The coming presidential election is just the sort of contest that cries out for a third-party protest candidate into whom the voters can channel their collective angst. That’s because 2008 is shaping up to be a year in which voters are disgusted with both parties, demonstrated by the equally dismal approval ratings of President Bush and the Democratic Congress. Further, of the leading presidential contenders on either side of the aisle, none has yet been able to connect with voters’ “mad as hell” sentiments towards all things Washington. Lecturing the electorate on why they shouldn’t be mad as hell isn’t going to help. Nor will pointing fingers at the other party, as Democrats are wont to do. Americans once again feel that their representatives in government have forgotten just who owns this country, and they’re out for blood. And they’re going to get it. One way or another.
Consequently, the MSM, sensing that we are once again about to see a 1968 or 1992 style electoral debacle, has been coronating one Michael Bloomberg as the latest incarnation of Ross Perot, a third-way kinda guy who will tell it like it is and spoil the election for the Republicans. Indeed, even I bought into the Bloomie schtick until recently. But I have since been disabused of that notion for several reasons. Foremost among them is the simple reality of what sort of vacuum will exist in the race for 2008.
While many readers will disagree, and some rather vehemently, I believe that the two major party nominees will almost certainly be Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. I believe this to be the case for a number of reasons, none of which need be laid out in this post. Now, in such a race, there would almost certainly be room for a third-party candidate due to the vacuum that would exist in a general election campaign. But said vacuum would most certainly NOT be filled by Michael Bloomberg. Here’s why.
In a Rudy/Hillary race, the nation is faced with two major party candidates who are a) northeastern, b) pro-choice, c) pro-Iraq, and d) who have significant appeal to centrists of various sorts. With author Fred Siegel’s recent revelation that Bloomberg isn’t particularly anti-war, and with our own Aron Goldman’s discovery that Bloomie sees his role in the race as to fill a vacuum in the center, the rationale for a Bloomberg candidacy in a Rudy/Hillary race ceases to exist. To put it another way, we already have two relatively centrist, pro-choice, pro-war New Yorkers in the race — is there really room for a third? To ask the question is to answer it.
So if not Bloomberg, then who? Many observers will look to their left and opine that Ralph Nader could once again make waves. But does anyone seriously think that liberals will allow Nader to deny them the White House yet another time? Others will look to their right for that looming third-party pro-life candidate. But third-party candidates rarely come from the poles of American politics; a pro-life candidate running an abortion-centered campaign would annoy Team Rudy, but wouldn’t take more than 2 or 3 percent of the vote. In order for a third-party candidate to truly make waves, he has to fill the Rudy/Hillary vacuum. In short, we’re looking for a pro-life foreign policy realist from Middle America who, like Americans, is mad as hell.
I'm curious if someone will appear to challenge the big 2. Third Parties have been ridiculed as irrelevant, but they were important in 1992 and 2000 (though Nader's campaign never had any prospects besides a spoiler role). The time might be right. 50% of the populace claims to be unwilling to vote for Hillary no matter what. Guiliani and Thompson both have weaknesses as campaigners and may not wear well as the 'campaign that will not end' drags on. I think a Sam's Club Party could well break out.