The Third Rail

So speculation about a legitimate third party is brought up again. It has been dismissed previously because of factors such as the difficulty of establishment, lack of sufficient enthusiasm, splitting the vote so as to give the opposition solidarity, and diluting the message of the constituency. Nate expresses an opinion thusly:

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/04/odds-against-third-party-bid-not-as-long-as-they-seem/

Nate comments upon Thomas Friedman’s continued desire prediction of a third party. Is a third party possible for 2012? Is one plausible in 2012? Could a third party actually be successful in 2012 or would it just spell long-term success for the Democrats?

Multiple parties can and do exist in other countries. Sometimes they do well. I’ll let Filistro comment on Canada’s system. But I suspect that given America’s continued polarization, we will continue to be a two party system. It’s us vs. them. The ultimate football rivalry. Bama vs. Auburn. Ducks vs. Beavers.

This scenario is perpetuated by everyone but I’m putting the majority of blame squarely in the Republicans lap. Their obstructionism, their solidarity of opposition to the elected administration, their absence from the discussion speaks volumes. They are the children at recess who, after losing, take their toys and go home. Despite that untenable strategy, they continue to impede the governance of the country and it is not a popular ideal. It has created a fringe element; an extreme conservative movement so far to the right that it almost comes back around to bite itself in the ass.

There may just be enough anger, dissatisfaction, and motivation to create a third party. Will it be successful? Depends. It will likely be successful for the Democrats. Now if only the Democrats could grow a spine strong enough to do something about it.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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35 Responses to The Third Rail

  1. filistro says:

    I’ll let Filistro comment on Canada’s system. But I suspect that given America’s continued polarization, we will continue to be a two party system.As I’ve said before, all countries tend to have what comes down to two-party rule, because we are all either right or left to at least some degree. Canada’s “other parties” are mostly protest or special-interest groups. They have influence and a bit of clout, but they have never governed the country.I picture the electorate’s left-right leanings as a continuum forming a bell curve with most people falling somewhere near the center line. So third parties either come from the extreme ends where they can influence their own side by withholding or bestowing their vote (See: Party, Tea…) or they come from nearer the center where the fat part of the curve is.A third party with any ability to form a government needs to be in the latter category. I think there WILL be a third party in America, simply because Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are destroying the current Republican party. By 2016, the brand will have been so damaged and muddied, the only recourse will be to scrap it and start over. The new party will be socially centrist or libertarian, and fiscally conservative. It will give a home to a lot of sensible, right-leaning folks who currently feel disenfranchised. And it will be a real power… but its effectiveness will be limited by the need to win votes by courting and accommodating the other right wing party, made up of wackos, bigots and religious nuts. The Democrats will remain, as always, fractiously united, but the ability to function as a single entity will give them an electoral advantage for several decades, until the older, more rigid and religious party on the right begins to fade into obscurity and the right is once more folded into a single party that will not look at all like the current Republican clown car.You heard it here first πŸ™‚

  2. Bart DePalma says:

    Greetings from Florence! Much better than Roma.A note on third parties this year. Rinos running as indies are taking votes from the Dem candidate. I would love to see a Bloomberg run in 2012.

  3. Lonely Wolf says:

    I was under the impression that this site would provide scintillating discussion with intelligent liberals. Hardly. This is nothing more than another standard issue piss-and-moan fest full of incestuous rants, paranoia, navel-gazing, and hatred of others with differing ideologies. No sense in me sticking around any longer.Adieu.

  4. shrinkers says:

    Anger may be a good way to drive up numbers in a “likely voter” poll. But it may not be enough to sustain a political party. But I think most analysts are looking at the problem in the wrong way:As to whether the Teapers have a chance of continuing on to 2012, a lot depends on what happens to them a month from now. Will the right wing corporate sponsors continue to see this as an effective advertising gimmick? It’s hard to say. Some ad campaigns can go on quite a while (how long have we been seeing the Geicko cavemen?)On the other hand, most of the Teaper candidates are going to fall on their faces. It’s possible two of the the following three — Miller, Paul, and Rubio — will the only high-profile Teapers in the whole country to be actually elected to anything. Will this tarnish the Teaper brand, revealing the Tea Party to be an unpopular product? Or will it help make the True Believers that much more rabid and paranoid? And if any Teapers do find their way to Washington, will the product be seen to be effective in cleansing dirt and grime? Or will the current consumers realize how vastly it’s been overhyped? Or will the corrosive nature of its toxic additives cause a public outcry against its further application?We shouldn’t be looking at the Tea Party as a political party. Even they admit it’s not that. No, it’s a new product line and advertising campaign for the corporate sponsors of the Republican Party. The question isn’t whether it is viable politically. The question is whether it is salable, and whether consumers will be able to stomach its side effects.

