Feature

2008

Time for a third-party president?

George Wallace tapped into white, working-class anger in 1968. Ross Perot ran as a fiscal pragmatist in 1992. In 2000, Ralph Nader's anti-establishment campaign may have decided the election. And in 2008, it could happen again, said David Broder in The Washington Post. A new grass-roots movement is now mobilizing to field a third-party candidate to run for president through an electronic party convention on the Internet. The idea, say the organizers of Unity08, is to tap into the 70 percent of voters whom polls say are disgusted with both the Republicans and Democrats. These independent voters, the movement's organizers say, are sick of partisanship, and want leaders who will find pragmatic, centrist solutions to the country's problems. The odds against Unity08 getting its candidates elected are overwhelming, said Jonathan Alter in Newsweek. 'œBut funny things happen in election years.'

This is no fringe movement, said Kurt Andersen in New York magazine. Today, 'œalmost half of Americans call themselves moderates,' and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats speak for them. The GOP is now controlled by the 'œbackward-looking ideologues' of the Religious Right, the corporations, and the very rich. The Democratic Party is controlled by its knee-jerk anti-war liberals and its special-interest groups, and lacks the courage or conviction to present a real alternative. Most of us fall between the two extreme poles of ideology: We want lower taxes but no heartless gutting of safety-net programs; a foreign policy that's simultaneously muscular and multilateral; and reasonable compromise on hot-button social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The time is ripe for 'œa serious, innovative, truth-telling, pragmatic party' that will appeal to tens of millions of 'œopen-minded, open-hearted moderates.'

Thomas Friedman

The New York Times

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