Sunday, July 1, 2007

Third party madness? Get ready for 2008 free-for-all

It isn't easy being a politician on the national level these days. Nobody thinks they are doing a good job.

The numbers vary depending on the poll, but the approval ratings of the president and those serving in Congress are hovering around 25 percent.

Given how low the ratings are, 'hovering' may not be the best choice of verbs because these folks are barely keeping the government off the ground in most people's eyes these days.

Simply put, people do not like the direction our elected officials are taking us.

These numbers are especially important because the presidential race of 2008 is under way. There is no clear cut favorite in either the Democratic or Republican parties, and if these poll numbers are to be believed, candidates who serve in Washington have some big black marks against them.

After all, if approval ratings are this low, how are any presidential candidates serving there going to run on their records with any pride?

Of course, not all candidates are serving in Washington right now, but the frustration being felt by most voters is being directed toward just about everybody who is trying to win their vote.

Most people do not have confidence in either the Democrats or Republicans right now.

So, with a national election just around the corner, where do voters turn?

Next year's election may be the first time in a while where a third party candidate can make an impact.

A third party candidate really has not had a major impact since Ross Perot won 19 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 election. Though he did not win any electoral votes, he definitely gave voters an outlet who did not want to vote for either the first President Bush or Bill Clinton.

Since then, there have been other third party candidates who have had smaller impacts. Perot ran again in 1996 and got nine percent of the vote. Also, Ralph Nader got 2.7 percent of the vote in 2000.

To this day, some Democrats fume at Nader because they feel he took votes away from Al Gore in the most controversial presidential election in our history.

Those criticisms still make me laugh. Why do Democrats automatically assume those voters would have voted for Gore if Nader had not been available?

If those voters felt the Democratic Party was the best choice, wouldn't they have ignored Nader? It is obvious those voters thought Nader was the best choice, and there is no guarantee they would have even voted if he was not on the ballot.

It is almost as if the Democrats feel like they were entitled to those votes.

Of course, the door swings both ways on this issue. Back in '92, some Republicans echoed many of the same complaints when they believed Perot took votes away from President Bush, which paved the way for President Clinton’s win.

This sense of entitlement borders on arrogance that infuriates most voters.

For these reasons, the stage is set for a significant third party candidate next year.

Who could it be?

Lately, most of the speculation has centered on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. At this point, Bloomberg appears to be a classic political opportunist.

He was a Democrat before his 2001 mayoral run and at that point switched to the GOP. Then, a few weeks ago, he dumped the Republicans with many speculating that he will run for president as an independent. Given how negatively folks are viewing the two major parties, his defection appears to be a savvy move.

Since he is a billionaire, he will have the deep pockets necessary to fight the Democrats and Republicans.

Also, Nader has been making noises that make him sound like he is preparing to run again. He recently made the political talk show rounds in which he ripped Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to shreds.

Regardless of who it is, look for that candidate to make his move early next year. Because the Democrats and Republicans have both streamlined the primary process to the point that it is almost irrelevant now, both parties should have decided their nominees by next February.

At that point, other candidates could emerge from everywhere.

And then the race will really begin.


scooter libby said...

What are you talking about? I love Republicans. They are great. This is my lucky day!

Joltin' Django said...

When it comes to third-party candidates, what America needs is someone like ... OPRAH! She's so you-know-whatin' smart; she'll tell us what to do!!!

Chris said...

"what America needs is someone like ... OPRAH!"

I think you're on to something. Maybe she can tell us more about her 'va-jay-jay' (watch 'Talk Soup' on E! to get the reference).