Indeed, there is in fact no cap to the number of political parties that may involve themselves in the political process, though there is a de facto limit to their impact often called the “No one cares about your stupid political party” effect. We have recently seen the ephemeral rise to prominence of the Tea Party and we know of the perennial also-rans like the Green Party. But there are today many other parties operating below the radar, and the past is littered with many groups who came, saw, failed miserably, and then shuffled back off history’s stage. Let’s talk about them, shall we?
5 Anti-Monopoly Party
You have heard of a May-December Romance? Well, in 1884, that’s about how long the Anti-Monopoly Party lasted, too. They wanted direct elections for congressman, a graduated income tax, legal protections for labor unions, and stout antitrust laws… wait… these are all pretty good ideas! I’m not even gonna take a shot at these short-lived forward thinkers.
4 Prohibition Party
You may chortle and hoot at the Prohibition Party (and you’d be right to do so) but know you this: this party, formed in 1869 and prominent enough at one point to change the American Constitution in ways that both robbed honest folks of booze and empowered gangsters in ways that changed the fabric of society, this seemingly anachronistic group, still exists today. They even had votes counted in the 2012 presidential election, few indeed though they were. So technically, despite the thrust of this article, the party is not over for these guys. But effectively enough, they “lost” and we won. Thank god.
3 Objectivist Party
The Objectivist Party was formed in 2008, on February 2nd, the birthday of its inspiration and Patron Saint, the late writer Ayn Rand. Now, never mind that all of Rand’s coldhearted and philosophically myopic ideology only works in a vacuum in which society as a whole is viewed as next to worthless and the value of human life is essentially boiled down to “What can you do for me?” Instead, let’s talk about how much influence the party and its principals actually have on current politics: none. Good. Moving on.
2 The Whig Party
The Whig Party was arguably not a failure, really, as much as many of the others herein discussed, but they’re long gone now, so just go with it. These folks were around for more than a quarter of a century, with the party ending around 1860. They got two presidents, Taylor and Harrison, into office, though both men went ahead and died while serving. And frankly, the Whigs were a pretty progressive lot, despite the fact that the party was formed largely to oppose Andrew Jackson and his fellow Democrats (one must keep in mind that what it means to be a Democrat or a Republican essentially reversed meanings in the wake of the Civil War).
1 Know Nothing Party
We’ll lead off with the Know Nothing party, because one has to respect, albeit grudgingly, a party established basically as a giant middle finger pointed at its contemporaries. The party was founded in 1845 and lasted 15 years, during which its sentiments of xenophobia and immigration, the extension of equal rights and protections to non-white, Anglo males, and its general disposition as a bunch of asshats did little to help anyone. The name is derivative of the response required of one of the nativists who formed the party when asked about the activities of the secret society at its root: “I know nothing.” Likely followed by “Except that I hate everyone who is even slightly different than me.”
Now get out there and answer that clarion call to form your very own political party! Or don’t, but just please… keep your distance from those shifty Objectivists. Oh, and the Prohibition Party, too.