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+ - Can we elect anyone to office with enough support? 12

Submitted by metrix007
metrix007 (200091) writes "I'm a recent immigrant to the US, so I don't think I fully understand the political system in place. My understanding is that with enough public support, any party can be on the ballot and be elected into office. I keep being told, and seening comments on Slashdot that it is not a real democracy because we are confined to the two party system. Is this accurate? Can enough people not make a public party and with enough support be voted in? If this is not the case, what is preventing it?"
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Can we elect anyone to office with enough support?

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  • OK well I'm an immigrant too but this is what I've managed to figure out about US politics and why just anybody can't realistically run:

    1) You have to be a citizen to get any higher than State Governor. This is the problem Arnold Schwarzenegger ran into.

    2) The vast majority of Americans actually vote tactically, so vote for the most popular alternative to the guy they really don't want rater than for the guy they really do want, especially if he is not already popular, so its a chicken and egg thing. Conse

  • In the U.S. the election generally goes to the guy with >50% of the vote. The laws are usually set up so that if no one gets 50%, the top two candidates have a run-off. One of those candidates is usually the incumbent, so that tends to discourage more than one serious challenger. Elections are expensive to run in, after all.

    Now, you get elected. Beyond the local level, you're one of scores or hundreds of legislators. Your vote on the floor doesn't mean a lot. What does mean a lot is your committee assign

    • by metrix007 (200091)

      What about a movement like OWS...the support is there, they essentially have a free campaign. With all the exposure and support they had, could they have formed a party and voted themsevles in? If not, why not?

      • by Spazmania (174582)

        Occupy was a movement by a few thousand folks with the nominal support of perhaps a few hundred thousand spread out through a country of more than 300 million. Had there been one outstanding charismatic leader, he might have been able to parlay the exposure into local elective office somewhere. There wasn't.

        Tea Party is a better example. They weren't getting anywhere as Libertarians so they became a faction of the Republican party instead.

      • by Spazmania (174582)

        Also, that's not how new major parties form in the US. New parties form when one of the two major parties splits. For example, the Republican party could conceivably split between the Tea Partiers and the Compassionate Conservatives. They're the two major factions in the party and they have little in common.

        If such a split were to occur, it would leave the incumbents of both halves in a weak position. Constituents that consider themselves to be part of the other half of the party might not vote for them aga

  • For sufficiently insignificant political offices "anyone" can be elected.

    For anything important the cost of entry is prohibitive - if it takes a couple of billion dollars to run a presidential campaign then practically the only people who can run are the ones that very rich people permit to run by funding their campaigns.

    In theory anyone with enough "support" anyone could raise a couple of billion dollars, but that's a case of, "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."

    • by metrix007 (200091)

      What about a movement, something along the lines of OWS....if they had made a political party, could they have voted themselves in with enough support? Cost isn't a barrier in that case...

      • Again the key here is "enough support" - OWS was a teeny-tiny minority of the population. If they want relatively unimportant offices, no problemo. The religious right has been doing that for decades. Maybe after a few decades of minor offices and OWS party could start reaching for higher office. But by then they'd be where the religious right is today - co-opted by the people with money.

        • by metrix007 (200091)

          But in theory, if the had enough support, say a majority of the country, they could get on the ballot and take office?

          • If you are asking if there is a law preventing it, no there is no law preventing it.
            If you are asking if it is practical, the answer is no it is not practical.

            • by metrix007 (200091)

              It isn't practical because the people are not willing to work together to make the needed change. The system is in place to allow it.

              • The system is in place to discourage it. This isn't a case of black and white, it is perfectly reasonable to say that while the system does not outright forbid something it certainly comes right up to the edge by making it so difficult that it is effectively impossible.

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