Seems like it was time for one of these articles to pop up. With the mid-term elections drawing near, Jonathon Martin writes in the New Tork Times about the possibility of third-party candidates playing spoiler in races across the country.
Because of course. Martin's article is the equivalent of that relative that still wants to watch Rudy every holiday season. Despite all of the procedural obstacles, tactics, dick moves, and dirty tricks to keep third-party candidates out of debates and off ballots, every election cycle, we get the obligatory "could people start leaning third-party?" pieces.
Since the public-at-large had grown increasingly and consistently disgusted with government-as-usual, the rate at which these articles pop up is bound to increase.
When you get articles like Martin's Long Shots Loom as Spoilers in Tight November Races Across Nation, you will get the equally obligatory quote from a mainstream politician. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, presumably with a straight face, "If people don't like their choices with the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate, then you're going to see a spurt in third-party candidates, so they can definitely affect outcomes.
I always like it when a member of the two-party problem admits that third-parties can be problematic. Not that it matters much, but I do like it, nonetheless.
Then again, Martin gives us examples of how politics-as-usual is addressing potential third-party problems. Democratic pollsters are making more room for third-party and independent pages in their strategy guides, and Republicans are putting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) out on the road to try and draw votes back to candidates in danger from Libertarian challengers.
Naturally, both mainstream parties are keeping their noses to the grindstone, as dissatisfaction with Congress is going to result in a likely bump for the Republicans, as these conditions don't historically bode well for a president's party at a mid-term.
Martin's article helpfully points out that historical trend, as well as poll numbers from the New York Times/CBS News over Sept 12-15, in which 5% of voters said most members of Congress did not deserve reelection, and 87% said it was time for new people.
That's right where the article veered off the rails for me. Whenever I see poll numbers like that, it immediately reminds me of why poll numbers are usually bullshit, the moist kind, ideal for spreading.
Every time I see a poll saying "87% of voters think it's time for new people, I strain to find the rest of the sentence, the part that says "but won't go so far as to actually fucking do something about it." This is why we have the reality we have, and the system we have running that reality for us. The reality is incumbents have a reelection rate in the high 90s, which is why the system we have running things is on autopilot, no course set. This is also why it's particularly newsworthy (usually called an upset) when an incumbent loses. Even then, the third-party involvement, if any, only gets the token mention in passing.
When people truly get sick of the thinly-veiled money grab mainstream politics has become, they will seriously start leaning third-party and independent, but not this year. Not any time soon. Count up the incumbents, see I'm right, then start researching and getting involved in third-party politics. We need educated numbers, not inflamed passions or passing fancies every two to four years.
Winner, The Blogitzer
(Best Overall Writing)
2011 Blogger's Choice Awards