Not connected to writing in any way.  But we have had some interesting historical discussions in this place.  Was FDR the greatest ever President of the USA?  And what would Fox (or the Murdoch owned media) have broadcast against him if they had been around in the 1930s and 1940s? 

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The USA does not listen to a majority of its citizens when they demand "NO WAR!"  

They DID listen to Russia when they demanded it.  The USA was given a fig leaf (chemical weapons, something Assad probably wasn't using and doesn't need to win anyway) to cover the humiliation.  They thought they would have no trouble in getting what they and their allies (Saudia Arabia, Israel, etc.) wanted-REGIME CHANGE.  

That ended when Russia came along and for the first time in decades said to the USA, "Sorry,boys.  This time, no way."

From outside the USA the American political system is fascinating. On the one hand we hear a lot about congress, the senate and the supreme court as checks and balances but on the other hand it often sounds as if your president is a dictator and personally responsible for everything.

I get that shorthand of, "The Obama administration," or "The Nixon administration" makes it easy to discuss, but it woukd be a lot easier for us if you could get yourself a parliamentry system with four or five parties so we could at least tell when you have a minority or a majority government.

Get on that, willya.. ;).

There are calls for a third party lately,. John.  As often happens when the two main parties are obviously totally haywire.

The problem is, I figured out, that the number of parties you can have is constituionally stipulated.  If you need a majority to do things, you'll get stuck with two parties, because with more than that nobody will have 51% of the votes.   If all you need is a plurality, you can have tons of little dippy parties like Mexico or Italy or whatever.

Well, the parliamentary system is certainly more expeditious, but as Linton noted it too often might result in a minority controlling the majority, not necessarily a good thing. The two-party system, as you obviously know, is the result of the bitter disagreement and compromise started before we had a constitution here, the argument about what government should be, what form it should take, why Washington almost was a king and not a president. The separation of powers, a bicameral congress, division of power at every turn, local and national, is the uniqueness of a system that forces opponents to reach agreements, like it or not, while avoiding armed conflict internally. The trick is, of course, the bill rider ditty; if my side can beat your side on the main issues important to us at a given time, we'll give you something in return as a consolation, like silently or secretly inserting into a major military allocation pork barrel funding for a "bridge to nowhere," for example. All kinds of wheeling and dealing, sure, but it's what it's all about, getting by year to year and not self-destructing, very tenuous maybe but also flexible. American politics is much like a crap shoot at Vegas,and the government, like the casino, is always open.

I think it's worth nothing that political parties weren't supposed to be part of the system.  Almost all the founding fathers spoke out against partie, warning that they needed to be kept in line by citizens.

By now, we have the parties incorporated into the system to the extent that you only get to vote for somebody who was placed on the ballot by a party.

And look where we're at.

One thing Washington warned about in his farewell speech was that parties lead to corrupting the political acitivity into revenge schemes. 

Actually, though in public profile, the parties are private entities, and anyone can form a party and run for offices. And they do. John Anderson got on the ballot in some states and made a losing but respectable effort(lost by a landslide) for the presidency as an Independent in the '70s, and most every ballot has on it challengers without a chance of victory. Third parties have a weak record here in the States, especially at the state and national levels. Our system is complicated enough without the monkey wrench of three or more major parties. There's no law against many parties, but try stuffing Congress or any state legislature with several of them. Ain't going to happen.

Well, as I said, if you stipulate a majority rule, rather than plurality, you just made a de facto law that there will only be two parties.

And Anderson (and Lodge, and Wallace and other 3rd party people) are on the ballot because the formed parties that put them there.

What we have is representative democracy: we agree on our leaders and expect them to use their best judgment, regardless of what the majority thinks. My own observation is that whatever in embedded in the public mind is usually wrong. 

Third parties have succeeded. The Republicans were formed in the face of the Civil War, and were fortunate in their candidates. Less so now.

Third parties have succeeded.

What about at the state level? Have there ever been third party governors?

 

These days, they call themselves Independents. The last Independent governor I know of was Angus King in Maine. He's a U.S. Senator now. Also, here in Vermont, the Progressive Party has a few legislators in the statehouse, but statewide they don't do so well.

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