Here is an article from the Washington Times on third parties. Thanks to Darryl Perry from the March Open Thread. The tone is unmistakably snarky and dismissive. It even uses the word ‘fringe” in the headline. It does, however, contain some reasonable analysis.
For politicians outside America’s major parties, it has always been thus. In 1789, Thomas Jefferson echoed the sentiments of fellow founders James Madison and George Washington, calling political parties an “avenue to tyranny.”
Four years later, Mr. Jefferson was the leader of the Democratic Republicans, a counter to the Federalist Party.
The reason? Mr. Jefferson was principled, but no fool. In America, two-party rule is the rule, thanks largely to our electoral system.
In nations with proportional representation — that is, the number of legislative seats won by a party is proportional to their percentage of the popular vote — third parties thrive. On the other hand, American winner-take-all voting encourages the formation of two large, heterogeneous parties while limiting the ability of smaller, more eclectic parties to compete.
To wit: A victorious party gains self-sustaining power and prestige. A second-place party can position itself as a credible alternative for the next election. And a third-place party is pretty much out of luck.