Saturday, November 06, 2004

Third Party Time?

According to an opinion piece in today's Miami Herald, the only solution to America's political polarization is a third party that stresses the importance of traditional ethics and family values, as well as the same economic, social, and foreign issues as the Democratic party. "The two-party system is the source of the polarization. People are being forced to vote on a specific issue that may fall under only one party's platform rather than a majority of beliefs that represent their lifestyle."

I agree fully.

The problem is that the Democrats and Republicans are so entrenched that the creation of a viable, competetive third party on a national scale is very difficult. Ballot access standards tend to be difficult for third parties to meet. Third parties are generally excluded from televised debates, and most media news coverage focuses on only Democrat and Republican candidates. Many voters are reluctant to support a candidate who, they believe, does not have a chance of winning, and instead choose the "lesser evil."

Legal changes which could support the viability of a third party include instant runoff voting, free TV airtime for campaigns, and fair ballot access and debate access standards.

Without these changes, we can look at history as a predictor of third party success. Over the last 140 years, only seven "third party" presidential candidates have earned electoral votes: George Wallace (46), Harry Byrd (1), Walter Jones (1), Strom Thurmond (39), Robert LaFollette (13), Theodore Roosevelt (88), and James Weaver (22). Only four third party candidates have recieved over 10% of the popular vote: Ross Perot (18.9%), George Wallace (12.9%), Robert LaFollette (16.5%), and Theodore Roosevelt (27.4%). The longest time any third parties maintained success were the Progressive Party (36 years: 1912 - 1948), the Socialist Party (28 years: 1904 - 1932), and the Prohibition Party (24 years: 1892 - 1916).

Without some major change to level the political playing field for third parties, we can reasonably expect another century of the same.

Third Party Time?


Exhibit:
Recent Third Party and Independent Presidential Candidates Recieving At Least 1% of the Popular Vote or 1 Electoral Vote

2000 - Ralph Nader, 2.74%, Green
1996 - Ross Perot, 8.4%, Reform
1992 - Ross Perot, 18.9%, Independent
1980 - John Anderson, 6.6%, Indepedent
1972 - John Schmitz, 1.2%, American
1968 - George Wallace, 12.9%, 46 EV, American Independent
1960 - Harry Byrd, .73%, 15 EV, Independent
1956 - Walter Jones, .6%, 1 EV, Independent
1948 - Strom Thurmond, 2.4%, 39 EV, Dixiecrat
1948 - Henry Wallace, 2.4%, Progressive
1936 - William Lemke, 2%, Union
1932 - Norman Thomas, 2.2%, Socialist
1924 - Robert LaFollette, 16.5%, 13 EV, Progressive
1920 - Eugene Debs, 3.4%, Socialist
1920 - Parley Christenson, 1%, Farmer-Labor
1916 - Allan Benson, 3.2%, Socialist
1916 - James Hanley, 1.2%, Prohibition
1912 - Theodore Roosevelt, 27.4%, 88 EV, Progressive
1912 - Eugene Debs, 6%, Socialist
1912 - Eugene Chafin, 1.4%, Prohibition
1908 - Eugene Debs, 2.8%, Socialist
1908 - Eugene Chafin, 1.7%, Prohibition
1904 - Eugene Debs, 3%, Socialist
1904 - Silas Swallow, 1.9%, Prohibition
1900 - John Wooley, 1.5%, Prohibition
1892 - James Weaver 8.5%, 22 EV, Populist
1892 - John Bidwell, 2.2%, Prohibition

1 comment:

job opportunitya said...

Captivating blog. I love surfing the web for the
type of blogs that you do. It had me on the edge of my
seat and I kept going back to again and again!
I hope you had a chance to check out my audio conference call provider blog.