It was a nodeshell when I found it.

A General Overview

Candidate A: If elected, I will make sure my corporate sponsors continue to make huge profits, and my policies will only hurt the public in seven different ways.

Candidate B: If elected, I will make sure my corporate sponsors continue to make huge profits, and my policies will only hurt the public in four different ways.

Candidate A: Candidate B's policies will result in The American People losing all of their freedom, but my policies will be beneficial in the long term.

Candidate B: Actually, Candidate A's policies will result in The American People losing all of their freedom, but my policies will really be beneficial in the long term.

Third Party Candidates: We want to try to reduce corporate influence over the political system! We want to try to increase real freedom for The American People!

Corporate Owners of the Mass Media: Uh oh, if a Third Party Candidate gets elected, we might lose influence.

Mass Media: The Third Party Candidates are largely unknown. This makes them unelectable. Because they are unelectable, we won't waste the time of The American People by talking about them.

55% of The American People: Candidates A and B both suck, but the Third Party Candidates are unelectable. Why vote?

13% of The American People: Candidate A sucks, but Candidate B sucks even more. The Third Party Candidates are unelectable, so I'm voting for Candidate A.

12% of The American People: Candidate B sucks, but Candidate A sucks even more. The Third Party Candidates are unelectable, so I'm voting for Candidate B.

10% of The American People: Fuck "unelectability". I'm voting for a Third Party Candidate.

5% of The American People: I always vote for Party A, so I'm voting for Candidate A.

5% of The American People: I always vote for Party B, so I'm voting for Candidate B.

Candidate A: The American People have spoken! It's a Triumph for Our Democracy!

From a Beyond the Fringe sketch by Peter Cook1, here's an explanation (Pre-Blair) of American Politics for the British:

'There's the Republicans, who are like the Conservative party, and there's the Democrats, who are like the Conservative party.'

Of course, nowadays, it's more like:

'There's the Democrats, who are like both UK parties, and there's the Republicans, who are like nothing any sane British voter* would ever vote for.'

*Shome mishtake, shurely?

1: Thanks, Stealth Munchkin!

There are 2 major political parties- the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats are viewed by the Republicans as a bunch of "tree-huggin', fag-lovin', hemp-smokin', hippie, yuppie, wiccan satanist pagan, feminist, naive, extremist, radical, liberal crackpots." The Republicans are in turn seen by the Democrats as "racist, homophobic, sexist, foreigner-hating, out of touch, corrupt, biggotted, militaristic, ultra-conservative, fundamentalist Southern Baptist, billionaire oil-barons." So they pretty much disagree on everything.

At least that's my understanding of it all.

Generally, the Democrats hold more liberal states, like California and the Northeast, while the Midwest and the old South are Republican central.

Republicans have a reputation for being corrupt. Their stereotype is the evil old cowboy types you see in American movies; taking bribes and generally being sleazy and money-hungry. They also are known for nepotism. As Jon Stewart, from the Daily Show (A comedy news/talk show type show.) once put it: "Much like the Mafia, Republicans prefer to keep things in the family." Democrats seem to think that Republican beliefs are shortsighted and old fashioned, and destroying the country.

On the other hand, Democrats are thought of as idealistic bleeding hearts, who waste money in endless government programs, and generally are irresponsible with money. Republicans seem to think Democrat policies and beliefs, such as gay rights and gun control (If you can call what they have here control) are destroying the country.

Democrat vs Republican is basically liberal vs conservative. For most people, it comes down to whichever presidential candidate is less of a bad choice.

Clinton's a Democrat, George W Bush is a Republican. You don't have a realistic chance of election to anything in this country unless you're a rich white male. So you can see why so few people bother to vote, being as it's not compulsory.

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