Considering A Third Party Campaign

All the talk of a third party candidate running in 2008 is becoming more and more compelling as I remain dissatisfied with the Democratic field and the Republican choices appear far worse. The majority view in the liberal blogosphere is that the collapse of the Republican Party is a good thing because it greatly enhances the chances for total Democratic control of the government. The minority view, which I personally hold is that the collapse of the Republican Party is partially a bad thing because it greatly enhances the chances for total Democratic control of the government. The ultimate principle in politics is that power corrupts. After the breakdown of the checks and balances on power under Republican rule, we need to reestablish these limitations on power, not shift power entirely to another party.

The problem is that the Republicans, under the domination of the religious right and the neocons, has shown itself to be incompetent at governing. This has led to problems including weakening of our ability to fight terrorism, including terrorist states such as Iran and North Korea, the inability to respond to the destruction of Katrina, the worsening crisis in health care, and a government which ignores science whenever the facts differs from the ideology of the ruling party. While restoration of a viable two party system is desirable as a check on power, the current Republican Party is unfit to be part of that system.

The solution might come from all the recent talk of third parties. Frequently third parties exert their influence by forcing a major party to adopt their platform to survive. A third party might place needed pressure on the Republican Party to change its course. I am hopeful that either control of the Republican Party will change in order to avoid becoming a party limited to the deep south, or that the Republicans will be replaced by a new party.

Much of the speculation lately has centered around Michael Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel. Bloomberg has fueled speculation that he is planning to run, between his recent diner with Hagel and reopening his web site. While still a long shot, Bloomberg just might be able to make it competitive. A poll from the New York Daily News shows that New Yorkers prefer Bloomberg over Giuliani for President 46% to 29%. This is very similar to a Quinnipiac Poll from March. Bloomberg has indicated that if he runs he will be running to win, and is willing to put out the resources which just might make this possible. The Washington Times reports he is willing to spend one billion dollars of his own money on a Presidential bid.

If Bloomberg is paying, it seems safe to assume he plans to top the ticket. He might have a potential running mate lined up in Chuck Hagel. On Face the Nation, Hagel indicated his dissatisfaction with the current Republican leadership. “I am not happy with the Republican Party today,” Hagel said. “It’s been hijacked by a group of single-minded almost isolationists, insulationists, power-projectors.” He also hinted that he might consider teaming up with Bloomberg when he said, “It’s a great country to think about – a New York boy and a Nebraska boy to be teamed up leading this nation.” While I would not support a ticket with Hagel on top, his opposition to the war makes it tolerable to consider him as VP if this makes a third party bid more viable. Hagel’s experience would help balance a ticket headed by a former Democrat without foreign policy or Washington experience. In future years, this could turn into a new model for GOP leadership to replace the religious right and neocons.

As a third party they’d be a long shot, but the collapse of the Republican Party even makes victory for a third party a remote possibility. Such a ticket would be far preferable to anything which the GOP is likely to offer. It might even be preferable to a Democratic ticket if the third party takes a socially liberal, fiscally conservative course while opposing the Iraq War. I would certainly pay attention to such a ticket during the campaign, as well as look further into Bloomberg’s record and views. I already know of some areas of disagreement with Bloomberg, but this also true of the other choices. It is far too early to make any decisions, but at this point I’d lean towards a Bloomberg/Hagel ticket over both the probable Republican candidates as well as a Democratic ticket headed by Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.

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