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Forum Post: When are parties useful? Part II.

Posted 8 years ago on Jan. 10, 2012, 7:45 p.m. EST by zymergy (236)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Part I of this thread is found at http://occupywallst.org/forum/when-are-parties-useful-part-i/

Obviously, there is at least one answer to my title question, for we do have two very popular and influential political parties. And since the Republic’s founding, pretty much only two. Is this because most Americans see themselves as either and only Liberal or conservative? Certainly they can register mostly as either Democratic or Republican respectively to reflect their orientation. Nothing new here. But is this true?

The U.S. census Bureau reports that for the 2008 election, of the 206,000,000 citizens over the age of 18 years, 146,000,000 reported being registered to vote (~71%), and 131,000,000 reported voting (~64%). (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/). On this page look at the Report for 2008.

It would be nice to know how those in the above numbers registered, and how they voted relative to their registration, but the Census Bureau is not the one to ask or answer these questions.

According to ProCon (http://2008election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=1570) at the time of the 2008 election there were 39,000,000 registered Democrats and 31,000,000 registered Republicans. Other minor parties claimed a combined registration of about 1,000,000. ProCon further reports that in the 2008 election, Obama received 67,000,000 votes while McCain received 58.000,000 votes. Apparently a total of 125,000,000 votes were cast for the office of the President, a difference of -6,000,000 from the Census Bureau numbers (these 6 million votes may have gone to third party candidates). At any rate, there were only 71,000,000 registered party members in the 2008 election, hardly enough to elect either Obama or McCain given the proportions of registered people who actually voted. Who were the other 54,000,000+ voters? According to USA Today there were 24,000,000 registered independent voters in the 2008 election (42 million Democrats and 30 million Republicans for a total of 96 million voters) (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2011-12-22/voters-political-parties/52171688/1), but I have not seen these numbers elsewhere, and we still have 30,000,000 voters for whom we cannot account! Someone else should go over these numbers.

If the 54 million voters above were not registered as party members, then they certainly constitute (unwillingly perhaps) a very large pool of potential political power. But selecting “no party affiliation” on their voter registration form does not guarantee that the independent voter thinks and acts independently, any more than we could assume that a party affiliated voter does not think and act independently. These independent voters see the same TV ads and news clips as everybody else.

So, when are parties useful? Perhaps when it is time to celebrate something, like raising a lot of campaign contributions, and when voting along party lines and thereby paying back favors, as Congress tends to do.

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8 Comments


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[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 8 years ago

The two Parties are useful for the sole reason that it forces people to reign in their demands down to two arguments. In this way, an agreement can be negotiated. Of course, all things being equal and both parties are not owned by corporate interests.

I am Independent and a lot of people are because of the changes that occurred to both parties. I don't want to hear rhetoric and most people are fed up with it.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 8 years ago

I like very much your first sentence, for Arguments are rarely possible when there are not but two distinct differences of opinion - though that may not be exactly what you meant. From my re-interpretation of your first sentence, I would suggest that that is a major reason why Congress cannot solve any of the problems of concern to ordinary Americans, while the concerns of the rich investors are easily addressed without argument.

Now, if there are 54,000,000 of us independent voters in America, a larger group that either the Democratic or Republican parties, why is there so little attention paid to our interests? Is it because by being independent we cannot be reduced to a single argument? And why do 49,000,000 of us vote either for a Republican or a Democratic candidate for president? We do have alternatives from the minority parties (by the numbers it may be that 5,000,000 independents did vote for the minority party candidates in 2008, but that represents only less than 10% of the total.) Wouldn't you like to see these minority party candidates in debates, or to see media discussions of their positions on the issues, or even discussions of their spouses' positions? Even NPR ignores them.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 8 years ago

ALEC. ALEC. ALEC.

We want the arguments boiled down to two opposing sides.

Independents cover a wide range. If we all had Independents like Bernie Sanders then I could see it but we don't. In my area, they are Tea Party and Republicans running as Independents. So, no, it cannot be reduced to a single argument.

We have an electoral college and many states do not use the popular vote. Hence, why they must start at the bottom and build. We have a historical pattern that shows that third parties take enough of the votes away from one party to hand the election to the other.

The media controls the questions and, therefore, the answers. They aren't going to hand over that coveted position. I want people to learn how to ask better questions. Neither of those parties are worried about "our interests" because they don't have to answer "our questions".

If you cannot formulate the questions then you cannot have an answer.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 8 years ago

Please explain why should "we want arguments boiled down to two opposing sides"? Does that not leave out a discussion of a lot of the other sides to an issue, and possibly to a lot of other solutions to a problem? Otherwise I'm fine with your comments. (What does ALEC mean?)

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 8 years ago

To get things done.

It shouldn't leave out a discussion of other sides. That should already be taking place. It is important for these people to fully comprehend the ramifications of a particular piece of legislation/regulation and/or the lack thereof. However, it must also square up with Article 1 Section 8.

Oh, run a search on the American Legislative Exchange Council. You will love it.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 8 years ago

Thank you

[-] 2 points by UncomonSense (386) 8 years ago

False premise: we do NOT have two very popular political parties.

We have one political party composed of politicians who serve corporate interests, and one political party that is almost entirely without representation - citizens. The former is not popular with the latter, and vice-versa.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 8 years ago

Please see the 4th paragraph of this post which shows just how popular these two parties are.

Actually, neither one of us has defined what we mean by "political party", so I cannot complain that you don't like my premise, nor that you class the unrepresented citizens of this country as a party.

By the way, did you know that on this date in 1776, Thomas Paine published his tract "Common Sense"?