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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Thinking of 2008

(Corrections Made Below)
The Gun Toting Liberal got me thinking about 2008. He's working on a blogroll to pressure our politicians into being more inclusive of third party candidates in 2008, specifically in Presidential debates.

While inclusive debates are a start, they really won't do much towards changing our two party system, which has become self perpetuating. There needs to be a true third party started that isn't just running for President. Sure the White House looks good, but the truth is, if you don't control part of congress, you have little chance of accomplishing much.

A true third party requires two things to get off the ground, a recongnizable and respected political name, and boat loads of cash (as GTL pointed out, money makes politics go round).

I had hoped in 1992 when they founded The Concord Coalition that Warren Rudman and Paul Tsongas might start that party. Instead they formed a group that does good work on budgetary analysis, but little towards true change in DC.

They had the "street cred" in the political world to make it work, but lacked the cash, or desire to truly leave the system. At the same time Ross Perot, with deep pockets and not a shred of political credibility showed up as a "Reform Party" candidate.

GTL points out where Ross went right in his campaign, but he also went wrong in a lot of areas of organization of the Reform Party. His biggest mistake, in my opinion, was his lack of a message on anything other than the budget. His second biggest mistake was not letting anyone with decent political knowledge into his organization.

I've posted before that I think if a true third party were to start it may well be with the remnants of one of the two current parties. The Democrats have become so inclusive that the groups they are embracing are very likely to rip them apart. Illinois' Governor is finding that out as gays, Jews and blacks go after each other over an appointment he made. At the same time the Kosite "netroots" want centists like Lieberman kicked out for uberliberal replacments.

The Republicans have similar issues with guys like McCain and Specter who are too liberal in some social views for much of the parties religious wing, but appeal to many others for fiscal reasons.

If the far wings of both parties keep complaining of their centrists, it's possible to see defections from both parties, which would be good for us, if they would dedicate themselves to forming alternatives for the rest of us.

Time to get back to GTL's idea, the Blogroll provides a good starting point for showing how many people want to see a third party involved in the debates. How do we make that happen?

It starts with the League of Women Voters, who run the debates, but negotiate ground rules with the GOP and DNC before they ever get started. Pressuring them into including more canidates is the first step. Let them know how you feel about it by contacting them.

Thanks to Poser, who corrected me, the Commission On Presidential Debates is running the debates now, guess I'm getting old!

Here is a link to their Criteria for getting into the debates, from 2004. Notice that a "non-partisan group" decides if you meet the criteria. Now, I have no problem with #1 and #2 (eligibility for office, ballot access that makes winning 270 electoral votes possible), however #3, polls show you will get 15% of the vote, bugs me. I can't find anything on their site which shows the requirements from previous elections, but I'm sure it was lower than that number.

Second, we'd have to get them to revamp the format of the debates. I watched some Illinois debates, and 2004's Democratic primary debates with 8 people on stage, and they don't work. Instead a round robin "Debate Tournament" might be a better idea. 3 candidates at a time, one major party and 2 minor party.

Thirdly, they need to lose the negotiated format of the debates. Let the moderators pick the questions, not the candidates. The league should set up a series of debates, and announce the format of each (town hall, Q&A, etc) and range of topics for each. Let the candidates pick which ones they want to attend. Right now the candidates pick the whole debate, making it a stage show, not a debate.

That's my 2 cents worth on the idea of third parties and reforming presidential debates. If you like GTL's idea, go visit him, and the page for the new blog roll.

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13Comments:

Blogger Steven Tucker said...

Man, I love the idea - but the only way for a third party to get in power is to start locally and work their way up. We need a real political change from bottom to top.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

First of all, Sir... thank you for the link! I've reciprocated, of course.

As for your post, I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've written here. I'd also point out another area where Perot went wrong:

His choice for VP, Admiral Poindexter, I believe (?), was less than charismatic. He really wasn't a bad candidate, but he had very little appeal to the voters, fair or not.

As for the blogroll... you asked me to read your post before deciding if you should join. I need to make it clearer I suppose, what the agenda of the blogroll is:

We think more than just one Democrat and one Republican should participate in the Presidential debates. Beyond that isn't the business of the alliance/blogroll. In other words, you have ideas on how the debates should be conducted, but you agree with EVERYBODY on the blogroll that more than two people should participate, so you qualify completely to be a member - PERIOD.

See what I mean? We all have personal and different agendas, otherwise we wouldn't have Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and third party supporters on the blogroll, but we DO.

