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Douglas Schoen argues, in his book "Declaring Independence," that the two-party system in American politics is breaking down and I couldn't agree with him more. He suggests that the time is ripe for a third political party which has real clout and a real chance to win the White House. Again, I completely agree. Furthermore, Schoen cites statistics that show more and more American voters are leaving the Democrat and Republican parties and declaring themselves to be "Independents." I have seen that happening myself among my own friends and acquaintances.
Call it Synchronicity or just plain coincidence, but it was only seven or eight months ago that I was discussing the field of candidates for the presidential race in 2008 with some of my fellow political junkies and I made the (at the time) bold remark that "if there was ever a time for a third-party candidate to make a successful run for the White House, 2008 could be that year because of the polarization of political thought in this country by the politicians themselves and the widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of both major political parties." I did not know that others were thinking along the same lines. I'm pleased to see that my proposition has been somewhat validated by a political professional such as Douglas Schoen. I don't feel like a such a "kook" now.
I left the Republican party myself many years ago and refused to join any other party simply because of what I perceived to be a failure of a principled response to the major issues I saw impacting our society. I could not determine a real difference between the Democrats and the Republicans when it came to actually "doing" something as opposed to simply "talking" about it.Read more ›
As a 32 year old, I have been voting for third party candidates for 14 years (mainly libertarians). As such, I was quite excited to read this book, which deftly makes the case for why third party candidates are needed, but why they may be able to win in the current political climate.
Douglas Schoen is a political consultant and strategies. As such, he is able to insightfully read and interpret poll data and also outline winning strategies. The first part of his book looks at recent poll data in order to make a strong case for why people are more likely than ever to accept and vote for a candidate not Republican or Democrat. More and more people are voicing dissatisfaction with party-line-politics and registering as independents. More and more votes are up for grabs.
Also, Schoen goes through the varied and wonderful history of third party candidates, from the "know nothiing" and "dixiecrat" parties, to respetable bids by George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader. Even though none of these candidates won their eleciton, Schoen points out that they all did remarkably well considering how stacked the decks were against them (decks that can be restacked thanks to emerging technology).
This brings us to the next section: Schoen's optimistic detailing of how third party candidates could do better than ever in our current climate. The internet, 24 hour news, the blogosphere, etc., are making it easier and easier to get around many of the hurdles third parties once faced. Need quick mobilization from grassroot supporters? Shoot an e-mail and post a message to your blog. Want to get good airtime? Youtube can be just as effective as CNN.Read more ›
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I had read a few of Douglas Schoen's other books and decided to read this one. As a long-time pollster, Schoen knows the mindset of the average American and explains that in this book. What he also does an excellent job with is explaining the challenges that exist for a 3rd party candidate to have a real shot at winning a presedential election. The paradox is that many Americans are open to the possibility of voting for a 3rd party candidate for president, but only if they think that he/she has a "real" chance of winning. Based on the present system of Democrat/Republican domination and 50 states with 50 different ballot rules, this seems unlikely to change anytime in the near future.
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