Prediction: 3rd Parties Will Win

by Peter B. Gemma

Commentary originally published by OpEdNews

piechartelection2016-1-56-06-pmIn a vacuum of serious policy decisions and debates, minor parties can be effective catalysts for issues that are eventually absorbed by the major parties. In his book The Other Candidates: Third Parties in General Elections, author Frank Smallwood observed that alternative political candidates, “have often been successful in advancing initiatives that have later been incorporated into our political life. Even on those occasions where their ideas have been rejected, third parties have acted as a sounding board by providing a forum for discussion and debate.”

A wide range of pundits have expressed their frustrations with the bipartisan choke hold on competition. New York Times writer Micah Sifry describes the two party monopoly as “a peculiar and long-lasting arrangement that has stifled political competition from other forces for more than a century.”

Conservative commentator Lou Dobbs asserts, “I can’t take seriously anyone who takes the Republican or Democratic Party seriously – both are bought and paid for by Corporate America and special interests.” And from the left, Ralph Nader maintains, “as the Republican and Democratic parties take more money from the same sources, they morph into one corporate party with two heads.”

Third parties have shouted truth to the ruling duopoly with some success. The Socialist Party first advocated laws establishing minimum ages and limiting hours of work for children in 1904. The Keating-Owen Act established such regulations in 1916. The Prohibition Party promoted women’s suffrage during the late 1800s and by 1916 both Republicans and Democrats supported it.

The Colorado Libertarian Party had elected a mayor, two city council members, and a sheriff before passage of the successful referendum to decriminalize the use of marijuana in that state.

Seattle was one of the first big cities to pass a $15 minimum wage law in 2015. City councilor Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative Party was elected in 2013 in large part by advocating a $15 minimum wage.

According to a Gallup poll last month, 57 percent of voters say a third major party is needed. A Fox News survey revealed that 55 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton and 63 percent have a negative impression of Donald Trump. Come November, those numbers will intersect. The candidates and platforms of the Libertarians, Greens, Legal Marijuana Now, Socialist, and a dozen other third parties will test the mettle of the power elites.

I humbly predict third party candidates, especially for down ballot offices, and their similar views on interventionist foreign policies, Wall Street bailouts, military spending, auditing the Federal Reserve, and more will give the political ruling class a bloody nose.

If so, James Madison will be pleased. He wisely advised future generations of voters that, “When the variety and number of political parties increases, the chance for oppression, factionalism, and non-skeptical acceptance of ideas decreases.”



9 thoughts on “Prediction: 3rd Parties Will Win

  1. AMcCarrick

    Down ballot won’t do anything. It’ll be the same as always. The only exception will be NY 22nd district. Every other race won’t see a third party break 5%, except in races where the third party is the only other option.

  2. Matt Cholko

    I certainly expect that third parties will perform better than usual up and down the ballot. I don’t expect that we’ll see significantly more electoral victories though. But, that’s not how smaller parties do most of our winning anyway. We win by getting our ideas into the public eye, pushing (even if just a little) the Rs and Ds to take better positions, growing our respective activist and donor bases, and so on. I think 2016 will prove to be a better year than usual in most, if not all of those areas.

  3. Austin Cassidy

    “The only exception will be NY 22nd district. Every other race won’t see a third party break 5%, except in races where the third party is the only other option.”

    I would take that bet.

  4. Richard Winger

    The Libertarian running for Texas Railroad Commission against a Dem, Green, and Rep, has been endorsed by the Dallas Morning News and the Houston daily newapaper (I forget the name of that paper). I think he certainly will get 7% or more.

  5. Austin Cassidy

    Even if you confined it to U.S. House and Senate races I think there will be a few that qualify.

    Frank Gilbert is a good quality candidate for U.S. Senate in Arkansas.

    Independent Miranda Allen is running a spirited race for Congress in KS-04.

    Maybe Scott Fenstermaker in NY-13? Maybe Matt Funiciello in NY-21?

    I would also think Joe Miller, the Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate in Alaska, should surpass 5% easily.

  6. Brad

    Mark Miller. He certainly is level headed & a good fit. He is a much better choice than Wayne Christian or Grady Yarbrough.

  7. Thane Eichenauer

    A minor comment on Joe Miller. What advantage will it be for libertarians if he wins if his only notable libertarian position is “I’ve made it very clear that the federal government’s drug war is clearly unconstitutional”. Democrats are slowly but surely glomming onto marijuana legalization. Joe Miller doesn’t seem to have any particularly notable foreign policy positions that I can tell from past research and review of his web site and internet news.

  8. Jim

    Mark Miller was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express, which are the three largest newspapers in the state.

    Jim McDermott, in a US House race in Alaska, got 7.61% against an R and D. Had to go all the way back to 2014 and scroll down to the third state to find that one.

    There were two in Missouri that year, Robb Cunningham (5.45%) and Kevin Craig (7.68%.)

    Steven Laird, of Nebraska got 5.26%.

    Grant Lally, of New York, got 6.72%, but he was cross-endorsed by the Conservative Party, so I don’t know if you want to count that.

    Robert Seaman, of North Dakota, got 5.84% against an R and D.

    And Martin Moulton, running for Shadow Representative from D.C., got 6.20%.

    The average percentage for the 126 LP US House candidates (including Shadow Rep) in 2014 was 4.25%. 26 of those were more than 5.00% and 7 of those 26 had both a Republican and Democratic opponent.

  9. George Phillies

    MA-1 ” The only exception will be NY 22nd district. Every other race won’t see a third party break 5%, except in races where the third party is the only other option.”

    It is a three-way race. I predict the Libertarian, Thom Simmons, will readily break 20% and could break 30%.

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