AHC - Make the US into a Multi-party system in place of a Two-party system

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Masked Grizzly, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    The challenge is to make the US into a Multi-party system (e.g. at least Four-party at minimum) instead of the OTL's Two-party system, where other political parties manage to now and again reach power.

    Aside Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party and Ross Perot standing as an independent that would likely depend on different PODs, what other OTL (pre/post-1900) defunct major/third political parties could have not only survived but also proved capable of occasionally winning US elections in place of the Republicans and Democrats?
    Electric Monk likes this.
  2. Colonel Zoidberg Well-Known Member

    Aug 20, 2008
    It probably doesn’t work unless you change how voting is done. For the presidency, runoffs May allow for viable runs by third parties. For any other office, a proportional representation system would solve this. Let’s say that, in the beginning of the 20th century, everyone decided that Congress is a complete clusterfuck and decides that merely reforming how Senators are chosen isn’t enough. They decide that members of Congress are too comfortable and install a constitutional amendment that requires a PR system for the House.
    CJNyfalt, TeePee, Johnrankins and 3 others like this.
  3. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    What post-1900 PODs would be needed to pass a constitutional amendment that requires a PR system for the House and other changes to allow for viable 3rd/4th parties and occasional independents?
  4. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

    Jan 1, 2004
    I had one idea that might do that: Both senators from any given state are elected in the same year. They aren't separate races, but the top two vote getters get the spots. Now a third party doesn't have to beat the more popular than the more popular party, but more popular than the less popular one, leading to more options
  5. Gentleman Biaggi Leader of the bisexual agenda

    Oct 14, 2016
    Oregonian Montana
    Simple, all you need is a certain region to be alienated from national politics. The South was pretty close OTL, and the populists could’ve become this. Anderson’s National Union Party could take over in the upper Northeast but idk if that counts. What’s key is building a solid base of support and regional support is the easiest to maintain and build out of.

    From there, an election thrown to the EC could cause many things depending on the time that may lead to more third party support.
    King_Arthur likes this.
  6. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Aug 26, 2017
    The two-party system was around since the beginning because Jefferson and Hanilton’s Supporters making up the first two parties pretty much
  7. Centralen Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2018
    There's no way this could be done through having a more successful third party like the Progressive party or Reform party while keeping our current electoral system. Any successful enough third party would just displace one of the major national parties, returning to the two party system, because of FPTP. America would need to adopt some form of proportional representation to bring about a multiparty system. This is very difficult, as the two parties will oppose it, and FPTP has a very long, well established history in the US. The best time for this to happen in probably in the early 1900s, where it would be adopted along with the series of other political reforms from that period, but I don't have any specific POD or idea in mind to get it to happen.
  8. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    Woodrow Wilson was in favor of a parliamentary system. And so, you’ve got to figure it has at least a substantial minority of supporters.

    for ATL purposes, add a twist

    For example, the 1918 and 1922 Supreme Court decisions pertaining to child labor have the same medium amount of unpopularity, but . . . people latch onto the idea, Hey, with a parliamentary system, we can clip the wings of the supreme Court.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  9. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    That is one idea, could any pre-WW1 PODs also work?
  10. Politibrit Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2016
    It's possible to do that without having a parliamentary system. The reason why the US Supreme Court is so powerful is because of its power of judicial review, which doesnt generally exist in other countries, but that's not really because of they are parliamentary systems. There is no reason the US couldn't just weaken the Supreme Court whilst keeping with the Presidential system.
  11. Alexander the Average Anti-lion tamer

    Sep 19, 2015
    Technically there's no basis for Judicial Review in the American Constitution.
    Catsmate likes this.
  12. Catsmate Well-Known Member

    Aug 10, 2008
    Get rid of FPTP and the Electoral College. Use PR.
    UCB79 and herkles like this.
  13. Catsmate Well-Known Member

    Aug 10, 2008
    No, there was John Marshall though...
  14. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014
  15. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Capital Regional District
    Fusion voting.

    Mostly gone outside heavy use in New York OTL, put simply it allows for the same person to appear on multiple party tickets. Although various other forms of voting were tried in the United States fusion is the only one that was once widespread. However it got banned all over the place to stop the rise of third party challengers to the duopoly like the Populist Party. Post-1900/pre-Great War is a limited window to be sure since earlier or some kind of New Deal era revival latter on would work better—but still quite possible. And easily the most plausible way to get a multi-party system going, although in practice it will simply be Dem + allies and Rep + allies that’s still a step forward :).

    Maybe if California loves it? It’s still legal there today but never took off NY style.
  16. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
  17. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017
    The Two-Party System in the US only works if you have two big-tent parties that are able to compete all over the place and have a shot at winning in enough places consistently. You can have two parties at the presidential level without this being the case at the legislative level.

    In an increasingly partisan environment, that creates lots of opportunities for dissent by outsiders. This last cycle in 2018 a Libertarian candidate for state house in Wyoming came within 53 votes of ousting the Majority Leader, for example. Alaska in 2016 amount to a Libertarian vs Republican Senate race (the Democrat came fourth). The Greens almost took CA's Mayor Office in 2003.