  5. GROG says:

    fili said:I think there WILL be a third party in America, simply because Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are destroying the current Republican party.To the contrary. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party have the best thing to happen to the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan.

  6. filistro says:

    @GROG… Sarah Palin and the Tea Party have the best thing to happen to the Republican Party So if the Reps did break into the two parties I described… one generally centrist but fiscally conservative, and one extremely far right on social issues, you’d personally cast your lot with the Sarah Palin “social cons”?

  7. filistro says:

    Bart, quit drinking wine and lolling in that glorious Mediterranian sunshine, and COME HOME!!We miss you. (Ow, it hurts to admit that…)b) (just testing… πŸ™‚

  8. filistro says:

    Hey, how come I didn’t get the cool dude with the shades? 😦

  9. Realist says:

    @filistro,You need to use a CAPITAL B to get the cool dude with shades like this B)Or you can just be a cool dude with shades like me. πŸ˜€

  10. filistro says:

    This is Bart in Italy… B)

  11. filistro says:

    LOL… I love it! Thanks, Realist…

  12. shortchain says:

    I’ve gotta agree wholeheartedly with GROG that Palin and the TP are the best thing to happen to the GOP since RR. Heck, since Teddy R.It all depends on whose metric you measure “best” against. My metric is in the sense that they are getting what they have long deserved.Up here in the north, we have had this third party stuff for a long time, and it’s worked against the Democrats mostly, but now it’s working against the GOP. Emmer, the anointed GOP candidate, is running a pathetic race against a so-so Democrat. Horner, who is an IINO (Indy In Name Only, who, like Bart’s other “Indy’s” is nothing but a jaded GOP retread) is sucking what little juice is left of the sane part of the GOP, leaving Emmer with the support of the TP and its fellow travelers (mostly the fundy’s, I think).So, if the rest of the country follows the lead of MN (more later on this), and IF this trend continues, the GOP will split and form a party of “fiscal conservatives” (actually right-corporatists) who will take some support from the Democrats but mostly just draw from that portion of the GOP base which was attracted to the pro-business policies the GOP used to favor.I do not think the rest of the country will follow Minnesota down this path, because, well, Minnesota is different.South Dakota, for example, won’t, because over there there never have been sane Republicans, not in office. The attitudes of the GOP base there have been for decades the same as the johnny-come-lately attitudes of the TP.Wisconsin is closer to Minnesota. I’m not familiar enough with the rest of the country to speak with any conviction, but I suspect it’s a moot point for the coasts, the northeast is closer to Minnesota, while the southwest is closer to South Dakota.Finally, I had to laugh at the idea that Democrats were going to “show spine”. Primitive multicellular organisms held together only by a tenuous and porous membrane don’t have spines. Does less well organized than a jellyfish ring a bell?

  13. Monotreme says:

    Haaaw, haaaw, haaaw, haaaw.B)

