The PEW folks this morning issued an article [Link] that 0.56 of the sample population is in favor of a third political party. What is not surprising is that 0.72 of the independents have this opinion, and 0.47 of the democrat party adherents, after all, they have a charismatic, some even say messianic, maybe candidate apparent. But that 0.53 of the republican party adherents have this view is a bit notable.
The difficulty with all this is that the article does not go into any details of what that third party would embody. There is plenty of dissatisfaction with the two currently duopolistic political parties but it is not at all clear that the dissatisfaction is consistent or unified.
I have mentioned in previous blots of the absence of platform differences between the two parties in Alibam. For example, no one running for office in Alibam can be in favor of either gun control or women’s reproductive choice. This is in sharp contrast to the anti-control and anti women’s choice by the republican party and the opposite by the democrat party.
The point here is that the political parties have evolved, although they would both tend to avoid using that term in their courting of the superstitious and mystical, towards a set of planks that collectively they hold in opposition to each other. In maths terms each party possesses a set A of planks that they are for or against, and the other party possesses a set Not-A that is the reverse of A (since each member may only occupy two states.)
Now if we conside that each of these sets possesses n planks, then the number of possible combinations of stance on the collection of planks is 2^n. In effect, this is the number of possible sets of planks, but only 2^1 are presented by the two political parties. Hence there are 2^n – 2 plank sets that are not offered.
I have previous blogged on the question of how many planks one finds difference with before one ceases to be an adherent of a political party. I shall not belabor that point. But I shall labor a bit on the idea that the demographics of that population who have ceased adherence to either of the political parties is approximately smoothly distributed among the 2^n – 2 other plank sets.
Assuming this to be approximately the situation, then something on the order of half of the people who are adherents of any particular subset of planks are balanced by those who are opposed to that subset. Hence, there is little to indicate that all of those people who favor a third political party are unified in agreement as to what that party should have as a platform.
The implication of this is significant. It potentially is little less than the balkanization of the political instrumentality of the Yankee republic. As a minimum we might find the number of political parties being four at a minimum. Suddenly American politics would cease to be which party is in power but which coalition can be formed. It is not at all clear that this would not be worse than an abolition of all political parties and the institution of popular elections.