Friday, September 19, 2008

The 3rd Party Problem

Third parties have never really caught on in this country. We went from Democrats vs Whigs to Democrats vs Republicans. When you look at the multi-party chaos in countries like Canada and Italy, its hard to want too many parties on the scene, but someone to keep the Democrats and Republicans honest wouldn't be a bad idea. Unfortunately, the American third party movement has a lot of problems. The two biggest are that they are largely personality driven or prone to fringe politics. The only serious third party challenges to the existing power structure have come from a power hungry Teddy Roosevelt, segregationists like George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, and a Texas billionaire with a Napoleon complex named H. Ross Perot. When you look at the sorry state of the 2008 3rd party candidates, you can see there is no end to the two party system in sight:

Ralph Nader/Matt Gonzalez (Peace & Freedom Party/Independent)

Oh how far Ralph Nader has fallen... THE consumer advocate of the 20th century is now a shell of his former self, running yet another self-aggrandizing and ultimately self-defeating campaign for the Presidency. His fall from grace is not entirely his fault though. He's still blamed by many for Gore's 2000 loss, but lets be realistic, his 2000 voters weren't going to vote for Gore anyway. I myself cast my vote for him after Gore's disasterous pick of Joe Lieberman finally pushed me off the reservation. Since no one could have forseen just how bad George W. Bush would actually turn out to be, I and other Nader voters would have just picked a different 3rd party candidate for our protest vote. This time, he's once again abandoned the Green Party and is running as an independent in most states. Here in California he'll appear on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. Their Presidential candidate in 2004? Federal inmate Leonard Peltier (#89637-132).

Bob Barr/Wayne Allen Root (Libertarian)

What can you say about the irony of having a guy who tried to impeach President Clinton for a blowjob running as the "keep Government out of our lives" candidate? Libertarians, who may have goofy and utterly impractical political beliefs in a nation of 300 million people, at least used to have principles. This time, they've sold those out for a disgruntled Republican on an ego trip. To be fair, their alternative candidate was no better. Proudly bankrupt Mike Gravel ran against Barr after he was laughed off the Democratic primary stage. Harry Browne is rolling over in his grave...

Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente (Green Party)

Although she's never really spoken out on the environment, Cynthia McKinney would seem to be the only one on this list that is actually good for her party were it not for the personal baggage she carries around with her. McKinney, a former Democrat, was the first black woman to represent Georgia in the US House and prior to that, she pulled of the remarkable feat of winning 40% of the vote in a Georgia house race while living in Jamaica. McKinney made a name for herself in the house championing liberal causes like banning the use of depleted uranium ammunition. The wheels began to come of the wagon after September 11th when she made statements that seemed to support the idea that the government was in on it. Sorry Truthers, the same government that can't deliver water to people after a hurricane blew up the World Trade Center? No, they aren't that competent. She touched the real third rail of American politics when she dared to question our no-strings aid to Israel, which naturally led to unfair charges of anti-semitism from people incapable of distinguishing between the Israeli government and the Jewish people. After introducing articles of impeachment against Bush, Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice, slapping a capitol police officer, and wasting the House's time calling for an investigation into the death of Tupac Shakur (really?) her congressional career came to an unceremonious end in 2006 after losing a Primary runoff.

Alan Keyes/Wiley Drake (American Independent Party)

Alan Keyes has made a career out of losing political races and losing badly. In fact, in 2008 he failed to secure the Republican and Constitution Party nominations for President and instead formed another party of his own. So this third party candidate is literally on his third party of the year! Keyes has now run for President for three times and Senate three times, most recently being beaten by Barack Obama in 2004 when he pulled in only 27% of the vote. Following the loss, Keyes suggested we abolish the 17th amendment and the principle of popularly elected Senators. Keyes' political views can best be described as to the right of Atila the Hun. He famously stated Jesus wouldn't vote for Barack Obama because he is pro-choice and that gays are all "selfish hedonists" which yes, included the vice-President's daughter Mary Cheney (he was asked if he really mean this and yes, he did). Ironically, his own daughter has come out of the closet and is now a prominent lesbian activist.

Chuck Baldwin/Darrell Castle (Constitution Party)

No one can really be sure if the Constitution Party is in favor of the US Constitution or that of the Confederate States of America. Chuck Baldwin is a radio talk show host, Baptist preacher, and apparent white supremacist. He is a member of a Southern secessionist movement and appeared on a talk show where the host decried The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as "white genocide" for depicting interracial relationships. Need I go on? No wonder Alan Keyes couldn't win their nomination...

Honestly, the third party question is completely moot for me this year because I long ago signed on to support Senator Obama, but who knows what we'll be faced with going forward? A legitimate, sane 3rd party candidate not on a personal ego trip sure would be nice one of these decades...

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