Presidential Power-Tripping

BOR-ing! :wink:

Look, the “two party system” is not a fixed entity. In theory, we could have three viable parties.

For example, let’s say the liberals on the West Coast got really angry at the Democratic Party and elected a bunch of Greens to Congress. Meanwhile, the liberals on the East Coast stayed loyal to the Democratic Party and sent their usual cadre of Democrats.

Of course, the president would most probably be a Republican, because the Greens and Democrats would split their votes on that office…and I think the Republicans would hold all the chairmanships in Congress since they would be the majority (again with split between Greens and Dems…someone correct me if I’m wrong on that one…are chairmans elected and therefore a coalition could develop? :confused: :shrug: ). However, together the Greens and Dems would hold greater voting power in Congress.
Now, chances of that actually happening? Slim-to-none. :stuck_out_tongue: More likely, the Democratic Party would collapse and be taken over by the Greens - which is fine with me. :thumbsup:

Only one time in our history has a third party come to power. That resulted in the death of the party from which they sprang, and precipitated a civil war.

I know the two parties didn’t really form until after the Constitution was ratified, but the attitudes, the splitting into two different political philosophies began there.

Thank you Dr. History…however, whether or not the “death of the party” precipitated the Civil War is debatable. Personally, I believe the same unrest caused both events to happen. It does not follow that a similar split of a major party would bring about a Civil War.

Yeah, it’s a de facto limit rather than de jure, but it’s still what’s really choking us. We almost got out of it with Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressives, but after they missed their one big shot (by thiiiiiis much) they ran out of steam. I don’t have any proposals for how to get more parties in the mix, just pointing out that it’s what we should be thinking about as a long-term political goal.

I don’t care who those parties are or what they support: we need them. Even those nuts in the Constitution Party. I may not want them to win big (okay, I really, really, really hope they don’t) but I want them to seriously compete, get heard, equal airtime and all that blather, I wouldn’t even be upset if they won a few Congressional seats. Somebody’s going to have to keep us leftie moonbats from breaking our arms patting ourselves on the back.

And I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but in the more immediate frame of things I know who I’m voting for – and while I’ve lost considerable respect for one of the three current major options over the last few years, I still look at the field and think ‘whoever loses, we’ll be alright’. It’s nice to be able to choose a good candidate instead of a not-terrible one, innit? :slight_smile:

The question is not whether the “death” of the Whig Party brought on the Civil War (although some historians make a good case for it) but rather that the Civil War followed the emergence of the new Republican Party.

The lessons learned are :

  1. Third parties don’t co-exist with major parties – they either kill off a major party or don’t thrive.

  2. A third party has only come to power in chaotic and dangerous times.

  3. It is the collapse of existing rules and structures that allow a third party to emerge successfully.

Your point here is moot IMO. They happened at the same time, but this doesn’t prove causation.

[quote=vern humphrey]The lessons learned are :

  1. Third parties don’t co-exist with major parties – they either kill off a major party or don’t thrive.
    [/quote]

This is absolutely true, and I heartily agree. However, it doesn’t mean it is impossible for a third party to co-exist…only highly unlikely. Please see my earlier example.

[quote=vern humphrey]2. A third party has only come to power in chaotic and dangerous times.
[/quote]

Yes, but you are using the one example we have. That is hardly enough evidence to come to a conclusion that one can *only “*come to power in chaotic and dangerous times.” The Bull Moose party came close…not particularly chaotic or dangerous in 1912 America.

[quote=vern humphrey]3. It is the collapse of existing rules and structures that allow a third party to emerge successfully.
[/quote]

How so? I didn’t realize that existing rules and structures collapsed. I thought the switch from the Whigs/Democrats to Republicans/Democrats was due to the North/South differences over slavery. Please explain.

But it does show correlation. And a careful study of the events leading up to the Election of 1860 will show how they are related.

No, not impossible, but as you say, highly unlikely.

