Thoughts of an American Centrist

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I'll Believe it when I see it

There is much buzz among the moderate blogs and commentators out there about a possibly third party rising (see here and here).

My response: I'll believe it when I see it. The last time one of the major parties was supplanted began with the 1850's Republican Party gaining power (slowly), finally culminating in the election of Lincoln in 1860 (a year in which 4 parties captured at least one state), a scant 73 years after the Constitution. It's been 145 years since that date, and both parties are now pretty well entrenched.

There have been three times in the past century where a third party candidate has been able to capture a significant portion of the vote (1996 doesn't count, in my book).

In 1992, Ross Perot got some 15% of the vote, but captured no states' electoral votes. Not only that, it has been calculated that if George Bush got ALL of Perot's votes, he STILL would have lost. In 1998, Jesse Ventura captured the Minnesota Governorship running on Perot's Reform party ticket. However, I chalk this up to Ventura's personal appeal, not to a broader national revolt against the parties.

In 1968, George Wallace captured 5 states that would have gone to eventual winner Richard Nixon anyway.

To find a time when a third party last made an actual difference in a presidential election, we have to go all the way back to 1912, where the wildly popular ex-president Theodore Roosevelt split from the GOP to form his much celebrated "Bull Moose" party, thus dividing the Republican voters and handing the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

All this history doesn't bode well for those hoping for a major Third Party to rise up out of the ashes (perhaps originating in Phoenix?)

Like the title of this posts states, "I'll believe it when I see it."

However, this does not leave the moderate without hope. There are moderate wings of both major parties that we can support. (The Democrats have catchy names like "The Democratic Leadership Council," or "Blue Dog Democrats." Why can't John McCain and Rudy Guiliani form some sort of similar group with a neat name? "Rockefellr Republicans" is so 20th century!)

Flipping between the two moderate wings of the major parties may not give us the satisfaction of having a place to call home, but it also does not present us with the temptation to simply spurt party rhetoric for the sake of loyalty either. I can live with that.

In 1948, Strom Thurmund won four states. Again, had good ol' Segregationist Strom not been in the election, those states would have gone to Harry Truman, the eventual winner.


  • This is very interesting site... »

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:03 AM  

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