Friday, February 20, 2004

Nader's IN

FOXNews.com is reporting that - Nader to Jump in Presidential Race. Apparently, thanks to the link from Drudge, there is a good chance he'll do it on Meet the Press this Sunday. I simply can't believe that this would be good for the Democrats. Perhaps President Bush will benefit from the same thing that caused his father to lose a second term; Ross Perot and his 3rd party enabled a two-term Clinton Presidency.

Could it be that Nader would do the same for the President? It's interesting that the last 4 Presidential elections (I include the upcoming 2004 race) could reveal that the winner has, or will have, never received a majority of the votes. There appears to be a desire for a legitimate third party in this country. The problem is that the only successful third parties in this nation's history have been populist in nature, and the Green Party led by Nader or even Ross Perot's cult of personality, Reform party of the '90's failed to tap into truly populist themes. The Greens are still too liberal for the average American and Perot was a bit too wacky and his main theme, economic stability and growth, had already begun to turn around by the time of the election. Not to mention the lack of confidence exhibited by Perot when he withdrew, then re-entered the race.

No, a successful third party would have to be in the middle. The Republican is the on the right, the Democrats on the left, only the middle remains. The opportunity is there for some organization to cherry-pick ideas, and presumably "interest groups." I bet that the vast majority of union members would go for a strong on defense, but protectionist candidate. One who won't be perceived as pandering to the extremes of either established party and who truly has "working Americans" in mind.

The greatest challenge would be to create an organization from scratch. That's why it would probably take a candidate who had established himself in one of the two parties to break away. John McCain is the obvious example, but there are others, such as any number of so-called Blue Dog Democrats. It would also take more than fielding a candidate at the top of the ticket. A successful 3rd party would have to simultaneously attempt to create state and local parties. It would have to be done on a broad front. Some states have recently had independent governors, such as Ventura in Minn. and King in Maine, who were relatively successful. Unfortunately, neither could really build a strong 3rd party even on the state level. So maybe it will be impossible, maybe one of the established parties will have to have a complete meltdown and then re-invent itself to appeal more to the "average American." Perhaps the United States can only really handle two parties. It's worked so far, but will it forever?

The cynicism that politics brings to the conversations of normal people can't be ignored. Americans are checking out of the political process because "politicians are all the same." The hold that the professional politicians have on our government is stronger than ever. It will take a genuinely thoughtful and charismatic individual to shake things up and reassert the ideals on which this country was founded. It may sound corny, but we really need to get back to a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Not one for the splintered special interest groups and the big money. Is this a pipe dream? Maybe . . . maybe not.

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