The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A viable third party? I'd bet against it

Over on the "Big Tent Revue" blog I'm reading yet more about the prospects of a centrist third party. I can't see it happening. The rules of the game just make it imposssible.

First of all, we have "single-member plurality" elections for all offices. It is really well known that this leads to the demise of minor parties. This fact even has a name: Duverger's law. There are countries with SMP that have some viable minor parties, but they are either regional, or they have very few seats despite the number of votes they receive; look at Britain for examples of both. [Regional parties like Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalist Party do reasonably well. But the Liberal Democrats, while getting nearly as many votes as Labour in the last election (23% vs. Labour's 29%), got just enough seats to make it into a coalition, less than 9% of the parliamentary seats.]

But even those 9% of the seats were enough to make a difference, because Britain is a parliamentary country and it required a coalition to form a government. In a presidential system like the US, you don't ever need to form coalitions. So third parties just die. Instead we get coalitions within the parties. Neither the Republican nor the Democratic caucus in either house of Congress is monolithic, and even a Joe Lieberman, defeated in his party's primary, joins the Democratic caucus when he's elected. Similarly, James Buckley, who ran as a Conservative against the Republican in New York in 1970, joined the Republican caucus. That's the way it has to be; the rules of both houses of Congress make them operate as two-party systems as well.

So I just don't see any third party in the near future.

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