January 21st, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What will it take to get a viable third party going in U.S.?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The independent voter is one of the main reasons Democrats lost Ted Kennedy's long-held Senate seat in Massachusetts this week.

A survey conducted by one GOP pollster found Republican Scott Brown won 64 percent of independents... compared to 34 percent for the Democrat Martha Coakley.

One short year ago - it was these same independents who overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama and launched him into the presidency.

But with the Democrats now in control of Congress and the White House for the past year, independents are sick and tired of feeling ignored by their so-called representatives.

These critical independent voters are mostly white, middle-class and middle-aged suburbanites, and they're sick of high unemployment, bank and auto bailouts, government spending and taxes, among other things.

So what we're seeing in places like Massachusetts, and also in those governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia, is swing voters swinging the other way.

It's sort of like watching large groups of people rushing from one side of the Titanic to the other, causing the ship to lurch alternately from port to starboard - left to right.

We just went through this a year ago when they all ran away from the Republicans and to the Democrats.

Fact is, neither option is any good. Both parties stink. Our government is broken and no longer serves the needs of the people. Time for real change.

Here’s my question to you: What will it take to get a viable third party going in this country?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Warren from Ohio writes:
Whatever prospects there once existed for a viable third party in America died today. It was killed today by the demonic ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court to treat campaign money as speech, and thereby guarantee that all remaining elections degenerate into auctions. American democracy: RIP. Thanks for the memories.

John writes:
In light of today's Supreme Court decision, it will be easier I would think. Now what is needed is a handful of good, moderate, charismatic folks willing to run and push for financial support. However I do believe this third party has to be largely in the middle - hard left or hard right will be a waste of time. I would want to see deficit hawks, national defense hawks, social moderates.

Norman writes:
It will take dedication and organization by a movement such as the Tea Party convention in Nashville next month, and most of all, the funding that will be necessary to obtain ballot access in all states.

Pat writes:
The ONLY answer is public financing of federal elections, with qualifications regarding who gets financed. Until real people have a chance at federal office, without raising oodles of money, we will basically have a two-party system.

G. from Washington writes:
We had one in Ross Perot who had the charisma and the cash to fund such a campaign. The problem is he ran at the wrong time. What we need now is another deep-pocketed, charismatic, pragmatic, pro-American, true Independent. Those who currently proclaim their independence are just disaffected members of the fringe left or right.

JM writes:
The two parties we currently have to chose from would never let that happen. Both sides have been completely corrupted by power, and seem to be willing to do anything to hold on to it. We have lost our way.

John writes:
A miracle.

soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Clay

    A third party must have a platform that is rock solid. How about starting with the Constitution?

    January 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  2. Mary Freeman

    To get a "Third Party" started in this country we need to get more people involved;ie, Outstanding people to lead the party and be a spokesperson for the party. We have lots of Independents but no one person respresenting the party. And for goodness sake, not Joe Lieberman. I could accept Lou Dobbs.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  3. Joe Machi

    Perhaps you haven't noticed, but a large number of independents hate the group think of political parties. Another political party wouldn't help.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  4. Deanna Price

    1. Open primaries in all states, starting in Oklahoma.
    2. Someone I can vote FOR, instead of always voting for the lesser of two evils!! For too many years I have voted AGAINST someone, not FOR anybody.

    Tulsa, OK

    January 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  5. Al, Lawrence KS

    Money is the only thing keeping the 2 party system afloat. When people begin to realize that the Titanic is sinking, there will be a third party. "The Lifeboat Party". I like the sound of that. Women and children first...and leave your money behind.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  6. Neil

    It will take public funding of all national elections.

    So long as the Republicans and the Democrats control hundreds of millions of dollars, they will always be able to outspend anything except the occasional independent candidate.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  7. William

    A third party won't work in the US and it never will.

    The 2 party system quickly polarizes issues so that we can see that the solution falls somewhere in between. We need to hear both sides and, go back in history and see, we don't like it any other way.

    If you really want real change, disband the Senate. The "Great Compromise" has only turned Congress into a slow, pork-bellied, lobbyist-fest pumping out junk legislation after junk legislation which ebbs and flows between more conservative or more liberal depending on what state votes the same person in more often.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  8. PMC

    Americans need a 3rd or 4th Party, and it is about time we had more choices than the crap we have been force fed the last 30-40 years. I have talked to tons of people that refuse to be cornered into being either a D or an R, a Blue or a Red.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  9. K

    we already have a third party–the lobbyists and special interests who call all the shots. pretty depressing that we the people are not longer represented.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  10. Marcus

    For starters, I believe there will be a need for major reform of the rules, that both democrats and republicans have concocted together, keeping the emergence of a relevant third party from participating.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  11. Kurt S. (Lake Stevens, WA)

    Jack, why talk about something that the parties in power will NEVER let happen? Corporations and both Political Parties do not want a 3rd party, so it will never happen. As an independent, our only power is with our vote and even that is now clouded with the Supreme Court's "partisan" vote to allow Corporations and Unions to spend freely on elections. I, for one, am tired of not being heard, tired of the rhetoric from everyone who has a stake and who's money overpowers ANYTHING *I* have to offer as an American Citizen. This country will slowly eat itself from the inside with greed and power and when that happens, things as we know it will never be the same.

    See, they all say they care about middle America...what they really care about is how much they can pad their pockets. We have no one but ourselves to blame. We've been raised to covet what we don't have and to get what they have by whatever means possible and this is where it's left us.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  12. prince11

    To get a viable third party is easy; as a nation we have to realize the two party systems is not an actual system. The two party system has been something that we have made up out of thin air it means nothing. There are no rules that limit the amount of parties that are organized in the untied states. We just have to gain some political balls and throw our support behind a third party, that not only means our money but our voices. That’s all we need to do. For a history lesson on this you just need to have a good candidate, argument and people to support you, we saw that with Teddy Roosevel and the Bull Moose party it can happen again with the right person and if we as Americans change our brainwashed mindset.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  13. Betty

    All one has to do is register as an Independent and voila – a third party!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  14. Barbara Smith

    I have been talking with my over 80-year-old stepfather for months now about Health Care, the Democratic party and my (our) extreme disappointment – not with our president but the whole two-party system – it no longer works. In fact it is quite obvious it is playing a major role in some of our most troublesome problems in this country.
    I am a resident in Lewes, DE.
    It is time for citizens to take control of how we are represented. It will take people saying no more and acting on it. I so agree with the words "both parties stink." These parties no longer represent us. Talk about rushing from one side to the other, that is exactly what our alleged representatives do. Whatever or whoever lines their pockets and their comfort zones is who they will fight for or against and not their constituents.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Michael

    First: You need a viable candidate; a candidate who is not part of the "system", but still seen as a viable candidate. The candidate will need to have real solutions to solve real problems.

    Second: Money talks. The aforementioned viable candidate will need money, and a lot of it, to compete with the big players in the "system".

    Third: The media would have to do a better job of covering a third-party candidate. Traditionally, the media only focuses on the candidates from the two major parties. Without exposure, a third-party candidate doesn't have a chance.

    Fourth: Votes (obviously)! A third-party candidate would need to convince the public that a vote for him/her would not be a wasted vote. Nobody wants to throw their vote away. If the public feels like the third-party candidate is building enough of a following, they may be willing to vote for said candidate. Kind of unrelated: it is time to do away with the electoral college and utilized a direct election. This will help everyone feel as though there vote is not wasted and can have a true impact.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  16. Lee

    Money. Until a third party is viable financially, we're stuck in that uncomfortable phase where you're not sure whether to start laughing or crying.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Joe W

    I have wondered the same thing for years. I have never understood the US's 2 party system and agree that neither party really addresses the needs or desires of many Americans. I think that in order for a 3rd party to succeed they need to have a good slate of candidates and that put forth a socially moderate and fiscally conservative agenda. I think that past third parties have failed because they have tried to be more Republican than the Republicans or more Democractic than the Democrats. A third party needs to wipe the slate clean. They need to emphasize moderate social policy with a focus on tolerance and opportunity (not government handouts) and a conservative fiscal policy that spreads the tax burden more evenly (not taking from the middle class to give to big business).

    January 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  18. Susanne

    Historically third party candidates have little effect funding would possibly help but do not believe that will change we are stuck with two stinking parties. Therefore, we need independent candidates that will adhere to commitments and campaign promises and not get star struck or tainted in Washington scandal. Ron Paul is perfect example of independent candidate that votes his heart not party. Rand Paul is running in KY so hopefully we will have two that is a start.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  19. Zak

    It will take a man, or woman, to actually stand up for what they believe in and fight against these crazy radicals occupying Congress today. We need some balance in our government and that's why I believe the GOP won in Mass. If this country is going to see real change we need a balanced government and that will only happen if we have a party with a balanced point of view.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  20. Todd

    Since we have a "winner-take-all" system, the only fix that I have heard would be to adopt Instant Run-off Voting. This would allow citizens to actually vote their conscience for a chosen candidate and then rank the remaining candidates according to one's preferences.

    As it is now, citizens feel like they are "wasting their vote" unless they vote for one of the two major party candidates who is likely to win. People can find out more about the common sense system at FairVote.org.

    Harpers Ferry, WV

    January 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  21. svs

    Good Question Jack – "viable" and "Independent" being the operative words here.

    As it stands now, we already have many more Parties than just the GOP and Dems. But, when it comes down to it, they are all really just different flavors of the same ole extremes – Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal. Still nothing there to attract true moderate, centrist, Independents like myself.

    Waht I wonder is this. I've been a "registered" Independent for about 25 years now. So, what exactly an I "registered" for? Seems like the simplist solution would be to just legitimize this already existing group by officially creating an "Moderate" party, comprised of folks who are registered as Independents.

    As we see in MA, there are more than enough of us to warrant such a move.

    Scott in Tampa

    January 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  22. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Maybe it will take someone like you Jack running for president.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  23. Dr. Elwyn Martin

    Someone already tried this...his name is Ralph Nader. You should listen to this guy Jack I think you would like him. Last time around Ralph showed up at the presidential debates and was not allowed in the door. He met all debate requirements but still he was threatened with police action if he tried to force the issue.

    The debate commission is run by former heads of the republican and democratic parties. They do not want competition. Furthermore, the media networks are not interested in covering a third party candidate. The media mongols and their corporate affiliates already have too much invested in their puppets on capital hill.

    So how do we fix the problem? I see two possible options. First, the system totally crashes and Americans suffer so much that they revolt, after which they restructure the regulations on campaign finance. Second, our current politicians stop whoring their services to corporate interest and grow a soul.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  24. Kimberly Keagler

    MONEY MONEY and more MONEY... and probably a good looking candidate. I'd like to suggest George Clooney. But seriously, if Ross Perot had looked like JFK and spoke like Obama, he would have been President.
    Kim Keagler / Fort Lauderdale

    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  25. R.B.

