A Third-Party Opportunity in 2004?

Email Print

It's difficult to know whom to despise more these days, conservatives
or liberals. Boy George, the compassionately conservative and hopelessly
tongue-tied occupant of the White House, did us the favor of cutting
our taxes while simultaneously saddling us with a metastasizing
federal government and the worst military quagmire since Vietnam.
On the opposite side of the political divide, we are being asked
to choose among a bevy of Democratic contenders who are unanimous
in their commitment to repeal the Bush tax cuts while begging
the hapless UN to somehow bail us out of the mess in Iraq. From
the towering, gaunt, and gangly John F. Kerry who bears an unfortunate
resemblance to the corpse-like Edmund Muskie, a Democratic hopeful
in 1972 who self-destructed on the campaign trail, all the way down
to the freakish Dennis Kucinich who resembles a mutant from a different
solar system more than he does a flesh-and-blood human being, each
candidate is more dispiriting than the next. The most anti-war among
them, Kucinich, is the most socialistic of the lot, while the most
amusing, Al Sharpton, is also the most unelectable for a host of

Whether or not Bush emulates his father and fails in his bid for
a second term in 2004 depends primarily on the state of the U.S.
economy and the body bag count out of Iraq. Most elections turn
on the economy as most voters are swayed by pocketbook issues, and
current data indicate that George the Incumbent will have a stronger
economy to run on next year. Still, if the situation in Iraq gets
uglier before it gets better and more middle class Americans turn
against the war, Bush could have a problem on his hands, notwithstanding
better economic news. Among the Democrats, Howard Dean appears to
be the only one feisty enough to fire up his liberal troops and
make a serious run against Bush. For libertarians, a tight race
between the Tweedle Dee Republican and a Tweedle Dum Democrat would
offer the best opportunity for a third-party spoiler role, with
the Green Party candidate pulling perhaps two or three percentage
points away from the Democrats, and a viable Libertarian Party candidate
(I emphasize the word viable) breaking the LP's one-percent
stigma and perhaps siphoning two or three percentage points from
the Republican tally. In a close state race (did anyone say Florida?
Pennsylvania? Tennessee? Ohio? Illinois?), these percentages could
be enough to deprive both major candidates of a critical state in
the drive for electoral votes.

To be sure, depriving Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum of a victory
only ensures the election of his major party opponent and hardly
constitutes a victory for Libertarians — or Greens either, for that
matter. But in the absence of real victory (an impossible dream
under our two-party system, particularly in the current political
climate), playing the role of a successful political spoiler is
a door prize worth fighting for. First of all, it's fun, and since
we're being taxed to death to support this creaky, aging, tottering
Republic of ours, we might as well extract a modicum of fun in return.
In other words, if the bastards are going to tax us, they should
at least entertain us while they're doing it. Even the Romans had
bread and circuses in their sorry excuse for a Republic,
and it's time to bring on the clowns in twenty-first century America.

Second, and perhaps more important, true spoilers get noticed
by everyone; the liberals have still not forgiven Ralph Nader for
(arguably) tilting the balance to the Bush camp in the last quadrennial
extravaganza, and the LP would bring down the wrath of the entire
Republican establishment if it was the difference between victory
or defeat for Bush in a critical state. For this to happen, the
LP needs a candidate with genuine star power and an uncompromising
message — end the war against Iraq now; end the war against drugs;
reform the tax code and scale back government; privatize social
security, health care, and other so-called entitlement programs.
For too many years, the LP has been fielding candidates who sound
like they belong to the classical liberal wing of the Republican

time to get radical! To make some noise! To hammer home an uncompromising
message! And to have some fun while we're doing it!

7, 2003

Tuccille [send him
is the author of 21 books, including It
Usually Begins With Ayn Rand
, It
Still Begins With Ayn Rand
, and most recently of Alan
, a biography of Fed chairman Alan Greenspan.


Email Print