And in every case, when a critical mass of people became passionate enough to form a Parade, eventually a politician jumped out in front of it and said, “This is MY parade!” ~Thom Hartmann
alternrg, in response to this quote by Chris Hedges decrying the American liberal class.
For many years, this was a sentiment I sincerely sympathized with, and cast many votes for third party candidates, including presidential election races as well as local and state office contests. However, after extensive study of political history, I have concluded that advocacy of third party campaigns, at least until there is significant structural change to the voting system in America, is a futile deed. In a winner take all, majoritarian oriented election model, third party campaigns merely cede the reins of government to a more united minority party. If you examine the history of electoral campaigns in the United States at both federal and state levels, you will spot this pattern repeatedly. If third party campaigns have borne any fruit of success, it has been entirely in the form of applying pressure points on one of the top two parties. Or, an epic ascension into the top two echelon, and evidenced, in concurrence, also by a collapse and disintegration of one member in the hitherto traditional “two party block”.
So, with that in mind, how exactly is transformational change to be enacted?
Reforming the election setup to be third party friendly. While radically altering the US system into a parliamentary style construction would require constitutional revamping, there are legislative recipes like instant runoff voting that would make voting for third party candidates a viable option, without splintering votes and flinging election victory to an ideological foe bearing atrocious and regressive policy planks.
Unite and capture a controlling interest in one of the two major parties. Takeover and transform a party by sheer numbers. This is precisely how the Republican party of the 21st century came to be. The religious right and more recently, tea party loyalists mutated the Republican party. Progressives, if gathered together in a great enough aggregate, could exercise a push for real change. Get involved and prod the party in the direction you desire.
Now, I must confess, as an political independent, who professes allegiance to no political party, I appear to be a hypocrite, swayed to supporting one party (or more accurately, selected candidates) or the other instead of digging in and foraging that true transformative change as enjoined in my aforementioned words. But it is a recurring internal debate for me, and often I consider joining one of the two big parties to wreak positive insurrection from within party ranks instead of lobbing Tumblr posts.