Sunday, July 04, 2004

The Role of Third-Parties in US History

Third parties often focus on a single main issue and force it into the mainstream of American political life. It was third parties that first pressed for emancipation, female suffrage, prohibition, and an end to child labor. Socialist Eugene V. Debs lost both his 1912 and 1920 presidential runs, but much of his platform, like Social Security, ultimately formed the basis of the modern welfare state.

- The Week

1 comment:

Sheryl said...

Much as I love parties, having more than two parties does not necessarily good government make. The Knesset in Israel currently has 12 parties in their parliament and about 23 active parties in the country. But are they getting good government for it?

The reason that social movements have often come out of third parties is because you have to organize to change things. And frequently disgruntled people organize outside the system. That does not mean that organizing within alternative parties is necessarily better or more effective than forming caucuses within an already established party. It merely means that is how it has traditionally been done.