I've read countless numbers of threads about partisan political talking points over the years. They range from abortion, gun control, immigration, social justice, healthcare, protected classes of people, voting rights, and national defense; just off the top of my head. About half of these are Republican platform items and the other half Democratic platform issues (using platform as a term which means they are major portions of the Party message.)
Each Party spends an inordinate amount of time in trying to get the average voter "on their side."
Each Party also spends a lot of time attacking the other Party for their platform issues.
The result is division of the populace and the creation of multiple politically-motivated acts, which do nothing but create discord and do little to advance the nation as a whole.
The Party's both expect absolute loyalty and support from the members on the Party sanctioned talking points. Most people do not agree with everything either Party is trying to sell, and the Party leaders then try to do everything in their power to shift the narrative on anything that happens in order to push or pull people to their side completely. Lately this has led to violence at unheard of levels, corruption at all levels of government, fake news, legislation from the bench, and more damage-control than ever seen before.
What would happen if we disbanded all Political Parties and allowed candidates to tell people what THEY stand for, and what THEY will do to advance America? Without the Parties, America would be a much better place to live and people would likely learn to work together to solve problems. Now we're stuck with two sides both trying to undo what the other has done and our freedom is at stake.
Your theory sounds logical but will not work in practice. Our two party system is what makes local elections work. There are structures that required local party affiliation to support the election process. If there are no parties, these system breaks down. Party organization is needed at all levels.
There have been attempt to break the two party control with a 3rd party. This has lead to some bad results as with the election of Bill Clinton. He won because a 3rd parry candidate divided the GOP votes and Clinton won with less than a majority of voters.
I do believe the problem is that the two party system we have is really only one party. The party of the rich and connected and lobbyists and big donors and large corporations....
Both are relying on big donors to get re-elected...once in power, they will do the bidding of the people who gave them money...
The people are being fooled. They think a vote for one party make a difference. For the most party, both party do the same things with regard to spending and favors and policies. A prime example is immigration reform. Both parties claim they support a legal immigration system and a strong border enforcement... yet, once in power, both parties let the illegal immigration comtinue unabated. You have to ask why? Poll after poll shows most Americans want a solution.
I think that we could find a solution for the local elections which would better meet the needs of the voters; the same with national and state level voting. I'm not looking at a third party, but none at all and I believe it would fix a lot of problems.
RJ, I can certainly share your concerns about the divisive aspects of 'party' politics. And with your point about the party demand for complete loyalty, regardless of the issue, but... I can't share your thoughts about the benefits of a party-less political system.
I think your perspective might be skewed by the reality of the massive influence of major parties.
Consider what a "party" might be - at its start. A few friends share political views, and realize they need more "friends" that share those views to band together and get their political representative to listen to them. That is the start of a political party, even if in the beginning they appear to be no more than an advocacy group. As that advocacy group grows, it can, (and usually does), develop into a political party - a group of citizens with shared values.
That wasn't intended as a lecture, but just the prelude to support a point that parties are an unavoidable fact of the reality of politics, whether it be the national scale of Republicans and Democrats you are talking about, or on a smaller faction level like the Tea Party, or The Green Party.
Look at the democratic-form governments around the world, they all have parties. Parties are a reality of democratic processes. At least until we reach that elusive Kumbaya world of universal love.
You say you don't even want a third party as a solution, I say we need a 3rd, 4th, and even 5th major party to dilute the power and coercive force of our two-party system - and all the negatives you mention.
I can appreciate your viewpoint and can see that my "wish" is highly unlikely to occur, yet my belief that most of the problems we face as an electorate stems from the Party trying to put themselves ahead of the overall nation.
And that is certainly a valid point RJ. 'Party first', is a demand we too often hear when political positions are staked out.
GA, I fully agree with all your points.
Hi Nathanville, its good to have company on what could be a lonely position.
Thanks GA. Although a poor example, in that the representatives of the Upper House in Britain are NOT elected, but are either appointed for life (707 Life Peers) or inherited the position from their fathers (92 hereditary peers); the House of Lords (the Upper Chamber in Parliament in the UK) does demonstrate that politics in a Modern Democracy can work quite effectively, not only with a multi-party system but also where a significant number of the peers in the Upper Chamber are truly ‘Independent’.
In the House of Lords, not only are their THREE major political parties covering the full political spectrum (forcing parties in that House to work together on many issues) but also the ‘Independents’ (mostly Cross Benchers) make up for over 26% of the House and therefore hold the balance of power in the Upper Chamber.
The 180 Independents who are called ‘Cross Benchers’ got the label because they vote with the Government on some issues and then with the Opposition Parties on other issues; usually in accordance with ‘Public Opinion’.
The remaining 29 Independents tend to vote in accordance with their political ideology, and are therefore a little more predictable.
The 799 Peers in the House of Lords (The Upper Chamber in the UK) are:
Bishops = 24
RIGHT Wing (Capitalist) Peers: Total = 262 (of which 50 are hereditary)
• Conservatives = 252 (of which 49 are hereditary)
• DUP (Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland) = 4
• Ulster Unionist (Northern Ireland) = 3
• UKIP = 3 (of which 1 is hereditary)
LEFT Wing (Socialist) Peers: Total = 203 (of which 4 are hereditary)
• Labour = 201 e.g. Sir Alan Sugar (of which 4 are hereditary)
• Green Party = 1
• Plaid Cymru (Wales) = 1
Centralist Political Peers = 101 e.g. in the Middle of Labour and Conservative (of which 4 are hereditary)
• Liberal Democrats = 101 (of which 4 are hereditary e.g. Lord Bath)
Independent Peers: Total = 209 (of which 33 are hereditary)
• Crossbenchers e.g. votes on each issues according to their conscience rather than on politics = 180 (of which 32 are hereditary)
• Independent = 29 (of which 1 is hereditary)
Although I would have to become more familiar with UK's legislative processes to be sure, Nathanville, I think you are right that your British example just touches the edges of the party influence point.
What little I do think I know recalls that most news stories about Britain's political issues highlight the struggle between two parties; Labor and Conservative, (I think are the names), which does seem to compare to the primacy of political influence by just two parties, even if they do need some coalition efforts to actually govern.
As a side note, those hereditary and life-time seats seem a strange arrangement in a democratic-process government. What are the legislative powers of the Upper Chamber?
Yes, at national level, the two main political parties are Labour (Socialists) and Conservatives (Capitalists), and predominately (but not exclusively) it’s a political power struggle between the two.
However, the smaller political parties do quite well in General Elections, and their presence in Parliament does have an influence on politics; and so do the few ‘Independent’ MPs who get elected as an MP (Member of Parliament). For example the Green Party only has one elected MP, but over the years her voice in Parliament (creating Public awareness on Green Issues) has profoundly influenced the Conservative policies on ‘Green Issues’ e.g. Conservatives by nature tend not to be particularly green (eco-friendly).
There are 650 elected seat in the House of Commons, so for a Party to have an overall majority requires it to win 326 of those seats.
Currently, of the 650 elected seats in the House of Commons, the political make-up of the House of Commons (the lower, elected Chamber) is as follows:-
Elected MPs in the House of Commons in the UK
Right Wing Total = 325
• Conservative (similar to your Republican Party) = 315
• Democratic Unionist Party = 10
Left Wing Total = 312
• Labour = 260
• Scottish National Party = 35
• Plaid Cymru = 4
• Green Party = 1
• Sinn Féin = 7
• Independents MPs = 5
Centralist (middle of the political spectrum) = 12
• Liberal Democrat (similar to your Democrat Party) = 12
Neutral = 1
• Speaker = 1
The Speaker is an elected MP who is subsequently elected by the other MPs in the House of Commons to be their Speaker (Chairperson in Parliamentary debates). Under convention (which dates back centuries) the Speaker (although an elected MP) has to remain politically neutral (regardless to his or her politics) and has no voting rights in the House of Commons. The current Speaker is a Conservative MP.
Speaker of the House of Commons:- https://youtu.be/EqGoJN-zNXk
The Liberal Democrats used to be the main opposition to the Conservatives, but they were pushed into third place during Labours landslide victory in 1945, and have never fully recovered; the most seats the Democrats have won in a General Election since the war 46 seats in 1997.
However, the smaller Political Parties and ‘Independents’ do a lot better in Local Government Elections. For example, in the city of Bristol (where I live) of the 70 elected representatives (Councillors) on the City Council, a political party requires 36 Councillors to have overall control of the City. The current political mix of Bristol City Council (Local Government) is:-
• Labour = 37
• Conservatives = 14
• Greens = 11
• Liberal Democrats = 8
Moving onto your second point; the origin of the House of Lords goes back to the 11th century, and over the centuries it has slowly evolved:-
• Prior to the English Civil War of 1642 to 1651 the House of Lords and the King had supreme power over the House of Commons.
• From the time of the Civil War until 1911 the House of Lords and the House of Commons had equal power.
• Since the reforms forced through the House of Lords in 1911, the House of Lords cannot constitutionally delay a ‘Financial Bill’, but they can delay other ‘Bills’ by up to a maximum of two years. However, the one exception is the ‘Salisbury Convention’ introduced by Lord Salisbury (a Conservative in the House of Lords) in the late 1940s, and which has since been adopted as part of the British unwritten Constitution.
The Salisbury Convention is whereby if a Government in the House of Commons introduces a Bill that was not part of their ‘election manifesto’ e.g. to try to introduce legislation that they were not elected on in the General Election, then the House of Lords are free (if they so wish) to block that Bill, and prevent it from becoming law.
For any Bill to become law it has to be passed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
However, in spite of their limited power, the House of Lords can and do have an influence on elected Governments. A prime example being in 2015 when the Conservative Government tried to pass legislation (which was in their manifesto) to cut ‘Social Benefits’ to the poor by £12 billion ($15 billion); the House of Lords continually added amendments to the Bill and passing it back to the House of Commons (in spite of the fact that it was a financial bill and therefore the Lords didn’t have the Constitution right to do so). In the end the Prime Minister of the Conservative Government withdrew the Bill and abandoned any idea of making the deep cuts, rather than face a Constitutional Crisis.
