With the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries behind us now, some political leaders are quietly meeting to discuss the merits of a third party bid for the White House. Several prominent Republican and Democratic centrists met this week in Oklahoma.
Randall Adkins, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, says the results in Iowa and New Hampshire certainly buoyed conversation about trying to end partisan bickering. Adkins says: "One way to do it is to try to bring the two political parties together which is a very difficult thing to do, given that partisanship has been so intense in the last ten or 20 years. The alternative to that is to try to create a third party and to let this third party replace one of the two major political parties."
He says our political system is really only set up for two political parties, but adds, that could change. He points to the popularity of independent candidates in recent years, like one-time presidential hopeful Ross Perot or former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s participation in the current race is renewing speculation about whether he’ll mount a bid himself.
This week’s Oklahoma meeting is being described as "shock therapy" to the major-party candidates. Adkins says it’s still possible for a third-party candidate to run for president in 2008, though it wouldn’t be an easy task. He says the ballot laws are designed to make it difficult to run a third party candidacy and especially to create a new political party, since you have to get petitions signed by a certain number of voters wherever you want to run — or in all 50 states.
The key is, he says, getting enough votes to stay on the ballot in subsequent elections. He says the centrist politicians meeting this week say they want to stop bickering and provide Americans with a blueprint for bipartisanship in Washington.