  14. DC Petterson says:

    I see three possible scenarios for a “serious” 3rd-party bid:* From the far right. If the Republicans nominate someone like Romney, then a far-right Tea-Party-like candidate such as Palin or Rand might jump in as a 3rd party alternative. The supporters would also be almost exclusively rightist. This would pull the official Republican candidate farther to the right in an effort to minimize the splintering of Republican votes. Moderate voters would have no alternative but to re-elect Obama. This would be a disaster for the Republicans.* Moderate Republican splinter. Tea Party supporters have proven skilled at throwing their weight into caucuses and primaries. It seems possible for the R’s to nominate a Palinesque figure. Their veep could be a moderate (in an effort to pull in the more traditional wing), but would more likely be a Huckabee or a Paulite. This opens the door to someone like Romney or Pawlenty mounting a third-party bid, trying to capture the center – and trying, not incidentally, to recover and restore a sane Republican Party. It’s hard to see such a candidate as being terribly effective, though, trying both to look like a maverick, and to not completely lose the far-right core of the modern Republicans. I suspect such a person would end up looking like McCain did in 2008, and being somewhat less effective at it – the “official” candidate would drain off the fundamentalists and social conservatives.In any case, I see Obama skating to re-election in this scenario as well. The “official” Republican candidate could be easily painted in an unflattering light (and would be, both by the Dems and by the third-partier), whereas the “centrist” Indie-Republican would be engaged mostly in an intra-party slugest with the official candidate. This would look a lot like NY-23, writ large, but with the labels on the conservative candidates reversed.Far Left challenger. The Democratic nominee will be Obama. Republicans may be having fantasies that an effective primary challenge will be mounted against him, but it won’t be. (Hillary? You’re joking, right?) There may, however, be some far-left challengers. They won’t do well in the primaries, but they may be able to get enough support to convince them to run as a third-partier. It could be a Nader-esque moment.This hypothetical candidate would more likely push Obama toward the center, than pull him toward the left. He clearly is a centrist, and is governing as one, and his political instincts show that is where he’s the most comfortable — and also that he knows this is where the majority of Americans are. But this is the most dangerous 3-way scenario for Obama, because a charismatic far-left candidate could conceivably splinter the Democratic vote. He’d have to recapture the Independents and not lose the minority voters and the youth — and that’s a tall order, with a leftist challenger.

  15. GROG says:

    fili and shortchain:Less than 2 years ago the left declared the Republican party dead. In a few weeks they’re going to regain control of the House and come within a few seats of the Senate. So yes, the Tea Party and Sarah Palin are the best things to have happened to the Republican party since Ronald Reagan.

  16. shrinkers says:

    @GROGLess than 2 years ago the left declared the Republican party dead. Have you ever seen a zombie movie? It’s exciting to watch those dead corpses stumble about, being mindlessly destructive, and often eating their own former friends! Great entertainment, and in the best movies, you’re never certain if civilization will survive, or if the world will be engulfed by the walking dead. And I’ve often wondered — if zombies did take over the world, would they be forced to eat themselves?My favorite is Shaun of the Dead. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s simply brilliant. And I love the ending.I don’t know why I thought of all that just now …

  17. Realist says:

    Hmmm…do we need to start throwing LPs at Palin?

  18. filistro says:

    Anybody else getting spanked by the “moderation” screen?It was all those smiley faces I committed, wasn’t it? Sorry…

  19. filistro says:

    This is the post I’ve tried and failed several times to post to Michael on the “barn burner” thread. I’ll see if I can sneak it in up here:@Michael… So, even ignoring the “love thy neighbor” principle, a simple “what’s in it for me” principle should have dictated putting the fire out quickly.This is truly one of those cases where abstract principle trumps logic, fiscal sanity and common sense.The principle is that anything other than the starkest, most literal form of individualism and personal responsibility is “socialism.” And the Tea Party is so opposed to “socialism” in any manifestation, they are ready to outlaw collective action of any kind including quilting bees, book clubs and bowling teams.If you can’t do it on your own, all alone, with no help from anybody</i… just forget about it. (Hmmm… maybe if she’s going to fit in with this new “rugged individual” ethos, Christine O’Donnell will have to rethink that absolutist position on masturbation? πŸ™‚

  20. shortchain says:

    shrinkers,I beg to differ. Zombies are hungry for brains. The thirst of the new GOP for Palin, and crew contradict that metaphor.No, I think something more along the lines of a primeval crocodilian creature which had the misfortune of having a tree fall on its head. Could be a long time before the thrashing stops.The GOP, as an intellectual entity, died in the Bush administration, but, like Reagan, was all but dead from the neck up in his second term.

