On Thursday, GOP primary candidate Jon Huntsman publicly called for the rise of a third party in just one of many recent attacks on the current GOP field.
From all spectrums of the conservative meter, Republicans are dissatisfied with primary results. Governor Paul LePage of Maine, a Tea Party extremist, said on Saturday that GOP candidates have broken Ronald Regan’s rule in speaking ill against fellow candidates and that they “have injured themselves and injured the party.”
This bickering and disagreement is nothing new in politics. This year, we have seen some of the most volatile, polarized politics to date. Congress has acted more like their parliamentary counterparts in foreign lands by voting in rigid blocs and putting questions to the ballot in times of legislative dispute. Eric Cantor, Republican House Majority Leader from Virginia, told the National Journal on Saturday: “On big issues – taxes and revenues and health cares – as the president himself said, we are not going to agree … that’s for the election.”
After three long years of congressional gridlock, the polarization between the parties has become even worse and a wild GOP primary race coupled with the transformation to an ultra-conservative Republican party has done nothing but enhance a public distrust of the federal government.
There’s no doubt the 2012 Presidential Election will be the year of the independent voter, but is it time for a third party? In Huntsman’s interview with MSNBC, he called for an “alternative voice” to “put forward new ideas.” He was quick to add that he had no intention of running as a third-party candidate but he predicted the candidacy was all but inevitable. Former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani told CNN last week that far-right positions on social issues [have] made the GOP look “like it isn’t a modern party [anymore].”
The third party is nothing new in the United States. Although third party candidates rarely ever have a shot at winning an election, they often have an effect on them. Most famous was the presidential run by Republican Theodore Roosevelt running as a member of the “Bull Moose Party” nominee in the 1912 election. This election, considered by many as a spoiler, had Roosevelt taking 27.4% of the popular vote, ahead of incumbent Republican William Howard Taft’s 23%, thus leading to the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson (42%). The 1912 presidential election has interesting similarities between the current political issues of today and those of 1912, including a monumental social concern (women’s suffrage), political corruption, a post-war economy, and much more. There’s a reason why there were five candidates who received 5% or more of the popular vote in the presidential election that year and it’s possible that today’s wide range of issues could initiate a similar field in the upcoming election.
Americans Elect’s plan to use an internet-based nominating process to field a ticket for the election in November is just one of the many ways this election could be the year of the third party, yet again. Whatever the field is, you can be rest assured that independent and moderate voters will be targeted, and maybe … just maybe, the result can bring our nation back together.
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