Advancing a Free Society

Resisting the song of the third-party siren

Monday, January 9, 2012

Every leap year thoughts turn, not just to love, but to a third political party devoid of the encrustations encumbering Democrats and Republicans alike. This year, leaders of a self-appointed group, traveling under the moniker Americans Elect, promise their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, one from each of the two major parties, will be on the November ballot in every state — even Virginia. They plan to host an Internet convention but reserve the right to exclude from their nominating process candidates deemed unworthy. The third party, claiming to provide a middle way, has proven appealing to certain Washington insiders unhappy with the Obama administration but also dissatisfied with those pursuing the Republican nomination.

Third partyism is tempting. In the American two-party system, to win elections a party must appeal to multiple, sometimes contradictory, constituencies. Democrats must satisfy job-hungry unions and anti-growth environmentalists. Republicans must resolve differences between social and economic conservatives.

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