DO THIRD PARTIES MATTER?
THE MINOR CANDIDATES MAY NOT WIN, BUT THEY COULD CHANGE THE COURSE OF THE ELECTION
Ever since 1992, when the Texas billionaire Ross Perot H. Ross Perot (born June 27, 1930) is an American businessman from Texas, who is best known for seeking the office of President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962 and later sold the company to General Motors and founded Perot ran for President, independent and third-party candidates for office have enjoyed a resurgence in American elections. Perot got nearly 20 million votes that year, and his emphasis on the deficit pushed the Democrats and Republicans to work on balancing the budget.
This election year, the Green Party's Ralph Nader This page is currently protected from editing until (UTC) or until disputes have been resolved. and the Reform Party's Patrick Buchanan are trying to pick up where Perot left off. Nader, a longtime consumer advocate and civic crusader, and Buchanan, a former White House speechwriter speech·writ·er
One who writes speeches for others, especially as a profession.
speechwrit and television commentator, are both well-known across the country. And, compared with most minor-party candidates, they've been getting a lot of attention.
At first glance, Nader and Buchanan seem to have similar complaints about the two major parties. Nader says they're "converging more and more into a huge vested-interest money pot," while Buchanan calls them "Xerox copies of one another."
Both men criticize Bush and Gore for supporting the World Trade Organization, saying America's sovereignty is being undermined by international bodies controlled by corporate interests. But they differ on nearly everything else. Nader says corporations and the wealthy have concentrated "too much power in the hands of too few people." His top priorities: full public financing of elections and health-care coverage for all. Buchanan, by contrast, is running as a social conservative committed to making abortion illegal, eliminating affirmative action affirmative action, in the United States, programs to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women. , condemning homosexuality, and "making America a godly god·ly
adj. god·li·er, god·li·est
1. Having great reverence for God; pious.
god nation again."
HOW TO LOSE AND STILL WIN
While both candidates appear to be long shots, neither needs to win to declare victory. Under today's federal election laws, parties that get more than 5 percent of the vote for President qualify for a share of the public financing for the following election. Because the Reform Party won 8 percent of the vote in 1996, Buchanan has received $12.6 million in federal funding this year. Nader hopes to win 5 percent this year in order to build the Greens into a viable force by 2004.
The space in American politics for third-party efforts seems to have grown larger in recent years. In 1998, pro wrestler Jesse Ventura Jesse Ventura (born James George Janos on July 15, 1951), also known as "The Body", "The Star", and "The Governing Body", is an American politician, retired professional wrestler, Navy UDT veteran, actor, and former radio and television talk show host. won Minnesota's Governorship as a Reform candidate, thanks in part to the support of younger voters. And the Internet is making it easier for such efforts to reach the public.
Still, third-party candidates face many obstacles, starting with our winner-take-all system, in which several parties may compete for an office, but the only one that gets any representation is the one whose candidate gets the most votes. This turns minor candidates into spoilers, who draw votes away from one major-party candidate and end up helping to elect the other (see "The Year of the Spoiler spoiler: see airplane.
1. spoiler - A remark which reveals important plot elements from books or movies, thus denying the reader (of the article) the proper suspense when reading the book or watching the movie.
2. ," page 28).
But while many see a third-party choice as a wasted vote In the study of electoral systems, a wasted vote may be defined in 2 different ways:
Nader has already had an important influence on this election. In response to his challenge, Gore has borrowed some of Nader's themes, such as attacking big businesses. With the close race between Gore and Bush, the third-party vote for Nader could make a big difference on Election Day.
The man who launched his career as a consumer crusader 35 years ago by pointing out the dangers of a sporty but unsafe little General Motors car called the Corvair is at it again, running for President on the Green Party line. In his 1996 presidential bid, Ralph Nader refused to raise money and attracted barely 1 percent of the vote. But this time he insists he's serious.
