Thursday, February 1, 2018

60% of Americans see need for a third party

Are Republicans Ready to Join a Third Party? - The New York Times - Juleanna Glover:

January 28, 2018 - "At think-tank conference tables, over coffee at the Senate Chef and at the incessant book parties on the Washington social circuit, disaffected Republicans are wondering whether, if they came up with a truly great candidate, they could jump-start a new party, just as the original Republicans did in the 1850s.

"And if surveys have any truth to them, plenty of Americans are ready to join them. A September Gallup poll found 61 percent of American voters support the idea of a third major political party, the highest level of support Gallup had ever recorded. Young voters seem especially eager to junk the two-party system; NBC reported in November that 71 percent of millennials want another choice."

"In a world in which Alabama voters elected a Democratic senator, all kinds of previously unimaginable possibilities make a new kind of sense. A third-party presidency in 2020 is no less likely today than the prospect of Donald Trump’s election appeared to be two years ago.

"A viable third-party candidate — say, someone with credibility inside one of the parties who bolts from it — would have appeal to voters across the spectrum. There are many Republicans wary of a second term for Mr. Trump, and yet right now they are entirely reliant on the Democrats to deliver a winning centrist candidate out of a primary process that almost made Bernie Sanders their 2016 nominee. A contest between Mr. Trump and a liberal Democratic candidate ... would leave the middle up for grabs. And a big contingent of politically orphaned political strategists, academics and donors would be ready to lend support....

"Abraham Lincoln was the last representative of a new political party to be elected president. He won in 1860 as the nominee of the anti-slavery Republican Party after he gained notice for his debates with Stephen Douglas during his 1858 Senate run. Lincoln lost that Senate race, but he became famous as a voice of moral clarity. Lincoln’s eventual win resulted not from a party affiliation but from the moral authority he commanded as an opponent of slavery....

"A popular, well-known candidate could co-opt a minor party and inherit its ballot access. But with money and expertise, starting a new party isn’t out of reach: The financier Peter Ackerman and the political reformer Kahlil Byrd led a 2012 effort, Americans Elect, that got on the ballot in a majority of states.....

"In the post-Trump world of American politics, there are all kinds of potential candidates who make sudden sense. Those quixotic enough to daydream about a new political party aren’t foolish enough to envision a candidacy driven by policy papers or party platforms. Personality and principles — either adoration or abnegation thereof — will propel the election of the next president."

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