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Third Parties

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The right hand up before we start today's episode. I'm going to do a quick show go. It's our end of year fund drive and we're asking asking listeners to support civics one-to-one by making five dollars a month contribution. Please do that by the way. Because you're gifted directly impacts civics want to one and in return we're we're not gonNA just keep making episodes but we will send you these civics one. Oh One tote bag. It's a black tote with our civics one on one local on it in bright yellow. And you're GONNA love it. What's what's the shutout? The shoutout is what I think. Listeners should put him the tote and I'm talking about all of the amazing books that have been written by former former guests on civics. One hundred one amen. We couldn't make the show without them in their work. I'm talking Lisa Mannheim. She was in the power of the executive episode. She Co wrote the limits of presidential presidential power and Linda monk who wrote the bill of Rights Users Guy. She's been on the show several times and recently Frank Bowman he wrote high crimes and misdemeanors was so generous to give us his time. Jill Lepore who is in our episode on how we used to vote Her book these troops will not fitness docking. But it will will fit and our TOPAC. If you've enjoyed a particular episode of civics went to one head to our website civics when one podcasts dot. Org and see who made it possible. Each episode page age has links to the authors of the people. Were lucky enough to get on the show. Hey and if you're one of those people thank you so much you make us seem like we know we're talking about and while you're there pleaseconsider supporting our work by giving us a five dollar a month donation and choose the tote right on the show civics WanNa one is supported in part by the corporation Asian for public broadcasting when we were interviewing one of the guests for this episode. Nick you mentioned this archival recording Jaman and gentlemanly convention. Yes that's something I stumbled on a while ago mentally and I was confused. Because there's this Guy William Jennings Bryan who's the 1896 Democratic nominee but he was also the populist nominee he was part of a presidential residential race that had two candidates but three parties which I did not realize was positive but this is not a contest but green. I I yeah. I looked into it. Republican Democrat and populist arm. You know we were on the gold standard and they wanted silver to be an option with a sort sort of easier exchange rate for them thus the famous speech cross gold speech. This is Jeffrey skelly and elections analyst at five thirty eight. We have gotten a lot of questions over the years about third parties in American politics. Think the libertarian. Party the Green Party the Reform Party. But these are party's we've heard of but they don't actually make a ton of headway in election the third party success we've seen historically at various points has often come about because of a party schism where there is a deep divide within more of the major parties. Back when William Jennings Bryan ran for president the deep divide we will answer the demand for the gold standard by saying you shall not down the Bowel Lieber born. You not defy. I'm up on a boom Ryan's cross of gold speech at the eighteen. Ninety six Democratic National Convention killed supposedly after he finished. There was a moment element of odd silence before the place erupted with applause and cheering for. He's a jolly good fellows. I am out accounts vary on this one but at least half an hour possibly hour delegates hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried him around the hall. See Ryan was arguing against the rigid gold standard in favor of something called bimetallism which is basically introducing silver into into the economy. To increase money supply and stabilize prices and this idea did not originate with the Democratic Party. It in fact. A portion of the Democratic Party was fervently committed to the gold standard bimetallism was at the core of the populist party platform. If you go back to the late nineteenth century there was the populists who were doing fairly well. In some parts of the country that influenced the Democrats particularly part of how William Jennings Bryan ended up. Being Eighteen. Ninety six nominee for the Democrats was pushed by populace that especially had to do with monetary policy. which doesn't sound exciting now but it was pretty exciting back them so Brian wins the Democratic nomination on a populist idea thea and then the Democrats just kind of take that idea? Yeah but because Brian reflects what the populace wont. They still give him the presidential nomination even though he already has a nomination and when Brian Loses the Democrat Party is established enough to survive five. But the populist party isn't their ideas and their members are more or less absorbed into the Democratic Party. Third parties have their own missions. In terms of what issues are important to them and what policies they want to see pursued so given given the fact that most parties are pretty small in this country. They're in goals to try to expand their peel. Expand membership get more. I notice for for the issues that are important to them and historically speaking third parties had the most success when there was a great deal dissatisfaction with the major parties and that has sometimes led the major parties to grab hold of whatever issue. was that that that was propelling. The Third Party success Sort of bringing them into the fold in a way so third parties can can sometimes influence the major parties. See this is what I struggle with because I know that influences important yes