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Two party system - why?

This is just my political ignorance speaking, but why is it that the two party system has endured for so long? We have had parties rise & fall throughout our time, but for the most part only 2 parties have dominated simultaneously and the rest just fade away as a footnote in history. Instead of parties compimenting each other, they supplant each other. Besides fundraising, what are the barriers to entry that prevent other parties & independent candidates from being able to contest against these two parties? It seems only logical that with more options better candidates would rise to the top with fresher ideas. People wouldn't have to choose from two polar opposite party platforms, but instead could find one that has a combination of the other two parties' platforms that actually REPRESENTS their beliefs. It would better represent the diversity America has, and hopefully would help our representatives to make decisions based on their constituents' and their personal interests and not on the interest of whether or not it will help their party and hurt the other party. It seems these two parties play to win and get the most votes in a nationwide popularity contest instead of actually trying to accomplish anything.

Obviously, problems with plurality instead of majority votes would be an issue, but that could probably be resolved somehow. Why is this such a difficult goal to achieve? Is there a downside to this I'm not seeing?



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Duverger's Law

See here

Other voting systems - Oklahoma drive

There are other voting systems, such as proportional representation, and others, that probably do a better job of giving voice to change.

Ballot access is a BIG problem, too, because even if you have millions of dollars to spend, you are forced to spend them to qualify for the ballot. See http://www.ballot-access.org/ for more info.

The Libertarian Party is working with the Green and Constitution Parties, right now, to change the law in Oklahoma. If you live in Oklahoma, see http://www.lp.org/media/article_513.shtml and be on the lookout to sign a petition to make access for all alternative parties more reasonable in Oklahoma.

Right now, the LP is using leverage very successfully, by, for example, calling up legislators and telling them that if they vote to increase a tax, we'll run a Libertarian who will take votes from them next term. Even with only a few percent influence, we can influence the outcome of elections, making that threat even more effective the next time. Protecting freedom is a marathon, not a sprint. Eternal vigilence and advance planning are required, and you can't give up on change after one election.

Ignoring the problem doesn't work, either. Been there, done that.

IMissLiberty

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

So-called proportional voting system isn't actually proportional

It is as proportional as patriot act is patriotic.
And that system is the worst possible system if you love liberty.
Believe me, I live few years under that system and it's more inefficient and corrupt then any two-party system.

In two-party system you could change your representative's, even if its very hard. Under "proportional" system its almost impossible. Most of the first year after election is spent waiting for majority (you have to have party coalition, so you have to trade some principles and before every election you could tell that the cause is in other party). In that system individual disappears, only party is important, if you do not vote as party tells you, you're automatically out of the ballot, you have no chance to beat your competitor, because there is no competitor, there is only a party, and only party counts. Yeah, it seems similar, but it's not the same.

Even if two-party system is not perfect (it isn't), it's much more efficient and transparent (I know that is hard to believe, but its true) then other systems.

But the question is:
Do you want vote for representative (better or worse) or to vote for party? You cannot vote for idea..

Dr. Paul could answer that

When Ron Paul ran for President on the Libertarian ticket in 1988, his ideas and positions were absolutely identical to those he holds today. But as a third party candidate he found he could not get himself heard. Look at how he's marginalized and ignored by the media today, even though he's running as a major party candidate and you have a small idea of how he was ignored and forced out as a third party candidate. In the debates so far you have had Democratic debates with Democratic candidates vying for the nomination debating one another. You have had Republican debates with Republican candidates vying for the nomination against one another. But what other debates have you heard of? And you certainly haven't seen any other candidates from third parties included in any of these televised debates either. So how would they get their voices heard? Well, as Ron Paul can tell you, they just don't. When he ran as a Libertarian, he received less than 500,000 votes. I'll bet he would get more than that right now just because more people have heard him.

www.paulforronpaul.com

The main downside is responsibility and problem with majority

If you study election statutes around the world, you should hear about Duverger's "law": Statute with one seat per district ALWAYS produces two-party system. Third party in 99% cases loses and/or is marginalized. Why? Because of natural tendency to polarize political arena around issues.

Other systems are much, much worse, because they are artificial. (its like giving goverment power to "manage" "free" trade). The biggest problem in so-called "proportional system" is that it takes responsibility from elected person and gives it to few people who control party by creating elections lists'.
Belive me, you don't want Mr Bush to decide if Ron Paul could even be on congressional ballot.

There is also problem with majority and time spent on disscusion how create majority to pass the bill, I mean "what should we give you to have your vote", and all that stuff is of course under the table.

The your current election statue is not perfect, but its one of the best possible in that not perfect system called democracy.

Last but not least:
Do not think in collective way, you should not want party combination which represents some abstract idea, but representative, who votes as he should vote.

(sorry for gramma/other mistakes)