Handicap the chances of a third-party run this year

Nader is making noises for a left-of-the-Dems bid. If McCain gets the Pub nom, I wouldn’t be surprised at somebody making a right-of-the-Pubs bid. We’ve already had speculation in this forum about Bloomberg and an independent centrist run. Then there are some small-to-medium third-party orgs already in existence – the Greens, the Libertarians, Pat Buchanan’s America First Party and the religious-right Constitution Party. Will any of these get out of the starting gate? Will any make a difference in November?

My thinking is probably not, except for a possible far-right-wing run which would take away more Pub than Dem votes. But this looks to be the most interesting and certainly the most protracted election cycle in living memory, and nothing should be ruled out.

Third parties run every year, so I’d say the chances are pretty good. Has there been a year in recent history when the Greens, Libertarians, Constitution Party, and Socialist Workers didn’t put somebody up?

As for a third party run that actually has an impact, I doubt it. I don’t see Bloomberg actually running. Nader’s probably going to run as a Green again, but his schtick has gotten old, and nobody’s going to pay attention to him.

No, but they never make a run worth noticing – like Anderson’s in '80, Perot’s in '92, Nader’s in '00. That’s what I’m talking about.

Defining “worth noticing” as “in a position to make a not unreasonable, even if not successful, demand to be included in the general-election debates.”

I’d like some ideas on who would run to the right, as neither McCain, Mitt, nor Huck will get my vote.

Depends, perhaps, on your definition of “to the right.”

I still wouldn’t rule out Ron Paul accepting the Libertarian Party’s invitiation.

Pat Buchanan’s paleocons aren’t going to find either nominee even marginally acceptable – they want the war ended; McCain’s a warhawk, so is Clinton, yet Obama is . . . you know . . . Maybe Buchanan himself will be the America First Party’s candidate this year.

I think this is a pretty ripe time for another rise of a truly populist movement. I hope not, there seems to be somewhat of a realignment going on with Republicans, and the social conservatives and nationalist conservatives are pretty disgruntled. There is a chance of a group like that picking up a lot of independents - the blue collar workers who’s jobs are being threatened by foreigners, etc. There seems to be a fair swath of populism on the left these days, too.

Have you listened to Pat Buchanan lately? If you didn’t know what team he played for, you’d be hard pressed to tell by his rhetoric. He’s all about the working stiff who’s losing his job, the rich fatcats on Wall Street, and the guy who’s wages are being pushed down by low-priced illegal immigration labor.

Huckabee shot to the top for a time not just because of his evangelical base, but because his populism hit a nerve. His other weaknesses sank him, but the populism resonated through a swath of Republicans.

Can a third party like that win? I doubt it. In the end, the public seems to reject it. Perot ran a populist campaign and picked up a significant chunk of society, but ultimately imploded because of his colorful behaviour (he was a lunatic).

I wonder what would have happened had Perot been a truly captivating figure - someone with real presence.

Bloomberg looks like the only possible contender right now, but he won’t be running to the right of McCain if he runs. He’ll try to drive right down the center between McCain and Obama.

Why? Is populism dangerous in some way?

If the matchup were Hillary versus Mitt, I’d say Bloomberg would seriously consider getting into the race as a none-of-the-above candidate.

But since I think a Hillary-vs-Mitt matchup is unlikely, I also think it is unlikely that Bloomberg will enter.

Bloomberg is the only potential candidate I can see who might be able to mount a serious campaign.

And there’s the Democratic base, at least for this year.

You think those are different factions?

No, nor have most Americans. He’s an air-time-filler, nothing more. Why do you think he represents the views of any significant number of voters?

IOW, the same old racist/xenophobic/nativist crap he’s been spewing for years. Nothing new here.

