About This Site

The material gathered at this site is first of all meant for use by my students at Lehman College in the LEH course, “Voting in the U.S.A.” (sometimes titled “Third Parties in U.S. Politics” or “U.S. Democratic Theory” and sometimes taught as PHI 173 “Justice and Society”). But I also hope it can be a resource for others interested in the 19th c. farmers’ revolt that resulted in the formation of the Populist Party, the largest 3rd party movement in U.S. history, or else are interested in the history of third parties in U.S. elections in general, or in the spoiler effect created by third parties in our election system and other problems with the current voting systems that we use, or, when I get around to putting the material up, in the psychology of voting, and finally, in the voting system called initiative and referendum that is common in states throughout the west and midwest, as well as in a few places east of the Hudson.

Material at this site:

1. Posted on this site for my classes are the first and last chapters of The Populist Revolt by John Hicks, written in 1931 but probably still the best history of the 19th century farmers’ Populist movement. The class was assigned to read the whole book, but the first and last chapters are worth reading on their own and can be read as stand-alone essays. See the book’s main web page at this site for outlines of chapters 1 and 15 of The Populist Revolt.

2. The Forum was a late 19th century / early 20th century U.S. intellectual journal — staid but solid. John Hicks used it as a resource for contemporary views on Populists and Populist issues (that is, for people’s views on the Populists back when it was all happening), and it is still a good resource for that today. Hicks refers to twenty different Forum articles in The Populist Revolt with comments on each article in his book’s bibliography. The articles are all being put online. Links to them along with Hicks’ comments on them can be found on the Forum page.

3. Third parties are often spoilers in elections. A good book on the spoiler effect, and on alternative voting systems to avoid it, is Gaming the Vote: Why elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It), by William Poundstone. Chapters from the book are posted here for my students, but you are welcome to read them as well.

4. The page on third parties in general is the most incomplete one on this site – I’m not sure what direction I am going to go in with it yet.

When I get all the current pages fleshed out a little more, I will add a section for comments. Feedback would no doubt be useful (I’m sure the site could use it).

John Ongley
site administrator