break the GOP in half, and it will happen sooner rather than later. If the debt ceiling negotiations include any kind of revenue increases, the Tea Partiers will revolt agains the GOP leadership. I think it is likely they could run a third party candidate in 2012, which will suck all the oxygen out of the Republican Party. Neither would win, of course, but it would be a mortal blow for the GOP.
The Tea Party’s base is what the Pew Typology now classifies as Staunch Conservatives (not Libertarians), and they’re only 9% of the population, and they are the oldest of the groups and, as I’ve argued here before, that’s not a stage-of-life thing, it’s a generational-culture thing; they will not be replaced in commensurate numbers as they die off. The Tea Party is inherently time-limited, it’s the last gasp of the dying culture Stephen King calls “Atlantis,” it won’t be any wave of the future.
Libertarians. They speak for an underrepresented demographic especially many youths while Constitutionalists are just for people who find the Republicans too liberal and the Greens/Working Families/Vermont Progressive Party etc. for people who find the Democrats too conservative.
Apparently “Libertarians” are now numerous enough to warrant their own Pew Typology grouping – 9% of the public, 10% of registered voters. That’s a lot more than the present active base of the LP, of course, but might be fertile ground for LP organizing – but only if the LP’s moderate wing wins out over its ideological wing (their conflict is discussed in the OP).
I don’t anticipate seeing different major parties ever, unless the two-party system as a whole breaks down. As tides shift, the current parties will redefine themselves to capture whatever segment of voters they are losing. The only reason this didn’t happen in 1865 was that the slavery issue basically made it impossible for either of the two major parties to compromise and attract the sorts of people who became Republicans. And these days we are so much better at monitoring public opinion that it grows increasingly unlikely that any party would allow themselves to lose enough of a block to make up a new party.
Now, it’s possible to argue that the Republicans or Democrats of 2050 will look more like today’s [whatever] than their current incarnations, but I think the parties themselves are here to stay. (Unless some huge scandal actually required a massive rebranding or something).
Sort of like the Socialist Party actually. The Socialist Party as originally organized by Marx and co. was revolutionary and was determined to overthrow the whole social order but the party began gaining strength only as it changed to a more reasonable agenda of gradual change and compromise.
Incidentally I can see two borad parties forming for a new Two Party system.
A populist, protectionist, social conservative, neo-isolationist party opposed to a semi-libertarian, neoliberal, internationalist party.
The doors are not open for third parties. The presidential debates leave them out so their ideas are hidden from the masses. PBS runs debates with small parties but that is not enough for them to matter. They get no play an no press.
As I’ve said it’ll be the economically left of the two parties thus getting support of the working class, while the other party will be more pro-business and get the support of the middle class especially the upper middle class.