Sunday, February 25, 2007


Growing a Third Party - David Broder, WaPo

While I appreciate the attention someone like Broder gives to the idea of a third party he's asking the wrong questions. He does note the selection process that Unity08 is presenting:
In a few weeks, they will outline provisional rules for their own nomination process, determining how candidates will qualify and how the voting will be conducted. The goal is to pick either a political independent for president or to form a ticket with both a Democrat and a Republican. Feedback will be welcomed before the rules are made final, he said.
But Broder doesn't dwell too long on this idea or even go into greater detail. Basically, the article is simply a cover piece of Unity08, bringing it into the public consciousness. Beyond that, there's nothing more. I would expect something better from a pundit like Broder but there you go.

My personal take is that something like Unity08 doesn't bring anything new to the table. Sure, it's a novel idea but it doesn't actually attempt to solve the problems of partisanship or getting genuine candidates elected. And to shoot for the biggest prize of all in politics, the presidency, when you have little to no public acceptance is absolute folly. It's a sure way to loose a lot of money and reinforce the idea that a viable third party will never be had. Now someone like Ross Perot was able to parlay his presidential run into a wider party. And the Greens and Libertarians have become mainstays on public ballots. But none of these parties are actually trying to change the way a party works. In order to make any serious gains as a third party you must break into the system first. But this is a Catch-22. If you can't get yourself elected then there's little chance of you changing the way the political system works. And if you can't change the way the system works then you can't open it up for future parties. So, the solution is, instead of breaking into the system, you must break the system. Aiming for the presidency first isn't the way to build a party, visibility perhaps, but not a party. To build a party you have to break into the local councils, state houses and school boards. The ways elections are held are primarily determined by the states, not the federal government. To break the system you have to start from the ground up. So something like Unity08 is a non-starter and while Broder doesn't come out and say it, the tone of his piece suggests that.