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The enduring tyranny of the two-party system

Creating a third party isn’t easy. Keeping one is even harder.

Miles Taylor’s piece on third parties (“The midterms and Trump’s return show why we need a third party,” Ideas, Nov. 20) reminds me of Charles de Gaulle’s quip about Latin America’s largest economy: “Brazil is the country of the future … and always will be.”

It’s like that with third parties.

In 2014, I founded the United Independent Party by earning enough votes to make it an official party. Creating a party isn’t easy, but keeping it is harder. In Massachusetts, if you don’t enroll 1 percent of voters, you lose party status after two years.

I worked hard to enroll voters, and while 0.7 percent of them joined, it wasn’t enough. And I learned an important lesson: Voters always say they want a third party, but they don’t want to join it. In fact, many don’t want to join any party. They just want sane candidates who care about public service.

The hard truth is that the only way to field viable candidates is through one of the two major parties. If Taylor thinks the GOP is ruined, he should do what I did: join the Democratic Party and work within it to field candidates who can earn support from disaffected Republicans.


Evan Falchuk


The writer ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2014.

We don’t need more political parties — we need them defanged

Miles Taylor identifies certain problems with our current two-party system but proposes the wrong antidote. We don’t need more parties. We need zero parties.

I am not suggesting that politicians with similar philosophies ought not to organize and collaborate to achieve their desired ends; if that results in something called a party, so be it. However, American political parties as they operate today are counterproductive because they have a virtual stranglehold on their members, fostering strict party-line voting and concomitant obstructionist and retributive behavior, resulting in an inability to govern in the interests of the nation and its people.


This occurs because parties directly underwrite campaign costs and facilitate access to campaign contributions from special interests. Thus, the party ensures that candidates, by and large, must be servile to party dictates or lose the financial support necessary to run for office.

Officeholders ought not be beholden to any interest other than that of their constituents and certainly not to an ideologically inflexible political party. However, to realize such a goal, only those people who are eligible to vote for a candidate should be allowed to contribute to the campaign of that candidate. Other individuals and organizations might speak their minds (as protected by the First Amendment) by means of nominations, endorsements, and the like, but no person or organization other than an enfranchised constituent ought to be allowed to contribute cash or services to a campaign.

Under such a system, elected officials would be free to act on the merits of proposals based on how they affect their constituents rather than on how they comport with the ideology and objectives of political organizations — groups that, time and again, have put their parochial and hegemonic interests ahead of the well-being of the nation and its citizens.

Keith Backman