Let’s use a hypothetical situation for this post.
There are four candidates running for Congress in 2014. One candidate is a Democrat. One is a Republican. A third is a member of the Libertarian Party. A fourth candidate represents the Green Party. All four candidates have petitioned to be candidates and have received the required number of signatures needed to be candidates on a ballot.
The United States, politically, is considered to be a two-party country where one of two parties usually wins an election. Those two who usually win are the Democratic and Republican parties. During the fictional campaign, both the Democrat and Republican campaigns ask that they debate each other without the other two candidates. Media organizations and other political groups oblige and only invite the Democratic and Republican candidates to their sponsored debates. Some groups even go as far to say that the other two candidates, the Libertarian and Green, have no shot at winning, and since they little chance of being elected, they won’t be invited.
My question: Should all candidates who are ballot qualified be invited to debates regardless of their chances of winning an election?
According to results posted by the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the voting results for Congress in 2012 were as follows:
Democratic Party candidates – 59,626,252 votes
Republican Party candidates – 58,212,650 votes
Libertarian Party candidates – 1,365,721 votes
Independent candidates – 486,887 votes
Green Party candidates – 369,221 votes
Others – 2,285,289 votes
Yet, even with the Democratic candidates receiving more votes than Republican candidates on a nationwide basis, the Republicans still held the House of Representatives by a 234 to 201 seat count. What matters more: The number of votes on a nationwide basis or the number of seats won by a party?
Recently, C-Span, the cable channel devoted to covering federal government affairs, began covering the 2016 Presidential race for its Sunday evening series entitled, “Road to the White House.” For political junkies, this could not have started soon enough. To casual political observers, the race for the White House does not begin in 2013, but in 2016. However, imagine yourself as a political insider for either the Democratic or Republican Parties (or for that matter, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, or other third parties/Independents). What would you be looking for in a candidate at this time in 2013?
Posted in General Political Science
Tagged 2013, 2016, C-Span, Candidates, Democratic Party, General Political Science, Green Party, Independent, Libertarian Party, Presidency, Republican Party, third party, White House
With all the talk surrounding the “fiscal cliff” negotiations and our nation’s economy, it is hard to make sense as to where each political party stands on solving this country’s economic woes. Democrats sound like Republicans; Republicans sound like Democrats. It can make your head spin. This nation was founded on a two-party system, where each party differentiated itself from the other on the issues. When the country began, Federalists who believed in a strong, centralized government battled with Democratic-Republicans (Anti-Federalists) who believed that more power should reside in the hands of the states. There was a clear delineation as to where each of these parties stood on the issues. Today, many argue that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. Some from that group will argue even further that the parties are not ideological enough. Those who aruge this position believe that the Democrats should be more liberal and Republicans should be more conservative. Do we have two moderate parties in the United States or are they more ideological then we make them out to be? Is this the time for a third party to emerge in the United States? If so, then what should that party look and sound like?
Posted in General Political Science
Tagged America's Party, Anti-Federalists, Conservatism, Constitution Party, Democratic Party, Democratic-Republicans, Federalists, Green Party, Justice Party, Liberalism, Libertarian Party, Moderate, Political Parties, Republican Party, Third Parties, Two-Party System
Third party Presidential candidates face many obstacles when running for the highest office in the land. Among those obstacles are ballot access restrictions, the public perception that they can’t win, and the lack of organizational and fundraising capabilities that could help them compete with the two major parties. Ballot access restrictions are probably the greatest obstacle. Each state has its own rules regarding who can and cannot get on a ballot for office. Some states require petitions to be filed with a certain minimum of signatures. Other states simply require a filing fee to ensure access. For the most part, the two major parties are required to get a smaller number of signatures than their third party counterparts when gaining access to a ballot. Ballot Access News provides a wealth of information on the difficulties that third party candidates face when running for office.
There is an upside though to third party Presidential candidacies. Ballot access restrictions can be waived for a third party in the next Presidential election if their candidate for President this year receives 5% of the vote. Five percent, according to the Federal Election Commission, is needed for major party recognition. Five percent not only waives the signature requirement, but it also guarantees federal financial assistance to that third party in the next Presidential election. This percentage may seem quite low, but recent history tells us that this threshold is quite difficult for third parties to meet.