    ...incidentally, todays Supreme Court ruling on campaign funding will definitely hurt third party abilities to compete. Unless, of course, a major corporation happens to have a vested interest in throwing their support behind a third party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  26. Ryan

    To get a 3rd party candidate to win in this country, you need to change the voting system so people aren't only picking the most 'electable' candidate each election. Allow voters to choose more than one candidate, so that they can choose their favorite, and then still have their 'insurance' pick with the electable candidate. Get rid of the primaries too, which have a much lower turnout rate then the elections, but essentially decide which awful candidates we have to choose from.

    -Littleton, CO

    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  27. Zillimanilli

    You Sir are quite correct., the government needs an overhaul. A third party can become viable through the following:
    1. Implementation of term limits for congress, which should help clear out the professional politicians.
    2. Non – staggered congressional elections instead of the current 1/2 every two years, to end perpetuation of the indoctrination of new members into the ways of congress.
    3. Elimination of Political Action Committees, to end the bankrolling of certain candidates over ones that will do the job properly.

    These would open the field for fresh, regular folks to take control of the country and a return to By the People, For the People!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  28. Donovan in Las Vegas

    Unfortunately all the leaders get killed, like MLK, Malcom X, John Lennon, JFK. It will take someone with their charisma and spirit to rally the people. Jack, we don't need another party, we need a leader.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  29. richard in texas

    If we get a third party going then why not a fourth and a fifth and the next thing you know we have people scrambling to create parliamentary coalitions and the government can change faster that what you are specifying. The thing that will truly make a difference is term limits. If the people sent to Washing to represent "the people" have a defined time limit to make a difference or put their stamp on something, instead of pandering for re-election, it would seem to move them more toward action and perhaps, action that they believe in

    January 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  30. Dave (Boston, MA)

    What we really need is a candidate like Barack Obama was bowing out of a major party. Supposedly he recieved a large amount of campaign money from small contributions from many people instead large contributions from few. If we can find a candidate like that maybe a third party can stand a chance. Otherwise our best bet is one of the two main party's to fade out completely and have 2 party's rise up in its place and stick around.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  31. mike perry

    Jack,i for one am sick to death of the republicon's and the demmarat's in my washington.What we need is a washington tea party.maybe if a hundered thousand of us,we the people march around are wahsington,it might wake are repersentative's up,yet i dought it.are the back from vacation yet,i really can't tell

    January 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  32. Alex

    Republicans will war us to bankruptcy, the democrats will tax us to bankruptcy. We can't win. It's a big club, and we ain't in it.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  33. Nick

    It will take the independents in Congress and the Senate to actually act independent and not just pawns for the two parties. And, it will take someone strong and respected in the US business scene – say Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett – to come out and say they are independent and then define a platform for what that means. Then others – like me – can get behind it. The two party system is no longer reflective of a diverse America.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  34. Mike

    I think they should get rid of all parties, the best canidate should win. By doing this then maybe the elected officials will actually listen to their constituents and not big business or vote the party line. Our system is broken and we the people are getting screwed!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  35. Tim from Florida

    Fantastic question considering the miserable state we are in. What ever it is I pray it happens soon. Any progress by our elected national repersentatives is completely stalled. Please, somebody make it happen before our current governing system brings us completely to our knees. A really sad state of affairs for this great bountiful and richly blessed nation. I do believe that it will happen and when it begins (the establishment of a third viable party) things will change for the better. I'm sick of both the Democrats and the Republicans and wish they would all resign!!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  36. Michael

    What will it take? Simple.. It will take the American people realizing that any "news" they get is bias in one form or another and that we are in charge. Think people are starting to get it, thanks in part to you, and many others in the media who continue to not only report on, but seem to promote political name calling and bickering at the expence of the American people.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  37. Dave

    There are too many single issue voters in the country to form a 3rd party. That issue is abortion. Depending on the stance the 3rd party takes against abortion, they will only bleed significant votes away from one of the parties and not both.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  38. Callahan

    Voting every single person now in office out...it's that simple....starting in the cities, counties, definately state, and particularly federal office holders as well..make preconditions prior to a vote of any candidate running...no more speical interest dollars. Let's get back to when a man (person) gives their word they abide by it.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  39. Scott

    Starting a 3rd party is easy. All we do is have 50 states secede from the union, leaving only Washington, D.C. behind. Then we can sell the District to the Chinese for a big chunk of our national debt. Of course, we might have to give them a discount to take the politicians with the properties. Hopefully then all the nuts will sort themselves out geographically and go their separate ways.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  40. svs

    Good Question Jack – "viable" and "Independent" being the operative words here.

    As it stands now, we already have many more Parties than just the GOP and Dems. But, when it comes down to it, they are all really just different flavors of the same ole extremes – Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal. Still nothing there to attract true moderate, centrist, Independents like myself. And each one is a mouse as compared to the two aforementioned giants.

    What I wonder is this... I've been a "registered" Independent for about 25 years now. So, what exactly an I "registered" for? Seems like the simplest solution would be to just legitimize this already existing group by officially creating an "Moderate" party, comprised of folks who are registered as Independents.

    As we see in MA, there are more than enough of us to warrant such a move.

    Scott in Tampa

    January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  41. Logan

    Depending on whether you want this 3rd party to be viable in the Executive or Legislative Branch or both is important. If you were only concerned with the Legislative branch, we would need to determine representation in one (or both) of the chambers (I believe the House would be more appropriate given its size) to proportional representation. Thus, we could turn the legislative branch into something similar to the German system (citizens elect lower house and state legislatures elect upper house). For a 3rd party candidate to be viable for the Presidency, we would need to completely change our system of government into a parliamentary/proportional representation system that would require coalition building. Of course, doing this would make our government more responsive to voters because the party/coalition in power would get to enact its platform and voters could then get to decide whether they like it or not. Thus, the check and balances system would move from another branch of government to the people.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  42. calvin

    Just let the two groupe in there now keep messing up. They sell there vote for money now wait till the second groupe get in there.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  43. Steve D.

    It is nearly impossible! Campaign laws are written for a two party system! It will take changes in campaign laws that allow third parties equal access to public funding.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  44. tony

    did u ever think why they spend millions to get in office, when the job only pays 150000. And whats there wealth difference from when they get in office unitl the time they leave. To stop all this is easy, its called term limits.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  45. Will from Austin Texas

    Magic, unicorns tears, or the ghost of George Washington.... seeing as the current resources of all three seem to be in short supply, I would say that seeing a true third party in the USA is about as likely as Sarah Palin's chances of winning in 2012, I hope.

    P.S. Jack I am a MODERATE Republican, an endangered species these days.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  46. mark

    What's needed is a change in perspective regarding politics. The prevailing concept is currently a line running from left to right (or right to left). With both parties squished towards the middle, alternative viewpoints are separated idealogically.

    Small, & often irrelevant, parties on the right & left need to re-conceptualize not only politics but also underlying political beliefs in order to find common ground away from the middle. In other words, make 'right' & 'left' irrelevant. One way to start that process is to view politics as a circle versus as a straight line. Realistically, & as an example, it would be easier for libertarians to work with the green party than it would be for libertarians to work with republican right-wing religious extremists.

    Basically, the only way that a viable third party will develop is by compromise that incorporates 'left' & 'right' concepts that gives both 'sides' more influence even though that greater influence comes with some sacrifice to core beliefs. & until that happens, extremists will merely be the people standing on the cliff's edge shouting in vain at all the sheep walking over the edge. Eventually, the pounding of the hooves will cause a crack along the cliff, & even those not following blindly will fall as well...

    January 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  47. Gil

    We need to amend the U.S. Constitution requiring a runoff election for president and U.S. Senate and House if a candidate does not get the majority of votes.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  48. Mark

    If a Republician can/will not vote for a Democrate's bill and a Democrate can/will not vote for a Rebuplician's bill, it is a done deal.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  49. David

    Two things:

    A charismatic candidate that has the backbone to turn down overtures from the two major parties.

    The backing of the major media outlets.

    Both are very unlikely to happen in the near future.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  50. Tom F.

    I was a Republican, then I voted for Obama. Now I cannot respect either the Democrats or the Republicans. All of congress is influenced by big business. They are all on the take. They no longer represent the people. I plan to register as an Independant. I don't have much hope though.
    The only change will come if a law was passed making it illegal for any congressman to accept even $1 of lobbyist money. Only then will they represent the people. But who would initiate such a proposal?
    And in regards to the outrageous bonuses, I don't have a problem with giving bonuses but why so much? Normal for most companies is a 10 to 15% bonus. If these people have a base salary of $500,000 then they should be happy with say $50,000 to $75,000 bonus. If they don't like that then show them the door and go recruit from Yale business school.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  51. Fred

    Third parties only make sense if there are runoffs when nobody gets a majority. Otherwise, they can only be spoilers that hurt the major party to which they are closer.

    Cases in point: Most Perot supporters in 1992 would have preferred Bush 41 to Clinton and most Nader supporters in 2000 would have preferred Gore to Bush 43. Voters who shoot themselves in the foot in this manner are not likely to support third parties in the future.

    With runoffs, third parties could have influence even if they don't win. In a runoff, their adherents would be casting the deciding votes. This chance for influence would allow third parties to build momentum.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  52. Kevin, Coventry CT


    It will take a clear message and strong candidates that voters feel are viable in order for a third party to win. People often toy with the idea of voting for a third party, but fear that it's throwing away a vote.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  53. Fritz Roeth

    I think if the mainstream media were to give all the myriad parties that have a place on the ballots more air time, that would be a good first step. I recall in the '08 presidential election, that I found a website that listed all of the different candidates and running mates that I was going to see on the ballot, and a short bio and beliefs synopsis for each. It was refreshing to see, and an eye opener. Organizations such as CNN have a huge influence on what things we view as legitimate, be they animal, vegetable, mineral.....or political party.

    Au Gres, MI.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  54. Tom

    What it will take is some wildly popular charismatic political figure to stand on the steps of the Capitol and say he is ashamed to have an R or a D after his name, and he is forming a new party that will organize nationally and endeavour to elect candidates at all levels of government.
    The new part will abandon all dogmatic principles in favor of a single rule: Do what works (with the corollary of "for God's sake stop doing what doesn't work :-).
    Only a figure with the kind of fund raising ability to avoid being declared not viable by the news media could pull this off. Perhaps when Arnold can't run for governator again, he could try?

