I have always been a political junkie. Predicting elections, having wild discussions with friends, keeping track of the candidates- it’s all been a source of fascination for me. Maybe, it’s because I come from a politically vivid family. Just to be clear, politically vivid is more of an experience than a definition. All in the Family was politically vivid – Happy Days couldn’t have come close. The new show, Brothers and Sisters ? – politically vivid! Reba? Not so much.
If you come from a politically vivid family, you know exactly what I mean. You know what it is like to sit around a dinner table and be caught up in windy arguments about why the Democrats should take over the House – or why a possible smoking ban would help the city – or not. But, let’s face it, when it comes to national politics, hot confrontations can often limp along to the final answer to the nations challenges. “What this country needs is a third party!”
Yep, that’s what this country needs all right!
Since we all love to think that there are “two kinds of people” – let us try this:
Thirds – those in favor of the creation of a third party- they believe that the development of such will solve a host of evils. We know the country will not be able to unravel the complicated mess we are in because our two parties are bought and paid for by -special interests, corporations, or friends of the Bush brigade – so let us create a party that is new, clean, has no dishonesty inherent in its goals, candidates, or ideology.
Non-Thirds – those who would never give a third party a thought. The creation of this kind of entity would be a mark of disloyalty to their party (Democratic or Republican) mom and dad, or their pals at the local bar.
Who are you, between the two? Where do you fit?
Now, it has often been shown that third parties tend to become spoilers in elections. America has held on to the two party concept throughout its history. Unlike other countries, that have many parties, Americans hold the two party system near and dear. That is because our two parties, though, more partisan than ever, still believe in the Constitution, our legal system and the basic tenets in which this country’s founding fathers set forth. The ideologies might be different – but the foundations are the same.
What is a spoiler? I am not talking about finding out a piece of gossip about a soap opera star before it is announced to the public – no. Merriam Webster Online defines it this way, “one (as a political candidate) having little or no chance of winning but capable of depriving a candidate of success.” Hmmm!
Let’s look at these two examples and then I would like to know if a “spoiler” or a third party really meets the goals of solving the problems it might set out to accomplish. Is a third party supposed to be a spoiler? If so, is there really a point to all of the hot air that goes into the creation of one?
1) It is a presidential election year. The country is in chaos. The Republican and Democratic candidates are so similar that citizens are at a loss. For the past five years, a charismatic, young, politician from the Midwest has been voicing his ideas to the wonderment of the American people. Because of deeply held personal beliefs this public figure is not acceptable to either party. A group of wealthy Americans step forward who have deep pockets to back him. He crisscrosses the country, making speeches and becoming a rock star to the crowds. Does he fit the profile of a spoiler?
2) A past United States president decides to oppose the incumbent president of his own party because of his dislike for the policies the incumbent has set forth. They are of the same political party – but at the convention he is turned away for the incumbent. Determined, he decides to start his own party and run against the incumbent and the candidate from the other party as well. Spoiler? You tell me!
Like all political experiments -this one is not black or white. Politics is a gray area and that is why we are so captivated by the stories, events, and personalities. They are filled with ambiguity. So is our world. So, you tell me, spoiler, hero, or fool?