Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Purple State: Centerfield discovered a new political party called the Moderate Party. I've checked out its platform, and I agree with much of it: The party supports abortion rights, gun rights, and same-sex civil unions. However, party members seem to be against the invasion of Iraq as they have a special section criticizing pre-emption. While military conflict should be avoided when possible, Iraq was a special case, and we can't take pre-emption off the table as we fight the War on Terrorism.

Now we'll just have to wait and see whether this party has any effect on politics in the years to come. No one can reasonably expect the Moderate Party to replace the Democratic or Republican Parties. But third parties can still have a strong influence on American politics, and in some cases voting for a none-of-the-above candidate can influence politics more than sticking with major-party candidates.

In 1992, Ross Perot ran on a platform of fiscal discipline. Many have argued that he cost the first President Bush the election by gaining 19 percent of the vote, leaving the winner, Bill Clinton, with only a plurality of 43 percent. Two years later, the Republican Party essentially adopted Ross Perot's platform wholesale with the Contract with America, creating the first GOP majority in Congress in decades.

In 2000, Ralph Nader and the Green Party garnered only 3 percent of the vote. But because George W. Bush and Al Gore essentially tied with about 48 percent apiece, many observers say Nader cost Gore the election. Next thing you know, the Democratic Party takes a hard turn to the Left to make sure they don't lose the ultraliberals again.

The only hope for the Moderate Party is for it to either grab a hot issue that much of the country can rally around or, even better, attract a popular candidate to run under the party's name. They may also choose to endorse major party candidates, as sort of a moderate seal of approval.

Both major parties continue to head to the extremes. But much of the American public isn't as polarized as the politics in this country is. While a third choice certainly won't supplant either major party anytime soon, a moderate third choice could be successful in pulling American politics back to the center.


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