    January 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  55. Marie (Portland,Oregon)

    We will never have a viable third party in this country? Why? Because everyone knows it takes a majority to make things happen. A third party would dilute the numbers.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  56. Robert B.

    Historically, any time a 3rd party has begun to gather political wampum, it's platform has been adopted - usually in a watered-down fashion - by the one or both the parties in power. Look at how we got public education, women's sufferage (socialist party, I believe) and anti-deficit spending (Perot), etc.

    Tyler, TX

    January 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  57. Robert Boc

    The problem is very basic in that we now have a cadre of professional politicians, too many of whom focus on getting elected and re-elected. This political class have become America's royalty, not much different than our European forebears, and they are in office for many many years, becoming multi-millionaires and lobbyists.

    We will be a healthier country when I can look at a House or a Senate and see more than half the seats occupied by housewives, engineers and business people, my favorite three groups of serious problem solvers, and there are others.

    The American public needs to understand that they have been bought. They feel that inept politicians are from other states, not theirs. Their Senators and Representatives bring home the bacon, and this is what is sold and is the biggest addiction for all Americans.

    The system has been gamed and the sooner all Americans realize this the better chance we will have for reform.

    Jack, I could go on ,but I am getting myself sick.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  58. Darrell Davis

    We need a viable candidate. Unfortunately Ross Perot made a laughing stock of any third party. I am a registered Independent and am hoping we can find a candidate that is capable of addressing ALL of the issues in a respectable fashion. We don't need a one issue candidate.

    Darrell, DE

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  59. Ward

    I see three main things:

    1) Infrastructure. Both the democratic and republican parties have massive infrastructure for publicity, strategy and fundraising. It sets any other party at a distinct disadvantage from the very beginning.

    2) Primaries. The Primary season for the two main parties is so long that by the time you even hear that a third party candidate is running, most have made up their mind.

    3) Blind voting. I've talked to so many people over the years that do not actually pay attention or read up on the candidates, they simply walk into the voting booth and check all Democrat or all Republican. You can't win votes from people who were never listening.

    Those are what come to mind for me.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  60. Gat from Texas


    The single most important thing is to dismantle the electoral college and provide for the direct election of the president. Check back on the '92 election when Perot got a significant percentage of the popular vote but received onlyone (?) electoral vote.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  61. Matt R. from TX


    First of all, we need to lower the 15 % rule that prevents lesser known candidates from participating in the presidential debates. It doesn't make sense. How can you get your message out there if the other two parties don't let you get to speak in front of a major audience? I think if you can muster 5 % in the polls before a debate and without big money from either the Republican or Democrat machines, you're probably worth listening to.

    Thanks for letting US get our message out,

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  62. jpt

    If our young and energetic President would just stop all activities and focus on unification for at least 67%-75% congressional approval this would be his greatest accomplishment. This polarization is taking us down for years now. If our electorate would vote ALL greater than 2 term incombants out at the same time we could then get back on track. I'm 47 years old, live in Iowa, and have had the same senators the ENTIRE time...some 30 years now. They just keep getting more gray hair. The Sunday talk shows are just the same people for the last 30+ years!!! I'm sick of it. When do I get a choice to vote someone in instead of out!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  63. Doug S

    Don't know what it will take, but I can't wait for it to happen. Both parties make me wan to puke. Both are pretty much comprised of self centered, narcissitic, completely out of touch, old, rich white guys. The only constituents they care about are the other old, rich white guys who make the biggest campaign donations.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  64. Evan

    What will it take to get a viable third party going in this country? The simple answer is a different voting system. Third parties cannot exist with the way our voting works here.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  65. P.G

    How 'bout stop worrying about the who's got what majority crap and try solving a problem or two, for once.... The founders are rolling over in their graves watching these self-important phonies.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  66. Peter Johnson

    In Washington, c. 2010? That's easy... the big special-interest groups just have to start donating heavily to third-party candidates.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  67. Jesse from Panama City Beach, FL

    It's going to require honest media coverage, plain and simple. How many people simply vote R or D on the ballot simply because they consider themselves R or D? How many people don't educate themselves about the actual candidates and believe whatever they're told? I'm afraid to say I suspect there are far more uneducated voters than educated ones.

    As an aside, the Commision on Presidential Debates states on their website "The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners." and yet they only cover the two main parties?!?

    I cry foul.

    ALL candidates, regardless of party or affiliation should be getting the same share of the media spotlight. It shouldn't be "Red vs Blue and oh yeah some other people are running that we won't ever mention again".

    January 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  68. Bernie Margolis

    Brown won by focusing on the cost of the bill in a factual manner. People are sick of arguments based on extremist ideals and misdirection. A viable third party would showcase candidates who base decisions on fact and reason. Right now both parties are dominated by loud-mouthed idealists who prioritize emotional matters over practicality. I voted for Obama because he was the first candidate I've ever heard admit that education will not be improved through money alone, but by solid parenting. Had I been voting in Massachusetts I would probably have voted for Brown because he articulated the costs of proposed legislation in a concrete manner. This is in contrast with the rest of the Republican party with their baseless accusations of socialism and death panels. A viable third party would showcase candidates like Obama, McCain, Powell, and Brown and exclude candidates like Pelosi, Palin, Bachmann, and Cheney.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  69. Jeffrey Knisley

    The Bull Moose Party needs to be brought back and run by younger, independent thinking adults. Both parties are dominated by old fogies that are out of touch with America on seemingly almost every issue. A few fiscally conservative, socially moderate people coming together, and given a chance in the media, will give the Bull Moose Party a good, solid foundation on which to fix the political scene.
    Jeffrey, Greenfield, IL

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  70. Alan

    What will it take?

    First, enact term limits for Congress. Two terms for a Senator, six terms for a Representative. (Twelve years in either case)

    Second, figure out how to level the playing field of campaign finance without running afoul of the Constitution or turning campaigns into a free-for-all where outside interests (labor unions, PACs, corporations, whatever) with deep pockets can outright buy an election for their preferred candidate.

    A viable third party must gain enough seats in at least the House or the Senate (or both) to prevent either existing party from holding a majority. Otherwise, they'll remain a marginal player and not a force for moderation of either extreme.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  71. JK

    George Washington offered us good advice in his farewell address and his predictions about what would happen if we ignored it and allowed political parties to have the power they have today have all come to pass. As a result, we are allowing them to ruin our country as practically the only bipartisanship is found in their mutual support of the system that protects their stranglehold on our country.
    What we really need to do is to stop ignoring the very good advice our first president gave us: Don't invest in political parties at all. Absent that, we need to throw out all the current rubbish masquerading as legislators and have not three but multiple parties running candidates as well as voters willing to stop listening to the loudest shouters and actually pay attention to the realities behind the issues. If run-off elections were held between the two candidates getting the most votes whenever none of them achieved more than 50%, we could get out of the the 2-party rut because people fear wasting their votes.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  72. john ..... marlton, nj

    we already have a third party ... they are called voters... What do you think VA, NJ and MA elections were all about

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  73. Will from San Jose, CA

    At this point the parties have become two sides of the same coin. Lobbyists control all of Washington and will continue to control it as long as political campaigns cost millions, if not billions, of dollars. The only way a third party ever becomes viable is if you can pull the money out of running for office.

    We have a representative government. The problem is that our politicians are only representing the people writing the checks. With today's Supreme Court decision the problem is only going to get worse.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  74. Crystal C.

    Gaithersburg, MD

    I'm an independent and I'm sick of these career politicians with no real-life experience. I think we need to get real people, with real jobs, into office. I don't want a lawyer representing me. There is no difference between a democrat or a republican. Each party has one interest: money. To get a viable 3rd-party, we need a grassroots effort spearheaded by people that understand the Constitution and the ideals that our country was founded on. I can't say that there are any 3rd party candidates ready for office this November, but I believe the dissatisfaction of the constituents will result in people stepping up in the coming years. For now, I'll do ANYTHING to get whoever is in office now OUT! I don't care what party they're affiliated with. They've been in power too long... it's truly time for change. Expecting President Obama to do it on his own is not going to happen. Congress needs the change!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  75. John

    Most people are afraid to vote for third party candidates because they're likely to split the liberal/conservative vote and get "the other guy" in office.

    Voting by ranking candidates would eliminate this worry. I.e., I'm voting for Ralph Nader, but if Ralph gets eliminated because he has the fewest votes, then I want to vote for Al Gore.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  76. Stephen

    Unfortunately, if the current mess still isn't enough to swing people, I don't know what ever will. However, I strongly advise people to look into the libertarian party, which I believe touches on the strong points of both parties: liberal social ideals and conservative fiscal policies. The best government has always been that which governs least.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  77. janice - Arizona

    It will take the strength, solidarity and vigilance of the people of America to continue this revolution against "business as usual" by our bloated government. I think those supporting the Tea Party movement are getting a good start - but I see even more hope in the coming together of those independents, conservative democrats and more liberal republicans as just occurred in our great liberty state of Massachusetts.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  78. Michael Head

    I believe it will take money, either corporate backing or a multi-billionaire. That is why the closest independent to challenge for the White House was Ross Perot, and Nader never had a shot.

    So much of this country is in the middle, and continues to have to choose between the lesser of two evils. If a party emerged in the middle, and could compete financially with the other 2, it would undoubtedly be a permanent addition to our political landscape. But for now, corporations give all their money to the big 2 (usually both) and an outsider doesn't stand a chance.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  79. Leigh Pressley

    A good old fashioned write-in campaign is the only way to get them on the ballot.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  80. asophiastory

    I think there are two ways it might happen. A grassroots party that finds an amazing candidate for high office, or an equally amazing Independent candidate who manages to win and founds a new party. But mainly, neither of these things will ever happen until people stop thinking of a vote for a third party candidate as a wasted vote.

    Chapel Hill, NC

    January 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  81. Jill

    It will take the adoption of Ranked Choice Voting. This would in essence allow a person to vote for who they truly want in office first and they would be allowed a second and perhaps even third choice on their ballot. These alternate choices would come into play if their first choice candidate had no mathematical chance of winning, . Only then would we really know how many people would choose the independent, green party, or some other party's representative.

    Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan

    January 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  82. Ali from California

    viable third and fourth and fifth parties are coming soon to the political landscape of the u.s! just don't be surprised when they are named for their corporate sponsors, thanks to today's absurd supreme court ruling dismantling the feingold/maccain bill. brace yourself for the walmart party to vehemently oppose the target party, and you know the wells fargo party will absolutely detest those godless heathens in the bank of america party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  83. Jarrod Rager, Colorado

    The key to establishing a viable third party is education. As long as the public, and their children, are inundated with the two party battle and government double-speak a third party has little chance of survival.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  84. Dedrick

    It will require the a large number of our largely apathetic society to realize that they can in fact make a difference. It will require a wildly popular politician or anti-politician and a strong party name that has history (Think bull moose). This crappy 2 party system will be the undoing of our nation.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  85. steve- virginia beach

    It has already started with a plurality of voters who are fed up with both parties. The only thing lacking are good candidates who truly represent our interests. Candidates who will form USA and US citizen caucases (as if they should be needed) and reject all others. Candidates who will care about others but place our needs and interests first, just like all other countries do. And who will represent the interests of all of us, not just certain groups. But why does it have to be a third party? Candidates who will govern a basis of facts, common sense, critical thinking, intellectual honesty, and the foundation on which the US was founded. The time seems ripe for true independents. All we need are suitable candidates.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  86. Billy Bob

    Take the moderate Republicans (what few there are) and the Blue Dog Democrats and you could put together a third party big enough to hold sway. Not a majority but big enough to have to be heard. It would also provide a voice that is not heard right now. Fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  87. Robert

    More of the extreme 8 yrs of the Republicans on their spending tear and more of the same of the Obama, Pelosi, Reed RAM IT DOWN OUR THROATS BY ANY MEANS politics. Can't take much more from either side.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  88. Tony Cassano

    It will take a legitamte candidate who is not affraid to step away from the "political" game and play the role of civil servant. Dont worry about who, in Washington, you are making happy and speak your thoughts. Support the people not the office.

    Writing from Scottsdale, AZ

    January 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  89. Warren in Ohio

    Whatever prospects there once existed for a viable third party in America died today. It was killed today by the demonic ruling of the US Supreme Court to treat campaign money as speech and thereby guarantee that all remaining elections degenerate into auctions. American democracy: RIP. Thanks for the memories.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  90. Michael Nunley

    If we had Instant Runoff Voting that allowed voters to pick their first, second, and third choices and eliminated whichever candidate got the fewest first-place votes, then used the second place votes of voters who gave their first place to the eliminated candidate, and kept doing this until someone finally got to 50% of the votes, people would be able to vote for whoever they really wanted instead of voting for the "lesser of two evils" without fearing their vote would end up electing the person they thought was the "greater evil."

    January 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  91. Nick Wenderoth

    Jack, two questions,first like to know what the dollar value of relief to Haiti coming from Muslim nations around the world is ,have not heard much about the benevolence of Allah regarding these poor unfortunates. Second don't you think ,CBS, NBC, or who ever it is (don't care) should have decided if someone really wanted to be the guru of late night insomniacs,then let the lowest bidder prevail.If you really want ,and feel qualified for a job position,and there are others vying for the same job, you present a bid for said job , "just like the rest of us". How can a network through around 33 to 45 million dollars for such a useless commodity, in these time, as a comic. I would have set the bid at "which ever of you two clowns wants this position ,the job now pays half price who really wants it??? We really have to let go of America"s worship of entertainers ,actors comics, musicians, athletes,etc ,etc,....n

    January 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  92. Matthew Pruss

    The biggest threat facing our democracy is the influence of special interests. We all know that the organizations or groups that have the most money can buy influence in government.

    I find it pathetically hysterical when a politician says that campaign donations and special interest money don't affect their decisions and their votes. Of course they do. Politicians are interested in one thing and one thing only. Getting re-elected. They will do and say anything to get re-elected and will take money from anyone in order to get re-elected.

    For a viable third party to exist, the entrenched special interest money has to be taken out of the system. Until that happens, we will be left with the sorry individuals that we have in government.

    Salt Lake City, UT

    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  93. David


    I am afraid a lot of money – money is the god of the world. But maybe ,just maybe, a lot of belief that people can finally undertake the art of compromise and get away from greed and the "my way or the highway: type of understanding.

    Otherwise – we are all in for a lot of hurt!


    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  94. Bill Coster

    Jack, I'm afraid the next 3rd party candidate might be closer to a benevolent dictator than a candidate. Most Americans want government to work and the present system does not.. I was an independant who switched to democrat to vote for Obama in the NY primary. I still support him but see some Bush in his discisions ie., two wars that will be another waste of life with no lasting positive results. A third party candidate is not going to happen because many Americans are losing interest in the whole process. BC. Laurel, NY

    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  95. allan afrow

    Democrats and Republicans, with like ideals, such as thinking of America first, and not their respective parties, have to jump ship and form a third party. The ideal would be a party of term limits and limited campaign financing, but with a unified goal of doing what is best for UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and not their party. I am a former resident of Massachusetts who applauds the Independent voter for the message sent, "screw 'em all", the Dems, the Republicans, and all politicans, with whom we are all fed up with.
    I now live in Florida and if I take an Independent designation, I cannot vote in a primary election. I must choose. In Massachusetts you can be an Independent and you can still vote in a primary. I feel deprived and I wish someone would test the constitutionlity of this process in Florida.
    THIRD PARTY, you have my vote, my contribution and my support.

    Boca Raton, FL by way of Boston

    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  96. Marc Jentzsch

    I think the binary nature of our political system won't support a viable third party. A simple majority is all it takes to slip into office, but there's nothing to give a voice to the often large losing pool, a group that should still be afforded a considerable voice. This leads to thinking in zero-sum terms and the idea that voting for a third party is essentially throwing that vote away. As long as the winner takes all, there will only be two realistic options. At least, this is what my lay understanding leads me to.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  97. Scott

    Whatever happened to "Of the people, by the people, and for the people"? Now it's just "for the money". Campaign finance reform would be a start but that's a pipe dream. The people in power make the rules and they won't make changes that could take them out of power. Until Americans wake up and realize they are being screwed by both parties there will be "no real change".

    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  98. Brad Kaiser

    Now that our Supreme Court has stripped away the vote of the people and given the decision solely to the hands of big business, it will be virtually impossible to break the gridlock of the two party system. Big money will be deciding all of our elections for us and it all rides in the hands of the power elite. Are we expecting any of them to open their arms and welcome a third party? It'll never happen. NOBODY is serving the people anymore.
    Brad Kaiser
    Florence, SC

    January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  99. Joe Mama 4 Obama

    End primaries

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  100. Cliff Glass - East Rockaway, NY


    Additional political parties are not the answer. The culture of privilege and corruption in Washington compromises all newcomers.
    What is needed are term limits,mandatory weekly debates, and a hard dollar limit spent for each election.
    Candidates can even save money by adopting the same slogan, " Twelve years and I'm gone – I promise."
    Americans would all benefit by that promise.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  101. Bill

    The system has to change so that the existing parties can't "stack the deck" in elections. One of the most important things would be to have redistricting done by a non-partisan means so that more elections are competitive. In competitive elections you will get far fewer candidates who are party hacks.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  102. Steve Phillips

    What we need is the big money and big interest groups out of politics, so that the independent voices can be heard and the two useless parties can be deflated. Unfortunately with the Supreme Court ruling today, that won't happen anytime soon.

    Golden, Colorado

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  103. Tom Berndt

    A Leader. A common sense driven intelligent business manager who is not afraid to be honest and will say that he is from the middle wher most of us are. A leader who makes decisions on a case by case basis after careful analysis, not by asking his party what their dogma dictates. A leader who is a skeptic of other countries but trusts us. An environmentalist fiscal conservative who understands government needs to stay out of our lives, not dictate that men should not marry or that we cannot pray in school. If an individaul like that manages to get national attention, a party will form around him and it will change. A leader who says she/he is from the population that was once called the Reagan Democrats or the Clinton Republicans, who we really are, not what uninteresting candidates call themselves to get votes.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  104. Bennett

    Implement proportional elections in elections for the House! The first-past-the-post system is obsolete, as demonstrated by politically stable nations such as Sweden which have rightfully chosen to abandon an exclusive two-party system.

    Think about this: in a first-past-the-post system, it is virtually inevitable that at least 50% of all votes are "wasted," meaning they either go to the losing candidate, or they are not necessary to give the winning candidate the necessary 50% + 1. In a proportional election, only a select few voters with very "unique" perspectives will have their votes wasted.

    Proportional elections allow for more open discourse, and eliminate the constraints which continue to hamper American voters; think of the Nader dilemma.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  105. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    It will take the American people having an active interest in the future of our country . Till then, the squeaky wheel will get the grease, which will be special interests – big money corporations, fanatical organizations and organized labor. The middle class is either too complacent or feels too irrelavent to impose their will. A 3rd party makes but it will never happen.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  106. Mike

    A strong message! A message that does not meet the extremist on either side... we don't need gays married, we don't need Christian support... we need common sense. They can't meet the funding so when they do speak it needs to be common sense.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  107. Kevin in MA

    For too long folks vote D or R, the party, not the person. Now the country is really progressive or conservative. The best operating system is neat the middle, not too left, no too right. It's all about balance.

    Unfortunately Democrat and Repulican have money available to them that a third party can't get. Many senators and congressmen have been in too long and won't change anything that benefits them.

    Start during an election cycle and demand canidates agree to term limits, No taxpayer funding, No pension, no jets, and if they still want the job vote them in. Make them change these rules. It could be as early as this Nov. Get some indipendent canidates and vote them in.

    We need to revamp the sysytem and get a government by the people, for the people not by the party, the lobbiests, the unions, the special interest groups.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  108. Bubba likes it right

    It is here already and ran in NY 23. Check it out and see what I mean.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  109. Scott

    The more one keeps watching the political movements in America the more it is apparent that govt itself is big business. If a party could be formed with the common sense talking points of both sides maybe, just maybe some "change" would come to the political process which has been lacking for a very long time.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  110. Pete Falte

    It will take a group willing to advocate strong fiscal conservatism and a centrist social viewpoint to attract members from both parties, otherwise they can't overcome the fear of splitting a party and ceding power. The time is right! The only ones listening right now are the people, and they don't like what they hear.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  111. Anthony S. Wichita, KS

    Personally, we need more pundits like Limbaugh, Beck, and Ed Shultz which is why I'm already sold on a 3rd party.

    Our system currently rewards the negativity, and rewards power to those who fight dirty and win, rather than fighting hard for the best interests of the American people.

    A major catastrophe such as a bankrupt government will have to occur before people realize the benefit of a viable 3rd party option.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  112. Erik B.

    We need instant runoff voting! That way you could vote for a 3rd party candidate and not feel your vote was "wasted".

    January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  113. Bill

    Why only 3? Look, the answer lies in the Haiti earthquake. What I mean is that we humans like to think we are in charge and have control. But, in reality we control nothing and like politicians, they like us think we are in charge. Until we as individuals change, nothing will change so what good will a 3 party do? Look, without getting religious I say we follow the ten laws handed down to us by GOD. Now, who will cast the first stone? No man nor women can cast a stone.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  114. Eric (Austin)

    "..neither option is any good. Both parties stink." – You couldn't have put it any better.

    Our govt is owned by one set of special interests or another and we're duped into voting for these candidates along one hackneyed old ideological channel or another. It doesn't matter though as they only represent the money that got them there once they're in office.

    How do we get a third party going? Sigh ... I won't hold my breath. After all the many many years of do-nothing, corruption, hot-air and gridlock on both sides and we still don't have a third party ... Well it makes me wonder if we ever can. The 'interests' that own both the entrenched parties will simply co-opt and absorb any new effort that comes along. They have to. The money cannot stand to be unrepresented in a truly people's party. Look at how quickly the slimy Republican machine infiltrated the fledgling TeaBagger uprising and made it their own.

    Ok ... I'll be optimistic and hope that we're at the tipping point and sufficient disenfranchisement will make it happen now. I'll give it four years and if not then ... It's time for a revolution. A real armed revolution that locks up 5,000 bankers, takes back the constitution and pretty much throws out everything else in the unclean system that's grown up around it and choked it out.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  115. Dan

    ...and to be viable, it needn't have many elected members in Congress. Consider the recent experience with Lieberman, Nelson....

    January 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  116. time_for_a_change

    All it will take is a really good party moniker. How about the "FED UP" party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  117. kevin elsey

    I agree that we need a third party option. We need a party that is going to promote the idea of a government of the people,for the people, and by the people. The two we have don't do this.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  118. jpt

    Jack, I'm not sure 3rd party can EVER happen. The system is rigged a thousand directions for the incombant. Ross Perot came close. No one else since. It would have to be someone who is a zillionaire, well respected, carry's less than zero baggage, no skeletons of any kind (basically grew up in a vacuum tube) and hardly known. Otherwise the media will just fry the person into vapor.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  119. Kimberly

    What will it take to get a viable third party going in this country? Less than we imagine. It is hard to find anyone in the country these days who feels like any part of our government represents them. Increasingly greedy business practices are putting us both in physical and financial danger, and it's time that we have some leaders who simply can't be bought.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  120. Rick Murphy

    Large amounts of financial backing to facilitate a massive advertising campaign. A majority of the electorate don't closely follow local races, and rely on media run up coverage to make their decisions. If the media isn't reporting a candidate, the candidate won't win.

    Call it Perot's Law, if you will!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  121. Gail, Plano,Texas

    Jack: Didn't you know that we already have a third party called The Teabaggers? They are the Mob. Kind of like Madame Du Farge and her comrades in A Tale of Two Cities. And believe me, they will bring back the guillotine.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  122. Marcos

    Start with the media – rather than give coverage exclusively to the GOP and democrats, talk more about the independents: bring them in for more interviews, discuss their politics more in comparison with GOP and democrats etc...The more the media takes the independent party seriously enough to merit discussion, the more people will consider them a serious candidate for election.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  123. Matt

    Easy, continue to let both parties prove with their policies and agenda there's no difference between them until Americans are finally fed up (which I hope is in 2012).

    Long Beach Ca

    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  124. George,New Jersey

    It's going to take Lou Dobbs, Mr. Independent himself. The Independents need a canidate of there own, Independents are not fond of the republican or democratic party. Lets start in New Jersey
    with the beginning of a strong Independent Party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  125. Matt from VA

    A third party will only come around when a particular issue, unkown at this time, has three valid sides to it. This issue will have to be an important issue, but once that three-way split occurs, you will find a new party grow taking that issue as the banner and then adding pieces of both existing parties to fill out the rest of their stand. Pro-Choice, but against Big Government... Moderation will become the standard for that party, but it needs that spark of an issue to create it. Perhaps HealthCare will be it, if anyone ever comes up with a decent idea for it.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  126. Celine

    An act of God!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  127. Richard

    To have a viable third party, we need to allow a voter the option to vote for multiple candidates, instead of the either/or majority/minority system of today.

    Let's say, in a three party race:

    Voter 1 votes for the candidates from party A and B
    Voter 2 votes for the candidates from party B and C
    Voter 3 votes for candidate A.
    Voter 4 votes for candidate B.
    Voter 5 votes for candidate C.

    Candidate B would be the winner (3 out of 5 votes), though A and C developed enough of a constituency that Candidate B would have to address.

    This would also change the nature of politics from candidates slinging mud to candidates making themselves look better and appealing to many.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  128. Lynda

    Jack, the problem isn't a lack of a third party, it is the bitter partisanship that ruins everything. In a more civilized and logical time Americans understood they have to at some point work together for the good of the country, and that doesn't exist anymore. This is apparent when Republicans stonewall every idea the President floats because they want power back. Not because they have a better plan. Sad day in America.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  129. David - Palm City, Florida

    Actually, we have only one political party, The Re-Dem-A-Pub-Li-cats. There is no difference between one or the other, They are all part of the same dysfunctional US Government system, designed to keep the populace distracted and fighting umongst themselves over ideological issues.

    Meanwhile, the politicians vote themselves huge annual pay raises, Cadillac Health Plans that are not even available to the general public, immunity from prosecution for crimes against the constitution & citizens of the US, and a COMPLETE LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. Worse off, they only have to work for two years in government and then they get a full pension for the remainder of their lives for themselves and their spouses.

    I am all for instituting a third party, but if this does not work in short order, I advocate replacing the US Government by any and all means necessary!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  130. Arnie Ash

    It will take the entrance of one or more high profile, highly respected (if in fact such an individual still exist) people from one of the existing parties to throw their weight behind the third party initiative. Every great enterprise requires a Charismatic creditable individual to lead the charge! Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, Regan, ???

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  131. Ben

    What it will take is either a large number of Senators and Representatives, both Dem. and GOP, to switch to a more centrist party, or an important figure with their own following to create a new third party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  132. jcricket

    If they're sick of taxes now they're going to have a coronary in about ten years. Taxes are ludicrously low in this country, and we've got the crumbling schools, failing infrastructure and ludicrously expensive and useless healthcare coverage to show for it.

    Believe what you want, but there are only two future outcomes in America.

    One, higher taxes (who pays is up to us) and better services

    Two, bankrupt cities and states, and a massive decline in the standard of living for the poor and middle class (at least).

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  133. David, Tampa, Fl

    I don't really know. Third parties have been more of a spoiler movement rather than a serious endeavor. From the Bull Moose Party to the Independent Party of a few years ago, they seem to have a short lived marginal impact then fade as the voters see the same two Parties bring on new sales tactics and buy into the promise all will be changed if you put us in office. I'm now so jaded and cynical I wouldn't trust any third party political hacks either. Sooner or later they would be bought and paid for just like the lunatics we have now. But until we get a viable third party canwe get NONE OF THE ABOVE on the ballot. My guess is that canidate would win most of the time.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  134. Drew Zahasky

    There already is a viable third party in this country. It's the unofficial, unorganized independed free thinking American. We are fed up with politicians who are out for wealth, personal gain, and power. We are going to take this country back one state, one district, and one seat at a time. Gone are the days of blind loyalty to the established parties, you have twisted yourselves from right to left and back again. Incumbents beware: start packing your bags.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  135. Rob

    "These critical independent voters are mostly white, middle-class and middle-aged suburbanites"

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  136. Tyler

    one word. Money.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  137. Clark

    A true leader (not one with just a pretty face, or a silken tongue) with real solid, good, American Constitution VALUES.

    We want a man or woman that is worth following .... NOT one that blows with the wind, NOT one that wants their name in the history books, .... We want an individual that thinks of the country first and makes decisions with integrity based on their stated values.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  138. Fred (Maryland)

    What do you mean? We have one. It get's 1/2 percent of all the votes every election. It's had great leaders like Nader and Perot. Nevermind. MONEY! A TON OF MONEY!!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  139. Liz in Tacoma

    I'm one of those white, middle aged, suburbanite independents and I'm growing tired of my insurance premiums going higher and having to work harder for less pay. I'll never be able to retire at this rate! To get a third party we will all have to get just as fed up as the folks in Massachusetts did. The big businesses and insurance companies are playing both Democrat and Republican politicians for fools.
    Liz in Tacoma

    January 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  140. Royal Marty

    Organization! The desire is there, the group is there, I think the people want it, but they need organization.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  141. Steve C in Valley Center KS

    Two words - Courage and Belief. Courage to pull the lever for that third party candidate on the ballot if you believe they in fact embody your political beliefs and values. Believing that you won't be "throwing your vote away" by not voting either Republican or Democrat. If more people voted their conscience instead of the party line it might be amazing to see the results at the polls. Too many elected officials in both the republican and democratic parties are concerned mainly with either being elected or reelected, not representing their constituents as is their ONLY job. Sen. Claire McCaskill said as much herself commenting on the Scott Brown senate victory by saying "If there's anybody in this building that doesn't tell you they're more worried about elections today, you should absolutely slap them". Note to all incumbents - Represent the people who put you in office and you'll stay there. "Do your own thing along party lines" and you'll be coming home.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  142. Britton

    I think the only way to make a viable third party is for the people of this great country to stand up and take a stand on massive reform. Too many people have been bought off to care about a swift resolution to solve the problems we face today. I for one would love to see this happen but at the same time something tells me people are too naive to care. If you ran for president Jack you'd have my vote in a heart beat. I'm tired all this mindless government spending and the common man not getting their voice heard. Jack Cafferty in 2012. I can see it now :). Thank You for everything you do in telling the truth the way it should be. God Bless.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  143. Brad Sponholz

    3 things:
    1) The playing field needs to be leveled to grant easy ballot access for anyone who wants to run for an office across the nation.
    2) The 2 major party's numbers need to dwindle further.
    3) More major media reporters such as Mr. Cafferty willing to take up the discussion.
    It isn't even so much that the GOP and Dem parties stink as it is that most people are more in the middle than what each party thinks. They are tired of being told how to spend their monaye and how to live their lives.
    Thanks for taking up this discussion.
    Brad Sponholz
    Chair, Libertarian Party Milwaukee County Affiliate

    January 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  144. Edward in Wisconsin

    It isn't going to happen. It did not happen with Ross Perot and all his money and it is not likely to happen now that it takes even more money to run. For the foreseable future we are stuck with the two parties we have but I predict that the number of independent voters will rise rapidly. The disappointed voters on the right and left will probably vote less giving the independents an even stronger voice. A third party is cost prohibitive.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  145. Kristine

    I don't know but would really love to see a third party. I'm one of those people who run from one party to the next. I would love to see a party for the people.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  146. Eric

    Instant run-off elections are critical to having a successful 3rd party. The voters need to feel they aren't "wasting a vote" by selecting their favorite candidate.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  147. Paul

    It will never happen, but maybe we need a parliamentary form of government so that something actually gets done.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  148. Michael Jordan

    Being from Massachusetts, and talking with other Independents, It was not a win for Republicans but a message, that all who are seated in our Congress and Senate should get their Resume's updated. We are tired of these politicians voting on Bills for Favor. This Health care Bill was watered down and meaningless, it only benefitted the Insurance Industry. Independents are tired of all this two Party system which blames each other about everything. Make way for all New Congress, and Senate. It is time to replace the relics and put new blood, people who can work together and listen to the People.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  149. Jim

    Term limits. When it is not a career move then maybe we can start to have the average American in office that understands the needs and wants of the people.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  150. Chris Shook

    It will take a well financed group of individuals that are driven to serve themselves via the political party mechanism to make a third party viable.