    1. The GOP never absorbs various socially conservative to populist elements from the Democrats and the AIP manages to continue as something of a Southern Parti Quebecois with some popularity among working class whites outside of the region and law-and-order types.
    2. Ross Perot manages to translate his 1992 success into a successful 1993 Senate bid to replace Lloyd Bentsen. Frustrated, he forms the Reform Party two years sooner and some folks get elected in 1994 and 1996 (funded by him, of course). Angus King, Lowell Weicker, Bob Smith, Virgil Goode, and other OTL independents and party switchers proceed to join up. Jerry Brown is elected Mayor of Oakland as a Reformer. Matt Gonzalez gets elected Mayor of San Francisco as a Reformer. Dick Lamm and Ed Zschau get elected as Reformers. Reform ends up as a mix of Paleoconservatives, Economic Centrists, Protectionists, Pro-infrastructure, pro-single payer, some members of the antiglobalist left (hence the Green element), and even some members of the black community like Jesse Jackson (who Perot worked with on some stuff, interestingly).
    3. Realizing that the GOP has redistricted out of the job, Dennis Kucinich decides to primary Obama in 2012. There was some interest in Obama getting a primary challenger in 2012 and odds are Kucinich would win a few states (West Virginia, Arkansas, maybe Georgia if Kemp keeps Obama off the ballot). Obama ultimately shuts him down, but this translates into a wave of progressive-independents in the house in 2014 (Marianne Williamson, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Seth Moulton, etc). Also Larry Pressler and Greg Orman get elected as independents, which while a separate matter is still a boost to a "year of the independent" story.
    4. Doug Hoffman wins the 2009 New York House race. Jack Davis wins the 2010 New York race in the 26th district as a conservative after it comes out that the GOP candidate sought the services of a crossdressing prostitute. Lisa Murkowski wins the GOP primary, but Joe Miller wins as an Independent or Libertarian. Tom Tancredo wins the Colorado gubernatorial (making the GOP a third party in CO) and Virgil Goode gets reelected to the house (and proceeds to swap parties from R to C). This all inspires a bunch of other conservatives to run outside of the GOP for congress in very red areas.
    5. The Minnesota Independence Party manages to retain the governorship in 2002 with Tim Penny. The Independence Party does well, gets some members elected to the house of representatives, a Senator (Barkeley?), and becomes a permanent fixture of state politics. It is a third-party only insomuch as it's a fixture of Minnesota politics that refuses to go away. Eventually it grows to have presences in the Dakotas, Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin as well. It is very much NOT a national party and has no aspirations to be (it's officeholders routinely endorsing democrats and republicans for office in other states and for president), but is seen as a regional oddity that nobody's really bothered by. They never bother to run candidates for president, being more interested in state governance and legislative activity.
  18. King Jasper Active Member

    Dec 27, 2018
    It's possible to have a multi-party system AND FPTP. It's just harder. However, the US is big enough it's not very hard to get regional parties. Just make a southern, evangelical party, and an Industrial, union-based socialist party, plus our two OTL parties, and BOOM! Four party system. Presidential nominees usually have to get the nod from the centre-left/centre-right party and the far-right/far-left party, which would make things interesting.
    Omar04 likes this.
  19. Riain Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2007
    The easiest way as others have said is to change the voting rules, however the peculiarities of the US sysm might mean this can only work in Congress at the start. The President just isn't amenable to voting rule changes very much as its a single job, however with preferential or proportional voting for President the candidates would likely have to make deals with regional 3rd parties to gain their preferences so the value isn't lost. Similar would exist for the Senate as there are only 2 jobs per State, however there would be more scope because regional parties might be able to use the different voting system to gain power using a regional issue, and if the Senate is tight enough these 3rd parties wield enormous Balance of Power power. Congress is a different beast entirely, with so many positions available minor and micro parties can use local issues to get candidates up and at the very least ensure the bigger parties have to deal with the smaller parties to get their preferences during elections.

    FWIW such changes would likely introduce some good into US politics, the fringes could vote for Libertarians and Greens with some expectation of success and have a couple of people in the Senate and Congress and forcing the big parties to publicly align themselves to certain positions and abandoning others to the fringe parties. However don't expect that electoral 'games' won't still occur, they will just by different games than the current ones.
  20. Alcsentre Calanice Our Equivalent of Click Bait

    Aug 20, 2014
    Mimigernaford, Transrhenian Republic
    There are parliamentary democracies with very strong constitutional courts, for example Germany.

    It's correct, however, that founders of parliamentary systems often don't see the need for such a court (the government being controlled by parliament, and not vy the courts), and that in the early 20th century, the two major parliamentary democracies (Britain and France) didn't have constitutional review.

    John Marshall didn't invent judicial review; the idea was very well established by the end of the 18th century (it's also mentioned in the Federalist Paperd) and thus implicitly contained in Article III of the US constitution.