79 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 72 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/27/21

The Next Major Party Won't be a Trump Production

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   3 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Thomas Knapp

ANES feeling thermometer 1980 through 2016.
ANES feeling thermometer 1980 through 2016.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: Shanto Iyengar, Yphtach Lelkes, Matthew Levendusky, Neil Malhotra, and Sean J. Westwood)
  Details   Source   DMCA

Eight days ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Gallup reported that "[a] majority of Americans, 57%, say there is a need for a third, major political party. The poll results aren't an artifact of Donald Trump's presidency: "These views have been consistent since 2013."

Easier said than done, though. Duverger's Law puts it bluntly: "[T]he simple-majority single-ballot system favours the two-party system."

With more than 140 years to entrench themselves in that system and fortify their position with ballot and debate access barriers to keep competitors broke and voiceless, the Republicans and Democrats have little to fear.

Or do they?

Trump himself has quietly leaked word that he intends to remain with (and in control of) the Republican Party rather than launching a "Patriot Party" as many in his committed base, feeling betrayed by GOP cooperation in certifying the election results, had hoped and called for.

Perhaps he's meditated on the fates of three Progressive Parties created as vehicles for former "major party" contenders (former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Senator Robert La Follette, Sr. in 1924, and former Vice-President Henry Wallace in 1948).

Or maybe he's just biding his time, waiting to see whether the Republican Party remains in his grip, before pulling the "Patriot Party" trigger if that looks like a plausible path back to power. Things could still get interesting.

Duverger's Law predicts a two-party system in general, not the dominance or even survival of any particular two parties.

The Whigs, split over the issue of slavery, fell on hard times and were displaced by the Republicans in the 1850s. While it's unlikely that a notional "Patriot Party" could replace the Republicans as a major party, such a Trump-centric effort might enjoy just enough support to take the GOP down with it, creating an opening for something new.

One side effect of the long Democrat/Republican "duopoly" is a sleepy centrism. If political ideology is a 360 degree circle, the "major" parties cover perhaps five degrees in the comfy "center-right" arc of that circle. As third party (and proto-Trumpian) presidential hopeful George Wallace noted in the 1960s, there's "not a dime's worth of difference" between the two in substance, despite their "polarized" presentations.

Could the (third-largest) Libertarian Party or (fourth-largest) Green Party surge into the vacuum left by a Republican fade? Decades of failure to make much headway say Americans aren't ready for that degree of change.

But if change is coming whether Americans are ready for it or not, both parties have advantages. They already hold a few elected positions (on city councils and in state legislatures, even one Libertarian congressman for a year). They're veterans at navigating difficult ballot access barriers. They're tanned, rested and ready.

As the news guys like to say, "developing."

Rate It | View Ratings

Thomas Knapp Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

2020: I'm So Sick of Superlatives

America Doesn't Have Presidential Debates, But It Should

Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago

Chickenhawk Donald: A Complete and Total Disgrace

The Nunes Memo Only Partially "Vindicates" Trump, But it Fully Indicts the FBI and the FISA Court

Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling ... Oh, Wait

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend