That headline is a line from the movie The Princess Bride, and the character who says it is referencing lessons in futility learned. Peter Ubertaccio offers up some similar POV looking at the challenges facing third party campaign efforts in the United States:
American political culture, campaign finance and ballot access laws, and the structure of our institutions have served to buttress the two party system. The basic structure of our politics has remained unchanged even as Americans themselves continue to move away from both parties.
Attempts to offer real third party choices reached their zenith with the independent candidacy of Ross Perot in 1992. Since then they’ve largely fallen flat, most spectacularly with the collapse of Americans Elect earlier this year.
He’s right, and this is all-the-more interesting given that more Americans self-identify as independent voters than at any other time, nearly 40% of the electorate. More people self-identify as independents than identify with either of the two mainstream parties. And yet:
It is rightfully disconcerting to many that parties which register so poorly in national polls can possibly throw an election. This is, of course, the result of an electoral college system firmly ingrained in American political life, a two party system, winner take all elections, etc. In essence, the main feature of our politics both prevent the widespread adoption of a multi party system but then allow those other parties the potential to play a hugely outsized role in a close election in any given state.
In Ubertaccio’s piece he focuses primarily on the Libertarian and Green Parties as third party options, but what he describes is equally daunting to any independent candidate making a run for office against the daunting challenges of two-party domination, and is a criticism constantly leveled at anyone who attempts an independent candidacy in contrast to the two parties. It’s also one of the major reasons IVA eschews the formation of an “Independent Party” and instead is working to build support for non-party affiliated independent candidates running all across the country for statewide and congressional office. Read the full piece by Ubertaccio and share your thoughts.