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Party politics 101: A look at political history of third parties in America

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22 2013 9:59 p.m. MDT

The first third party — the Anti-Masonic Party Next » 1 of 10 « Prev
Wikipedia
Founded in 1828 amidst growing mistrust of Freemasons and their "elitist" control over the mechanics of government, the Anti-Masonic Party is considered the nation's first third party.

Officially the party only had a single platform: dislike of Freemasons. Although its attempts to become a national leading party on this single issue obviously failed, it nevertheless did gain support in the New England area, enough to gain two governors — William A. Palmer of Vermont and Joseph Ritner of Pennsylvania.

Though the party faded and was absorbed into the emerging Whig Party after roughly a decade, the Anti-Masonic Party managed to leave its mark on the election cycle in the United States, being the first party to implement party conventions and party platforms.
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FDRfan
Sugar City, ID

We need something other than a Party system. Let someone truly represent us. I am so sick of Cruz, Lee and Boehner saying "the American People" when they represent on;y a small portion.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

How about the Green, Constitutional, and Libertarian parties? They are small but active today.

Ron Hilton
Holladay, UT

A "runoff" election system would eliminate the "spoiler" effect of third-party and independent candidates. The electoral college encourages the two-party system precisely because of the spoiler effect, and it is one way to promote majority coalitions. But a runoff system might be better because it would encourage a wider variety of candidates while insuring that the eventual victor has majority support.

ShaunMcC
La Verkin, UT

Most people including the author seem to forget that the Republican Party was a "3rd Party". The first time they offered a Presidential Candidate was 1860 - and Abraham Lincoln won. Before that, the Whigs and the Democrats were the major two parties. The Republican Party didn't even exist until 1854. They were made up of disaffected Whigs and a few anti-slavery Democrats. As more main stream Republicans denigrate people like Mike Lee who at least stands up for what he believes, those of us who pay attention are more and more likely to support third parties who actually believe in standing up.

RBB
Sandy, UT

Where else do you turn if you believe that it is morally wrong to bankrupt our children's future so politicians can bribe us into voting for them? The only difference between Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch is the speed at which they will take us over the cliff. Unless the Republicans start following Paul, Cruz and Lee. I will be voting for a 3rd party.

LDSareChristians
Anchorage, AK

Ron Hilton,

The problem with a run-off election is cost, inconvenience of another election, etc.

But I heard of a rather interesting solution to this problem, by having the run-off included in the main election.

You have folks vote their choices in preference order. 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice , etc.
When all the 1st choices are tallied, if no one has a majority, then you select the two highest scoring candidates, than take the 2nd place votes for all those candidates that didn't make the cut and add them to the two highest scored candidates. If the 2nd choices doesn't lift one of the two to a majority, then you'd tally the 3rd choice, etc, until one of the two candidates has a majority.

This allows folks to take a chance on a 3rd party candidate, and if that person doesn't make it, still vote for your next best candidate.

I am reluctant to vote for a 3rd party candidate, for fear that a split on the 2 big parties will not go the way I'd like it. The above solution removes that fear. Also why the two big parties are not in favor of such.

Prodicus
Provo, UT

@LDSareChristians: I find it alarming that so many people have never heard of voting methods other than plurality voting. We should have brought better systems to normal election ballots long ago. Instant Runoff Voting is ~150 years old; Concordet methods are considerably better than IRV, and Concordet wrote about voting methods back in 1785.

Arrow's Theorem and its variants tell us that given fairly reasonable ideas of what an "ideal" voting system should do there is no such ideal system. Any system will have to make some tradeoffs. But plurality voting is just an absolutely absurd way to proceed and it has unfortunate consequences for society.

DN Subscriber 2
SLC, UT

Third party?

We really only have one party now, the liberal "moderate" progressive party which runs candidates under the banners of donkeys or elephants.

We desperately need a second party in the form of true conservatives, willing to do what is right for the country and its citizens, not beholden to power hungry union bosses or greedy business leaders.

Ted Cruz,, Mike Lee and their pals could form the nucleus of such a party, and let the schizophrenic liberals and moderates unify under a single banner, if the huge egos of the party elites would allow unification.

Brer Rabbit
Spanish Fork, UT

The creators of the Constitution tried to limit the power of political parties, but it hasn't worked out that way. Both Democrats and Republicans were once 3rd parties. It seems that most Americans have forgotten that the U.S. is a republic.

Every year that can be divided by 4 we only focus on the president with far less attention paid to congressional elections. In my opinion if a 3rd party is ever to get anywhere they will need to focus on winning congressional elections first in order to gain credibility.

Until the "moderate" republicans begin to understand that it was the tea party that took the leadership from Rep Nancy Polosi and put the republicans in charge in the House, they will continue to lose to democrats. By denigrating the tea party they will cut their own political throats.

In Washington D.C. it is always about political party politics, but out in the hinterlands it is about ideology. Politicians fail to learn this at their own peril.

RWSmith6
Providence, UT

Given their long record of failure on important issues, Democrats and Republicans need the challenge of a VIABLE third party. What long record? Think the matter of illegal immigration since the failed legislation of 1986. Think the way-out-of-control IRS code for at least as long. Think the pollution of politics by money, the results of gerrymandering to control the vote, and, lately, what lies behind the push for voter registration without ALL voters being on equal footing. Think out-of-control spending the result of foreign policy decisions ever since the fall of communism and resultant $17 trillion national debt. Think the self-serving decisions in Congress that end in lining their pockets, gold-plating their health care coverage, padding their retirement. Think the flatlining of wages for everyday folks since the 1980s while remuneration for those higher up have soared. Think the costs of health care coverage (and insurance) compared with other developed nations.

In fact, just think.

VST
Bountiful, UT

@ShaunMcC,

The first Republican presidential candidate was actually John C. Fremont in 1856 and not Abraham Lincoln. Fremont lost to James Buchanan in that election. Lincoln, in turn, became the first Republican elected President in 1860, but he was not the first candidate.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

The only political party today is MONEY.
That will get you on the stage.
Ron Paul had enough to put him on the GOP primary stage, where he really didn't belong.
Ross Perot bought himself onto the stage.
The kingmakers rule.
The people only take over in the general, after all the good and honorable have been weeded out.

poyman
Lincoln City, OR

I am all for a 3rd party, but unfortunately it seems to work more against Conservative Representation than for it... We saw this very clearly in the 92' Elections when Ross Perot took about 20% to 25% of the vote and made William Jefferson Clinton our President.

I really like the Tea Party when it first started... But then I feel like the movement was hijacked by the Radical Right... It was no longer just about controlling spending, reducing taxes, and removing Legislative Barriers. It morphed into social issues and International Issues, and then it broke into factions, shoot it even started mandating the Brand of Religion Candidates ahould or shouldn't have... As a result I backed away...

So I guess I am saying that I certainly don't identify with the Cruz and Lee gang even though I live in good ole Texas...And I most certainly don't identify or align myself with the Pro-Choice, Pro Same Sex Marriage groups common among the Democrats and the Amateur President that leads us today... I guess I would really like to have a President from a Governing Party that is alot closer to Center America.

W

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

The tea party is not a party since they essentially want to shut down government.

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