The controling factor is Separation of Powers. In the United States no major party ever needs to form a coalition government, so no third party can demand power sharing in return for joining a coalition government. It is the need to form coalitions that allows third parties to thrive in parliamentary systems.

I’m the guy who founded the rule, “Real events only” in developing scenarios.:wink:

Yet it resulted in the Democrats winning – and oddly enough, showed the danger of coalitions. The Democrats had put together a pastiche of 19th century movements – such as the old Greenback-Labor Party.

As a result, Woodrow Wilson had some odd ducks in his cabinet – and none odder than his Secretary of State, Williams Jennings Bryan. That had an adverse impact on our ability to prepare for the war we were surely to be drawn into, and had a great deal to do with the chaotic condition in Europe after WWI.

The structure that had held the country together – compromise between North and South – failed. The Triumverate of the Senate (Clay, Calhoon and Webster) was no more, and no comparable body of leaders emerged to replace them.

The country became polarized to the point where no compromise was possible – and it was that polarization that doomed the Whigs and let the Republicans emerge.

One thing I think would happen is that if a third party become strong, it’s going to end up merging into one of the two major parties. Third parties generally tend to be rather idealistic, while the major parties are full of pragmatic politicians.

Chances are those who are idealistic and active about something, are going to be a very small minority. Although others may also care about the subject, when it comes to what they think the agenda should be, have other matters they want focused on. In that matter if you want something done, your going to have to go to a number of politicians to get it done. That is sorta the check and balance on unchecked idealism. I think you are right though we do need third parties, and their idealism.

If we need them, why don’t we have them?

There are no third parties who can mount a serious challenge for the Presidency, and hardly any that can muster a single member of Congress.

I suspect an analysis of the number of executive orders shows an increased number when the party controlling Congress differs from that of the president. Reagan had to deal with a Democratic Congress, Clinton had a Republican Congress for 6 of his 8 years. Bush, meanwhile, had a fairly pliable Republican House for his first six years, and Republican control of the Senate from 2003-2006. Democratic control of the Senate in 2001-2 and 2007-8 was by a single vote, so it wasn’t that tough to find a crack in their party unity.

If you can get Congress to pass your ideas, you don’t need to issue executive orders.

So…how does that explain Carter (higher per-year average)…didn’t he have a Democratic Congress? And FDR??

Another time that was not particularly chaotic was 1992. Perot made a credible challenge, garnering 20% of the vote even though much of the country thought he was a nut. It’s pretty clear to me that if Perot had managed his mouth and his campaign a little better, he would have had a real shot.

I rather have it taken over by the Social Democrats. The same type of party whose ideals made Sweden a welfare state.

The bigger problem would have been sustainability of the party. As they proved, there wasn’t enough to hold them together. And, most people came to their senses, realizing they didn’t want to have a Democrat as president.

And then you’d never have to get a job, eh?:wink:

Well, there is always “labor market political activities” or “labor market policy measures” which are called “AMS-åtgärder” in Sweden.

Where you’d never have to get a job.:wink:

FDR isn’t hard to understand, as he was trying to remake much of our country and government, and had little time for such formalities as Congress or the courts.

Carter requires deeper analysis than I can provide. One possibility is that his outsider, man-of-the-people approach was at odds with the longstanding power structure of Congress, so at times he had to treat the Democratic Congress as if it were an opposing party. But that’s naive speculation on my part. I know very little of Carter’s relationship with Congress.

[quote=rlg94086]The bigger problem would have been sustainability of the party. As they proved, there wasn’t enough to hold them together.
[/quote]

Very true. With a Reform Party president (actually, the party may have still been called “United We Stand America” at that time, I don’t recall), there would have been an opportunity to build the party nationwide, had Perot been interested. Of course, that would have been a difficult task for any president unless he were wildly popular, and we know that in Perot’s case he didn’t care about the party, only about his own candidacy.

Because they are a barometer. If a third party can actually mount serious challenges, a constituency needs to be addressed by members of at least one major party.

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