The populist Peoples Party in the 1890s came close, actually threatening the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans, and so both major parties passed a slew of new legislation at the state and federal levels aimed at making it impossible for a workers' and farmers' party such as the Peoples Party to ever again be as successful as it was, and then, in 1896, the Democrats succeeded through lies, tricks and other deceits to lure the Peoples' Party into a fusion that marked the end of that party.
And of course the Democrat Party has been sucking successful social movements in ever since, chewing them up and then spiting them out. That's where the old saying, "the Democrat Party is the graveyard of social movements," comes from. The point being that the capitalist ruling class beat us to the punch long before we were born, closing off any chance of change or social reform, not to mention the working class actually coming to power through the ballot box.
What most in the "left" are talking about, change through the Democrat Party or a third party is simply an impossible Utopian dream. Chris Hedges in a speech the other day referred to the same strategy as "pouring energy into a black hole." And that's an appropriate description of electoralism in America. It's like putting the back wheel of your bicycle up between two rollers so it can spin freely; it looks like action, but your just spinning your wheels and going nowhere! In that sense, it's counterproductive and harmful to the cause of the working class.
Voting in these phony fixed plutocratic elections accomplishes only one thing, that is, to legitimize the plutocratic rule. The plutocrats of America long ago closed off all avenues of reform. I wish they hadn't because reform is always much easier than the alternatives. But that leaves us with only two alternatives: resignation to the rule by the rich we have now or revolution to overthrow it. I choose revolution. How about you?