Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Maybe it depends on how you understand a “win.” Or just “progress.” If it demands dramatic and relatively rapid successes, then by that understanding of “win,” the kind of persistence and patience required in creating, developing, evolving, maintaining, growing something different won’t be appealing. Actually, by that understanding of “making progress,” there’s really no point in making an effort outside the established norm. Simply live with “this is just the way things are.”
“Third parties” are largely judged by this kind of criteria. Two related factors that can be in play: the basic desires to 1) vote for a “winner” and 2) have an uncomplicated either / or choice.
The very fact that “third party” is the term usually employed to describe everything except the Duopoly is telling in itself. When people actually work and run and vote for “third parties,” wherever they fall on the political continuum, they’re very definitely engaging in “fighting the system” actions. I, of course, think that’s a very good, healthy and essential thing for our political and governance systems..
When, as is the norm in the MSM, you can find little to nothing about anything but the Democratic and Republican parties, one good place to check out is Independent Political Report, which
… is dedicated to covering America’s third parties and independent candidates, and providing a forum for the intelligent discussion thereof.
A PEW Research report from last month included this:
Idea of Third Political Party Still Popular
A majority of Americans (57%) agree that there should be a third major political party in addition to the Democrats and Republicans. This is on par with levels of support for a third party in 2008 and 1996, but higher than in 2000 and 2004.
And while the PEW poll shows a majority of Americans think a third party is needed, a July 6 released GALLUP Poll provides some additional insight into this 2012 moment specifically in Little Support for Third-Party Candidates in 2012 Election. Putting that with the PEW report, I think the result might be, “third parties are a good idea, just not for this election. And probably not the coming mid-terms, either. And then we’ll need to wait until after the next general. But it’s a good idea, someday.”
U.S. registered voters show limited support for third-party candidates this year, with the vast majority preferring Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. A June 7-10 Gallup poll asked a special presidential preference question, listing three third-party candidates in addition to Obama and Romney.
Third-Party Vote Likely Helps Obama
With Gallup’s daily horse-race ballot generally showing a competitive race between Romney and Obama – the two are tied at 46% of the vote among registered voters since Gallup began its tracking program in April – it is interesting to note that much of the third-party vote seems to be coming at Romney’s expense. Romney’s 40% share of the registered voter total in this ballot format in the June 7-10 survey is significantly below his average in tracking to date, while Obama’s 47% vote share is more in line with his typical performance. …
For another take, this op-ed piece via the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
The independent party’s over …
Third parties have a long history in this country, without ever gaining enough influence and stature to truly change government. Today, with the astronomic cost of running for office, third parties have even less chance of competing. …
The most recent example of the fate of American third parties came when the well-financed Americans Elect was unable to persuade a candidate to take up the group’s invitation to run for president. …
Political analysts noted that to break the iron grip of the two major parties, a third party needs to be associated with either a compelling cause or a candidate who can stir the masses. Just using technology and gaining access isn’t enough.
I’m not sure how much more “compelling” things would have to get for a “break the iron grip” moment to arrive, not when looking at the economy, unemployment, wars, petroleum industry pipelines and off-shore drilling, climate change (for those who accept the science), health care, foreclosures, etc. And while I certainly get that a candidate “who can stir the masses” could be a way to “break” that Two Party grip, there’s something a bit troubling about that, too.
Another perspective, via Columbia Daily Tribune, “Time is ripe for third-party test,” which is basically an endorsement of John Huntsman, but presents some general arguments for “third” parties.
In considering the huge challenges for “third” or “independent” parties, candidates and voters, maybe one other factor is in play: for many of We the Electorate, the “right time” for challenging the Duopoloy usually seems to be “after this election.” I keep wondering how many “most important election of our life” seasons, followed by a mid-term in which we’re either suppose to preserve or undo the results of the general election, we’ll have before enough people definitively respond to the fact that two choices aren’t enough, and that the two choice limitation is imposed by those it benefits. To some extent, we aren’t just playing the game we’re presented. We’re being played.