Gallup: 60% of Americans Want a New Political Party. But, Why?

Eric Zuesse

A Gallup poll issued on September 25th is headlined “Majority in U.S. Maintain Need for Third Major Party,” and it opens: “A majority of Americans, 60%, say a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties ‘do such a poor job’ of representing the American people.”

When Gallup started polling on this matter in 2003, only 40% wanted a different major party from the two existing major parties.

The only other time when as high as 60% wanted a new major party was in October 2013, when the government shut down — something that now threatens to repeat. No other period had a percentage this high.

78% of independents want there to be another “major” party; 47% of Democrats do; 45% of Republicans do.

The way the question has been phrased is: “In your view, do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people, or do they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed?”

Consequently, for example, these findings have nothing to do with a desire of Americans for another Ralph Nader or Ross Perot; this would instead need to be “a third major party.” It would, in other words, need to be a party not of mere protest, but instead, one that has a real chance to win the White House, and Congress: i.e., a real and serious political contender.

A substantial majority of Americans think that each of the two existing major parties does “a poor job,” “of representing the American people.”

Americans do not feel that “the American people” are represented by either  of the existing parties.

When this polling started in 2003, it was not yet clear to most Americans that President George W. Bush’s repeated statements that he had seen conclusive proof that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were mere lies; it was not yet clear that Bush had not actually seen any  such proof as he claimed existed; but, gradually the American public came to recognize that their government had, in fact, lied them into invading a country which actually posed no national security threat to the United States; and, so, gradually, this 40% rose to 48% in 2006, and then to 58% in 2007, as the realization that their government had lied finally sank in, gradually, among the American electorate. By way of contrast, the 2008 economic crash seems to have had little, if any, impact upon this (in effect) repudiation of the U.S. Government, by the American people. That economic crash was, perhaps, widely viewed as having been a problem for the private economy, not primarily a governmental problem — as having been basically an “economic” instead of a “political” problem. (Whether it actually was that is another matter.) By contrast, clearly and incontrovertibly, the invasion of a foreign country on the basis of false pretenses was strictly a governmental (not at all a merely economic) problem; and, since both of the two major Parties had supported it, both of them had been responsible for this international war-crime: invasion on the basis of false pretenses.

Never before in American history had the people been so clearly abused by their Government. Even the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident which precipitated the U.S. invasion of North Vietnam had been based upon an authentic existing geostrategic threat, of communists taking South Vietnam. By contrast, the invasion of Iraq was entirely unjustified, by any real geostrategic or ideological issue. And the President, Bush, had simply lied through his teeth about it. This started the U.S. down the road to its current massive public disillusionment, that the government, which is supposedly “representing the American people,” is instead actually fraudulent — on a war-and-peace issue, no less. Both of the existing political parties participate in, rather than expose, this fraud, at the highest levels.

And, so, the American people are at a political turning-point, of seriously questioning whether they live in an actual democracy — a country in which the possibility, that the government represents the public instead of some controlling individual or group of individuals, exists. 60% now think that that possibility doesn’t exist — neither party represents it. They think that America, at the very highest governmental level, is no longer an authentic democracy. There actually exists strong evidence that it’s not an authentic democracy.

Another Gallup poll, issued on September 19th, was headlined “75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption.” 75% answered “Yes” to: “Is corruption widespread throughout the government in this country?” This could offer yet another explanation as to why 60% of Americans answer no to the question of “do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people?” However, unlike the proposed Iraq War explanation, that one doesn’t possess any clear relationship to 2003. Gallup reported, in their poll of perceived corruption, that, “the percentage of U.S. adults who see corruption as pervasive has never been less than a majority in the past decade.” Gallup provided no further details, except that, when Obama came into office, the percentage was 66%. So, a decade back, in 2005, the percentage was somewhere above 50%, and then it was 66% when Obama entered the White House in 2009, and it’s 75% today.

Regardless of what the explanation is, the American people are feeling increasingly alienated from the government that supposedly represents them. If the U.S. Government is a democracy at all, it’s one whose legitimacy is increasingly being doubted by its public.

The U.S. Government thus now faces a crisis of legitimacy.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • MrLiberty

    But ask what they want the party to support, oppose, etc. and you will get different answers from everyone. Fundamentally people will endorse whatever government program(s) benefit them personally (or someone in their family) while rejecting whatever programs are the “hot button topic” of the day (ie Planned Parenthood funding). Neither major party has ever elucidated sound and consistent principles because NEITHER have any. There is what I call an internal schizophrenia in both major parties that everyone “feels” but cannot describe. Republicans say they are for small government and defending freedom, but support the biggest government program of all – war, and include in those wars the war on drugs (personal freedom) and medical freedom for women while not exactly supporting economic freedom either. Democrats say they are for freedom, but seem to detest REAL economic freedom and have recently even dropped their support for personal freedom when it comes to the war on drugs and religious liberty and are more than willing to drop their opposition for wars if a democratic president is waging them.

