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America’s Quest for Third Political Party Alternatives

As the country prepares to decide who should be the next president, there has never been such a high level of dissatisfaction among the candidates representing the two political parties. Donald Trump for the Republican Party is considered too immoral, and President Joe Biden is too old. This particular dilemma has created the opportunity for a third political party or independent candidates to challenge the domination of the Republican and Democratic parties in the national election. Third parties or independent candidates are not new to the country’s political scene. As far back as 1832, there was the Anti-Masonic Party, and in 1848, the Free-Soil Party, and again in 1856, the No Nothing Party. At the turn of the century, former President Theodore Roosevelt, in defiance of the Republican Party’s rejection of his attempted comeback in 1912, ran as the candidate for the Progressive Party. Twelve years later, Senator Robert LaFollette ran as a progressive and won 4,800,000, or 16.6% of the total vote. During the 1948 presidential campaign, President Harry Truman was opposed not only by Republican candidate Thomas Dewey but by two political party challenges. South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond ran as the Dixiecrat candidate with their primary concern to prevent Senator Hubert Humphrey’s attempt to advance civil rights legislation. The second challenge came again from the Progressive Party and former Vice-President Henry Wallace. In 1968, Alabama Governor George Wallace, a candidate of the American Independent Party, emphasized turning back the gains made in civil rights. Finally, in 1992, …

As the country prepares to decide who should be the next president, there has never been such a high level of dissatisfaction among the candidates representing the two political parties. Donald Trump for the Republican Party is considered too immoral, and President Joe Biden is too old. This particular dilemma has created the opportunity for a third political party or independent candidates to challenge the domination of the Republican and Democratic parties in the national election.

Third parties or independent candidates are not new to the country’s political scene. As far back as 1832, there was the Anti-Masonic Party, and in 1848, the Free-Soil Party, and again in 1856, the No Nothing Party. At the turn of the century, former President Theodore Roosevelt, in defiance of the Republican Party’s rejection of his attempted comeback in 1912, ran as the candidate for the Progressive Party. Twelve years later, Senator Robert LaFollette ran as a progressive and won 4,800,000, or 16.6% of the total vote.

During the 1948 presidential campaign, President Harry Truman was opposed not only by Republican candidate Thomas Dewey but by two political party challenges. South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond ran as the Dixiecrat candidate with their primary concern to prevent Senator Hubert Humphrey’s attempt to advance civil rights legislation. The second challenge came again from the Progressive Party and former Vice-President Henry Wallace. In 1968, Alabama Governor George Wallace, a candidate of the American Independent Party, emphasized turning back the gains made in civil rights. Finally, in 1992, Ross Perot created the Reform Party in his challenge to President George H. W. Bush and again in 1996. Some political historians claim that Ralph Nader and the Green Party were the reason that Democratic Candidate Al Gore lost the 2000 election to President George W. Bush.

According to recent polls, 50% of American voters claim they are independent and do not identify with the two major parties. That has opened the door for third-party challenges from Robert A. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West as independent candidates, and Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party. The Libertarian Party has yet to announce its candidate, and the earlier attempts to create a No Label Party have been abandoned. The voters are sending a clear message to both parties that they will no longer accept that they must “hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.”  

     Political scholar Dr. Lee Drutman of the New America Foundation best states what is happening when he writes, “We need more parties to make our politics more fluid and less us-versus-them and to engage the many Americans who feel neither of the parties speaks to them or represents them.”

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