but if you know you're not GonNa win ever actually no. I don't know that for sure as third party candidate everyone. Let's find out. I'm Hannah McCarthy. I'm Jay and this civics went on the podcast about the basics of how our democracy works. And when we talk about American democracy about this participatory government. What we're really talking about is by and large Atou party system? We do have third parties but in the US Republicans and Democrats rule when we talk about third parties in any other country wouldn't be using that term we'd be talking about minor parties because of the fact that in most other democracies almost every other democracy the third party would be a major party. This is Marjorie Hershey Hershey. I'm a professor of political science in Merita at Indiana University newly America in order to understand third parties in the US. It helps to. I understand what makes it so hard for third party candidate to win. You have to get a plurality you have to get the most votes in order are to get anywhere you keep getting ten percent of the vote. People Stop Voting for you because y vote for a party that doesn't get any representatives only only a party that can normally expect to get most of the votes will be able to maintain itself so that means the party he usually wins obviously stays and the party that has at least a shot at replacing it stays all the other parties get nothing and they go away okay. And that's how almost every state votes for the Electoral College Right. So basically if you're running with a party that is perceived to be an unlikely winner that perception exception alone will make you unlikely winner. There's actually a political science theory about this. Division are however however we actually process named French. I usually hear people say do venture or just butcher it. It's basically just the idea that a two party political system pushes people towards those major is your parties because they might view vote for third party is a waste of a vote because if the goal of election is winning you want to try to build his larger coalition as you can without sacrificing the goals that you're coalition. Has I mean that's the entire idea of parties. Basically in a winner take all system like we have have that. Is Real pressure point that pushes people to really embrace that idea to the fullest thus have two major parties so because we're a two party system we vote the way we do and because we vote the way we do we remain a two to party system but the thing. Jeffrey just said if the goal of an election is winning if the golden election is winning why run as a third party candidate at all. What's the point? I mean you know. Probably their psychic benefit or people wouldn't do it but I think most people who run as minor party candidates or as independents independence do so because they are just really very intensely committed to a set of issues and they are willing to take all the costs of running which are substantial only in part in money but just in the energy and emotional commitment and everything else in order order to expose people to this point of view that they believe is the truth. This is something that I found kind of remarkable about third party candidates that they pretty much know they won't end up in power but they so believe in their message that the run is worth it to them. They're more like organized interests in that sense typically because of the fact that they do not worry a great deal about doc preparing a victory speech on election night they expect to lose and in fact they. Their wishes are carried out. They do lose on election night that There's not much point in having a platform like a major party that deals with virtually everything under the Sun. Because you're not trying to appeal to everybody under the Sun you know. Pretty well as a libertarian. That there's pretty narrow slice of folks out there. What executive doesn't mean to be a libertarian? In a short summary The as you can as you can explain that very. Broadly speaking libertarian fiscally conservative socially inclusive. Skeptical when it comes to our military terry interventions when we support regime change in my lifetime. I can't think of one single example where that has worked out and then supporting free market the opposite of crony capitalism crony capitalism is when government picks winners and losers free market more. US jobs not less US jobs pretty court and that you're probably thinking if I can just get the loyalty of that slice of folks. They'll grow over time but but you're probably not deluding yourself into thinking that a majority of people in the United States her libertarian. There's always a chance though right rocky can beat Apollo creed greed. There's a chance that the populist party could have found its footing in the nineteenth century made a real go of it. There's a chance that libertarianism is going to get big enough to throw his hat in the to bring in a meaningful way. But they'll just have to make their platform of it broader. Yeah I think they probably would. Which is why most of them don't believe that? That's that's a good idea They'll want to become a sheer they. WanNa stand for the specific kinds of stands on issues that they believe most. I hardly in and so Most of them are what political scientists called purists People who are motivated by the issue no by loyalty to the party. But it hasn't always been this way right. We didn't start out. With Republicans and Democrats we started out with the federalist and the Anti federalists and then federalists and Democratic Republicans and then we had the wigs in the Democrats and then and finally the Republicans and the Democrats so yes. It's always been two party system but it's parties replacing one another. How did that happen? The party's weren't necessarily