Ralph Nader (Independent) 0.56%
Bob Barr (Libertarian) 0.40%
Chuck Baldwin (Constitution) 0.15%
Cynthia McKinney (Green) 0.12%
Nader (Independent) 0.38%
Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) 0.32%
Michael Peroutka (Constitution) 0.12%
David Cobb (Green) 0.10%
Nader (Green) 2.73%
Pat Buchanan (Reform) 0.43%
Harry Browne (Libertarian) 0.36%
Howard Phillips (Constitution) 0.09%
John Hagelin (Natural Law) 0.08%
Source: Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
What are your thoughts on the five percent rule? What information did you find on Ballot Access News that piqued your interest?
Posted in Elections, General Political Science, Voting
Tagged Constitution Party, Elections, Federal Election Commission, General Political Science, Green Party, Justice Party, Libertarian Party, Political Parties, Presidency, Reform Party, Republican Party, Third Parties, Voting
I can remember visiting my grandparents in Parlin, New Jersey for several holidays and occasions each year. My grandpa and I would sit and watch a television show called, “The Uncle Floyd Show” which was a New Jersey institution in the form of a low-budget comedy-variety program. The show bounced around, year after year, from low frequency channel to low budget cable channel so many times that my grandpa would tease me and say that “Uncle Floyd” was on “Channel 52 and a Half”. Inevitably, we would talk up some baseball stories, mainly focusing on who should and shouldn’t be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. We wouldn’t get into stats too often, but I would question him about the merits of certain ballplayers, like Steve Garvey, for instance, who I thought should be in Hall and who my grandpa thought should not. Our selections to the Hall were based on straight up and down votes. Either he’s allowed induction into the Hall or he’s not.
Voting for someone into the Baseball Hall of Fame is not the same as voting for the next President of the United States yet many polling companies typically give the respondent two candidates to choose from. Either you vote for the Democrat or you vote for the Republican. There is little middle ground. In the United States, voters are more likely to consider themselves, Independent, than Democrat or Republican. Furthermore, there are extremes to both the left and to the right of our two major parties. You have your Greens, Socialists and the newly formed Justice Party to the left of the Democrats and the Libertarians and Constitution Party supporter to the right of the Republicans. However, when asked to choose a Presidential preference, many voters are left with one or the other. Is it going to be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? I know we get a chance to say, “I Don’t Know” or “Unsure” or “Other”, but I want my “other” choice to be a specific name. When I buy a drink from the store, I have a choice of Coke, Pepsi, and other cola brands, such as RC. The labels never read, “Other Cola”.
Why not list, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Rocky Anderson as polling choices? In Colorado, you could add the name of Roseanne Barr, who is also a third-party candidate for President in some states. How about adding the Prohibition Party candidate to a poll in Louisiana, the only state where the party qualified this year?
Polls should list all candidates running for President, and for other offices, where applicable. If it’s a nationwide poll, then all candidates who are running if enough states to qualify for the Electoral College should be listed. State by state Presidential polls should include all qualified candidates from that state in the survey. Polls for Gubernatorial, Senate, and House races should also not leave third party or Independent candidates off of their questionnaires. It is the honest way to go to promote electoral choice in the United States. Polling companies that offer multiple survey choices only inform the voter more about who is running for a particular office. There is no harm in doing so.
My grandpa passed away a few years ago. I miss those baseball discussions with him. Looking back, it seems that our final decisions on who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame were pretty rigid. Making a choice for President in a poll, however, should not have to be as rigid.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.
Posted in Campaigns, Elections, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode
Tagged Barack Obama, Campaigns, Constitution, Constitution Party, Democrat, Democratic Party, Elections, Electoral College, Gary Johnson, Green, Green Party, Jill Stein, Justice, Justice Party, Libertarian, Libertarian Party, Mitt Romney, Political Parties, Polling, Polls, Prohibition Party, Republican, Republican Party, Rocky Anderson, Roseanne Barr, Socialist, Socialist Party, Third, Third Parties, Virgil Goode