    I have always found consistency within the principles of the Libertarian Party and became a member, an active county leader in two different states, and even ran for State Senate in California under their banner. Their principles are consistent, but the fact that they support both economic and personal freedom appears grossly conflicting to those who have been life-long supporters of the two “internally-inconsistent” major parties. Though the 3rd largest party in the US and the natural ascendant to a third party position, far too many are unwilling to embrace the harsh implications of both economic and personal liberty.

    I applaud the news and have always supported a more parliamentary style government that actually provides for REAL and diverse representation of political values. But more importantly, if our government had been kept within the scope and restrictions defined by the US Constitution most Americans would have little concern for the behavior of the federal government or how many parties are active. Truly the answer to our problems is not who is allowed to control the reins of power, but how much power we allow them to have over our lives, our money, our economy, our bodies and our freedom (I vote for none, but most would disagree). Until people come to terms with that reality and what it would REALLY mean, another party without principles will not fix any of our problems.

    • colinjames71

      Damn. Nailed it.

      • cettel

        Hardly. Libertarianism is merely a bumper-sticker philosophy; it’s full of internal contradictions, and especially full of non-realistic assumptions. For example

        • colinjames71

          I was actually responding to the analysis in the first (especially) and last paragraphs as it relates to the article, to be clear. Guess I should have made that clear. The middle part on libertarians being his personal opinion, it is what it is, I neither endorse nor condemn it, I’ll leave it at that.

        • Army of Addicts

          ” “The rich are characteristically bright and industrious, and the poor typically dull, lazy, or both” “.

          Classism, it’s what’s for dinner.

  • diogenes

    Mr. Zuesse writes “Even the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident which precipitated the U.S. invasion of North Vietnam had been based upon an authentic existing geostrategic threat, of communists taking South Vietnam. ” Now we know what kind of a “historian” he is (or claims to be) and who he speaks for — John Foster Dulles!

    • cettel

      You missed my point, which is that when there was an ideological conflict between communism and capitalism, there was an ideological basis for war between the then-USSR and the USA; but, there was no ideological basis for America to invade Iraq in 2003. There was no justification for that invasion, at all. The Gulf of Tonkin incident is not comparable to the invasion of Iraq.

      • diogenes

        The “ideological” conflict was in fact a conflict between the oligarch predators presently headquartered on Wall Street against anyone in the world who gets in the way of their attempt to strip-mine the entire planet. John Foster Dulles and his brother were members of a family with a history on Wall Street going back three generations. The real question is what purpose you intend to serve by retailing the stale “ideological” smoke screens of 60 years ago — the same way you peddle the sheer lies hirelings tell about another Wall Street scion, FDR, and his “New Deal” program — as he put it, far more honestly than you do — to “save capitalism.” Stale lies are still lies. What’s your interest in telling them?

      • truthtime

        How are they not comparable?

        Replace “the red scourge” with the
        “war on terror” and its the same thing in a different context. There is
        still ‘an’ ideological conflict, its merely changed face. There is still one main “boogey man” for Plebs to fear.

        -Both were also technically losses (especially Vietnam) for the U.S. and all-out quagmires.

        wars were started based on “Lies as they were told” (criminal intent to
        start an illegal war), in other words False-Flag like incidents were
        pre-planned to start each war in advance such as: Gulf War I (“the test
        tube babies” show piece/girl actress – Lie as it was told) and Gulf War
        II (the claim that Iraq was tied to Al-Qaeda, which was false and a
        lie, and that Iraq had WMD’s, which was also false and a per-meditated

        However, Vietnamese won their rightful independence from
        numerous Imperialist forces, and did not end up fragmenting. Iraq is
        still fragmented, because as predicted, taking out Saddam and purposely
        inciting sectarian violence was in fact a bad idea.

  • diogenes

    Political parties enable the oligarchs by creating an illusion of choice while also creating organizations that distract citizen energy from the constitutional processes of Congress and create hierarchies that can be corrupted, coopted, subverted, blackmailed — controled by whatever means to serve the interests of the oligarchs. The oligarchs have understood this since the 1890s — as you can read in the letters of Henry Adams, for instance — and people like Eric Zuesse keep working hard to insure that the rest of us still don’t understand it 125 years later. Thanks Eric, you perform a real service to democracy in America — by showing us how it’s prevented.

    • CB1138

      If you could provide a link to that passage in the writings of Henry Adams you would probably save me several hours.

      • diogenes

        Henry Adams comments on the commonality of interests backing “both” political parties in letters from the mid 1890s and after in volumes 4 & 5 of The Letters (Harvard UP 1988). Adams was an insider’s insider, an observer of American government, diplomacy and politics from his teens in Civil War London as his ambassador father’s secretary. By 1911 it was more widely understood by the merely well-informed (rare enough) that, for instance, one JP Morgan partner backed Wilson while another backed TR … and so on. The elite understands what’s going on — unlike the bumpkin populace watching the political puppet show and choosing sides. O goody! Let’s pin the tail on the donkey for 2016! What tremendous fun!! And how distracting!!!