So yes, please JOIN THE BLOGROLL, both of you guys - you obviously DO meet the very simple qualifications apparently.

Thank you again, not only for the link, but for addressing this important issue. Blog ON, sir... and hopefully, I'll be looking for both of your emails to join the blogroll/alliance :-)

11:22 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Even if a third party fails it can influence the other two as the Populist Party did a little over a hundred years ago.

Another thing is that a lot of people, myself included, will not waste a vote on a candidate that cannot win, otherwise I would have voted for the Constitution Party candidates.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I'm making book now that the two parties will split into three (or more) within the next ten years. The GOP will become the majority centrist party (it already is under Bush.) The Dems will split into one or more green and socialist parties and there may be some who leave the GOP because it is becoming too liberal and maybe join the Constitution party or form another VERY conservative (maybe even reactionary party.) But the messy middle will muddle through as we always do. Any bets?

11:37 AM  
Blogger Poser said...

The League of Women Voters hasn't run the debates since 1987. They are now run by a bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is run by former chairmen of the two major parties. That commission, in my opinion, is the root of the problem.

A coalition of civic organizations formed the Citizens Debate Commission in 2004, and they are trying to take over the Presidential debates in 2008.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

POSER, Thanks very much for the correction! Must be getting old or something. Jeez.

Patrick, I've been predicting that for a while. Guess great minds think alike :)

GTL, I'll send those mails later today. Too nice outside to sit at the computer anymore (75 and sunny)

Shoprat, I've voted for a number of folks I wasn't totally comfortable with because they had a chance. Then I decided that was really a wasted vote, and now will vote for who my conscience tells me to, not who I think can win.

I personally think it gives me a touch of higher ground when arguing about a politician who may represent my party, but not me.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Sounds wonderful, all of it, CP. We'll look forward to getting that email when you are good and ready to send it :-)

I appreciate the clarification, btw. You really threw me off with that "League of Women Voters" thing... lol. I was thinking you had landed onto some sort of a "conspiracy theory" that the rest of us needed to know.

My reaction to it, and this might make you smile... was like "Wow. How in the hell did THIS happen? This is going to require some serious digging and should make for quite an intriguing post. I'll have to come back later when I have some hours to spend looking into how the League has taken the elections back from the Commission... wonder how CP stumbled upon this..."

LMAO!!!

1:29 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Not sinister GTL, just senile :)

2:30 PM  
Blogger Poser said...

The world would probably be a better place if the LWV were still in charge. Don't worry about errors. I'm just a fact-checking fool.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Poser, maybe it was wishful thinking when I posted that :)

Please, keep checking me, unlike the NY Times, I don't have a public editor to correct me when I screw up, so I depend on readers to help me out. Thanks.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Again... agree or disagree on an issue by issue basis... you're awesome, man. Thanks again from the bottom of my heart for joining the blogroll/loose alliance.

No matter what else we may agree upon as individuals as far as the Presidential debates go - we all agree upon ONE SINGLE THING - that at least THREE candidates be allowed to participate in the debates. Beyond that is where ideological differences and opinions begin to interfere. But as an "alliance", we are not concerned with the "what's next?" stuff. That is why we have a blogroll... so we can visit each others' blogs and maybe come to a consensus beyond that. But that is a "hope" and not the "agenda" of the group.

Understand where I'm coming from? Obviously, "yes", or you wouldn't have joined. Welcome aboard and again, thank you for your support, my right-wing friend :-)

11:05 PM  
Blogger Ed Abbey said...

I'm all for a third party in the debates but unless our electoral system changes, (to the victor goes the spoils), will it really change things?

The only way I can see a third party getting any votes is if the shattering of the two current major parties is relatively equal. If they aren't, I think the more shattered party will band together for a vote against the other party much like they do now.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Ed, I know a bunch of folks who want the electoral college gone, many more than before 2000, when Bush won with a minority of the votes. I ask the liberals I know if they would have liked that in 1992 and 1996, when Clinton won with a plurality of the vote. The reason is without the electoral college, a run off would be required to get a true majority of votes winner. In both 1992 and 1996 Clinton would have lost if you allocate 80% of Perot's voters to the GOP, which is about how his numbers broke out.

I posted in my haloscan comments to Silke that you can easily find enough pro-war, fiscally conservative democrats to team with pro-choice republicans to come up with about 1/3 of the Senate. That would destroy any "majority party" in that body.

That's just one way it could happen.

GTL, you trying to make me blush?

4:50 PM  

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