The second of three presidential debates between 44th President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party and presidential-candidate Mitt Romney of the Republican Party will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
For two hours on that night, the American people at home, and an audience at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, will watch Obama make funny facial expressions while Romney begs the moderator for one last point. Afterward, the political pundits will banter back and forth about who won the debate and what it means for the election in three weeks.
I watched the first debate, but I have to say I was not impressed with either candidate’s performance and their inability to observe time limits. I am intending to vote in the election. I just don’t know if Obama and Romney have done enough to warrant my vote. I am not really a politically leaning person. I like choice and if I only have to choose between two candidates, I am limited in exerting my right to vote as I see fit.
If only there was another party that had a candidate who could garner enough votes to make things interesting. What we need is a third party that can go toe-to-toe with the Dems and Reps. Something like the Whigs or the Bull Moose Party might need to be reborn in some way to challenge the two-party monopoly.
I won’t bore you with the whole history of those parties but at one time, they had viable presidential candidates and, in the case of the Whigs, had victorious presidential campaigns.
The Whigs had their glory years in the 1840s, about the time Texas joined the Union. They were against expansion to Texas, as they were also against expanding slavery. In spite of this they had four presidents between 1841-53. Two of those died in office. The Whigs fell apart around 1853 with some members starting the Republican Party that exists to this day since 1855.
The Bull Moose Party had only one presidential candidate, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who ran exactly 100 years ago. He ran as a third party candidate after the Republican Party nominated William Taft for reelection over him. Neither man won that year. Roosevelt garnered enough votes to cost Taft the election and the Democrats won with Woodrow Wilson, who served two terms and led the United States in World War I. Teddy decided that his eight years in the White House from 1901-08 were enough as he chose not to run again in 1916 and the Bull Moose Party faded away after that year.
Those are just two of the many parties that have come and gone and tried to take a piece of the political pie that the blue and the red have hogged for years. Maybe the time has come for them to be reborn in some fashion.
It will be hard, as the current political system has almost institutionalized the Democrats and Republicans as parties. Add to this the sheer volume of money that these two parties receive and put behind candidates and the place for a third party seems to be non-existent.
It will take a galvanizing candidate like a Theodore Roosevelt to lift a third party from obscurity to bronze medal. If a third party can get enough support among the people it could then challenge the status quo of Democrat and Republican. A presidential campaign where we had more than two choices would mean we would have to actively research the candidates, which would lead to more Americans becoming involved in politics. It won’t be this year, but eventually there might come a day when America can find room at the election table for a third or fourth party.