Nope. He was a single-issue candidate, focused on balancing the budget. He succeeded very well, in the way American third-party candidates can and sometimes have, by getting that issue coopted by one of the major parties. The Democrats have been the party of fiscal responsibility ever since. The other kind of third-party candidate, one who runs on ego rather than a single issue that the majors have neglected, does not attract much genuine support other than the none-of-the-above kind, and does not have a lasting effect other than perhaps tipping an election to one of the majors. Well, there’s also the people who will vote for whoever promises the lowest taxes, and that always gets the self-styled Libertarian enough support to get mentioned, but no more than that - most of us US voters take our responsibilities as citizens more seriously than that.

But Perot was populist? Only in the sense that he made a convincing case that a balanced budget was good for everyone.

Perhaps you’re just too accustomed to livinng in a parliamentary system, where parties come and go depending on issues, and with half a dozen candidates for top offices available. It doesn’t work like that in our officially-nonpartisan tripartite system, which essentially forces there to be two parties.

So why the longing on your part for something that’s just not in the nature of our system down here?

He’d be an ego candidate, not an issue one (see above), and overtly “readjusting” his views is not a way to get real support. The none-of-the-above people who went for Nader last time know the consequences of their irresponsibility now and won’t get fooled again. So who’d vote for him, and why?

Yes, Buchanan’s paleoconservative nativist populism is a different thing from left-populism, though the movements might find some common ground.

The Reform Party, which was somewhat significant while it lasted, was a coalition of paleoconservative populists and paleo-Progressives. (See discussion here.) It was in consquence rather ideologically incoherent and ultimately split into two factions – one of which, under Buchanan, went on to form the America First Party. I think a significant number, though nowhere near a majority, do find Buchanan’s views appealing.

Yes, I think right-wing populism and left-wing populism are slightly different, but they have large areas of overlap. Normally, their differences are enough to keep them in their respective camps, but sometimes when the populist sentiment overrides other differences they can come together into a voting bloc. Ross Perot got the Buchanan-esque conservatives and a significant chunk of Democrats as well.

Because he does. He’s run in several presidential elections, and there’s always a fair number of people out there willing to vote for the guy. Remember 2000? Idiots voting for him because they can’t read a ballot besides, he had enough real support to keep him in the news and keep people talking about whether he’d spoil the race for Republicans or Democrats.

I personally can’t stand the guy. But that racist/xenophobic/nativist crap is pretty strong on the left these days, as well as on the right. The difference with Buchanan is that he’s also now adding in ‘washington fat cats’, ‘big oil’, ‘Halliburton’, and other darling bogeymen of the left to his bag of tricks. It makes him come off sounding like John Edwards at times.

Also, if you don’t think there’s a strong xenophobic/nativist streak on the left, you haven’t been paying attention. For example, polls show that over 70% of Americans oppose amnesty for illegal aliens and want the borders policed better. Protectionist sentiment is also on the rise across all parties of the U.S.

Perot’s campaign was classic populism. He wasn’t just a single-issue candidate. He wanted to expand the war on drugs to protect the ‘good people’ from the destruction of their communities from drugs. He wanted to erect trade barriers to stop other people from taking the common people’s jobs. He wanted to stop outsourcing of jobs.

A big part of his 1992 platform was his ‘electronic town halls’ and direct democracy where ‘the people’ bypass ‘the elites’ and make their own decisions.

This is classic populist rhetoric.

That’s hilarious. Have you checked out what’s happened with earmarks since the Democrats controlled congress? Have you added up the cost of Hillary’s and Obama’s programs and promises? Either one of them would bust the budget big time.

Democrats have claimed the mantle of fiscal responsibility only because Clinton managed to balance the budget. But he did it because A) he got the 'peace dividend, B) The Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and didn’t let him pass anything, C) Hillary Care got shot down, and D) the tech bubble saw government revenue explode.

Apparently you don’t remember the Perot campaign of 1992. It was all about ‘the little guy’, and how the elites were taking over, and how Perot represented an outside force in support of the common American, and how he was going to put power back in the hands of the people, and let them run the country, etc.

You say his single issue was balancing the budget, but in fact his biggest issue was trade protectionism. He opposed NAFTA and wanted new barriers to ‘protect American Jobs’. His 1996 campaign was all about trade and isolationism, the deficit having receded as an issue.