Prince Andrew’s appointment to the House of Lords in 1987:- https://youtu.be/XYvhIl_CoSI
GA, with reference to your perception that Britain is primacy a two party system; I’ve just stumbled across a video which perhaps better demonstrates the multi-party aspect of British Politics a little better. I’ve put a link to the video at the bottom of this post, but first have given a summary of some of the more interesting ‘multi-party’ General Elections (and the rise of fall of the different parties).
From before 1802 until 1874, it was predominantly a two party system between the Tory and Whig Political Parties. The Tories reformed to became the Conservatives (Republicans) Party in 1835, and the Whigs reformed to became the Liberals (Democrats) in 1865.
From 1874 onwards, it’s been predominantly a multi-party system in the UK. For example, General Elections of interest include:-
1892:- Liberal Party forms minority government with Irish Nationalist support. In 1886 77 Liberals split from the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Unionists.
• Liberals: 272 Seats
• Conservatives: 268 Seats
• Irish: 81 Seats
• Liberal Unionists: 46 Seats
1895:- Electoral alliance forged between Conservatives and Liberal Unionists to form majority Government.
• Conservatives and Liberal Unionists: 411 seats
• Liberals: 177 Seats
• Irish: 82 Seats
1900:- Labour Party (Socialists) win their first two seats to become a minority party in Parliament.
1906:- Labour Party increase their seats to 29 seats.
1910:- Liberal Party forms minority government with Irish Nationalist support.
• Liberals: 274 seats
• Conservative and Liberal Unionist Alliance Party: 272 seats
• Irish: 71 seats
• Labour: 40 seats
1918:- Conservative and Liberal Coalition Government, with Labour as the Official Opposition, but a split in the Liberal Party.
• Conservatives (379 seats) and Liberals (127 seats) Coalition.
• Labour: 57 seats
• Liberals in opposition to the Coalition: 36 seats
1922: Conservative Government with an overall majority, and Labour as the official Opposition.
• Conservatives: 344 seats
• Labour: 142 seats
• Liberals: 62 seats
• National Liberals: 53 seats
1923: Labour Party forms a minority Government with support from the Liberals, even though the Conservatives have the most seats.
• Labour: 191 seats
• Conservatives: 258 seats
• Liberals: 158 seats
1924: Conservative forms a Government with overall control.
• Conservatives: 412 seats
• Labour 151 seats
• Liberals 40 seats
1929: Labour Party forms a minority Government with support from the Liberals.
• Labour: 287 seats
• Conservatives: 260 seats
• Liberals: 59 seats
1931: National Government e.g. four Political Parties working together, formed with support from the Conservatives (470 seats), Liberal Nationals (35 seats), Liberals (33 seats) and National Labour (13 seats); with just 52 Labour MPs refusing to work with the National Government.
1935: Another ‘National Government’ is formed, but the Liberal Party (as well as Labour) also split e.g. 33 Liberals join the National Government and 21 sit in Opposition; likewise, 8 Labour MPs join the National Government, while 154 MPs now sit in opposition.
1945: Labour landslide e.g. the Labour Party in power as a majority Government for the first time.
• Labour: 393 seats
• Conservatives: 197 seats
• Liberals: 12 seats
Since 1950 it’s been predominantly between Labour and Conservatives as the main parties, but with other minority parties having an influence on politics, and occasionally (usually the Liberals) holding the balance of power e.g. 1974 and 2010, and in 2017 The DUP (Irish Party) supporting a minority Conservative Government.
FYI: The following video mainly shows the rise and fall of the three main parties; Conservatives, Liberals and Labour; it does not show all of the other minority parties e.g. Plaid Cymru and Greens etc.
So although the video gives a good graphical overview, it’s not the complete picture (because not all the smaller parties are represented); also, because it’s packed with information you may need to use the ‘pause’ and ‘play’ button a lot to more closely study any election of particular interest.
UK General Election Results from 1802 to 2017: https://youtu.be/8VUsDvyzKvY
Thanks nathanville. It was an interesting link, but my plate is pretty full, (Ha! just realized the pun), right now, but I will come back to it for more study.
RJ , excellent points all , I have to say and somewhat ashamedly ,no one enjoys the fight more than I . You are right , a certain amount of polarity comes from this and as well ,it is that which drives our system . I've in recent years searched out my families past , from before the colonial America my ancestors were involved in religion and politics - chased out of the UK. and sent to the shores of the colonies , i even found in the Mass. Colony letters describing some of my ancestors as actually cantankerous in their political beliefs. Maybe , just maybe that was the brilliance of the design of the two party system . Corny -but it works ?
I think we'd all like to see it work better , as I attend town meetings however I hear echoes of that original founding principle . They perhaps were just as divided but far more gentlemanly about it ? Until the duels that is !
The 'root', is the love of money.
It does point to the two party corrupt system...
Follow the money.
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