Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Real 3rd Option?

I'll believe it when I see it, but I agree with Peggy Noonan that it is long overdue. Moreover, I think Peggy does a nice job analyzing what is wrong with the Big 2 and describing the culture of partisanship that dominates the scene:
Partisanship is fine when it's an expression of the high animal spirits produced by real political contention based on true political belief. But the current partisanship seems sour, not joyous. The partisanship has gotten deeper as less separates the governing parties in Washington. It is like what has been said of academic infighting: that it's so vicious because the stakes are so low.
The problem is not that the two parties are polarized. In many ways they're closer than ever. The problem is that the parties in Washington, and the people on the ground in America, are polarized. There is an increasing and profound distance between the rulers of both parties and the people--between the elites and the grunts, between those in power and those who put them there.
Of course, I am skeptical of the social-conservative lens through which Peggy gauges the disconnect between the powers-that-be and everyday Americans. Nonetheless, she is, in my opinion, wholly correct in identifying the existence of that disconnect. The guys and gals in Washington have become far too comfortable holding the reigns of power. As a result, I think a viable 3rd party candidate has a legitimate shot at winning a national election. All it takes is a charismatic figure with some name recognition. In 1992, Ross Perot won a whopping 19% of the popular vote for god's sakes. Ross Perot! (That number makes me gasp each time I read it.) Now, just think of the potential of a 3rd-party ticket with, let's say, someone with smaller ears and dozen or so more inches in stature.