Poll: Majority Support for Third Party Alternative to Democrats and Republicans

A new survey commissioned by The Hill finds that 54% of likely voters want a viable third party alternative to the Democrats and Republicans:
A majority of likely voters think a viable third party would be good for American politics, according to a new poll of likely voters in 10 key open House districts. . . . Fifty-four percent of respondents in The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll said they’d like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.  That number rose to 67 percent for self-identified independents. But even a plurality in the established parties — 49 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans — said they’d like another choice.
The great irony, of course, is that if the majority of likely voters who want a third party alternative to the Democrats and Republicans actually voted for third party and independent candidates, in more than a few cases those candidates would probably win!  However, the article goes in a different direction, and makes for almost surreal reading.  The reporter, Sean Miller, quotes prominent Democratic pollster Mark Penn and the well-known Republican strategist Mark McKinnon talking about how these "record numbers" indicate an historic opportunity for third party and independent candidates to break the Democratic-Republican lock on elected office in the United States.  But then, rather than follow up on this possibility, Miller instead tracks down a political scientist and a supposed tea party activist who argue that there is no third party or independent political movement in the United States and there never will be.  Is it possible to be an historical determinist of this sort and still believe in the freedom of the will?  Nonetheless, the contradictions of the infiltration strategy supported by tea party activists who have proven incapable of maintaining their political independence are readily apparent in Miller's discussion of the tea party movement.  The infiltrationist doesn't want to be "co-opted" but then endorses a strategy which is predicated upon co-optation by a major party.  Miller writes:
Tea Party activists say their movement is unwilling to be co-opted into the traditional party structure anyway. “Not only no, but hell no,” Judson Phillips, the founder of the group Tea Party Nation, said when asked about the prospect of forming a third party. “Third parties are simply an invitation to disaster,” he said. “All a third party does is split the vote. “I am yet to meet anyone who wants to have the Tea Party as a [political party],” he said — the more appealing prospect is to “take over” the Republican Party.
Obviously, Judson Phillips' experience in the tea party movement is quite limited, as he appears completely unfamiliar with the third party tea party movement.  Thus, it is reasonable to wonder why Miller didn't choose a more knowledgeable source, say, someone who is familiar with the third party tea party movement.  They are not hard to find.  There is an officially recognized third party Tea Party in at least three states, and there are dozens upon dozens of third party and independent tea party candidates for office at all levels of government nationwide, and under a variety of political banners.  In fact, just last night, the Florida Tea Party's candidate for US House in Florida's 8th congressional district, Peggy Dunmire, participated in a debate with Democrat Alan Grayson.  It is noteworthy that the Republican candidate for the office refused to participate in the form.  From the Orlando Sentinel:
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the firebrand Democrat fighting a conservative onslaught to boot him from office, sat next to an empty chair during the campaign's first debate Tuesday night. His Republican opponent, Dan Webster, didn't attend. . . . Grayson shared the stage with Peg Dunmire of the Florida Tea Party; George Metcalfe, an independent; and Steven Gerritzen, a write-in candidate from the Whig Party. Webster cited a scheduling conflict in not attending the debate sponsored by the Central Florida Urban League at the Citrus Bowl's Varsity Club. But his campaign has also made it clear that he won't debate unless the match-up includes only him and Grayson.
So the Republican, Dan Webster, states that he couldn't attend because of a scheduling conflict, but it turns out that even if there were no conflict, he wouldn't have attended anyway because the event included the Tea Party, Independent and Whig Party candidates in the race.  No doubt, the likes of Webster and Phillips above would rather engage in conspiracy theorizing about third party and independent candidates than engage in an exchange of ideas with third party and independent candidates.  Which only goes to show that they are not interested in ideas, but only in maintaining the reigning two-party state and duopoly system of government.  Someone should inform Phillips that the original "Tea Party" was part of a radical movement for political independence and not a movement aimed at providing political cover for the organizational vehicles of the ruling political class.

No comments: