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Why have the Libertarian and Green Parties had such difficulties at gaining wider support within American municipal and state elections?

Why have the Libertarian and Green Parties had such difficulties at gaining wider support within American municipal and state elections?

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KNeutch

Talented politicans want to get elected, so they gravatate towards the political parties that have a chance at winning.


mormagils

And they have a chance at winning because they're better parties. I'm not a fan of the war on drugs and our sex work laws are regressive. But Jo Jorgensen's day one pledge to legalize all drugs and sex work is pretty darn stupid. There's nuance that needs to be present in policy discussions. Just having neat ideas and no idea how to implement them isn't a virtue.


Naliamegod

I don't know about the Libertarians, but the Green Party doesn't have consistent membership across states. Its strong in areas like California, Oregon and Minnesota but non-existent in others, which is a major source of a lot of internal problems. Furthermore, a good portion of the Green Party consists of political rejects and outcasts which has given them a pretty bad reputation among progressive activists and notoriously suffers from in-fighting. The rise of the DSA also has really hurt the GP since the DSA is actually getting people into office which the Green Party hasn't done as well.


wowowow864921

The "green party" is often just a straight up scam in several states. The people associated with some of these affiliates run shadowy pacs that make donors money magically disappear. The libertarians are at least a real political party really losing elections.


Naliamegod

That doesn't surprise me. The 2004 GP Primary was pretty much a disaster because Cobb won, despite getting a very small number of votes, because the states with little to no GP presence pretty much voted for him and there were major accusations of corruption there.


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natislink

Libertarians are having a hard time because not many people want to go back to feudalism. Their policies are mostly anti-regulation. They have ideas like getting rid of social security and welfare, which are things that people need to survive. If they had any idea what this country wanted or needed, they'd probably have an easier time.


mormagils

Yes, they should. This is why both of these parties are actually not high quality third parties. So many Americans think that these two are held in check because of the two party system, but the truth is much simpler: these parties are actually not that good and are exactly as popular as they are "supposed" to be in any system. The problem with the Greens and Libs is that they don't have any of the infrastructure that makes up a quality party. As you suggested, parties NEED local chapters with members that are invested and willing to do stuff for the party. The Dems and Reps have folks all across the country that are willing to step up at any time and make calls, volunteer, organize rallies, run for office, foster relationships, etc. The Libs and Greens? Not so much. Put another way, just having good ideas doesn't make you a decent candidate for office. You can't be a leader without followers. A huge part of being an effective candidate is having supporters all throughout society that can help you achieve your mission. Jo Jorgensen had some nice ideas. That's cool, so do I. What good is Jorgensen's commitment to end the war on drugs when even if by some miracle she won, she would have zero allies in Congress, no quality advisor staff, and no bureaucratic allies either? And I get it, you're asking well why can't she attract supporters? That's the thing. Parties develop organically at the local level. The Dems started because a leader or two found some folks who agreed with him and were willing to give their blood sweat and tears for him, and then they convinced others, and repeat. The Libs have just had trouble repeating that cycle. But there aren't any real institutional barriers to doing so because for all the US talks about the two party system, we've actually had third parties emerge recently. The Tea Party and the Trump Republicans and possibly the Progressive Democrats all fit the definition of a third party. They developed their own distinct platform, they ran their own candidates in primaries against other conservatives, and they had strong local, grassroots support full of those groups I mentioned earlier. Sure, at some point the two party system did compel all of these groups to crash into the big party on their side and change it while they merged together, but that doesn't change that all three of these factions were new, politically distinct movements that fundamentally rearranged the political situation. This is most visible with the Tea Party. The Tea Party started with the local grassroots organization, focusing on getting people elected in state legislatures and Congress, building up a robust base of party support instead of just jumping for the Presidential jugular right away. And it worked, because that's what real third parties do. The Libs and Greens are a joke. They're a sham. They're a trap for naive folks that think policies are the only important measure of a politician and who think somehow that appealing to more voters is dishonest or corruption. They cap out at 5% because every cycle they'd rather push for a candidate like Jo Jorgensen than actually build out a party infrastructure and test their policies in the electorate. Even if the US did get to a multiparty system, that wouldn't give the Libs and Greens new life. If anything, it might actually hurt them because it would make it even more painfully obvious to the electorate how these parties are failures.


anneoftheisland

Yeah, a huge problem with the Greens and the Libertarians is that they decide to run for president every four years. They want to hit the 5% threshold so they get more money to build a bigger party. But that means that every four years, you have a Jill Stein out here trying to convince people that she's very, very different from the Democratic Party, who are so horrible and bad that you should run the risk of letting the Republicans win by voting for the Greens instead. She has to play up the differences between her party and the Democratic Party, and inflate them until they seem insurmountable, because that's the only thing that will get even a small number of people to vote for her. The problem with this is that most of the people she's trying to persuade are ... Democrats, or at least people who usually vote for Democrats, and who agree with most of their policies, and don't think they're that bad. So it's a pretty hard sell. Whereas if the Green Party was taking a bottom-up approach, they could start in liberal places where their message was more popular to begin with. And they wouldn't need to run on the "we're so different from the Dems" message--they could run on a message of "we're similar to the Democrats, just better!" which makes it a lot easier for people who normally vote for Democrats to consider them. It makes the party seem more mainstream and less fringe. And in places where the Greens have had pockets of success, that's what they've done. So right now, the third parties' national/top-down strategy and their local/bottom-up strategy are working at cross-purposes. One part has to position themselves as fringe and one part has to position themselves as mainstream. And so there are a lot of Republicans who might be persuaded to vote for a Libertarian in a local race, but then hear Jo Jorgensen saying, "The Republican Party is terrible, vote for me" and get turned off from the entire party.


mormagils

Right. And that is why I make the distinction that quality third parties can exist in the US and in sone ways we're kind of living in a golden age for them. But the Greens and the Libs suck.


PragmaticPortland

In regards to Libertarians most Americans I feel like sympathize to a degree with the idea of less government intervention into some facet of their life whether it be economical, social, medical, personal, etc. however I know very few that actually want the government removed in all or most of those things. For example, Democrats likely want the government to have a light handed or even hands off approach to things such as LGBT rights, Marijuana, and medical choices like abortion but actively want government intervention into market externalities like pollution, the environment, consumer safety laws, income inequality, etc. and furthermore typically prefer laws that benefit labor or certain areas they believe affect public health like Healthcare, gun rights, etc. Republicans often take a reverse approach and prefer intervention in areas they view as moral issues like abortion and LGBT rights or areas they believe are for National Security/Immigration but prefer a hands off on things they believe are personal rights such as property, business, or gun rights. Libertarians want a light handed or hands off approach to most if not all the above. This turns off large segments of both parties, predominately Democrats but also Evangelicals, NeoCons, and even certain Corporate interests within the Republican Party.