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The Only Successful American Third Party

Discussion in 'World History' started by YNCS, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. YNCS

    YNCS Ex-bubblehead

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    There is a thread in OT that is discussing an American third party. I'd like to give some background on the subject.

    In 1850, the two main political parties were the Democrats (the successors of Jefferson's Democratic Republicans) and the Whigs (who had superseded the Federalists after the War of 1812). Sectional antagonisms fomented by the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) tore the Whigs apart. By 1854, mass meetings were held in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other Midwestern states, and the Republican party was born. A coalition made up principally of former Whigs (Lincoln had been a Whig) and anti-slavery Democrats, the movement spread to other Northern states. In 1856, the Republicans nominated John C. Frémont for the Presidency and, while he lost, did quite respectably. Because the party was purely sectional, Southerners viewed its growth with dismay.

    By the 1860 election, the Whigs had pretty much vanished from view. There is the point that the Democrats split over slavery. The nomination of Stephen Douglas so incensed the Southern delegates that many of them walked out of the Democratic convention. Later they held a rump convention and nominated John C. Breckinridge for President. There was a third party candidate, John Bell of Tennessee, nominated by the Constitutional Union Party with a platform calling only for the preservation of the Union.

    With the Democrats split, Lincoln's election was virtually assured. The electoral and popular votes broke down thusly:

    Lincoln: 180 - 1,865,593
    Breckinridge: 72 - 848,356
    Bell: 39 - 592,906
    Douglas: 12 - 1,382713​

    Lincoln got only about 40% of the popular vote and supposedly failed to win a single vote in Mississippi A Republican presidential victory, many warned, would so endanger Southern interests as to warrant secession from the Union. When Lincoln won in 1860, the threat became a reality.

    Since the 1860s there hasn't been a political or social issue in the U.S. that was so divisive as slavery. Unless one arises and the two major political parties don't each stake out opposing sides, a viable third party is unlikely in the U.S.
     
  2. Elta

    Elta 我不会把这种

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    :goodjob: Nice post I agree on that last part sadly :( :(
    I should note that the Michigan Democratic party (diff. than regular democrats in a few ways they have there own listing in the almanac ) is in allmost complete control of the state (or so my 2005 almanac ...I don't wanna substanciate that)




    http://www.michigandems.com/
     
  3. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    It is very unfortunate that for some reason we can't get a viable 3rd Party. Maybe the impending alien invasion of earth will be enough to make that happen.
     
  4. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Do I sense a Simpsons tie-in?
     
  5. SeleucusNicator

    SeleucusNicator Diadoch

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    I dispute the characterization of the Republicans as a third party in 1860 or even 1856.

    The Republican party was successful because the Whig Party collapsed in 1854, leaving a vaccum that the Republican Party quickly filled. Indeed, in most states where there was a strong Whig party, the Whig political bosses simply became Republicans.
     
  6. El Justo

    El Justo Deity

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  7. YNCS

    YNCS Ex-bubblehead

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    In 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt splintered his Bull Moose party off from the Republicans, he ensured the election of the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson. If the regular Republican candidate's, Taft, and Roosevelt's popular votes are added together, they outpolled Wilson, but Wilson had the most votes of any of the three candidates:

    Roosevelt - 4,126,020
    Taft - 3,483,922
    Wilson - 6,286,124​

    So history tells us that a third party candidate much more closely aligned with one party than the other can get the unaligned candidate elected.
     
  8. YNCS

    YNCS Ex-bubblehead

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    I agree. In the early 1850s, the Whig Party disintegrated over the slavery issue, and the Republicans stepped in to fill the vacuum. However, besides Whigs, the Republicans also attracted Northern Democrats. That's why Douglas did so poorly with the popular vote in 1860. He was perceived as an anti-slavery Democrat, but many of the other anti-slavery Democrats had already become Republicans.
     
  9. shortguy

    shortguy It's a working title

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    What about the American Independent Party in 1968? Wallace actually won some electoral votes.
     
