The vast majority of people seem to fail to understand the purpose of third parties. Most people seem to think that if we had a system which empowered minor or third parties we’d have a medium size far left party, maybe the Green Party and perhaps the Tea Party would be an actual party for the far right. This is not correct. You wouldn’t have 4 parties in a proper system. You’d have something like 14. Our political system would much more obviously be a 3d shape rather then a left/right spectrum.
The most obvious example is the Sanders Clinton divide. You would likely have a business focused party made up of the center-left with a focus on diversity and free trade. You’d then have a Sanders style party focused on diversity and democratic socialism. You may even have a specific black and/or brown and/or other minority parties with general leftist focus but also dealing with unique minority issues. For instance a center-left, pro immigration, pro free trade, Spanish as a second official language party. You’d have similar diversity on the right. You’d also likely have a white working class anti-immigration, pro-protectionism party. Probably two of them, one socially and fiscally conservative and one of a more socialist bent minus the diversity aspect of a Sanders style social democratic party.
Third parties also have another critical contribution to more Democratic and diverse politics. The right to exit. The Right To Exit is a critical right in a fair society. The original Right To Exit meant the right to leave the sphere of influence of organized nations in order to set up a society that was more in line with your beliefs. This right was pivotal in the founding of America. Politically and religiously persecuted peoples as well as the poor and downtrodden participated in an exodus from many Germanic countries, mostly England, the Netherlands, as well as from France and Spain. These people founded the 13 colonies as well as many French colonies like those in Acadia, St. Louis, and New Orleans.
In modern times we have to settle for the political version of the Right To Exit. The possibility of leaving a disappointing major party and forming a new party or joining a minor party that has an equal chance to become politically significant. In our current political system, both because of first past the post, and single representative constituencies, we do not have this right. The first and most critical step to reforming and therefore restoring politics as a tool to serve citizens and not corporations, is to enable a political system that does not structurally reject multi-party politics.
There is a very powerful rhetorical weapon that we can use to expose the anti-democratic nature of both our two party system and the two parties themselves which unite to thwart equal representation which I will discuss in a subsequent post. There are also several effective reforms to empower citizens to restore balance and fairness to our political system. We are not eternally condemned to a corrupt and stagnant political system.