¶ … Third Parties in the U.S. National Presidential Elections
For a long time, U.S. elections have been controlled primarily on a two-party system with the two major parties as Democrats and Republicans. The two-party system, although not categorically stated in the constitution was the norm adopted by many America. The inclination to such a party system highly depended on principles and policies promoted by the two parties that often influenced the decisions made by the citizens. Consequently, the two parties received much support, which made them run the American government interchangeably. However, the two-party system did not eliminate the role played by the third parties in the American politics. Several third parties have remained active in the American politics despite the obvious trend of two-party system supported by most Americans. They raised their presidential candidates, who ran for the presidency for many years
Most third parties survived the American politics courtesy of the attention they paid to ideas and issues. They have remained very competitive and managed to draw enough support that often influences the results of the elections. Consequently, most major parties had to go out to woo the third parties to support them. Therefore, a third party could end up gaining part of its bargain on vital issues it raised amongst the electorate by supporting a major party. It happened after a memorandum of understanding that once in power, the dominant party would implement some of the views raised by the third party has
. For instance, after the Civil War, there were several debates amongst Americans on issues like labor reforms and women's voting rights. Third parties were very vocal on these issues, an act that saw the first woman ever, Victoria Woodhull, running for the presidency. She teamed up with Fredrick Douglass, an African-American leader, on the Equal Rights Party in her bid for the presidency. Parties like the People's Party of the U.S.A., commonly known as the Populists also garnered much support from farmers and laborers because of seeking to fight for their rights
Competition of Third Parties with the Republican and Democrat Parties
Many voices from third parties like the Green and the Communist Party shape the dynamics during any electioneering year although the competition between the third parties and the major parties is like a rat-elephant fight. It looks impossible to win over the two major parties. However, with a little change of strategy, these parties can compete favorably with the major parties. Often, third parties are handicapped by insufficient campaign resources, poor media coverage, weaker, less qualified and unpopular candidates, and negative attitudes towards the party by the people
. These factors often limit many third parties to go against the wave in competing with the major parties. Consequently, year after year, the Republicans and Democrats keep exchanging positions of power according their strength during election periods. The trend will continue likely for a long time unless the third parties change tact and approach towards their campaigns. The two major parties have a cutting edge on the factors that handicap the third parties. Therefore, it is hard for a favorable competition to exist. The truth on the ground will be the third parties will only compete amongst themselves for the third position and may never compete against the two major parties, which will keep enjoying a competition amongst themselves.
Among the strategies that third parties should embrace, is raising their fundraising efforts towards election periods. The parties need to come up with robust means of raising funds to raise enough money to enhance their campaigns. Campaigns in America are very costly, and funds are a key determinant whether an individual candidate will win or fail. Another strategy to be adopted should be the fielding of strong, popular, and qualified candidates. Third parties should find a proper means of picking their candidates to avoid being disadvantaged on the grounds...
A candidate builds the image of a particular party. Therefore, it is almost obvious that a weaker candidate will portray a third party as a weaker party
Third parties also need to find proper means of selling themselves out to the American people, which will attract media coverage. Inadequate or sampled media coverage on the third party campaigns is a significant setback to their campaign efforts. With the poor media coverage of the media, third parties will only be recognized in few states. Such a trend cannot make a third party be on the leading line in a political atmosphere like that of America where popularity is a key determinant of who the winner will be. Third parties should go out of their means to woo media houses into covering their campaigns, even if that involved a cost implication.
The three strategies discussed above will be very helpful in changing the electorate's negative attitude towards the third parties. Oftentimes, the electorates view them as weak and failing parties, which come true because it holds the final decision. However, with enough campaign resources, proper media coverage, and qualified, strong, and popular candidates, third parties may succeed in attracting many votes from the electorate
Role and impact of third parties in Modern Elections and their interaction with the two parties
In today's political landscape, the role played by the third parties cannot be underestimated. Although they may not be popular to compete successfully for the electoral positions, they play an integral role in the political landscape. The third parties determine a lot on who becomes the ultimate winner of the elections, whether a Republican or democrat candidate. The Republicans and the Democrats each have specific states where they are most popular. Consequently, these states become their strongholds in terms of vote count. The popularity of Democrats or Republicans in particular states in the United States of America depends on a number of factors. The popularity may be earned courtesy of the origin of a particular candidate from those states or a neighboring state, or the electorate's biases to that particular major party. Alternatively, a given major party could have done immense campaigns in those states to earn the popularity.
The popularity of the two major parties notwithstanding, if a third party also becomes popular in certain states, then the votes from such states will be divided. The shared votes reduce the ultimate national votes that would have gone to a given major party, which is popular in that region. The impact of third parties is felt through vote reduction for either of the major parties. The vote reduction significantly determines the ultimate winning party. In the America politics, a win is a win whether by a very small or big margin
Third parties compete with the two main parties mainly through their manifestos, with promises to the people. Political parties flourish on the platform of what their government will stand for and do to the people who elected them. With this platform in mind, most third parties go out with well-written manifestos to the people, coercing them for their votes. They have the knowledge about the electorate that for them to be the ruling parties, they have to promise to do what the electorate wants or wish done. Third parties use well-written and structured manifesto platform to wage a strong competition against the two main parties. They capitalize on necessary reforms that would bring change in the living standards of the people and the failures of the outgoing government, to campaign. Often, some third parties do have manifestos with good and doable proposals to the people, which make them better parties than the two main parties. In fact, the two main parties copy some of the ideas raised by the third parties to implement once in power. However, due to the prevailing handicaps against the third parties, one of the two main parties wins, depending with whichever was stronger, in accordance with the electorate's decision
Representation, Value and Contribution of Third Parties
In a changing political climate in today's government, though third parties are presented as ineffectual and failures, they are increasingly earning representation. The third parties have never won in the presidential candidature, but gubernatorial and senatorial candidatures have been well fought for under third party tickets. Though few, there are governors and senators that have been elected on third party or independent tickets. Statistics shows that there have been 22 governors, 111 representatives, and 31 Senators since the end of Reconstruction. Although this performance is meager, it shows that third parties have had representation in U.S. politics. With more input and change of strategy in the current politics, the third parties can increase their representation in both houses
Despite the unpopularity of third parties, they add value to the U.S. election process. They present more candidates to the people, which give more options for choosing good leaders. Often, more seasoned and better leaders are fronted on third party tickets, which is a vital and priceless gift to the people of America. However, the parties act as distractions to the…
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