Originally posted by kidflash2008
reply to post by The Vagabond
The only third party candidate to actually have influence on the outcome of the election was Ralph Nader in 2000. Had half his voters chose VP Gore in
Florida, it would be quite different now. I think the voters who voted for Mr Perot would have gone half and half had Mr Perot not been in the
Although I would certainly like to believe that wasteful third party campaigns are limited in their negative impact, I am less certain of that
There are effects less tangible than the distribution of the votes cast which are incalculable.
For instance, in the case of Ross Perot (who incidentally I do not consider a wasteful candidate since he stipulated that he would not run unless he
gained 100% ballot access and felt he had a legit chance of winning) there was an effect of mobilization of economics focused voters and spreading of
the message on the economy. It is impossible to know how many people were inspired to defect the Republican party by Mr Perot, but then couldn't bear
to "throw their vote away" on a 3rd Party Candidate, or conversely how many Conservatives might have been initially mobilized by Perot's message
but then decided that trying to defeat Clinton was more important.
Primarily I often wonder what would have happened if Perot's campaign had never gone on hold- if he could have won.
But beyond that I wonder what his impact was even if it wouldn't have changed the victor. I wonder how many dissatisified Republicans came out to
vote for him, but then gave coat-tails to Republican congressional candidates for instance. This is especially interesting considering the proximity
to the contract with America. What kind of butterfly effect would Perot's absence have had on that?
This is why I strongly support equal rights for 3rd parties and independents- because I believe that the ramifications of SERIOUS 3rd candidates might
in fact be positive from a centrist point of view (admittedly counterintuitive given trends in multi-party parliamentary systems, but not impossible
in the specific context of the American political landscape, which sees "polarization" where Europeans would see two relatively similar parties).
But it is also why I hold such disdain for relatively longshot outsiders like Nader, Buchannan, Badnarik, and even Ron Paul. They calculate their
moves based on the unrealistic prospect of winning (now or later, after spreading the message and acclimating the public to the idea of 3rd parties),
while completely ignoring the possible affects which they are far more likely to create, not only in such simple forms as Nader in Florida, but in
terms of the resources that get contributed to them instead of to major campaigns, the unintended influences of their actions on public perception
(the cheapening of politics, which I believe contributes to voter apathy, for instance).
By way of response to nunya13 and secret shadow, let me say last but not least, as I discussed in my OP, I am disgusted by their failure to seize on
the changes that they CAN accomplish.
3rd Parties ARE NOT representing the Americans who are not covered by the 2 major parties, because in a democratic republic you don't get to
represent people until you get elected. That's why the Republicans and Democrats ARE maintaining the oligopoly on political representation which they
introduced so long ago via the Australian Ballot.
It is almost as if 3rd parties refuse to understand the principles of ballot access, districts, and electoral politics.
The only thing keeping Ralph Nader out of congress is Ralph Nader's unwillingness to run for congress. And if he did it right and merged
environmental concerns with bringing money home to his constituents, he'd gain the clout to put greens into neighoring districts as well. 30
districts out of 435. 6.8% of congress. Support from 6.8% of all Americans. That's what the Green Party needs to exert influence in Washington D.C.
It's attainable. And they're emphasizing it and creating it the way they should be. They run on the expectation of losing and losing and losing and
watching for their numbers to hopefully begin to climb slowly, even while saying that there isn't much time to change our ways.
Ross Perot made perhaps a greater blunder. He ran for president again, after he'd gambled big and lost in front of everyone already. What if he had
run for Governor of Texas in 1996? What if a two term Governor Perot of Texas had been ready to run as the Other Conservative in 2004?
We'll never know.
The only practical explanation I can conceive for why 3rd parties act as they do is that they don't care. They could change and win small, but that
would shrink their fundraising base and their access to public campaign funds. They could fold into a major party and maybe have a coalition candidate
from their side win big. But then they wouldn't be their own party.
It as if the real goal was to provide the party officials with a high paying job that requires no results.