Nader, 66, has a long history of public service, championing the causes of consumers, the environment, and economic justice. With his candidacy, he is advocating universal health care, environmental protection, campaign finance reform Campaign finance reform is the common term for the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics, primarily in political campaigns. , and action against urban poverty, and he is opposing free trade.
Nader is the first to acknowledge that he is not the best campaigner. Gawky and prone to long speeches, he is shy and painfully uncomfortable with asking people for their votes.
Patrick J. Buchanan
Patrick J. Buchanan, who shocked the Republican Party in the past two presidential elections with early primary successes in his Iow-budget, insurgent INSURGENT. One who is concerned in an insurrection. He differs from a rebel in this, that rebel is always understood in a bad sense, or one who unjustly opposes the constituted authorities; insurgent may be one who justly opposes the tyranny of constituted authorities. campaigns, is bedeviling the GOP again in 2000, this time as the candidate of the Reform Party.
Buchanan, 61, has vowed to "rescue our lady, America" from the "moral pit into which she has fallen." To do so, he opposes abortion rights, free trade, immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. , and U.S. intervention in foreign conflicts.
A fiery speaker and accomplished political strategist, Buchanan relishes the role of political guerrilla fighter. He is a host of CNN's Crossfire A multi-GPU interface from ATI for connecting two ATI display adapters together for faster graphics rendering on one monitor. CrossFire machines require PCI Express slots, a CrossFire-enabled motherboard and, depending on which models are used, either a pair of ATI Radeon adapters or one when not running for office, and his resume includes stints as a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and director of communications Director of Communications is a position in the private and public sectors. The Director of Communications is responsible for managing and directing an organization's internal and external communications. for President Ronald Reagan.
FOCUS: Third Parties Launch New Ideas "New Ideas" is the debut single by Scottish New Wave/Indie Rock act The Dykeenies. It was first released as a Double A-side with "Will It Happen Tonight?" on July 17, 2006. The band also recorded a video for the track. ; Teddy Roosevelt Takes on President Taft
To help students understand the role of America's smaller political parties,specifically how they contribute to the dialogue on key issues--and how a third party outpolled one of the two major parties in 1912, when former President Theodore Roosevelt took on President William Howard Taft.
* Are third-party candidates refusing to face reality when they run in an election they know they'll lose?
* What issue could offer a third-party candidate a real chance to win the White House?
* Would you vote for a third-party candidate for President? CLASSROOM STRATEGIES
Role-play/Writing: Have students write 200- to 300-word arguments explaining why Nader or Buchanan is the best candidate for President. Nader writers focus on "too much power in the hands of too few people." What is he saying? Buchanan writers focus on "making America a godly nation again." What does he mean?
Discussion: Direct students to the list on page 11 of the reforms first proposed by third parties. What do the phrases "giving women the right to vote" and "banningchild labor" say about America's values at the time these reforms were debated? Can a third party change the nation's values?
Web Watch: See the official Web sites of Pat Buchanan www. gopatgo2000.com/ and Ralph Nader www.votenader.com/
History Debate: Students can debate the idea that Theodore Roosevelt made a mistake in 1912 by running as a Progressive, splitting the normally Republican vote, and helping to elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Should citizens refrain from casting third-party votes if those votes might ultimately help the "wrong" major-party candidate? Or should they simply vote for the best candidate regardless of his or her chances? How might that decision differ if the U.S. were a parliamentary rather than a presidential-legislative democracy?
Web Watch: Log on to the Theodore Roosevelt Association The Theodore Roosevelt Association, (TRA) is an historical and cultural organization based in Oyster Bay, New York, open to the general public. at www. theodore roosevelt.org/For information on Taft, including data on the 1912 election, log on to the Internet Public Library Internet Public Library - (IPL) A project at the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies to provide an on-line, 24 hour public library, chaired by an assemblage of librarians and information industry professionals. , www. ipl.org/ref/POTUS/whtaft.html