as ideologically sorted as they are now. And by that I mean you know historically You had for example in the Democratic Party you had sort of more liberal big city democratic bosses special unlike the East Coast allied with Southern Democrats who were definitely conservative and so that that that is an interesting coalition and on the other hand might have more conservative Midwest and western Republicans allied with more liberal northeastern Republicans and so that was a coalition too and there are a lot of reasons why that was the case but in modern times the parties have become much more well aligned in terms of liberal conservative. They were for much of the twentieth century. There was a time when the parties simply weren't as well established as they are right now. There was a little no more room for party transition in the past. The last time a presidential candidate was elected from a new party was an eighteen sixty. When Abraham Lincoln one is a Republican? It's just crazy to me that the Republican Party was once one of these minor third parties. How do that? How did they become a major party? So Oh quick. The first Republican to run for president was actually four years before Lincoln John Fremont in eighteen fifty six and it was because of that election that the WHIG party. which was the major party at the time ended up dissolving? Because you had this issue shoe. The left a lot of people really fed up with the parties and wanting another option but unlike with the William Jennings Bryan election and the gold standard tissue the issue in eighteen fifty six successfully brought a new party to power because that issue was enough to tear an entire country apart. Wigs is also were basically destroyed by by the slavery issue because southern whigs were pro slavery and so they increasingly found themselves allied with southern Democrats who were pro slavery as well and northern Democrats increasingly found themselves allied with wrote to some extent with with northern. whigs who were opposed to the expansion of slavery that situation caused the whigs to sort of fall apart and and the Republican Party basically came out of a lot of a former whigs in the north and so that was basically it was basically this coalition relation of of those forces that ended up backing Lincoln in eighteen sixty and how he got elected at the end of the day so we haven't had had a truly viable third party since the country was the most divided. It's ever been which the issue of slavery and it then in eighteen eighteen fifty eight essentially replaced the whigs so it might have been that the Republicans might have formed and then become a part of a three party system or maybe four or five party system. But we didn't what we ended up with in eighteen. Sixty St was another two party system but with one of the two parties different from the one that had existed ten years before so that was the last time a party was was actually replaced. But I do want to be clear third. Party power remained and remains a significant force for example. The Republican Party is what it is today because of a third party back when Teddy Roosevelt was rejected by the Republican Party and formed the progressive also known the Bull Moose Party in nineteen twelve. He took a bunch of supporters with him and the Party ideology of the Republicans started to shift to the right. But what about the local level of definitely heard of Libertarian or Green Party state. Legislators getting seats yeah that happens. Elections are a lot easier for minor minor parties when the national government isn't at stake. What about like Bernie Sanders? He's a member of the Senate and the national level but he's a self-described socialist right well. He defines himself as a socialist. Yeah but he ran for his Senate. Seat doesn't Independent. He's running for the presidency right now as a democrat. It wouldn't do them any favors at the ballot level to call himself a socialist. An independent is significantly different from a third party. It's a lot easier here to win as an independent at any level than it is to win a third party candidate. Independence are a different story. The state legislatures have not worked worked as hard to make tougher for independent candidates because of the fact that independent candidates are usually a one off there a person who is running for one office office without a whole slate of other people running along with that person so they're not as much of a threat if one independent gets elected the chances are he or she will be defeated the next time round. And it's no big deal for his major parties this brings us to the other hitch when it comes to third party candidacy to see the major parties actively make it difficult for a third party candidate to even be an option for voters. Well a third party candidate ended at maybe miles away from a win. They can still ruin a major party. Candidates run. There's a thing called the spoiler vote. That's a real threat you steal. He'll voters away from a major party candidate. It's the state legislators who make the election rules so effectively it. It is the parties who make the election rolls yet. There are endless ways in which democratic and republican state legislators can make up rules to make it tougher for non Democratic or Republican candidates. If you were a minor party trying to get on the ballot in in some states you would have to get way more signatures on petitions to get your candidate on the ballot. Then if you're a Democrat or Republican and keep in mind mind that the officials who determine whether those signatures are valid are all Democrats or Republicans the secretaries of state in each of the states. And it's it's very common for a partisan secretary of state just simply cross out a whole bunch of those names and say that