Third Party Power: Dump the Duopoly

Though partisans of the two-party political status quo on both sides of the duopoly divide have made a strong effort to dissimulate the import of the independent and third party candidacies of Chris Daggett in New Jersey and Doug Hoffman in New York, the long-standing practice in the US political press of reading off-year elections as predictive for the mid-term or presidential elections to follow virtually dictates speculation questioning the continued viability of the two-party system. At American Daughter, tea party activist Nancy Mathis makes the case that the special election in NY's 23rd is not a referendum on the Obama administration, or a fight for the "soul" of the Republican Party, but a demonstration of what she calls "third party power":
The election in NY-23rd is about third party power, and professional politicians are trying to suppress that fact. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want the public to realize this, for obvious reasons. The media are complicit with establishment insiders . . .

There is nothing sacred about the Republican and Democratic parties. Political party organizations are not provided for in the Constitution of the United States. They are merely incorporated entities that provide for pooling money and manpower to support candidates for public office. They have acquired the veneer of “official” status by being around for a long time, but they are no more “official” than any newly minted party . . .

All the talking heads and political hacks are painting the congressional race in NY-23rd as a rift in the Republican ranks. It is not. It is a third party candidate proving that the Republicans and Democrats can be made irrelevant in the face of tea party power. [Emphasis in original.]
Indeed, calls for third party activism have even found their way into the op-ed pages of the New York Times. Russ Douthat argues that Hoffman and Daggett have provided voters with real choice and brought substance to their respective contests. However, the NYT's token conservative clearly is not conversant in third party politics. He writes:
Gerrymandered districts, the power of incumbency and our tendency to self-segregate along ideological lines all help make American elections uncompetitive. But so does the absence of third-party entrepreneurship . . . It’s at the state and local level where an independent politician or party can actually hope to get things done. (In this regard, the cranks and idealists in your local Green Party have more sense than the pundits who fantasized about a Bloomberg-for-President campaign.) And it’s at the state and local level where we could use a lot more of them.
It is highly ironic that Douthat should disparagingly cite the Green Party while calling for local and state level third party activism. This year 158 Green Party candidates have announced campaigns for office in local and state races, as David Schwab reports at Green party Watch. Today, discredited cranks and utopian idealists are to be found almost entirely within the dwindling ranks of the Democratic and Republican Parties, among those who continue to believe, against all the evidence, that a two-party dictatorship can adequately represent the people of the United States, and among those who argue that the Democratic and Republican Parties can and should be "taken back", as if they contained anything worth salvaging.

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