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Globalization and politics

Tanzima Chowdhury
Social Entrepreneur & Activist
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Friday, 30 November 2018

Opinion | How To Survive The Holidays Without An Argument (Hint: Don't Talk About Politics)

On this episode of the New York Times' podcast "The Argument", hosts and Op-Ed columnists Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt discuss the perils and possibilities of incorporating a third political party in America's current two-party system. In addition, they speak about how to navigate conversation at the holiday table and, although they refer to Thanksgiving, these pointers can be applicable to other gatherings and, of course, the winter festivities that have only just begun in the West.

According to a recent Gallup poll, "61% of people think America needs a third party". Apparently that's the highest answer Gallup has ever recorded. However, in American politics it is not that easy to include a third party without undermining the majority candidates and being "counterproductive", as Goldberg mentions. For instance, she argues that Ralph Nader's intrusion as a third-party candidate cost Al Gore the presidency, which led to the election of George Bush and the subsequent catastrophes of, as she puts it, "setting the Middle East on fire for a generation" and the financial crisis—all of which America has yet to recover from. 

Regardless, a third party can show the problems within a country's systems, and Douthat points out that "Trump and Bernie Sanders were sort of third-party candidates effectively running within existing party structures" as one shaped his populist tendencies under the Republican umbrella and the other tried to place his socialist ideas within the Democratic framework. And what can you do if these are the only choices?

The trio discuss if there are other potential solutions, such as Maine's ranked-choice (or instant-runoff) voting, which ultimately reallocates the votes of the lowest candidate to a more favored contender.

They close the episode with advice to practise detachment to avoid conflict, deflecting conversations from politics and, if those scenarios are impossible, perhaps spending holidays elsewhere might be a good idea.

Opinion | How To Survive The Holidays Without An Argument (Hint: Don't Talk About Politics)
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