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The Republican and Democratic Suppression of Third Parties and Ideas

William L. Kovacs

December 2019

The Republican and Democratic Suppression of Third Parties and Ideas

Part I of this series sets out the fact that Independent and third-party (“third-party (parties)”) candidates only hold 0.0003246% of all elected offices. The two major parties, Republican & Democratic parties, hold 99.96%. It appears from history that such control has been obtained by violating the constitutional rights of third-party party candidates and could be a monopoly that restrains trade.

Professor Brian Porto, in his law review “The Constitution and the Ballot Box” explains that while political parties organized a few years after the founding of our country, it was not until the 1912 elections, when Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party received more votes than the Republican, that the two major parties and the respective states feared they needed protection.  In the 1912 election the Socialist Party received six percent of the presidential vote and won several congressional seats, 79 mayoralties and over 1,200 local offices. As fear gripped the Republican & Democratic parties; state legislatures began making access to the ballot more difficult for third-party candidates than for Republican & Democratic candidates.

Examples of roadblocks imposed on third-party candidates:

  • Requiring a significant number of signatures, e.g. 3% of the vote in the last Gubernatorial race, while waving or substantially reducing the number of signatures needed by Republican & Democratic candidates;
  • Providing shorter time periods for third-party candidates to gather signatures than for Republican & Democratic party candidates;
  • Requiring third-party presidential nominees to file nominating petitions 8 months before the election and months before the Republican & Democratic candidates had to file;
  • Imposing signature distribution requirements on third-party candidates, e.g. a certain number of signatures from each county or congressional district; and
  • Requiring new third-parties to nominate candidates for each office up for election in that cycle.

Each obstacle to ballot access was put in place by either a Republican or Democratic controlled legislature. Each obstacle was an intentional act to limit political competition. By limiting political competition, the Republican & Democratic parties organized to ensure only they would perpetually control the government of the U.S.

The primary arguments for limiting ballot access are to promote political stability and avoid unrestrained factionalism and voter confusion. These protections for the two major parties have not only limited political competition; they have eliminated new ideas. Notwithstanding differences in campaign promises, the two major parties have given us a massive government drowning in debt, continuously fighting undeclared wars, an inability to enact annual budgets and a Congress that has delegated many of its authorities to the Executive so as to avoid accountability. Ideas to change our system of government, e.g. smaller government, less debt, are blocked by the two major parties that control every facet of government.

How do we go about changing this rigged political system?

For decades third-parties have fought the ballot restrictions through constitutionally based court challenges. These challenges have been somewhat successful; obtaining injunctive relief against unreasonably restrictive ballot access laws based on violations of the third-party’s First Amendment, Equal Protection and Due Process constitutional rights.

The difficulty with injunctive relief, is that the Republican & Democratic parties and their members in the respective legislatures, keep changing the rules to advantage themselves. These changes send the challengers back to the starting point; which many times involves restarting the long and expensive process of securing ballot access for the next election

Arkansas is an excellent example of how political parties and state legislatures, manipulate laws to deny outsiders ballot access.

Between 1977 and today, Arkansas enacted several laws requiring minor parties secure petition signatures amounting to 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, combined with a short filing deadline. The statute was declared unconstitutional several times. Each time the legislature changed part of the law hoping to satisfy the court. Each new law was enjoined based on evidence that the enacted requirements were so restrictive that they could never be reached.

If the legislature lowered the number of signatures needed, it shortened the time for filing them.

In February 2019, the Arkansas legislature voted to repeal the 2007 law that reduced the signatures needed to 10,000 and reinstated the 3% requirement (26,746 valid signatures) that had been twice declared unconstitutional. It also required all signatures be collected in 90 days. On August 1, 2019, a District Court enjoined the 2019 law finding Arkansas’ compelling state interest of an overcrowded ballot to be without evidence since only the two major parties and the Libertarian party would be on the ballot.


Third-parties should consider combining their resources to create a Joint Center to Study Ballot Access Suppression. The center could gather the facts as to how states along with their Republican & Democratic parties, beginning in 1912 organized to secure and maintain control of almost every elected office. The tough questions to be addressed:

  1. Were there direct or implied agreements to make it difficult for third-parties to gain access to the ballot?
  2. How did the restrictive ballot access measures come about, who pushed them and who supported them?
  3. Were these efforts independent, state-by-state legislative efforts; or were the two major parties involved?
  4. Since the two major parties control all elected offices, how did they interact with the Republican & Democratic party members who had control over elections?


The legal arm of the center could advise on how to use the facts to develop legal strategies that provide remedies beyond injunctions, which when secured, merely allow the two major parties to change the ground rules, thereby continuing ballot access suppression.