  21. Jeff says:

    filistro said:I think there WILL be a third party in America, simply because Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are destroying the current Republican party. By 2016, the brand will have been so damaged and muddied, the only recourse will be to scrap it and start over. The new party will be socially centrist or libertarian, and fiscally conservative. It will give a home to a lot of sensible, right-leaning folks who currently feel disenfranchised.=============You may be right. My hope is that the Republicans will become a fiscally conservative, socially moderate to libertarian party. I don’t think you ever saw my response in a previous thread to your post about the TP, but I basically agreed with you that the TP Express is freeper and is fairly strong (and scary). But the TP is not a monolith, and has thousands of different groups. They are not all freeper!A lot will depend on what happens in November and in two years. If the focus remains on economic issues, the GOP will do just fine, as long as in 2012 we nominate a Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie. If it’s a Palin/Angle ticket, or if Jim DeMint becomes the king-maker, your prediction could come true. (And there’s no question in my mind where I’d be going). And there’s also the possibility that we could continue to muddle along with libertarians and the the wacko fringe. The Democrats did so successfully for years, with the Northern liberals and the Southern conservatives.One thing liberals really don’t understand about conservatives is that we’re not all paleolithic social conservatives and that many who are, don’t want to legislate behavior (with the prime exception of abortion, which has become a litmus test for both parties). (This is not to say that we won’t publicly say some behavior is bad or disgusting, etc.)I guess that as a conservative, I have more faith (and hope) for my side than you, as a liberal. That shouldn’t be surprising…..

  22. dr_funguy says:

    off topicI finally get my confusion about Fox News; even the name is a lie. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/10/ta100710.htmlIf there are not a news organization, what are they? Something truly abhorrent.

  23. filistro says:

    @ Jeff.. I have more faith (and hope) for my side than you, as a liberalAu contraire, mon frere :-)If that socially libertarian, fiscally sensible, “small c” conservative, non-corporatist party actually came into being, I might be tempted to switch my allegiance and support.However, I can’t see the GOP giving up its social conservatism anytime soon. Moral superiority is a powerfully addictive drug.

  24. marc miwerdz says:

    @ filistro: We already have a fiscally sensible,socially libertarian, conservative, non-corporatist party. It is called the Democratic party and we have to embrace it warts and all and try to change it from within so it better reflects our progressive ideals.

  25. filistro says:

    @ marc.. We already have a fiscally sensible,socially libertarian, conservative, non-corporatist party. It is called the Democratic party Hey… well said!!

  26. shrinkers says:

    @shortchainI beg to differ. Zombies are hungry for brains. Yeah, but that’s because they have none of their own, and can’t stand anyone else having them, either. They want to eat — and therefore, destroy — the brains. They’re not trying to get brainy themselves.Sort of what FOX does. You watch it, and it eats your brains.

  27. shrinkers says:

    @dr_funguy wrote:off topicI finally get my confusion about Fox News; even the name is a lie.http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/10/ta100710.htmlIf there are not a news organization, what are they? Something truly abhorrent.FOX is trying to create a corporate takeover of our government. It is an attempted coup. They want to have their employees in positions of power. It’s an interesting way to product a fascist government. Simply have important elected officials be contractually beholden to a large corporation. Their employer is supposed to be We the People. It’s about to be FOX “News”.Rupert Murdoch … “Tomorrow, the world…”

  28. dr_funguy says:

    off topicI finally get my confusion about Fox News; even the name is a lie. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/10/ta100710.htmlIf there are not a news organization, what are they? Something truly abhorrent.

  29. dr_funguy says:

    sorry for the multiple poststhe moderation software seems buggy

  30. Jeff says:

    shrinkers said:”Some ad campaigns can go on quite a while (how long have we been seeing the Geicko cavemen?)=============GEICO insurance has the gecko lizard. Capital One has the cavemen (actually vikings or vandals, not sure).Of course, you may want to argue that it’s the Republican Party that has the cavemen, but that’s an argument for another day…. πŸ˜‰

  31. shortchain says:

    Jeff,5 seconds with google: GEICO Caveman.It took you longer to write your comment…

  32. filistro says:

    The Geico guys were the metrosexual cavemen who got all miffed and offended when people teased them, right?So Jeff could be right about the similarity to wingers πŸ™‚

  33. Realist says:

    Is it me, or does all the above text have a rightward lean to it…B)

  34. filistro says:

    Is it me, or does all the above text have a rightward lean to it.Show-off πŸ˜‰

  35. Mr. Universe says:

    I’ve only moderated one comment ever. The spam folder doesn’t have anything new in it either so I don’t know what’s happening to your comments.

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