So You Say You Want A Third Party
Americans Elect is vying to be the new third party in American politics. It doesn’t yet have a candidate because any registered voter can sign up and participate in the process of choosing a nominee. All you need to do is be a registered voter. After the nominee is selected they must choose a running mate from a different party. Sounds like a great plan! But it is far from perfect.
Third parties have been around since at least 1832. They seem to spring up when Americans get tired of have two choices and so they “demand” new ideas. Politicians are happy to provide them, in the never ending search for power each possesses.
There have been very successful third parties throughout our countries history. The Progressive Party, headed by famous politician Theodore Roosevelt, gained popularity in 1912 when they endorsed woman’s suffrage on a national level. They were also on the cutting edge with racial equality. Roosevelt was seen publicly dining with blacks. The Reform Party, started by Ross Perot, fought for a balanced budget, against NAFTA and term limits for representatives and senators.
The last third party to get any electoral votes was the American Independent party in 1968, whose candidate George Wallace won 46 electoral votes. Due to recent law changes that reward all electoral voted to the states popular vote winner, the chances of a third party winning any electoral votes is extremely thin. With the two party system, run by the Democrats and Republicans, in power for so long that is no surprise. I think the one thing they can agree on is that they want the system to stay this way.
Up until 1988 the presidential debates were sponsored and set up by the League of Women Voters. In 1988 the LWV released this statement;
The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates…because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.
There is the major hurdle for the third party. These two parties have had a stranglehold on power for so long that in order for it to be taken away, it is going to have to be ripped.
What the third party also risks is handing the election to a certain candidate because they in effect split a vote. If the third party leans right center, they will take votes away from a Republican nominee. If they lean left center, they steal votes from a Democrat nominee. It happened with Perot in 1992, and gave the presidency to Bill Clinton.
So as much as everyone clamors for a third political party we need to realize what we get in return could be a president that is not popular, and at what cost?
Photo by QuartermasterGoogle+