There have been many of them throughout our history. But, they rarely gain traction because of our ridiculous winner take all politics, the structure of the Electoral College and restricted ballot access in most states. The duopoly jealously guards access to ballots and even to media opportunities and debates. So third parties like the Greens, Libertarians, Reform, and US Constitution parties never really stand a chance.
Occasionally, 3rd party candidates like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader do manage to shake things up just enough to force the duopoly to address issues that they otherwise wouldn't touch. But, even that is severely hampered by what amounts to an iron fisted control of US politics by a political machine who's chief purpose is to consolidate power.
The [two main parties] starve [third parties] by making it very hard to get on the ballot. If you are a republican or democratic candidate, you might have to get 5000 signatures in a given state to remain on the ballot. If you are a third party, you would need to get something like 50,000 signatures to get on the ballot. This varies by state but these numbers are typical.
It takes a lot of money and effort to get on the ballot.
The other way they starve third parties is by excluding them from the debate.
p.s. Occassionaly, a democrat or republican won't bother to even get the 5000 or so signatures they are required to. When law suits brought by third parties try to then keep them off the ballot, the judiciary usually gives them a pass on the logic that "we can't deny the people their choice, now can we?"
p.p.s What this has to do with funding is that third parties wind up spending most of what they raise toward getting enough signatures to get on the ballot.
How do they do this? Do they just refuse to have debates with third parties?
Thanks a lot for answering my questions! No matter how many episodes of the West Wing I watch, I still find many elements of this system boggling.
What? Arresting third-party candidates who dare to attempt to participate in debates? THAT NEVER HAPPENS!
What a bunch of sorry-ass, stupid, duped, deluded shitheads you are, America. You can't even fucking impeach a president who lied you into a horrible, evil war. And now you think you can restructure your whole damn government from the bottom up! HA! You dumb, pathetic, brainless morons! Your utter cluelessness would make me sob like a little girl if I wasn't so busy laughing my ass off at your unbelievable, insane levels of naivete!
YOUR GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER YIELD A SINGLE IOTA OF POWER! THEY LIKE THINGS THE WAY THEY ARE! WHY DO YOU ASK, CITIZEN?