  10. El Justo

    El Justo Deity

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    lest we not forget Ross Perot. iirc, he gained something like 18 or 19 % of the popular vote in the '92 election. it'll probably be a long while before any future 3rd party canidate could garner that much.
     
  11. Methos

    Methos HoF Quattromaster Super Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    That was the first time I was able to vote in a Presidential election, and I voted for Perot. I didn't realize he got that much of the vote.
     
  12. ChrTh

    ChrTh Happy Yule!

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    I think we need to distinguish between third party viability and third party candidate viability. Bull Moose Party existed for the purpose of electing Teddy Roosevelt. And while the Reform Party still exists in some parts of the US, essentially it was Perot in 92 and 96 grabbing votes, not the party. So I wouldn't consider either party 'successful', just the candidate.
     
  13. YNCS

    YNCS Ex-bubblehead

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    The same can be said for the Green Party and Nader. In 2000, in Connecticut, the Green Party ran eight candidates, including Nader and LaDuke. Two of the candidates won, getting seats on the New Haven city council. In 2004, there were three Green Party candidates, including the New Haven city councilmen. None of them won election or reelection.
     
  14. Stolen Rutters

    Stolen Rutters Deity

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    The Governor is Democrat but the State Congress is Republican controlled. Democrats are in complete control of Detroit, not the state. In addition, Republicans dominate in the west and the north and the Detroit suburbs are largely split.
     
  15. North King

    North King blech

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    Agreed. Michigan is far more purple than blue... I would know, having to live in one of the more red areas of the state. :rolleyes:

    Actually, Elta, the Minnesota Democrats--the DFL are more in control of their state than in Michigan, from what I gather, and though they are aligned with the Dems in presidential elections, they are technically a "third party" (if that name really applies to the largest party in the state).
     
  16. Stolen Rutters

    Stolen Rutters Deity

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    quote-I dispute the characterization of the Republicans as a third party in 1860 or even 1856.

    Actually, you have a point. A third party will never, by definition, be a third party if it is successful in taking power in the government, so QED, it can't ever be successful. It's like saying that the third place competitor is the winner. You can start the race in the third position but that is not the position you will hold if you win.

    The republican party was the third party when it was formed but not by Lincoln's time (and it really is the only "third party" to actually move from third to first in this country). It successfully worked its way into the top party spot and wasn't a third party when it won. No future party will ever truly be a third party if it can supplant one of the current two by any means, no matter how long it holds the third position beforehand. I hadn't thought of it that way. Good job.
     
  17. El Justo

    El Justo Deity

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    hey - same here! although i didn't vote for him.

    i'll always have the memory of all of those damn pie charts and that Texas twang!
     
  18. YNCS

    YNCS Ex-bubblehead

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    What got to me about Perot was:

    * Never having held political office, he wanted to start at the top.

    * He listened to all sorts of paranoid loonies and believed them.

    * It seemed that for him the truth was what he said it was. As Groucho Marx said, "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

    * His dropping out of the race and then dropping back in again. He claimed that he did so because the Republicans were going to do some unspecified nastiness at his daughter's wedding. First, I believe the head of the RNC who said essentially "Why would we do something stupid like that? When it got traced back to us, as it inevitably would, it would only make people turn against us and cause sympathy for our opponent." Second, if it were true, then all one had to do is make some vague gesture against his family, and he would fold up.

    The fact that he was so obviously crazy -- but still got 19% with such a bad campaign -- shows how dissatisfied people must have been with the two party system.
     
  19. ChrTh

    ChrTh Happy Yule!

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    I didn't bring this up because I didn't want to put in an attack against Perot, but the facts are obvious:
    1) He dropped out of the race during the Democratic primary because he thoughts the Democrats had put it together (or so he claimed)
    2) He then got back in the race during the Republican primary because of the above-mentioned issue

    I'm still not sure what he had against the Republicans, but it was clear he didn't want Bush to win in 1992. Bill Clinton is never President of the United States if it wasn't for Perot (although Pat Buchanan is also partially responsible for the Bush defeat).
     
  20. North King

    North King blech

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    That's patently incorrect. Polls have shown that Perot voters split fairly evenly for Clinton and Bush.
     

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