If there’s a third-party answer to our dilemma, it lies closer to the people, in contests for the Senate and House. Imagine a third-party congressional effort founded on the principles of compromise whose candidates don’t take pledges about never raising taxes or promise not to touch entitlements but who will relentlessly work at conciliation.
Breaking the traditional parties’ headlock would not require a mass takeover, which is by any accounting quite impossible because of the majority of “safe” seats the parties have secured by distortive redistricting. In fact, three or four third-party wins in the Senate and only a couple dozen in the House, even if in truly swing districts, would deny either party a certain majority and thus command respect and attention from the ideological hard-liners on both sides, and from the president.
Their presence would provide a rallying point and haven for the relatively few remaining moderates of both parties. Their votes, needed by both sides, could be leveraged against hard-line ideology and form the basis for addressing the nation’s deepest problems.
If those problems were insoluble, none of this would matter. But they are not; the solutions are available and understood. Congressional failure to act reflects the lack of courage to move away from the ideological fringes because of the assumed political costs. A handful of people with the courage and the political freedom to act could make all the difference now and set a healthier tone for our democracy in the future.
If you hear someone talking about the need for a third party or independent candidate for office, in most cases it is likely a safe bet that they are talking about the presidency. Presidential fetishism and the cult of the executive in the public at large and the media in particular are two major hurdles to effective independent activism and advocacy. Independent and third party activists themselves, of course, concede the difficulty of winning the presidency, but often argue that even a moderately successful presidential campaign will bring attention to issues that are ignored by Democrats and Republicans, and to the fact that there are indeed alternatives to the stooges of the major parties. However, as noted here last week, only "a few dozen successful third party or Independent candidates to the House and just a handful to the Senate" would have far-reaching consequences for the redistribution of political power away from the most dangerous factions in the United States. The idea may be gaining traction. From an opinion piece in the Wichita Eagle today: