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No matter how you break it down, or whose numbers you care to adhere to, a growing number of Americans are leaving their Republican or Democrat tags to declare themselves independent. Most figures hover at approximately 40%.

Two-party dominance isn't working anymore, if it ever really did. The swing from Republican to Democratic control in Washington merely serves to further polarize hard-line subservience to one "base' or another, leaving the un-served 40% adrift and frustrated.

If ever there was a time for a serious third-party organization, it is now.

Logjam confrontations between the radical right and liberal left isolates conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, leaving no room under the closed umbrella for authentic bipartisanism. Majority and minority leaders in both parties demand a more and more isolationist party-line rationale, firing up their respective bases and hoping for, depending upon electoral majority the next time around, while the nation suffers the consequences. Bipartisan government is, increasingly, a sham and a fraud. You are not well represented by it, nor am I. Our two-party system is a staggering, tired horse.

The answer, I suggest, is a move toward coalition politics rather than bipartisan confrontation. Coalition is, by definition, "an organization of people involved in a pact or treaty' and neither liberal Republicans nor conservative Democrats are able to serve in this capacity, due to fear of retaliation from their majority-minority whips or ideological base.

Only a viable third party will suffice, one that truly represents the 40% of Americans who have become, essentially, a "swing constituency.'

But how to do it?

The list of failed attempts is long; the Constitution Party of 1992, the Green Party of 1996 and the Libertarian Party of 1971. Ross Perot ran as an independent and fired up some interest in the 1992 presidential election, the self-destructed. Ralph Nader is a perennial candidate, but these candidacies are more spoiler than useful and the problem, I would argue, is the very polarization and frustration of candidates with no chance to win, but who may draw enough votes to prevent one of the leading candidates from winning.

We don't need a third presidential candidate.

The problem lies not with presidents. The problem is (and remains) endemic within the Congress. The unrepresented 40% do not need--and likely would not rally behind--a third-party presidential candidate. They want representation.

A viable third-party must not be anchored by a presidential candidate. The time may come, some decades down the road, when that possibility may arise, but that time is not (nor should it be) now.

Yet the disenfranchised 40% is no wild-eyed sliver group. Attribute the remaining 60% however you like, they cannot govern without listening to (and satisfying) the third party, essentially extending representation to the unrepresented. I accede that 40% unrepresented does not guarantee 40% elected. Pick your own figure between twenty and fifty percent, it's still a force to be reckoned with.

So, let's suppose. Let's go through a scenario that might actually have a positive effect on national politics and, perhaps, eventually bleed into state and local governance as well. Here are some "what ifs' to start the ball rolling:

What if this supposed party held a National Platform Convention, outlining specific party positions on the hot-button issues 40% of Americans feel most deeply about? Perhaps those might include, but not be limited to;

• Putting aside the rhetoric of feel-good (hope, change) for determining the possible (specific, targeted, identifiable)
• Disconnecting linkage between lobbyists and legislation
• Eschewing all campaign contribution from lobbyists, PACs and special interest groups
• Junking the current tax code in favor of a simplified system that removes all exemptions, creating a single-page and equitable substitute
• Including unrestricted Medicare as a viable public option to healthcare legislation
• Calling for a return to constitutional democracy, including privacy issues and regard for America as a nation under law
• Creatively addressing immigration issues
• Taking a stand on Dwight Eisenhower's warning over an uncontrolled military-industrial complex
• Proposing guidelines for economic oversight and recovery
• Prioritizing the State Department as a more independent and professional arm of foreign affairs
• Attending to the long-ignored subject of neglected nationwide infrastructure
• Addressing energy independence as a capital and labor-intensive asset
• Policies centered around the recovery of American business and industry at home, where jobs are needed

Those are some starters. You will have more and so must they.

What if 435 candidates for the House of Representatives and 100 Senatorial candidates were financed by the third-party in national elections, essentially running on that Party Platform?

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Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)
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