Third-party possibilities: Unity and the media are the keys
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Third-party possibilities: Unity and the media are the keys

Washington : DC : USA | Nov 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM PST
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"We have a complete void of progressive politics in this country right now. The will of the people goes ignored and unrealized. I'm searching for the people that can enter the political system, a strong third party. We need to consolidate.”

-- Ani DiFranco

My first piece for The American Pundit competition was on the assigned topic of: What will it take for a "third party" to level the playing field with Democrats and Republicans?

In that piece and the follow up, I stated that a united third-party movement is needed, and I believe that Americans Elect (AE) could be the vehicle to bring together the various parties. Third-party supporters need to ask themselves: Do we want to continue to putter along, or are we willing to make compromises and unify people in various factions who don't support the two-party system?

By making compromises on certain issues, a platform can be crafted that attracts independents (and non-voters disgusted with the two-party system) who are waiting for a serious third-party contender. I noted previously that a unified third-party campaign did happen on a state level in the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Maryland, when Kevin Zeese was nominated by three different third parties.

I also previously mentioned that one of the problems with third parties is that they are still viewed as extreme to many voters. However, a platform that is balanced and embraces shared issues could be just the platform many voters are looking for: One that is just right.

One of the features on the AE website was a series of questions on various issues and on over 90 percent of the questions, I stood with the majority of the responses. A balanced platform could be achieved via this means and provide a sense of participation for potential supporters.

Presently, AE just has a thank you message on their site and states it will be back in 2013. While AE's slogan is "Pick a President Not a Party," what if AE were utilized to create a platform and forge a third-party unity movement?

The top three third parties which received the most support in the election were: the Libertarian (oldest third party at 41 years), the Green Party and the newly launched Justice Party. Being a successful two-term, former governor, Gary Johnson represents the best hope for a third-party candidate to have a major shot, but I fear that many voters don't care for certain aspects of the Libertarian Party. There are some flaws in their platform, which is why the time has come for an evolution in the third-party realm.

One of the most poignant political cartoons on the subject of Occupy Wall Street depicted Occupy Wall Street as Prince Charming kissing the sleeping Snow White as the middle class, and the Queen as the witch, representing the 1 percent, holding the basket of apples, which was labeled as the media. What will it take to wake up voters to the possibility of a candidate of Johnson's stature leading a third party to victory?

In previous pieces I laid out scenarios that could lead to Johnson having a legitimate shot, such as getting media attention which in turn would have boosted his recognition and raised his poll numbers, something that could have gotten him into the debates. It was most frustrating to see a candidate of the caliber of Johnson being virtually blackballed from the Republican presidential debates (along with the lack of media coverage) while less than stellar candidates made the cut. It was rather ironic that the possibility of an independent/third-party candidate being a factor in the election was covered by a number of political writers, yet Johnson wasn't taken seriously after he became the Libertarian nominee.

While Johnson had hoped to be considered a viable candidate and attract substantial support, he had to settle for shooting for 5 percent of the popular vote, which would have qualified the Libertarian Party for federal campaign funding and automatic ballot access in all 50 states. Unfortunately, instead of putting a crack in the two-party facade, Johnson only managed a minor ding by winning just under 1 percent. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate received .03 percent and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson .01 percent. On a side note; Libertarian candidates for state office were able to get the needed percentage of the vote to qualify the party for full ballot access in 30 states.

In a debate on the subject of the two-party system is making America ungovernable, Arianna Huffington teamed with David Brooks taking the pro side, while on the con side were Zev Chafets and P.J. O'Rourke. This was an observation from her post-debate piece:

"On issue after issue -- education, our crumbling infrastructure, the rising costs of health care, the deficit, the steady decline of the middle class, foreign policy (where the two parties marched arm in arm into invading a country that did not after all have WMD or pose a threat to our national security) -- our current two-party system has failed us. And the American people clearly want alternatives."

I found it rather sad that after trashing the two-party system, The Huffington Post didn't even provide a page for third parties. While The Huffington Post, which is the No. 1 online site for political news (No. 6 for general news), is known for being primarily liberal, they do have some progressive voices (and token conservative posts). What if they take a more progressive turn and lead the way in planting the seed of viewing a third-party candidate as a viable option?

"I wish nothing but good; therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor and a scoundrel."

--George III

Two-party insiders chuckle at the prospect of being toppled by a third-party insurgency just as King George most likely laughed at the act of America declaring independence. And honestly, as long as third-party supporters are divided, it's true: They don't pose a threat to the establishment.

If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November 15. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded in December.

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PaulHorton is based in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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