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The Sad Fate of Political Parties

American politics will always be ruled by a two-party system.   There is no space in the political structure for a third party to ever rise into a measurable amount of influence.

There are many reasons why 3rd party candidates will never, unless by some fluke or collective chance, achieve presidency.  For one, no one is going to vote for a candidate if that candidate lacks a strong backing.  It’s similar to the ‘bandwagon’ affect: people often like or dislike something because everyone else does too.  They want to fit in and belong, in a sense.  In the political sense, however, it’s less that people want to fit in and more like they still want to matter.  Voting for a candidate who is unlikely to win is akin to throwing away your vote.  Besides, splitting a pool of voters into two different sections in a three main race is bound to lead to the remaining party’s victory.

And this does happen: take for example Canada and the UK.  Although predominantly liberal, due to multiple left-winged parties, conservatives tend to take control of the government.  In such a sense, having multiple choices of similar interests weakens the power of the individual choices within.  Thus, to ensure victory, similar candidates and beliefs are consolidated into one, or in some cases, ‘absorbed’ into the dominant one.

So while third parties might have a say in small, local governments, where the power of the information cascade is much less, they will almost certainly never get a big seat as President.  It’s much too risky for someone to vote for a third party candidate when that person already knows that another person has more votes.  It becomes less of a “I like this person best, so I will vote for him/her” and more of a “I don’t want this person to win, so I will vote for the person most likely to beat him/her.”  Because of this mentality, many promising third party candidates will never get to see the light of day.  Even if the majority prefer a third party, it would be difficult to collectively get everyone to vote for it.  This is because information cascades are so hard to break, even if they’re “wrong.”



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November 2014