Could a third party be the answer we need in 2024? - GulfToday

Could a third party be the answer we need in 2024?

Joe Minchin, Nikki Haley

Joe Minchin, Nikki Haley

Doug Gansler, Tribune News Service

Four more years of a Trump presidency would take an enormous toll on America and its democracy. Polling continues to trend in Donald Trump’s direction over President Joe Biden’s, and we seem to be hurtling toward a disaster in November’s presidential election. This is a rare and unprecedented moment in our history where a third party, such as No Labels, could either assure that a Democrat — President Joe Biden — or a bipartisan ticket would assume the White House. Most critically, we cannot allow the dictatorial, mentally unstable Trump to tread all over our domestic rights, and we must rebuff his efforts to return America to an international pariah.

While third party candidates today are often considered to be fringe candidates espousing a particular issue or singular policy proposition, there have been significant third party candidates in the past — Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, John Anderson in 1980, Ross Perot in 1992, Green Party Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2012 and 2016, and perennial candidate Ralph Nader.

If truth be told, however, third party candidates historically had few political bona fides; they lacked organisation and deep pockets, and had no expectation that they could win the election. They sought a platform for their particular viewpoint and realistically understood that the most impact they could have hoped for would to be serve as a spoiler. In addition to ballot access, the highest hurdle for any legitimate third party candidate seeking to effectively buck the two entrenched parties would be for voters to believe that the third party candidate could actually win the election.

What makes that a plausible possibility today is that this election is distinct from any previous election in its near-universal lack of appetite for both likely major party nominees, creating a profound thirst for an alternative. Nearly 70% of Americans would prefer someone other than Presidents Biden or Trump. Indeed, Biden is likely the only Democrat that would lose to Trump due to a pervasive view (real or perceived) that Biden is too old and feeble to serve another four years.

On the flip side, most responsible “Bush Republicans” silently reject the personality cult driven popularity of Trump. Simply put, voters do not yearn for a Trump-Biden rematch, and the lack of energy for the septuagenarian-octogenarian candidates is palpable.

This makes a credible No Labels ticket the most formidable possibility of a third party actually winning the White House in history. But for this to work as the hurdle that trips Trump, it is essential that No Labels places a credible centrist Republican at the top of its ticket. Imagine a bipartisan unity ticket headed by a Republican such as Jon Huntsman of Utah; Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Nikki Haley of South Carolina or Maryland’s Larry Hogan. For vice president, a credible Democrat, such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, or a congressional member of the problem solver caucus.

A bipartisan president and vice president could be exactly what this country needs to vastly dampen today’s polarisation, effectively interact with Congress and even select the most qualified persons to serve in their administration, regardless of party affiliation.

Most Americans identify as moderate Republicans or moderate Democrats. And much of today’s polarisation stems from our current primary system, the majority of the underrepresented voters that actually turn out in primaries yield from either the far-left or the far-right. By the time the general electorate awakens, the common refrain goes something like, “wait, these are our choices?” Or, “this is the best we can do?”

A successful bipartisan, credible, moderate alternative in November’s general election may even serve to awaken the entrenched two parties to reconsider the current primary process. Indeed, it could be just the impetus needed to usher in ranked choice voting, which would benefit moderate candidates in the future. An electorally triumphant, moderate bipartisan ticket may even help to usher the political extremes into relative obscurity.

The best case/worst case scenario of a No Labels presidential ticket headed by a credible moderate Republican is that the ticket pulls enough votes from the vast number of “Bush Republicans” that cannot stomach Trump, sweeping President Biden and his overwhelming policy successes back into the White House. It is becoming increasingly clear that we must try something. Now is not a time to sit back and see what happens. The cost of a second Trump term could be too much to bear.

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