661: Two-Party System

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Two-Party System
I favor approval voting or IRV chiefly because they mean we might get to bring back The Bull Moose party.
Title text: I favor approval voting or IRV chiefly because they mean we might get to bring back The Bull Moose party.


Ponytail is running for class president, but gets shouted down by Billy the Political Activist (or at least, he thinks he might become one some day). Someone on the Internet must have told Billy that all he has to know about politics is that America's two-party system is broken. Because we all know the problem with believing what you read on the Internet.

The United States uses Plurality voting, where each voter may make one vote per office. In most democratic countries, this system tends to reinforce the top two political parties and marginalize smaller ones (such as the Bull Moose Party, which only lasted from 1912 to 1916) though this is greatly pronounced in the United States, where the Democratic and Republican parties have passed many barriers to entry, making things much more difficult for parties other than themselves to gain any traction.

Approval voting (AV) and Instant-runoff voting (IRV) are alternative voting schemes that allow support for multiple candidates. Such systems might make it easier for 3rd parties to field viable candidates. AV is a simple extension of plurality voting where each voter "approves" as many of the candidates as they wish. The winner is the candidate with the most votes. Approval voting tends to favor moderate candidates with broad appeal. IRV is a form of Ranked choice voting where a voter is allowed to select multiple choices, but must assign a rank or weight to each choice. If a candidate receives more than 50% of all 1st choice votes, they win as in a traditional election. If no candidate has a majority of 1st choice votes, the candidate with the fewest 1st choice votes is eliminated, and those 1st choice votes are replaced by their respective 2nd choice option and the resulting totals are compared for a 50%+ winner. This process is repeated until a winner is determined.


[Ponytail stands at a podium behind a lectern, giving a speech.]
Ponytail: And if I'm elected, I'll try to fix some of these problems.
Billy, off-panel: Yeah, right!
[A boy in the audience is standing on his chair.]
Billy: The real problem is the corporate-run two-party system. Until we fix that, we'll have no real change!
Ponytail: Billy, I'm running for class president. We don't even have political parties.
Billy: That's because the two-party, uh... estab... uh.
Ponytail: Billy, did you learn about politics from the internet?
Billy: I thought that one reply was all I ever needed!

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People in Europe (and Billy) usually don't realize that the US parties are not anything like the European parties. The European parties have a rigid pyramidal structure, with the party leader (or a regional version thereof) being the election candidate. If the US parties were like this, the US system really would be two-party. However in reality the US parties have hardly any structure. Pretty much anyone can become a candidate from a US party, it's more of an endorsement. So the primaries act as the first round of the elections, deciding who will get the endorsement from the party. It's possible, and had happened in the past, for the same person to participate in the primaries of both major parties, and even to be nominated as the candidate from both parties (though some places now have laws against the last part)! In the local elections, it's also not uncommon to have multiple candidates with the same self-declared party affiliation. 21:05, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the elaboration! Mumiemonstret (talk) 14:37, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
The problem with such a format for democracy is that the anyones involved in US politics have to be steeeeeeenkeeeen rich. And of course the problem with the alternative version of democracy is that it isn't a democracy. Oh wait, neither is...

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 02:15, 28 January 2015 (UTC)