A Possible Three Party System?

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By Kevin Zwick
Outlook Editor

The recent Congressional race in the 23rd District of New York was a possible glimpse into the future of the American political system. The heated campaign between a Democrat, Republican, and member of the “Conservative Party,” took an unusual turn when the Republican candidate, Deirdre Scozzafava, dropped out of the race as the campaign came to an end.

The Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, ran because many conservative republicans in the district felt that the Republican Party candidate did not represent the party, especially with her liberal views on gay rights and pro-choice issues. Many national Republican stars, such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Armey, felt the same way, and threw their support to Mr. Hoffman.

As the race came down to the wire, Ms. Scozzafava dropped out of the race, but not before publically endorsing the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens. Because of her moderate to liberal views, her supporters were more inclined to vote for Mr. Owens, rather than his far-right opponent.

Of course, this could be just this could just be the continuing ideological polarization of the two major political parties in the United States. In fact, this is most likely what is happening.  BUT, it could possibly be the beginning of a 3rd major political party which can have a real impact on the national stage.

Instead of having two large political parties, which follow a “big tent” structure, the American political system could be heading toward a coalition system, similar to that of the British political system. While the “big tent” structure broadens the platform of each party to appease many various demographics, a coalition system would be made up of various parties which combine their base issues with other base issues of other parties to form a coalition government.

So a potential future of the American political system is this multiple party system, and it would depend on how much the parties fracture.

For instance, if the right-wing conservatives left the Republican Party in favor of the Conservative Party, they would leave the moderate to liberal Republicans in the party, who could be joined by centrist Democrats who also have moderate to liberal social views, but are fiscally conservative. After the centrists have left the Democratic Party, the liberal wing would take control, making it essentially a left-wing party. It would even be possible for environmentalist and climate activists to leave the liberal party to form its own Green Party.

This change could bring on a vast change in the function of American government as well. For instance, the parties would no longer fall in line behind the President, but vice versa. The President still would have power, but the balance of power would change, giving the legislative branch, and ultimately the People, more power than just one person. Congressional Representatives have more of a direct connection to the people than do Senators because each Congressman represents a specific district unlike Senators, who represent an entire state. Senators themselves have to follow the “big tent” idea, unlike Congressional Representatives. Because of a more direct representation, the House of Representatives would have more power than the Senate, comparable to Britain’s House of Commons having more power than its House of Lords. If the U.S. system changed more toward the British form of democracy, the American President’s role would be similar to that of the British Prime Minister.

Of course, this whole huge transformation of the American political system is all chance…only one possible way in which a large, election-winning monster of a 3rd party can affect the long-standing two-party system.

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