What Republicans can teach the Greens

Take advantage of the chaos
By SARA DONNELLY  |  June 8, 2006

Growing a third party into anything more than a thorn in the side of the major two has historically proven next to impossible. In the 1992 and 2000 presidential elections, the most high-profile third-party candidates in recent history, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, both failed to get elected and managed to screw over the major candidate whose politics they most aligned with (right-wing Perot took from George H.W. Bush, causing him to lose to Bill Clinton, and lefty Nader pulled votes from Al Gore, most critically in Florida, ceding the race to George W. Bush). Of course, blowing a major party’s chances at winning can influence that party’s platform during the next election cycle, but what does a third party have to do to actually win the White House? Ask the Republicans. In 1860, the only third party ever to win the presidency and replace one of the reigning two parties took advantage of a country battered by the build-up to the Civil War. The two reigning parties had been deeply weakened by the slavery debate — the Whig Party exploded in 1856 because party abolitionists and anti-abolitionists could no longer stand each other and the Democrats were undermined by similar arguing. The Republican Party, then a mangy third party founded only six years earlier, took advantage of the chaos. They nominated the unabashed abolitionist Abraham Lincoln, he won, the South seceded, and the rest is history.

 

  Topics: News Features , George W. Bush, Al Gore, Bill Clinton,  More more >
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