there's something the matter with this. You know I this person. It doesn't exist or their middle initial is on the petition. Whereas they're middle initial is not the name that they used to register to vote? So that's illegitimate the third parties aren't posing a real threat. Why worked so hard trying to keep him off the ballot you know? The nineteen twelve election is press one of the most obvious examples because Theodore Roosevelt in running running in the Republican primary. Ready for thirty off again. More father present against his basically handpicked. Successor William Taft with path to get in the winning one thousand nine hundred after Roosevelt. Didn't Sika Sika. Another term and Roosevelt runs against him. In the primary loses the Republican nomination was very ugly battle for the Republican nomination and then Roosevelt savell goes and runs as a third party candidate. He runs as the progressive candidate. There's some other complications than they're they're not worth getting into but the point is that there's this very obvious split within the GOP and Roosevelt actually ended up winning more of the popular vote than Taff does in that nineteen twelve election but the end result old. And this is where you get into trouble in a winner take all sort of system is that the Republicans were splitting the vote all over the country. So Woodrow Wilson the democratic. Ignominy wins a sweeping victory in the Electoral College. Even though he only won forty two percent of the popular vote on the street in the car while your the home of the third third parties are more than an ideological force. They can actually determine the outcome of an election if they're on the ballot third parties have real teeth a lot of people. Think that Ralph Nader Peter was responsible for Al Gore's defeat in Florida in the infamous two thousand election for example. But I want to get at a bigger question and to third parties. Make for political trouble here in there but if they really can't win right if having the choice of a third party candidate isn't really having the choice of a third party candidate. Are we less democratic than nations. Where you really can vote your third party candidate into powerful office? Well I hate to do this to you. But that sorta depends on what we WANNA define as democratic On the one hand the argument for a multi-party system is that when you go to the polls to select a candidate you don't have to compromises assists much okay. If you're a libertarian. Republican you get to be a libertarian. You don't have to be a republican of whom a proportion of the party's here's Libertarian. But a proportion is not so in choosing a candidate you get to express your views in more pure fashion and on the other hand in a multi-party system. The chances are pretty good. that a single party is not going to get a majority. That party that gets the most votes is going to have to join with one or more other parties in order to get a majority and the thing is is you as a minor parties. Supporter can't be sure in advance of the election which parties your party is going to luke coalesce with so although it may be more small d democratic in quotes in advance of the election. When you're making up your mind indepth what candidates to support that may not be as small d democratic after the election when a coalition has to form in order to govern some people would use a different definition of democratic and say what We can really expect act of voters is that politics is not a big for most people. Most of the time for most people the biggies Dr. Do I have the ingredients for dinner time. I going to get the laundry done and that means for the rest of us who would rather watch basketball so we need to have a pretty clear sense of what it is that we support without having to do that research and what that is provided by is party identification and while that might seem to be not too satisfying mystifying. As far as our ideals of public service are concerned basically a democracy is a system that gives you a choice and if you have to spend a huge amount of time researching every candidate A. We know you're not going to do that. And be that means you're not gonNa have but choice because you're not going to bother to to become involved it so a two party system in some ways makes the choice easy so on the one hand. It's not necessarily a bad thing that we default to a two party system and on the other that doesn't mean that third parties don't have any power mm-hmm. They posed just enough of a threat that they end up. Being one of the more effective methods of Shifting Party ideology third parties have an ability lead to mess with major elections can spoil votes. They can ruin another candidate's chances it's a super effective way to influence. How a major party evolves sure maybe libertarians? Not GonNA see their candidate office but they can vote for a Democrat who adopts libertarian ideals to voters the party shifts. Yeah so it's worth paying attention to these obscure names or parties that you see on the ballot. In twenty years. Their ideas could be governing. The country civics went on was produced today by me. Hannah McCarthy with UNICAPITAL J. Help in this episode from Jackie Bolton Erica Janik is keeping the dream of bimetallism alive. She just won't let it go. Don't blame Maureen mcmurray for anything. Because she voted for Konno's music in this episode by Chad Crouch kilocalories verified the Costo Logo Loco and Patrick Patrick use entries for student. Contests are pouring in. Keep them coming. Go to civics one. PODCASTS DOT org slash contest you could win civics WanNa one is brought to you in part by the corporation for public broadcasting and is a production of NIH PR New Hampshire public. Lick Radio Yeah.

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