A MUSE – IS A THIRD PARTY VIABLE?

AUGUST 11, 2016

With an election coming up, especially given the rising dissatisfaction with the extreme partisanship exhibited by our two party system in Washington in recent years, I thought it might be an appropriate time to discuss whether a third party may ever become an enduring force in American politics.    In the past 22 presidential elections spanning more than 80 years only 3 third party candidates (4 elections) have received more than 3% of the popular vote.

1996: Ross Perot – Reform Party – 8.4% (0 electoral)

1992: Ross Perot – Independent – 18.9% (0 electoral)

1980: John Anderson – Independent – 6.6% (0 electoral)

1948: George Wallace – Independent – 13.5% (46 electoral – won 5 states)

In each year since 1948 (except in 2000) all other 3rd Party candidates combined received less than 2% of the popular vote. In 2012 the Libertarian Party candidate received all of 1, 275,951 votes (O.99%), yet it is now perceived as the 3rd largest party in the country. Two ex-governors, Gary Johnson (Pres.)  and William Weld ( VP), its candidates, are starting to gain more attention this year than in the past – which leads me to the question: what is a libertarian? I’m not sure many people know. Or care. But I think it worthwhile to know something about this possible future movement before denigrating it as just a bunch of crazies.

The term originates from the French word “libertaire”, which in French means anarchist, defined in Webster’s as someone who rejects the need for any government in society. Because espoused libertarians in this country are known to favor lower taxes and less government they are often categorized as hard right wingers. But when it comes to many social issues, civil liberties and defense policy, their stance is often attuned to the most progressive of left wing liberals. This philosophy, which does not fall simply into a right-wing, left-wing, or centrist category, confuses many who have only heard a self- professed Libertarian spout off on one particular issue or another. Being a small, relatively new party, its views have been coalescing over the years: some state party platforms are short, some long; some benign, some radical. Perhaps the fairest way to describe a libertarian today is to describe its 2016 national party platform, an obvious compromise among its many members. While it cannot be condensed into a few words, the platform is so much shorter than that of either the Democratic or Republican  parties it can actually be read in about 5 minutes. A copy for those further interested follows:

4 thoughts on “A MUSE – IS A THIRD PARTY VIABLE?

  1. Though I am now registered as a Republican, I’ve always considered myself closer to the Libertarian platform. I’ve voted for a number of Libertarian candidates in the past, but often end up voting against the candidate that I don’t like since usually the Libertarian candidates don’t stand a chance. I do believe we need some strong alternatives to the two main parties. I’m not all that happy with either.

  2. Well put in a concise list. I hope they endure. We are in terrible need of a third party in this country. The other two are not helping us in any way at all and have proven over the years that they only say what people want to hear to get elected.

    And I know many people who always vote on party lines, no matter who is running. This country is so screwed up now, it will take years to straighten things out, probably not in our lifetime, if at all.

    I wish the debates were open to all parties, big and small. It is very unfair the way it is, making people think there is no other alternative. It has to be Republican or Democrat, leaving the individual to pick the lesser of the evils. Whoever gets elected this time, I think their hands will probably be tied anyway because government is WAY too big! People will be bitching either way it turns out.

    Yes, I’m a registered libertarian and proud of it. I do look at each candidate running though, trying to decide on each ones merits who would be the better choice. Honestly I don’t like either one of them this time (from the major parties). I don’t discuss politics or religion on my blogs, however I did feel the need to say something here.

    It was Lee’s post on Linked In that got me curious enough to look at your site.

    Sunni

  3. Hello Valle, I have enjoyed reading the excerpt of your book. Have made my order, looking forward to the read. Not sure you will recall who I am. I am Lucien Stoner’s daughter. Yes, I caught the name in the preview! Must be nice hearing from hometown folks. Wish you much success with “No Commitments”. Happy Harry posted your info on FF. See Betsy’s posts, also. In reading the replies, there are names I remember from hanging around as a kid. Regards to your family. Wishing you great success. Linda Hamra

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