United: A chance! Divided: No Chance!

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Third party candidates suffered a devastating blow in this last election. Altogether, they garnered just over 1 million votes nation wide. Compare this to Ross Perot, who in 1992, pulled over 19 million votes, and all third party candidates pulled almost 21 million votes. Of course Ross Perot spent over 60 million dollars of his own money on his campaign.

While 3rd parties offer a voting choice to Americans where they can get on the ballots, that is about the only positive comment one can drum up for 3rd parties today who are viewed by most Americans as little more than spoilers to one of the Republocrat (Dem. or Rep.) candidates. Ross Perot proved, as did Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 when he pulled 88 Electoral College votes as an independent 'Progressive' candidate, that Americans are willing to turn on Republocrats in large numbers if the 3rd party candidate has name recognition and addresses the failings of the Republocrats in a way that has meaning for voters.

Divided as 3rd parties are today, they have no influence on American politics except as potential spoilers. But their potential as spoilers is their biggest detriment used by the Republocrats to diminish 3rd party potential, preventing them from becoming power brokers in determining policy and election results. Each 3rd party is more defined and recognized by its differences with other parties than any common themes that resonate with voters. 3rd parties are divided, and as divided parties they have no chance of offering influential choice to voters or change toward an improved American future.

Uniting 3rd parties is a novel and potentially powerful idea. It has been floated a time or two at WatchBlog and a few other web logs during the 2004 election cycle, but, its time had not yet arrived. But, 2008 may be the time to assert such a collective 3rd party effort. But how could such an effort become plausible and is it even possible?

Uniting 3rd parties is possible if 1) mutual benefit to each of the parties can be demonstrated by uniting that cannot be obtained by remaining divided and 2) common ground can be found upon which they can unite without losing their broader platform issues and identity. The plausibility of a united 3rd party effort and platform will largely be determined by leadership in the 3rd parties learning a new term. That term is 'super ordinate'. If 3rd parties will learn what super ordinate goals are, uniting for a common purpose becomes plausible.

Super Ordinate Goals: The term is built upon the verb definition of 'ordinate' meaning [v] bring (components or parts) into proper or desirable coordination correlation; "align the wheels of my car"; "ordinate similar parts". Super refers to goals that cannot be achieved by the individual components, but which can only be achieved by the joining of the component parts.

Thus, super ordinate goals for third parties would be those goals that could be accomplished by uniting both their resources and efforts toward common goals that cannot be achieved by the individual parties. The common resources and efforts are relatively easy to identify. Each party has get out the vote departments, volunteer phone banks, fund raising departments, candidate selection committees, strategists, and most important, identifiable core constituencies.

The common goals are only slightly less easy to identify. All the third parties desire greater, easier, and less expensive ballot access. They all desire to be represented in public debates. They all desire the greatest possible visibility through publicity, advertising, and TV exposure both for their parties and their candidates. As of the 2004 election, common policy goals among 3rd parties present themselves. Greater fiscal discipline, reduction of special interest lobby influence in government, smaller federal government and bureaucracy, environmental responsibility, reversing trade deficit trend, depoliticizing the judicial branch of government, are all among the common goals major third parties can share.

The Third Party Super Ordinate Goals: The Libertarian party, Green party, Nader's independent party, Perot's former Reform party, and possibly others could and should establish the following super ordinate goals. Match Ross Perot's 18+ percent of the popular vote, capture a minimum of 30 electoral college votes in 2008 and 250 electoral college votes by 2016. Achieve parity with the lesser of the Republocrat parties in fund raising. Establish 3rd party candidate wins for state congressional races, governorships. Establish common 3rd party election machines in virtually every state in the union.

These superordinate goals will require power sharing as well as victory sharing throughout the states. But, that is not such an insurmountable task. There are states where the Reform party, with the support and help of the other 3rd parties, could achieve victories in certain states like Oklahoma. There are other states like Washington where again, with other 3rd party support, Nader's independent party could produce wins. And so on for each major third party.

The first requirement then would be for the heads of third parties to recognize the benefits for each of them and their constituents to reach out and join with other 3rd parties to create a third party super organization - lets call it for now SO (a super ordinate organization). The SO with representatives from each of the 3rd parties could divide up the states into target states for each 3rd party to win in. They could establish a common polling and research department which would use demographics, shared polling data, and historical results to roughly divide win states equally among the SO parties. In each of these states, all of the member parties of the SO would back the designated third party candidates for that state, pooling their resources toward that end.

In the states in which the SO determines the Libertarians have the strongest chance of winning, the Libertarian Party would stress their own party platform and policies in addition to the common superordinate goals and policies of the SO. In other states where other 3rd party candidates are running by SO decision, the Libertarian party would sell their constituents on the other 3rd party candidate based on the common SO established policies, issues and superordinate goals while minimizing the platform differences with their other 3rd party partners. In this fashion, each party remains true to its core platform issues while supporting the common effort of increasing 3rd party brokering power with the Republocrat's constituencies.

In just such a concerted effort, 3rd parties can and would increase their victories, educate the populace to the validity and need for viable, strong, and growing 3rd party influence, and wrest some measure of control over the electoral process from the Republocrats, which is essential to the future of 3rd party existence. Barriers to debates, Fed. Election Commission regulation, as well as ballot and media access could be greatly reduced and lowered, which would benefit all of the major third parties, as well as the American people by promoting true competition of ideas and policies in our electoral process.

I wish to thank Anthony Partin of San Marcos, Texas for raising this issue as a topic deserving of a thoughtful examination in public forums. This article is copyrighted by David R. Remer who is available for further examination of this topic via drremer@gvtc.com.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on November 23, 2004 6:50 PM.

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