Breaking Binary

By all indicators, Congress is a failed institution that is no longer capable of executing its basic constitutional duties. Given the role of parties in organizing Congress and controlling the agenda, one should not be surprised that much of the blame is attributed to the GOP and the Democratic Party. A new Gallup Poll has some interesting results for those who have tired of the binary. As Gallup reports:

Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.

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One should not be surprised that 71 percent of independents believe that a third party is needed (a majority of independents have held this position as long as Gallup asked the question). But now “Republicans (52%) and Democrats (49%) are similar in their perceptions that a third party is needed. In fact, this marks the first time that a majority of either party’s supporters have said a third party is needed.”

Of course, there are massive institutional barriers to successful third parties, not the least of which is the existence of single-member, simple-plurality districts.  As those of us who have supported third parties in the past know, their candidates are routinely excluded from debates and have difficulties even accessing the ballot in many states.

Even if the binary is broken, it is not going to go down easily.

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