Posts Tagged ‘Third Parties’

A Couple Quick Questions, Ed. 18

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 1.25 pm

Q. Hey, B. Do you think the idea of a third party—or even more than three political parties in this country is realistically possible? Comments/Questions? – Chuck, from the internet.

A. First, I kind of love the title “B” because of its Beyoncé associations, even if that’s not what you meant. Second, yes, I do, but not without some serious structural change—just saying “if we all vote our conscience we’ll get there eventually” is not a realistic approach. See my answers to similar past questions here and here for more details.


Q. Given, as you admit freely in your FAQ, a free market has never truly existed, what makes you think it could? Given that in 100% of the cases where capitalism has existed, it has existed alongside state institutions of a wide variety of sizes and capacities, on what evidence can a libertarian (or free-market conservative, etc.) claim that 1. a free market can exist with any size state?; or 2. capitalism can exists without a state? – Dan, from the internet.

A. Well, here’s the thing:  I’m not an anarchist. I’ve been called an “ultra minarchist,” which is pretty accurate (meaning I want a very small state to provide defense and a justice system), but I don’t want to get rid of all state government. I would take libertarian anarchy over what we have now, and I have a lot in common with/love hearing from my anarchist friends, but I don’t share their goal of a stateless society.

That said, I think that arguing that because a state has always existed in our strongest forays into a free market we must have a state for a free market doesn’t work. It’s a bit of a post hoc fallacy at best. It’s not possible, of course, to say with certainty what would or wouldn’t work in such hypotheticals, but suffice it to say that I don’t think this bit of history is a good argument against anarcho-capitalism. We’ve also never had the internet come into existence without government, but that doesn’t mean you had to have a state to get the internet.


Q. I know you’ve said you’re not a huge fan of political parties, but given the recent RNC debacle do you believe that US citizens will ever have a better say in their representation? Or do you think money and influence will always win out? – Chris, from the internet.

A. It’s hard to say. Jefferson wrote in a letter that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground,” and many days I can’t see any other perspective. That said, I’m not sure he’s correct. We have seen some (admittedly very imperfect) advances of liberty in the past—the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, the end of slavery, the trend away from imperialism and toward self-determination of the 20th Century. Moreover, even my job gives me some hope when I stop to think about it; my organization (Young Americans for Liberty) literally did not exist less than four years ago, and now we have a network of more than 100,000 young people, with more beating down the door every day. So yeah, it’s hard to say.

A Couple Quick Questions, Ed. 17

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 12.32 am

Q. How do you fight a two party system which controls the media/press as well as those in a position of power who run the Presidential debates? They say you must poll 15% to be included…However, if Gary Johnson’s name is excluded from the polls he doesn’t even have a chance…It is completely rigged. I highly rec. a recent USA Today article indicating that up to 90 million people will not vote as a result of the poor candidates Dem/Rep. I feel that if Gary Johnson was on the debate stage he would have a fighting chance to win. – John, from the internet.

A. You’re right that it’s rigged. You’re right that people aren’t satisfied with that the two parties offer (and that’s awesome). But I think that you’re wrong that just getting a third party candidate into the debates is enough to make real change. Don’t get me wrong—that definitely needs to happen. But, we need much, much more structural change than that. See my answers to similar past questions here and here for more details.


Q. A friend of mine were recently talking politics and he pointed out something to me, that I realize should’ve been more obvious—the Republicans *don’t* want to win this year. They’re putting up two people whose views, etc. will never be accepted. They want four more years of Obama so whatever problems we may have we can blame on the Dems and they can have more power when they *do* get elected. I’m not Repub or Dem personally, but I felt like throwing this around. I’m also becoming a quick fan of your blog! – Jasmine, from the internet.

A. It’s possible, I suppose. However, the big money which has been donated by corporate interests and the general hunger for power of most politicians—Romney and Ryan very much included—convinces me otherwise. Now, the Romney campaign’s graphic design, on the other hand…

That said, personally I think it’s strategically better for libertarian types for Obama to win against Romney. Yes, Obama is no good and he will probably only get worse. I’m not saying I want him to win. But if he wins again, we’ve got an open playing field in 2016 to maybe get an actually good candidate nominated. However, if Romney wins, then in 2016 he has incumbent’s advantage. If he’s defeated, it will be by a Democrat who will then have four to eight years in office, getting us to 2020 at the earliest for an open field. If Romney wins reelection in 2016, then 2020 will likely see either Ryan or a Democrat winning and our good candidate gets pushed back to 2028. That’s a long time from now.


Q. No question here, just encouragement. I’m just happy to find a sweet woman of God cheering on the cause of Liberty! What you’re doing here is bound to mold our culture! So…thanks. Thank you sincerely. – Michael, from the internet.

A. No answer here—this was just really nice and I wanted to publish it.


Q. Do you believe in abolishing the minimum wage? And what happens when the minimum wage is abolished? (I know, that’s a really vague question. I’m just skeptical as to how much it would actually benefit the employee, as opposed to the employer). – Aaron, from the internet.

A. The short answer is yes. The slightly less short answer is yes, because it’s bad for employees at least as much as it’s bad for employers—and in particular it’s bad for the least skilled, most disadvantaged, and, basically, poorest potential employees. Teenagers and those with little education are hit the hardest. You’re no doubt aware of the idea that minimum wages result in fewer job opportunities for low wage workers. To give a crude example, if an employer can afford to pay someone $6/hour and the minimum wage is $8/hour, he may simply get rid of the position, which means that anyone who would have taken the job at $6/hour may well remain unemployed.

Other hidden costs of the minimum wage include less job training, skilled workers being hired for unskilled jobs while unskilled workers are pushed out of the job market altogether, and even the creation of black markets for sub-minimum wage workers where employees do not feel they can go to the justice system for help if they are in abusive or even criminal situations. It has even been argued that the minimum wage and similar workplace regulations allow racist and otherwise discriminatory employers to practice their intolerance without the social and financial penalties which would otherwise kick in.

Do third parties have a near future in U.S. gov’t? They don’t have much of a recent past.

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 9.32 pm

Q. How does the U.S.’s electoral system work? Why does it never allow third-party congressional representation? — Alisha from Bridgewater, VA.

A.  The United States have a somewhat complicated electoral system, thanks to a combination of federalism and republicanism (the philosophy, not the party) in our Constitution.

Presidents are elected using the electoral college of 538 electors, a number equal to the number of people in Congress with an additional three for the District.  These electors are chosen according to the laws of each state and allotted based on states’ populations.  When we vote in the presidential election, we’re actually voting for electors, who then cast the meaningful votes.  The team of candidates which garners 270/538 votes or more will win the election.

This process is designed to guard the power of the states against the encroachment of the national government — that’s the federalism part — and against simple majoritarianism or democracy — that’s the republicanism.  It’s determined by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, as well as the 12th and 23rd Amendments.

Congressional elections are simpler.  Delegates to the House of Representatives are elected by popular vote to single member districts.  Senators are also elected by popular vote, though they weren’t before the passage of the 17th Amendment, a change which increased the power of the national government by making it more democratic and less federal.

Two answer your second question, it’s difficult for a third party candidate to make it into Congress or the White House for a few reasons.