        • CB1138

          Thank you! I will look at those volumes. It would be great if somebody such as google books has posted those in searchable format. Henry Adams was no doubt a very perceptive observer given his family background. Edit : []

  • mothwhoflysbackwards

    Just because the American people want a third party is no guaranty it will happen. What issues or ideas would this party form around, where would it get it’s funding and how could one be sure that this new party would maintain it’s ideals even after they take power?

    Given the dangers of factionalism detailed by the founders of this country (see e.g Washingtons blog July 7 2011, or Federalist numbers 9 and 10) would another party do any good? A party means party discipline, thus individual members must (for the most part) put their votes at the service of the party, even if those votes go against that members belief or the stated ideals of the party. How many Republicans complained about Bush blowing a huge hole in the budget; how many Democrats complained about Clinton and Obama’s free trade deals and deregulation?

    A third party will not bring change, change will bring the new party. New ideas and policies will come before the new party and will, I think, come from the (people’s) House.

    The Amash-Conyers Amendment (to crack down on NSA spying) is a great example of how a new party could arise from the house. It was opposed by the “powers that be” in both parties, yet came up only a few votes short. Maybe the third party will be an alliance between Libertarians and Progressives on issues they tend to agree on. Issues like auditing and ending the Fed, taking down the banks in a controlled bankruptcy, stopping the spying, the lying, and ending our hypocritical hyper-aggressive foreign policy would provide enough common ground to keep them busy for years.

    Any politician, from either the Democrats or the Republicans, could join this “third party” on specific votes and would not have to run as a third party. The votes would not break along party lines and the debates on talk shows would not be partisan. Maybe not a third party (yet) but absolutely a third force. This “third party” could even name the speaker who is elected by majority vote, not appointed by the majority party.

    To make this work voters would have to cross over. Would a Libertarian be willing to cross over in a primary or general election and vote for a Progressive (as opposed to a business as usual Republican) if that Progressive pledged to engage the issues in paragraph four of this comment? Would a Progressive be willing to cross over if the situations were reversed? Keep in mind that a candidate that won with cross over votes motivated by a pledge to deal with the “shared” issues detailed at the end of paragraph four would be very vulnerable to defeat if he or she decided not to vote with the “alliance”.

    Such a “third party” Libertarian/Progressive alliance would, of course, not last after it got done dealing with the issues they hold in common, but given the difficulty of those issues it may last longer then we think. Then maybe will will have three parties: Libertarian, Progressive, and the remnants of the old parties dedicated to serving the one percent.

    • Army of Addicts

      What about pushing through proportional representation? Could this be an feasible,viable option?

      • mothwhoflysbackwards

        I am not sure what you mean. Do you mean changing the way senators are apportioned so high population states have more senators then low population states? Feel free to enlighten me….

        • Army of Addicts

          There are different variations around the globe. Pick one.

          There’s a reason we have no dialog about it here. That would be the first hurdle, I suppose.

  • Army of Addicts

    Americans, on the whole, generally don’t make too much fuss when their Western government invades another country. The only differences between “now” and “then” is (1)the public is being bled white in order to make war and feed the expanding empire, and (2)the higher collective consciousness provided by the internet and high tech gives more of us a voice……at least until they shut it down.

  • Sep 18, 2015 The Democracy Deception

    “The money-changers, that is, the cartel of banking families whose inheritance dates back centuries and who have manipulated world events through their power to create money, these people are behind democracy. Not just the puppet politicians we’re supposed to vote for, but the very idea itself.” – Dan Dicks

  • Sep 5, 2012 DNC votes just as scripted as RNC’s

    Delegates voices are equally ignored at rigged conventions. Both party campaign chairs simply read the predetermined teleprompter script whilst the views of the delegates are totally undermined their voters in attendance.

    If anyone still believes there are in ‘FACT’ two separate private clubs and or parties please hit reply I have some swampland in Arizona for sale dirt ‘CHEAP’!

  • Sep 14, 2015 Thomas DiLorenzo – Why The Constitution Had To Be Destroyed

    Professor DiLorenzo explains what had to occur to transmogrify the Framer’s concept of limited government to the virtually unlimited government of today.

  • Sep 15, 2015 Reality Check: Support For ‘Outsider’ Candidates Is A Repudiation Of America’s Two-Party System

    7 in 10 Americans say people in politics cannot be trusted. The same group also calls the political system dysfunctional. Is 2016 set to be an historic election because American voters are finally rejecting the two-party system?

  • Michael Zaman

    I think the author of this piece lacks an understanding of American government and the role of political parties. Political parties in the United States are not meant to to be representative of Americans. They operate more as loose coalitions of various interest groups and political positions. No individual’s complete political preference will be be alligned perfectly to any one party. Rather, parties are formed out of compromise in order to collectively manage elections and maintain power in government. The two party system emerges naturally like many nations using first past the post electoral districts. If the American people actually wanted a new party like this statistic tries to show then they are free to do that. Political parties are entirely free to operate in any structure as the Consitution does not regulate them. In fact until 1980 it was fairly usual for 3rd parties to have some relevance in even presidential elections. The problem with them goes back to the first past the post style district where fractured politics results in loss of political power. The U.S. 2 party system operates like a pre-determined governing coalition in parliamantary style governments.