Though the two-party system is hardly questioned by the average U.S. voter, it is neither required nor assumed by the Constitution, nor were political parties even desired by many of its founders. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton all expressed scepticism about political parties. More than this, throughout most of the country’s history, there has seldom been a period when a simple, unadulterated two-party system existed in a pure form. Especially in the 19th c. and into the 20th, one vigorous third party was succeeded by another in such a frenzy of activity that it was often hard to keep track of them. Just counting third parties that have competed in a presidential election, there have been over 100 in U.S. history.

Nor have these third parties been without influence. More than one student of American history has argued that the influence of third parties on U.S government policies has been significant. John Hicks, for example, argued that the Populist party had a wide-ranging influence in that most of the issues they championed, and for which they were widely ridiculed, were later adopted. This includes direct primary elections as a way of choosing party candidates (rather than letting party leaders decide who would run for an office independently of voter input), the process of initiative and referendum, which was adopted in most of the states in which Populists were strong, increased government control of the railroads, anti-monopoly laws, and more.

Based loosely on “The Third Party System in American Politics” by John D Hicks, April 13, 1933

Song for the pandemic summer of 2020 – Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Pied Pipers, Connie Haines, and Frank Sinatra singing the original 5 minute version of Let’s Get Away From It All


And a song for the last days of Summer 2020

6 minutes and a half minutes of Little Richard and Whole Lotta Shaken Goin’ On