Linda J, I agree that the real world is more complex and more than a single factor determine the outcome of events. My way of dealing with that complexity is looking at one factor at a time while putting the others aside. I didn't mean to say that the one factor I am focused on is the dominant factor contributing to that event.
That one factor I was focusing on here was the question: " If I am discontent with the corrupt duopoly of political ideas in the U.S. system and want to effect change, am I likely to be more successful pursuing my ideas as a third party or should I pick the lesser of the two evils and pursue the change I desire from within?" My contention is that the answer to that question is very clearly laid out against third party movements by the basic rules of the U.S. Constitution. Beyond basic logic I tried to follow, numerous actual examples bear that out including the one I referenced.
Looking at that particular example more generally, taking other factors that contributed to the result, Nader's candidacy was not the dominant factor. I agree with you on that. It was Gore himself. I still shake my head after so many years "How could you lose an election to W after those 8 years of the Clinton era..."
After we agree on that fact, I still ask the question "Was Nader's third party candidacy effective in bringing the change it advocated?" I think the answer is still clearly no. Out of the 24,000 votes he got, I would expect the difference favoring Gore vs. Bush would have been larger than Bush's eventual margin of victory of a couple hundred votes. So, with the best intentions of well meaning Green party enthusiasts, instead of the climate changing,book writing Gore, we got W who needs no description. It is an extreme, symbolic example but a valid one nevertheless.
Perhaps a more convincing example is what the Tea Partiers have been able to do to the GOP. Had they started an actual Tea Party instead of taking the fight from within the GOP, they would have undoubtedly split the vote in many districts in favor of the democratic candidate and prevented their own agenda achieving such a prominent national platform. Fighting from within, they have been able to hijack the GOP practically in many critical turns.
I empathize that pursuing a principled political cause in the purity of a new political movement is much more appealing and energizing than having to associate with the legacy of one of two tired old choices, but the U.S. Constitution clearly favors the latter approach in effectiveness. This is not the case in parliamentary democracies in effect in many other countries in the world.
The entrenched two party political establishment in the U.S. , the inertia of which can be so frustrating for me and apparently many others on this site, is not the result of a conspiracy. It is the predictable outcome of the constitution which governs the political system and 250 years of maturation of that system.
The U.S. constitution specifies a "winner take all" method of elections. This basic rule dictates that, change to a political movement must come from within. Temptation to start a third alternative borne out of this frustration is the temptation of self destruction. Any new breakaway movement hurts the preceding movement that is closest to it by dividing support and elevating the movement farthest from it in relative terms, which determine who wins the election. To move from the abstract to the concrete: we can thank Ralph Nader and the Green Party being that third alternative in Florida in 2000 for 8 years of W and the consequences that entailed for the world, not to mention the suffering of the people of the Middle East.
Ms. Edwards and Bernie have pursued their goals, many of which I share, in the smartest and most effective manner. I am disappointed that they were not able to win their nominations this time around but they have won substantially in shaping the political discourse. Ideas and principles are important, perhaps more than the personalities. Change will come driven by ideas, information and demographics. In a country of 300 million people, it will be slow and difficult to take notice at the moment, like the earth moving in space. For those who notice signs over time, the movement is clear as the sun and the stars make it for the movement of the earth.
Being presented a choice between Trump and Hillary in the general election will be a cruel joke for me. Luckily she will not need my vote to make sure Trump does not win my state.
Naturally, they will not take these guests to Shuhada Street. Nevertheless, these tours in effect are the Apartheid Tours. No matter how much lipstick they might put on the pig, it is hard to impress a thinking mind with the result. After seeing how many proponents of Palestinian rights were transformed during their visits to Israel, including Birthright, I am convinced of that.
This is the basic challenge of the Israel project in the internet age and beyond. When you have truth against you and can't suppress it as you did in old times, you will lose ground at every turn. You can try putting on a good face like these efforts. They end up attracting supporters who are not so keen and create detractors who are. Over time, this adds up to a losing result no matter how you add it up.
Like a star over the Chandrasekhar limit, no matter what the initial composition, no matter what planets may be revolving around you, you can't change how you end up, however hard you might be motivated to try. It may go fast at times and slow down during others but it will get there one way or the other.