Back around the 2004 Presidential Elections, I read an article published in what I think was The Atlantic reporting on a roundtable discussion between a number of key political thinkers. They were exploring the state of the two-party system in US politics and the possibility for a third party.
To my surprise (coming from a point of view where both major parties in the USA seem to be of the right) they were arguing for a third party to appear in the middle of the US spectrum. But as I thought about it more, and have come back to it over the past few years, that makes a lot of sense. A serious third party in the middle would force the Democrats and Republicans to refocus. It could suck away those on the central fringes of each party who drag the others to more moderate positions, and it would be taken seriously in a way that no third party has been here for a long time.
So I was interested to see Surprise Party by Joshua Green in the January/February issue of The Atlantic. The article looks at Unity 2008, a new party being launched for the 2008 elections by seasoned political strategists tired of the way campaigning has worked lately. They’re looking for candidates prepared to break ranks to form a mixed ticket, and they’re trying to innovate around how they select that ticket to reduce the cost of presidential elections.
It’s hard to tell how far they’ll get. The US political system is tied up by the two main parties to a ridiculous degree, and finding candidates who will so publicly and fundamentally break ranks may be hard. I’m also not sure whether I want this to happen now. The country certainly needs real debate and renewed engagement, but that needs to lead to significant changes in domestic and foreign policy. Nevertheless, Unity 2008 could be that movement envisioned in the aftermath of the 2004 debacle.