    Problem is, these people are all ready Republicans of Democrats......

    It would be better to abolish the party system all together.
    Like civil rights, where divisions by race, religion or gender are forbidden, politicians should be one thing- American human beings.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  151. pv

    The American Party; all of us in the middle, responsible adults, willing to share and work together.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  152. Lori - PA


    Now sounds like a good time. What would we have to do to get the ball rolling?

    January 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  153. Ivan

    a third party that caters to middle of the road centrist. a party that deals in pragmatic realism, as opposed to idealogical thinking that flies in the face of reality.

    for myself, i would love to see a return of the 'bull moose' party for lack of a better name. they don't need much either. if this fictional party could capture 20% of the electorate, they could force Republicans and Democrats to work together. simply put, they could keep either party from getting it's agenda done unless they (Repubs & Dems) catered to the middle.

    sounds like a win/win for the good 'ol U.S. of A!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  154. Tony

    That is the question I had when I don't like what Republicans or Democrats offer.
    A good party name? Independent party? Common sense party? Science oriented party where everything based facts instead of belief? A party based on no religions/capitalism/communism/etc.
    I believe belief caused wars (Communist/Capitalism/Chritians/Muslims/etc)
    I like to have a platform where we can get to gether to say our opinion about certain things, then from that platfrom we can form a party.

    I like a party where there is no extremists of any kinds.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  155. Josh Cauthen

    We need a party that will take both parties to task, and that keeps away from the often extreme fringes of either party. Our political system is bogged down with debating party platforms, instead of tackling the issues that matter most to Americans. We need a party that sees willingness to compromise as a strength, and that will start doing whats best for the country, instead of what will get politicians re-elected.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  156. Jerome from Toronto

    It will take corporate sponsorship to get the ball rolling. Good will does not always yeild go crops if you know what I mean. Jack you don't think the democrats and the republicans started out to mean well? 2 corrupted parties is enough; the U.S. Doesn't need 3.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  157. Mark (Cape Coral, Florida)

    Very, very simple Jack. The media is the is the sole factor that will determine if a 3rd party becomes viable.

    Lets look at it this way, putting ideology to the side: How does the Libertarian Party, Constitutional Party, Green Pary etc. get treated by the media today? The party and their supporters get treated as tho they are the fringe of society. Until the media treats them with respect, instead of contempt, we'll NEVER get away from the stranglehold the "two"-party system currently has on our Federal, State and Local governments.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  158. time_for_a_change

    I'm Republican, I'm a Democrat, I'm Fed Up. 🙂

    January 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  159. bob samms

    Jack, The problem isn't the political parties as much as it is the failure of capitalism. Supply side economics has allowed the rich to get much richer and the middle class becoming extinct. The system only works if people care about others . Greed is the REAL issue.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  160. Tom

    Three words:" Ranked Choice Voting

    January 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  161. Dimslie

    Great idea. Split the vote and let the fringe nuts come to power. Worked for Hitler.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  162. Gregg Gallagher

    Fact is Jack, that after the debacle of the past 9 years now, the demonstrated incapability of the Democrats to govern with a substantial majority, and today's Supreme Court ruling, I hold no great hope for our country – 3rd party or no.

    We could put a sign out from that says simply "Country for Sale".... but the fact is, I believe the Chinese already hold our mortgage...

    January 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  163. Jeff Hines

    Jack, I'm a white, middle-class, liberal 29 year old suburbanite living in Orlando, FL. I'm also a registered Independent. You're right, neither party seems even slightly concerned about serving the interests of the greater U.S. They're too busy worrying abou re-election and doing what lobbyists tell them to do. Unfortunately, and as terrifying a prospect as this sounds, I feel the only way to get a third political party going or to get the two that currently exist to listen, is revolution.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  164. Ed from California

    How about for starters the "news" media allow the the independent candidate's a voice on national televised debates. The norm has been if you're not a Rep or Dem, it's tough luck. Or allow every candidate free airtime. Every night, you can have blocks of airtime set up, so the candidate can spew their BS,(sorry) message of hope and prosperity and sunny days forever. A chicken in every pot and two cars in the garage.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  165. Stephen J Gilbert

    Money, lots of money. Democrats and Republicans have a stranglehold on campaign finances because interest groups love using a false dichotomy to invalidate their opponents. "You are either for war, or you are for the terrorist," "You are either for a public option, or you are against health care" So, the two party system is perfect for this type of fallacy. I'm sick of it. What uber rich citizen will stand up? None, because they have too much interest in keeping the status quo. It would be like being the first African American student at Little Rock Central. It wouldn't have happened without the 101st Airborne. We need a Moderate Party desperately, and it must start local. Just need lots of start up capital and maybe a little governement help, but with the two parties so entrenched, I don't think it will happen.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  166. Justin, Minneapolis, MN

    I agree. Both parties stink. I am tired of one side accusing the other, neither side taking account or any of the blame of the United States current situation. I feel I agree with issues on both sides but the current political people in office cannot think that way. It's either all or nothing just for the sake if "being" a Democrat or Republican. When will they start thinking of the American people as a United people instead of Left or Right? We all lose when there is no communication.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  167. Patrick, Seattle

    I would join the Cafferty Party Jack...you have my vote.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  168. R Oehlman

    It will take an act of congress! Let's see hasn't this been tried before? I wonder more about the role that the media plays in this process of left and right, rarely is the center represented in reporting today. I am personally sick and tired of the "analysis and opinions" of those who quite honestly are no different than the idiots in Congress. Any more the media are more like sixth grade ghouls than reporters. I think that this might at times include you too Mr. Cafferty.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  169. adam

    In order for an independent party to succeed, people will have to begin to think for themselves. They will have to spend time analyzing contemporary issues faced by society and forming opinions based on facts and logic and ethics. Is this possible? We're too busy working to be able to pay for health care, education, and kids. Or, maybe we're too busy texting, eating fast food, and watching American Idol. The fact of the matter is that the average American has an IQ of 100 and intelligent individuals that form stances on policies based on the above criteria are vastly outnumbered by hockey moms and Joe six packs everywhere.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  170. Joseph Kavanaugh

    The 2 parties are like 2 fighting parents in front of there children. The children will grow up to be more argumentive with out resolve. A 3rd party in this country will develop as the country go's deeper into debt, wars continue and no one in the free world likes us anymore. The president talks about change. Change will come to this nation only if and when a 3rd party emerges from the disolve of everything the way we used to love here in the US. There is alot of angry people out there Jack. Change is inevitable but not the way Pres. Obama invisions it. God Bless The USA!!!

    Postal Joe
    Rock Hill NY

    January 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  171. Michelle

    A Candidate that makes sense and ready to stand up to both sides and say BS.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  172. Zapped

    It will take the people to start paying attention to who really has the power and control in this country. We may vote someone out and someone in but its still the same cat in a differnt hat. Our represenatives no longer work for us they work for the all mighty dollar soon to be Yen. Our government has stood by and allowed the extinction of our once robust industrial spirit. It seems that the U.S. no longer manufactures anything of quality but weapons (why we continue to fight in multiple wars and conflicts).

    The people have stood by and supported both parties (Dems and Rep) so what would make them change now on much smaller issues then ones from the past? I think it is to late for a third party to emerge and be relevant in our government. Our government has become corrupt and broken and a third party won't save it. Get ready for an implosion sometime in the next decade or two. Then dare I say revolution to come a short time after.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  173. Rebecca

    If even half of the people who tell me before every election that they are independents, but just vote for the party because the independent candidate never wins, would actually vote the way they say they believe, a third party could get up and running.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  174. Indiana Jim

    The nature of our government could be completely changed by a viable 3rd party. I'm sick of having to choose between two evils. It could be done with a strong Presidential candidate who believed in common sense. Unfortunately, it would also take a lot of money and that's where the trouble seems to start.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  175. Tom Nicholson

    The only way to have a third party is to have a fourth party too. That way the moderates in each party (a majority in each party) have the most voters. It would almost have to be a coordinated effort between the new parties.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  176. Tyler

    Jack, sadly, it would probably take an overhaul of our entire electoral system. According to political scientists, the single-winner voting system (wherein one person is elected to represented to represented a constituency) nearly always has the effect of creating a two-party system. If you look at the democracies around the world that have viable third parties, nearly all them have a proportional electoral system, where the percentage of seats a party gets in the legislature is proportional to the percentage of votes that party received.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  177. Peter Alexander

    I think having a large independent voting block NOT affiliated with a party should be the third party. And with that, I would encourage Christians to withdraw from the Republican Party and become part of the independents so they can vote beholden to no one.

    Peter Alexander
    Petersburg, Virginia

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  178. Ed Trainor

    Before we will see a vialble third party presidential candidate the courts will have to clear away the state election laws that make it so difficult for candidates to get their name on the ballot. But those state election laws were written and are maintained by the status quo pros in the Republican and Democratic parties.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  179. Mike

    ... a different political system entirely. Duverger's law plainly and logically shows that in a winner-take-all presidential election system two parties will always coalesce eventually.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  180. Paul G

    Dallas, Texas
    The best way to get a viable third party is to require a voter majority in the presidential election. Third parties generally reflect the people's wishes. A major political party would need to include the third party's ideas in order to ensure a voter majority. That way the people's voice would have representation in Washington, even if the major party gets elected.
    If the elected party then ignores their promices to the third party supporters, the third party would swing the next election another direction. This would bring some accountability to the politicians.
    The third party would not need to be a majority in order to get their voices heard and get action on their agenda.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  181. Matthew

    It will take both lots of money and an array of candidates who aren't perceived as being members of a third party simply because they're too unbelievably wacky even to be members of our current wacky parties.