Third-parties should recognize that being denied constitutional rights means their civil rights have been violated. There are Civil Rights laws which provide for damage actions and attorney’s fees against persons who deny others their civil rights. Additionally, other laws may be applicable, especially if the lobbying of the respective state legislatures, by the two major parties, was for a corrupt purpose, to deny the civil rights of third-parties.

Combining damage actions with injunctive relief could be the strategy that opens up the political system to third-parties and new ideas.

These thoughts are for the next articles.

This article was originally published in The Libertarian Republic, September 3, 2109









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  • Hostile Takeover of US by Major Political Parties

Hostile Takeover of US by Major Political Parties

William L. Kovacs

November 2019

Hostile Takeover of US by Major Political Parties

This article is the first in a series of articles addressing the question of how do Americans get control of their country from the Republican and Democratic parties (“R&D parties”) who have so manipulated election laws that the two parties have complete control of the government of the United States.

People think of monopolies/duopolies in a corporate sense; one or two businesses having exclusive control over a part of our economy either through legal privilege or concerted action. This control limits competition whenever it is exercised. When business acts anti-competitively, there are laws that can be applied to its unfair practices.

How does a society, however control large-scale concerted anti-competitive actions outside of business activity? Specifically, how can we control the concerted actions of the R&D parties that limit the ability of minor political parties or independent candidates to participate in the running of the government of the United States?

The R&D parties manipulate election laws to ensure one of their loyalists almost always wins the election. Controlling who wins directly translates into what laws are enacted, which citizens or corporations receive subsidies, who is taxed more or taxed less, how commerce is regulated and who will judge us should we violate any command.

According to David Nir, in an article in the Daily Kos that references Becoming a Candidate, a book by Jennifer Lawless, there are 519,682 elected officeholders in the United States. Of this total the Libertarian Party, in 2017, claims 168 of these officeholders; the Green Party in 2016 held 143 offices, and the Constitution Party holds 12 offices. Many of these positions are non-partisan offices. There are also, at least 26 Independent office holders, including 2 U.S. Senators who caucus with the Democrats, and 26 Democratic Vermont Progressives. A basic calculation places the third-party competitors’ share of the political market at 0.0006754%.

The R&D parties ruthlessly maintain control of the political marketplace. This occurs through the imposition of burdensome petition signature requirements on third-party candidates and the filing of costly lawsuits challenging the signatures on the petitions of third-party candidates to drain their scarce resources. There is also a complex aggregation of state laws that grant special ballot access to R&D party candidates, ranging from automatic ballot access to requiring fewer signatures on a qualifying petition.

What makes the power of the R&D parties so baffling is that political parties are not mentioned in our Constitution.  In fact, for the first several years of our Republic, there were no political parties. Moreover, the R&D parties maintain complete control of the political marketplace against the fact that 57% of Americans believe a third political party is needed, according to a Gallup poll.

How have we let this happen?

Political parties are nothing more than highly organized, demographically diverse, not-for-profit associations of individuals, arranged in a corporate structure, for the sole purpose of controlling all government in the United States and by extension, us. This monopoly, through its many affiliates, has officers in every nook and cranny in the nation to ensure that a member of an R&D party occupies every seat in government.

Beyond excluding citizens, with different political viewpoints, from participating in the governing of the nation, the R&D parties turn representative government on its head. Instead of allowing citizens to vote for a person who will serve as a fiduciary loyal to the Constitution and citizens; the R&D parties use their massive power to force us to vote for one of two individuals whose loyalty is primarily to the R&D parties.

This limiting of political ideas has led to decades of policy failures. On the most important issues the R&D parties are identical. Both parties have contributed to our massive national debt. Both have contributed to an extraordinarily costly and failed health care system. Both parties have supported continuous wars not approved by Congress. These are only a few of the failed policies of the R&D parties.

Action: Historically, third-parties have legally challenged such control alleging deprivations of constitutional rights, e.g. equal protection, due process and First Amendment. While there have been many successful legal challenges securing ballot access, this approach is a never-ending battle. The R&D parties merely change the law and force more challenges. The R&D parties always have ballot access and third – parties always struggle to get on the ballot.

A new approach is needed – one that combines constitutional challenges with federal statutes that allow for nationwide resolution and monetary damages. The R&D parties will never consent to an open political process. Therefore, third-parties must seek compensation for the deprivations inflicted on them by the R&D parties.

In the next several articles, I will explore ways in which third-parties may be able to use federal anti-trust and civil rights laws to permanently open the political process to all Americans.

This article was first published in The Libertarian Republic, August 21, 2019.