Slim Pickings Open Door for Third Party Candidates

What can we do when both political parties fail to listen?

To: Michael Steele

Chair, Republican National Committee

Dear Mr. Steele:

I want to thank you for picking me to represent my area in the 2009 Congressional Census. (Do Not Destroy, Census Tracking Code #N09P1030, Process Immediately.)

I wanted to fill out the questionnaire and be as helpful as I can, but I had difficulty with some of the questions. So I thought I would just give you my answers in essay form. For example, which political party (Democrats or Republicans) do I feel is best able to handle the economy, taxes, federal spending, and immigration? There was no box I could check that says: You both suck.

Which party do I think has the solutions to solve our current economic crisis? You've got to be kidding.

Am I comfortable with our current levels of government spending? I haven't been comfortable with the level of government spending since the Republican congress and President Bill Clinton balanced the budget.

Do I trust the Obama administration to keep our borders secure and stop the flow of illegal immigrants into our country? Hell no. Any more than I trusted the Bush administration to do it.

Should Republican candidates in 2010 push for a total reform of our nation's tax laws that would make them more fair and simple? Well boys, you promised to do that in 1994. That's when we gave you control of both Houses of Congress. That would be 16 years ago. How's that coming?

Do you believe that Congress must reform the current practice of earmarking or "pork barrel spending" that adds billions of dollars to appropriations bills? Well, duh. Who perfected that and turned it into a fine art and a routine part of the legislative process? Would that be the Republican Majority? As I recall, the "Bridge to Nowhere" was sponsored by a Republican House member and a Republican Senator.

It is true that President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have declining approval ratings. You may take this as a sign that it means independents and conservatives are flocking to the Republicans. I hate to burst your bubble, but the best you can hope for is to be the default decision.

The Tea Party movement is not a pro-Republican organization. There are also signs blasting former President Bush and the Republicans. There is a real anger out here in the country about the corruption and irresponsibility in Washington. And it didn't start 10 months ago at the Obama inauguration. It has been building for a long time.

Ross Perot demonstrated that people will rise up, organize, and use their votes to register their discontent. Perot was a crazy billionaire and the prospect of his being president even scared him. The rise of the Internet, the organization of Tea Parties, and the fund-raising of the Obama campaign clearly demonstrate that the means of creating a third-party movement and funding it have never been easier. The kindling has been laid. The potential of a political firestorm is there. We are awaiting but a spark.

Somewhere out here in America there is someone with the rhetorical skills, the media skills, and the organizational skills to ride this wave of dissatisfaction to the White House. Will he or she be a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent? The next time populist outrage occurs, the Third Party just may win. Let's remember the Republicans were a Third Party movement in the 1850s. They won the presidency on the second try.

Would a Third Party candidate be dangerous? Probably. Charismatic leaders riding a wave of populist anger are usually scary. George Wallace. Eugene Debs. Perot.

But a lot of people in America are asking questions about a political process that produces as our choices for president the likes of John Kerry, John McCain, George Bush, and a first-term Senator from Illinois. Not to mention Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin.

Surely we can do better. It's time for a revolution at the ballot box.

Because, even if there is no box to check, you both suck.