    Chapel Hill, NC

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  182. Joseph, Los Angeles

    Approval voting is the way to go. Let people vote for more than one candidate. Then votes for third parties will no longer be "wasted votes".

    January 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  183. Scott Ferland of Hartford, CT

    My solution would be to have the moderates of both parties (who are the true representatives of the vast majority of Americans), come together and form a third party that's politically in the center, leaving the extremes of both sides where they belong – in the margins!

    I believe that beginning with this relatively small bloc of moderate lawmakers, the new party would quickly grow within a few election cycles, to the point where you'd find most of our elected officials are affiliated with the new third party and are willing and able to work through the minor differences they'll encounter.

    As a nation, we have to stop our one-issue voting habits. Sometimes we have to compromise on our own personal issues that are important to us in order to get the most qualified person into office who can do the most good for the most people!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  184. Arma Jo Zimmerman

    Mr. Cafferty: It almost appears that the media might, I say might, be listening the citizens of this country at last. I am sure you are aware of the growing movement to replace the entire House of Representatives and 1/3 of the Senate. Tell your liberal, mind boggling, coworkers that they had better watch out too. We are tired of the BS from the media and are happy to hear people like yourself finally "touching" on the truth. Please keep up the good work!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  185. ed in ri

    It will never happen. Please recall the recent debates for president back in 08. Ron Paul and Kucninich were black-balled by the media in charge. These candidates were in one of the major parties. Imagine how the debate sponsors would treat a candidate from an alternate party, that doesn't endorse their agenda?

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  186. Paul Pagel

    Hi Jack,

    I don't think any change can occur until we vote all "professional politicians" (i.e. incumbents) out of office and replace them with citizens who care more about the country than about their personal agendas or retaining power. Second, we'd need term limits for both houses of Congress. Then, when the fear of losing their seat has been removed, they might actually have the wisdom to see a third party, not as a threat to their power, but as another voice offering up possible solutions to the incredible challenges facing us today.

    Thanks very kindly,
    ~Paul Pagel, Pacifica, CA

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  187. Andy Z. - Cleveland, OH

    Part of the problem is our voting system is designed for two parties. If we adopted a ranked voting system like Australia then you could start to see viable third parties without the worry of throwing the election to the worse of two evils.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  188. Karl Pohle

    Option A: Draft them out of the other two existing parties. Just like they do in baseball expansion, except with no protected rosters. Then put some sort of mandate in place where a minimum of x seats must be filled by each of the three parties so that there is no clear majority and they MUST negotiate. The remaining seats can be the swing difference left up to voters. Option B: Take unemployed people off the street and place them into the new party.They can't do any worse then the current bunch of yahoos.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  189. Eric Russell

    Unfortunatly I don't think a third party will ever be a viable option in the US unless the current politics change completely. "The tax and spend because the ordinary person is too dumb to do it for themself" Democrates and the "get profit in whatever means necessary, regardless of who I have to buy or step on to get to it" Republicans have one thing in common. They want the votes, whatever means they have to take to get them. Lying, shadowing, and covering up the real issues are ultimatly at the fault of lobiests and interest groups and even more so ourselves for letting them do it, and until that changes the loley voter will take a back seat to whomever there representative's biggest doner is. This is not the way that the system was envisioned by our forefathers but that is the way it is now. Until the entire system changes and both parties accept the responsibility of the people they serve, not the companies that line their pockets we will continue to have this debate with no clear cut answer in site. I hate to be a cynic, but I see no end in sight to the way things are done until we start holding those who put us in this situation accountable for the problems that they cause. The only way that can happen is by telling the people who represent us that there actions will not be tollerated, and then the problem will be how do we fire someone who cannot be fired.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  190. Dr. Scot Schraufnagel

    Duverger's Law – Countries with plurality rule elections and single member districts can expect two-party dominance-plain and simple. Under current electoral arrangements we can only expect two-party dominance.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  191. Bob

    It will take an educated American public. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . .it expects what never was, and never will be." I am a real independent, and HS American Government teacher. I hate to admit it, but by the time my 10th graders graduate, they will know more about our Constitution and how our government was designed to operate than 95% of the idiots now voting. The highest positions in the largest, most complex government the world has ever seen can be bought by novices with minimal intelligence, no management, diplomatic or leadership experience, or ethically corrupt voted in by naive, narcisistic, short-sighted, self-indulgent, spoiled, hysterical MTV and reality show addicts who only want today's "boo boo" kissed so they never feel any pain or sacrifice.

    Unfortunately, the nature of 3rd parties is dissatisfaction with both of the two major parties to the point of exasperation over fundamental , responsible governance issues. That is why there is growing momentum for one today. If it gets loud enough, both parties talk like they are moving to centrist accomodation, then abandon those positions for polar partisanship as soon as the public mood moderates. But hopefully, we can command influence even though we will never be other than transitory.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  192. Aj

    The things that are going on in Congress and with the President tells us to change direction. It is so obvious that Ried and Pelosi needs to go and some others may follow and I am a Democrat. The things going on In Congress shows that term limits are a must. They have been there too long and filling their pockets and does nothing for real America. Those people represent 50 states and not just the state they live in. Come on America lets vote them all out one by one.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  193. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Both parties would make sure any third party doesn't stand a chance! Of course both are defective, and cut from the same cloth.

    There are some third parties, but they are so focused and so small as to ineffective and have never had the slightest chance, just the same chance of a fart in a tornado!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  194. Joshua, Atlanta

    It's not a problem of a third party; we already have seperate parties within parties. The problem is not allowing candidates in all 50 states to run as independents if the wish. Claiming a political party is just stupid now. We all just want to get rid of the idiots in Washington who say one thing on the stump during elections and then do whatever once they are back in to the cozy seat.

    Personally, let's limit the number of terms congress can have just like the president.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  195. Jay In CA

    Amen to that. When will people realize that both parties are bad for the country? Fanatical republicans and spinelss democrats!

    Of course it does not help that the american people in general are short sighted and do not realize that the challenges facing the country are huge and will take time and effort to fix (health care, deficit control, evironment, etc.).

    January 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  196. Tom H

    A 3rd party is no different than any other. What will make it viable is MONEY, and the probablity that a candidate nominated by said party will have sufficient funds to run a credible race against the two established party. No small feat. Finding sponsors willing to pony up committments up front will be pretty difficult since I expect one of the "planks" of this party would be that it not going to be beholden to the big money people. However, just as the fundraising for Haiti has demonstrated, a lot of money can be raised over the electronic social networks in a short time. We'll see.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  197. renobill

    And what would this third party be. Ultra Liberal, Ultra Conservative? Or would it try to find some middle ground? And who would finance it to get it off the ground? Doubt if it will ever happen.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  198. Jim

    It's going to be a problem as the independents seem to know what they don't like (the incumbents) but it's hard for them to all agree on what they do like. If you just want limited government then the Libertarian party is the place for you. I'm surprised we haven't seen the Libertarians trying to capitalise on this more. Alternatively you'd have to have the two major parties split amongst themselves, with right wing Republicans forming a Conservative Party and progressive/liberal democrats forming a liberal party. This would leave the moderates in both parties left to form a centrist party. Don't you think moderate Democratic and Republican senators have more in common with each other than they do with either Senator Feingold or Senator DeMint, respectively?

    January 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  199. Khan Alim

    I think for third party, we can not do anything. I am ready to find a viable third party. This two party will never let third party to rise. May be we can pray for it.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  200. Bob

    Instant runoff voting will make third parties viable. It allows voters to specify a first and second preference, so voting for a third party will no longer mean wasting your vote.

    Bob F.
    Flemington, NJ

    January 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  201. Chris

    I think the best option would be for a few parties with similar ideals to combine. Perhaps the American Independent Party, the Libertarians, and the Constitution Party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  202. Mike in AL.

    Whatever it would have taken yesterday is of no consequence today. With the supreme court removing limits on corporate financing of political campaign ads the bought-and-paid establishment politicians can breathe a sigh of relief. Corporations are people with free speech rights don't you know? And it happens that they can speak louder with their gobs of money than we can with our words... or our vote.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  203. Fran, Michigan

    A good candidate that owes nothing to nobody. Like finding a needle in a haystack!!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  204. nate goller

    Get rid of these Bozozs- look at your self – we are the indepentants- we will declde ths dilrection of fhis country

    January 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  205. John L. King

    There is no question or doubt that the conservative (sic) "activist" justices that embraced fascism rather than liberty have placed the liberty of this nation in serious jeopardy. Corporations vote for their own interests, not that of the people.

    If corporations now have the right of individual people then the law should be meted out equally; when a corporation is responsible for the death of an individual or other crimes, then they (The CEO and other high ranking members) should be able to be prosecuted for whatever crimes that have perpetrated against he people.

    If they claim the same rights as individual people, then it makes common sense hat they be treated in a fair and equitable manner. This is an egregious example of the minority having sway over the majority and it reeks of fascism and corruption.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  206. Andrew


    It's probably never going to happen, my fellow Americans have become to incompetent , lazy, manipulated from both sides(politically), spew hate, don't care about anyone but themselves, and think corporations have rights above the citizen. Jack, I think a revolt might be in order or just give presidential executive power to me and I'll fire them all.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  207. Mel

    Jack, time to put a third political party in place. Both parties are in bed with special Interests and Lobyists. This has got to stop before Republicans and Democrats run the country over a cliff...Republicans are to blame for this mess and left the Democrats with no way to fix it. Bush and his Republican ran the debt from 4 trillion to close to 12 trillion in just 8 short years and they tell the american people that they can be trusted again? I don't think so Jack....It is time to throw all of the Republican and Democrate garbage out, sooner the better.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  208. Vivien from NY

    I don't know Jack and I don't care because I am just fine being a member of the democratic party. After all change isn't easy. Republicans conservatives being a party of no and saying no to change is very easy to accomplish. Republicans think health care is a political game .

