On December 21st, 2021, the Green Party of the US posted on twitter that over 250,000 Americans have now registered for the Greens. The Party wrote: “we can organize to break the duopoly!” The Green party was referring to America’s “Two-Party System” which has been dominating the country’s world of politics for decades.
In the past 42 US presidential elections, the elector has been either a Republican or a Democrat. Some third-party candidates popped up along the way and tried. A few even got enough votes to act as spoilers, tilting the election to either Democrats or Republicans and no third-party candidate other than Abraham Lincoln has come close to winning the presidential election.
Historians say the pattern was set in motion two centuries ago with the embrace of winner-take-all elections nationally and locally, which means that coming in second or third place in most elections is worthless.
After the presidency of Donald Trump, Americans’ desire for a third party has increased up. Last year an investigation showed that 62% of US adults believed that the “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed,”. This is an increase from 57% in September 2021. Figures show that support for a third party has been elevated in recent years, including readings of 60% in 2013 and 2015 and 61% in 2017.
What’s interesting is that independents are usually much more likely than Republicans or Democrats to favor a third political party. The latest polls show that 63% to 70% of Republicans are nearly as likely as independents to hold this view. This shows a dramatic shift for Republicans since September 2020 when 40% favoured a third party.
Political scientist Bernard Tamas said: “The time is basically ripe for a third-party challenge, and, largely, the reason is because of the level of polarization in American politics, especially the movement to the right by the Republican Party.”
In America, the two parties have spent a lot of time and energy, and written laws that favor their own continuation and make it very difficult for third parties to emerge. In some states, there are laws that mean that third parties require more signatures to get on the ballot than the major parties, for whom it’s automatic. The two major parties don’t want competitors, and they’ve designed a system that further makes it difficult.
The Green Party has now had enough people registered to challenge such a system and based on the polls, it is not unlikely that more people will register to vote for a party other than Democrats or Republicans.