More Third Party Piffle

Peggy Noonan says America is ready for a third party.

“Something’s happening. I have a feeling we’re at some new beginning, that a big breakup’s coming, and that though it isn’t and will not be immediately apparent, we’ll someday look back on this era as the time when a shift began.

All my adult life, people have been saying that the two-party system is ending, that the Democrats’ and Republicans’ control of political power in America is winding down. According to the traditional critique, the two parties no longer offer the people the choice they want and deserve. Sometimes it’s said they are too much alike–Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Sometimes it’s said they’re too polarizing–too red and too blue for a nation in which many see things through purple glasses.

In 1992 Ross Perot looked like the breakthrough, the man who would make third parties a reality. He destabilized the Republicans and then destabilized himself. By the end of his campaign he seemed to be the crazy old aunt in the attic.

The Perot experience seemed to put an end to third-party fever. But I think it’s coming back, I think it’s going to grow, and I think the force behind it is unique in our history.”

A lot of people believe this, but it’s pure piffle. You want to create a third party that actually appeals to people from both parties?

Ok, then I have one question: what’s their platform? It has to be something other than, “we’re not Democrats and Republicans.” So, what issues would they run on? Who knows because there is no such thing as a “moderate platform.” Most “moderates” are either people who break from conservatives or liberals on a few issues or people who just don’t know enough about politics in the first place to figure out what they want. So the issues that “moderates” support vary wildly from person to person.

So what popular “moderate” positions can a third party take that neither of the major parties is already taking? Moreover, political parties don’t get to just choose positions on certain issues and ignore the rest. So what is their position going to be on…

— Abortion?
— ANWR?
— The Kyoto Protocol?
— Iraq?
— The International Criminal Court?
— Allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons?

Whichever way they go on those issues, they alienate another block of voters and in the end all they’ll end up accomplishing is draining off enough support to cost one party or the other the election (Probably the GOP given most of the names that tend to be tossed around as third party candidates (McCain, Hagel, Roy Moore, Jim Gilchrist) lean to the right).

The idea that a third party is going to sweep into power is pure fantasy. In America, third parties are just viruses in the body politic that are capable, at best, of damaging the major party they have the most in common with.

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