Also, getting to what I said about Populism cutting across parties - when Perot’s coalition broke up, Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader got about equal numbers of of Perot’s followers. Pat’s a right-wing populist, and Ralph is a left-wing populist.

I did not say I was longing for a 3rd party. I just said I thought the time was ripe for a 3rd party - no incumbent running, candidates on both sides who do not have the support of large sections of their own party, etc. Plus, a populist message resonates when people feel threatened by powers beyond their control, and these days a lot of people feel that way.

I don’t like populism. I don’t like people who try to divide the world into ‘us’ vs’ ‘them’ and then claim the mantle of the defender of ‘us’. I don’t like the simplistic soundbite rhetoric (“Putting people first”, “Taking back the government”, “Telling the fat-cats who’s in charge now”, “Protecting American Values”).

In the current race, John Edwards and Mike Huckabee overtly appealed to populist sentiment. Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly are both populist blow-hards, and are both currently very popular.

If there’s a third party, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see it be overtly populist.

You and BG are reading more into his support than is warranted. His “party” disappeared quickly along with him, its only other candidate with any real support getting in on the none-of-the-above vote combined with the comic-relief vote. But they never stood for anything but balancing the budget.

Now? On what evidence? He’s kept himself on TV because he’s an insider in that business, not because he represents a constituency. There is no solid reason to believe otherwise.

Then how about an example or two, not a mere tu quoque? On what evidence do you base that slander? :dubious: If you mean the now-failed Edwards, as your following statements suggest, where do you make the leap from “‘washington fat cats’, ‘big oil’, ‘Halliburton’” to “racist/xenophobic/nativist”? :dubious: Come on now, you need to do better than that.

Cite for the first, and logical connection for the second?

One issue was at the center of his campaign. Having position statements does not imply commitment to or interest in them. What did he spend the bulk of his debate time and the bulk of his advertising on?

Remember who gave us the surplus, and who put us in the worst debt we’ve ever had? Take the filters off.

Only if the Republicans’ looting of the Treasury isn’t reversed. That’s part of the package too, ya know.

Well, there you go. Next?

Right, he didn’t start any grand follies of wars and pay for them on credit. Next?

Compared to the fiscal responsibility they showed under Reagan/Bush 1? Hah. Next?

It included funding mechanisms. What recent Republican “innovation” has had any such a thing other than the magic of tax *cuts * for the rich?

Indeed, the increased availability of credit caused by the reduced government demand for it allowed great economic expansion.

As a local sports talk show host likes to say, “You’re *making * my point!”

Puhleeze. I was actually here.

The point is that, in the US, other than in the realignments preceding the Civil War, the time has *never * been ripe for a third party. Never. The reasons are embedded in the structure of our system. The time has often been ripe for forcing the parties to coopt issues that both have avoided for too long, though - that’s the role that third party candidacies play, and the only one they play other than to make none-of-the-above people come out to vote instead of just staying home.

That would be fine if the “thems” were equally altruistic and communitarian. You overlook that populism is fundamentally a *reaction * to a feeling of being abused, when it’s gone on for too long and to too great an extent. The programs a populist expounds are essentially defensive and protective, not vindictive - the purpose isn’t to get back at the rich, but to *defend * the “common man” from them. Your objection would make more sense if you recognized such divisiveness, such lack of concern for "the little people (who pay taxes) " among those the populists offer defense from.

That’s what American campaigns, and American talk-show TV, are about. You ought to realize that by now.

FWIW, Cynthia McKinney is seeking the Green Party nomination – I just heard her interviewed.


But could you imagine how bummed the 2 major party candates would be in November if they lost to a 3rd party candidate? Campaign your ass off for almost 2 years and get put out by some Johnny Come Lately who didn’t show up until a few months before the election.

Why, that’d be like going undefeated all season and then losing the Super Bowl to a lowly wild card team.

Am I guilty of schadenfreude, or what?:smiley: