American five-party system?

Posted on 24.02.2011


I had a thought the other day. It was slightly related to the House passing of the bill to cut funding to a few choice organizations, but it was not directly related to that. I was thinking to myself that I wish we (Americans) had more voting options.

We have more options than just about anyone in the developed world. But when it comes to our government, you’re either a bleeding liberal or a crazy religious person, and there is nearly nothing in between. When I say that, I mean nothing to vote on.

People will recall the election of GWBush the first time: there was Bush, Kerry and Nader. Nader was a pretty badass option, but there was one problem: all of his supporters were from the blue side of the fence. So in effect, a vote for Nader was a vote AWAY from Kerry. I’ve said recently to a lot of my students that I HOPE Palin is stupid enough to run for President, because we all know the RNC won’t nominate her, so she’d have to run on the Tea Party ticket (since she might not choose to call herself ‘independent’). This would ultimately create a reverse-Nader effect on the Republican side.

So this is what got me thinking. I’m not one to really recognize the Tea Party as a relevant political group, but I was thinking that America might do well with at least a five-party system: Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Tea/Libertarian Party and the Independent Party. These are all parties that already exist in the US, but it’s really hard to get anyone to ‘take a vote away’ from one of the major two to support the others.

It’s so hard to identify with either party right now. I’ve got a uterus, and I think I can handle it on my own, so I’ll follow the blue side until they start trying to put rules on it, too. I also happen to support homosexual marriage rights and higher taxes for the rich. I also support social healthcare. These things make me liberal by the US standards. This isn’t exactly liberal in Germany. It’s actually kind of moderate. ‘Normal’.

Germany has a five-party system as well. I’ve spoken with my students about the differences between America’s mostly two-party system and the German five-party system, and both seem to have their merits. On one hand, there is more choice and a better ratio of represented groups in the state and fed offices over here. On the other hand, the people tell me that with five parties, there is a lot more talking and even less action than in the US. That’s scary, considering how little seems to be getting done on the fed level in the US right now. Or more to the point, how back-and-forth a lot of things will turn out to be once the Dems regain control of both houses.

There obviously needs to be an odd number of parties, with a minimum of five. With three, there is still the option that one party would ‘take votes’ from only one of the other parties (ex: the green and dem parties, the tea and republican parties). This is also why a four-party system wouldn’t work. Therefore, five parties: 2 varying degrees of liberal and conservative each and a wild card tiebreaker.

We (kind of) already have this in America, it’s just a question of actually educating the majority of the voting base, who takes their politics like their news: from news stations. I have a feeling that if the Independents actually stood a chance at the polls, I might vote that way once in a while. Until then, I will continue to vote with my ovary, with all other ovaries in mind.

I’m interested to read what my friends think about this. I’ve still got a lot to learn about the German system, but it’s slow going. I can’t wait for an election, to get to see some subjective German news reporting.

Posted in: politics