Thinking through the problem of the two-party monopoly on elections

by Jehu

Personally, I don’t think there is a political path to communism in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter), but I posted the piece below to the Green Party subreddit this week.

It concerns how the Green Party, as a third party in a system deliberately designed to limit elections to two major parties, can circumvent this limitation by initially playing the role of spoiler against one of the two major parties.

twopartydeadendMost writers seem to assume the artificially imposed two-party system cannot be breached owing to the limitations imposed by the American presidential system. The thinking goes that it is be easier for a third party to emerge in a parliamentary system. I disagree. The American system is extremely fragile and vulnerable to a third party challenge, provided that third party thinks strategically. The emergence of a stable, growing, third party would easily upset the two-party system that now appears entrenched.

My piece specifically mentions the Green Party, but any third party could, in theory, employ the same strategy. For instance, the Libertarian Party might employ it against the GOP or a radical (authentic) socialist party or coalition could use it against the DemoKraps.

The two-party monopoly is not unbreakable, but the two parties desperately need us to think it is.

Breaking through the two-party dead-end

Okay, this is an extreme suggestion, but bear with me:

I saw this tweet on Twitter:

@DrJillStein: “Voter fraud does occur when the two party system limits ballot access & denies equal media coverage.”

The third parties on the Left like the Greens need to take a lesson from Dr. Jill’s complaint. If you have little to say beyond a Bernie Sanders-style campaign, you have no real campaign. Frankly, the Demokrap Party can easily field ten Sanders-style “progressive” candidates with millions of dollars each and enthusiastic crowds.

What do the Greens offer the media?

From what i have seen, Dr. Jill spends for too much of her time emphasizing how she shares views with Sanders, when elections are about differences. Essentially, Dr Jill wants us to believe she offers Bernie Sanders’ alleged ‘socialist’ politics, without the part where she has any hope of winning.

“Vote for me, I have even less chance of winning than Bernie Sanders.”

Here is my suggestion: The Green Party should aim to be the spoiler in the 2016 elections. (If the Green Party campaign gets any traction, they will always be accused of this anyways, so why not go for it.)

Here is the benefit of a spoiler campaign:

With a spoiler campaign the bar is lowered. You don’t have to actually win nor have any hope of winning; you just need to prevent your target from winning. All you need is as little as 2% (or even less) in a general election, with those votes mainly siphoned from your target.

As a spoiler, you must remain open and honest that your aim is to sabotage the chances for your target because, (and this is your selling point), basically your argument is that a Klinton administration will be the same as a Trump administration.

That might just be a problem for a third party like that Greens, because many Green Party voters may actually think a Klinton victory is preferable to a Trump victory. Your job is to change this view among your potential voters. The task of the Green Party is to convince a sizable minority of voters than there is no real difference between Klinton and Trump on any issue of substance in this election.

You don’t have to convince everyone. You don’t even have to convince 51%. All you have to do is spoil the election chance of your target by making your case to a small subset of voters who believe Klinton and Trump basically have the same policies that favor the same crowd of billionaires.

Which is to say, instead of emphasizing how much she has in common with Bernie Sanders, Dr. Jill should be emphasizing how much Sanders and Klinton have in common with Trump and Cruz.

(If you cannot make that argument, you have absolutely no rational reason running as a third party candidate in the first place and you know it.)

The media attention the third party gains from being the spoiler results from speculation on whether it can actually upset the election. The media dismisses the third party candidate because, they assume, a third party has no likelihood of winning. Running a spoiler campaign means you change the metric for media attention.

Once you announce your intention to spoil the election for the Demokraps, the media has to go into each state and measure the support your party has. Which means, you start to show up in polling data. Your numbers may not be large at first, but they don’t have to be: you’re running an explicit spoiler campaign to deny one of the two parties victory.

The critical question the media needs to know is how much support you have and how much support you are peeling off your target. The more they talk about this; the more free advertising your party will get; and the more support you might enjoy.

Moreover, since you are draining support from your target, the other party might be willing to let you in the debates. Once there, of course, you hammer your primary target as essentially no different than the other party.

Instead of whining about lack of media attention, the Green Party needs to create that attention by rethinking its tiresome ‘me-too-ism’ on the Sanders campaign. It needs to target the Demokraps for defeat in November and play the spoiler in this election.