    January 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  209. Ryan Ruyle

    Two things – standardized ballot access in all 50 states for national elections and be allowed to debate!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  210. Tim

    What will it take to get a viable third party going in the United States? A major overhaul of campaign finance, a roll back of 150 years of Republican and Democrat crafted legislation that makes it nearly impossible for third parties to get on the statewide ballot in most states, and a major shift in the way Americans participate in the democratic process. We have to actually want to learn about those names we see on ballots and find out what those "other" candidates stand for because they might just be the best option for our city, state, or country. We have to be willing to support good third party or independent candidates with our time and money to help counteract special interests and corporations who seem to buy elections. That is more important than ever now that the Supreme Court has opened the way for nearly unlimited corporate activism. We have to be willing to back a candidate who has only the slimmest chance of winning if for no other reason than America was founded by a group of men with long, long odds against them.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  211. Rennie Poffenberger

    We need a third party to pick up those voters who have become disgusted with both the republicans and democrats who do not seem to care about anything except maintaining their position in office. A third party, hopefully, could pick up all of the moderates who think that health care is a good thing, and yes, agree that it should be paid for through taxation. I am sick and tired of listening to the republicans ( I am an ex) tell us that we need to keep cutting taxes to increase government revenue. That is such a fallacy. And then we have the democrats, who take control of the Senate, and still can't get the job done. There has to be group of individuals who can take the best from both sides and meld it together into a Great New Party (GNP)

    January 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  212. Kathy

    Democrats are losing, in my opinion, because they are ignoring their base. The base gets angry, and refuses to act (read: vote) at all. The Democratic base was mobilized for Obama in a way it had not been in a very long time. But Obama, and the Dems with their SUPER-majority, have not delivered on their promises.

    Independents seem to vote for whomever does the best job of appealing to their vanity. If they voted from Democrats because they wanted change and didn't get it, voting Republican later is not going to give them change. Independents are not thinking. They rarely do. They're reacting. Republicans will not provide them with what they want either.

    However, I am not convinced that Independents should be at the center of forming any new party. They don't know what they want. How can you form a party around a group of peple in which the one thing they have in common is that they don't know what they want?

    I thought that the loss grace a Ralph Nader sent a message to the Democrats. Sadly, I was wrong. The Dems managed to mobilize for Obama. But now they've gone back to being the same sappy party that isn't as liberal as people want them to be. Obama promised change. Where is it? No healthcare, no change. No wonder they're losing.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  213. Linda in Memphis

    It's going to take a viable candidate who is non-partisan, non-racist (black or white) and has some common sense. Politics is now a dirty word and we need some integrity for a change. In fact, I was so disgusted with both parties that I voted for Ralph Nader!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  214. Alejandro Paschalides

    We need to change our electoral law structure. For detail on how electoral/voting structure dictates number of political parties, read Dahl's "On Democracy". If you do a lot of "first-past-the-post" races in districts, you get polarized parties. If, instead, you were to allocate seats according to vote count, then people would vote for 3rd parties because they'd have a good chance at getting a seat.

    MA has a lot of independent voters, which are generally fiscally conservative but socially progressive. Why is there no 3rd party in MA to represent their views? Because of the electoral structure. See, if MA held one big election for say, the House of Representatives, and allocated seats according to % of vote to a party (as opposed to candidates, which, btw, puts the emphasis on policy instead of on the candidate's individual qualities), then if these independents voted 20% for that 3rd party, then that 3rd party would get 20% of the seats allocated to MA. Instead, when people vote in districts, with only one seat for the winner, people don't vote for the candidate/party they like best, instead they vote for the lesser of two evils that actually has a shot at winning. The fundamentals of the system need to change.

    Alejandro Paschalides
    Philadelphia, PA

    January 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  215. James in anaheim california

    voter revolt jack!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  216. Ken Howe

    Election Laws need to be changed to allow 3rd party and independent candidates ballot access. In too many states, requirements to get on the ballot are stacked in favor of the incuments.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  217. Stefan Chicago

    Jack, that's a no-brainer, this is how that works: you find a bunch of crooks, willing and able to mutually cooperate with various lobbies in Washington for the only purpose to get themselves and all their friends rich. Then you come up with a list of promises, one bigger than the other, to get the crowd to believe you. If you lack inspiration, look up Obama's list, Bush's, Clinton's...or mostly any elected public official in this country, it goes back a while, but I'm sure you'll find plenty. Now don't worry that most of them are hollow and you know you can't keep'em, it's all good, once you're in office, toss the list or keep it for future reference, there may be people just like you at some point in the future trying to set up the fourth party, they'll need it. Then smiles, lots of smiles, handshakes, Joe the Plumber and his entire family is a must, drive a humble Jeep or any other American made car...show people you're one of them, promise them to be the first Washington shaker, cleaner, janitor , whatever...once elections are over, no one will stop you from getting that Mercedes out of the garage, no one will be able to stop you on the street and ask about anything you may find uncomfortable...you'll get your life back. One more thing, make sure you have lots of friends in the media, you need them more than anything, people who would be willing to write anything great, even lies, as long as it'll get you elected...you'll pay them later, with tax money, not your own...so who cares??No need to mention telling your potential voters about terrorism, communism, Santa Claus and Global Warming...how you'll fight them all to keep them happy...sane is too much, happy is all they need

    January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  218. David in Raleigh, NC

    Eliminate the all or nothing rules on elections as well as the electoral college.

    Until we have election rules similar to Europe there will not be a 3rd party in this country.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  219. Watching from NC

    While I believe the two party system has effectively corrupted politics in this country (and today's supreme court decision overturning the ban on corporate & union political contributions will just increase officials' dependency on big money to stay elected), I really think the status quo is too entrenched to ever change. And since the current main parties have no vested interest in the emergence of another viable competitor, they would do anything in their power to stymie it.

    On the flip side, what I fear from emergence of a viable 3rd party is that we find ourselves in a situation like Israel, where the major parties have to align themselves with (and agree to whatever demands from) fringe parties with sometimes reckless agendas, just to form a majority coalition to get anything accomplished. At least with our broken system, the two players only have to worry about getting enough of their own candidates elected ... they devil you know vs. the one you don't. :-\

    January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  220. Sam

    Nothing. Third parties will forever be marginalized in American politics. Our system has been dominated by two parties since its birth, and the powers that be intend to keep it that way. Just look at how the debates are handled. In many, third parties are prohibited or simply not invited to participate. You don't even have to be from a third party to be ostracized from politics. Look at how Ron Paul was treated by his own party during the past Republican presidential primaries. I have no anticipation for third parties ever getting elected to anything other than local posts.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  221. Chris (Chino Hills)

    Both parties do stink but the american voter is pretty stupid. It's easier to sell a brand than an idea. Thoughtful reasoning does not trump easy to digest cliches, not with the majority of voters in this country. They will vote for brands they know, not the ideas they can't comprehend.

    Until voters get smart, our politicians will have no problem spending most of their time on legislative favors and unwanted garbage bills.

    Get rid of the lobbyists, get rid of campaign advertising. Let those who run for office run on ideas not smears.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  222. Denise

    I would hate to see a third party, though as you said above, they're not listening, nor representing all of us.

    Massachussetts is a wake-up call to the politicians....ALL politicians.

    No longer will we allow individuals to be elected only to serve themselves.

    But what is really glaring here is that the President and the Democrats are still refusing to claim ownership, still blaming 8 years of wrongs.

    Ok, if there were 8 years, then they need to stem the tide and STOP spending our money and get real about healthcare.

    So many of these guys are millionaires that their out of touch with reality. Help the poor, but don't enable them.

    I would much rather fork out my tax money to enable a person to go to college or trade school, (within a set period of time), than to support them the rest of their lives.

    Handouts are NOT the answer, giving people the tools to make it on their own it the answer.....it's called hard work!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  223. Amit

    Finally someone who's talking about this on a national level. Thank you Jack!

    Now to your question. There are 2 ways to tackle this:

    1. Politically: Its in both the parties dis-interest to allow a 3rd option eat into their trusted bases. House is elected to represent the people while Senators are elected to represent the State WITH No Term Limits.
    A. 1st off, we need term limits for the Senators. All are expendable and no one should get comfortable in a position. Once you know you don't have a law threatening your position, you court powerful players in Media and Corporate to secure and sustain it. As in the case of the President, if you had, lets say, a 2 yr-term limit. You'll make sure in the both attempts to properly represent your constituency and all the people who elect you democratically.

    In a democratic society, its very hard to please all and satisfy each. So we have a system of consensus and compromise. This situation allows other players to feel more confident in throwing their hats into the ring and try to represent as many people's wishes as possible.

    B. 2 senators per state is a constitutional statement. However, saying that Mr. Brown and his MA constituents have equal say in the Senate as e.g. Ms. Feinstein and her CA constituents, because of the sheer #s in CA.

    These require constitutional amendments, which are probably not viable (unfortunately).

    2. Consensually: We are the greatest democratic country in the world with solid social, economic and political values. We are a country of free speech and free expression. Free speech, not only means we have a right to speak what's on our mind, but it also means, that we have a right to NOT say what we have in mind. On a ballot sheet, we have an option to select one of the candidates, but how ‘bout one for 'None of the Above'. Once we have the NOTA %, we'll know the real political leaning of the nation. E.g.

    Assuming that either party secures at least 10% votes in an election, even a 40% vote for NOTA indicates a strong need for a 3rd option. We are also a country of entrepreneurs. I’m sure when one of them spots these results in the media, he/she will be emboldened to throw his/her hat in the ring.

    Again, both these options will not be palatable to either party.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  224. Tim

    What will it take to get a viable third party going in the United States? A major overhaul of campaign finance, a roll back of 150 years of Republican and Democrat crafted legislation that makes it nearly impossible for third parties to get on the statewide ballot in most states, and a major shift in the way Americans participate in the democratic process. We have to actually want to learn about those names we see on ballots and find out what those "other" candidates stand for because they might just be the best option for our city, state, or country. We have to be willing to support good third party or independent candidates with our time and money to help counteract special interests and corporations who seem to buy elections. That is more important than ever now that the Supreme Court has opened the way for nearly unlimited corporate activism. We have to be willing to back a candidate who has only the slimmest chance of winning if for no other reason than America was founded by a group of men with long, long odds against them.

    Tim – From Nashville, TN

    January 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  225. Ken Hussey

    From Jefferson City, Missouri.

    To make a third party viable, we have to shift away from a "winner take all" system. Voters feel forced to back a candidate from the two parties, because they feel a vote for a third party candidate is often a wasted vote. There are other democracies in our world that have figured out how to let more voices be heard in the multi-party system.

    Also, the citizens that donate money and vote most often in primary elections are often party loyalists, and often seem to be at the more extreme points of the political spectrum. If the middle, independent voter wants to be heard and have a third party, then that voter needs to be willing to donate money, volunteer for campaigns, and get out and vote in the primaries, to nominate candidates that represent them. It can happen, we just need to find a way to organize this group around a platform and get them active.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  226. VT

    I am a young, African American independent voter, and I would look closely at a 3rd party that was for the people. The Democrats and Republics have espoused gang mentalities over the past decade, with no real progress being made in bipartisanship.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  227. Daniel P. Christopher

    There are many third parties in the U.S., and have been for more than 100 years at least. I'm a Libertarian of 25 years standing. The Libertarian Party has been the largest third party for many years. If more people would vote for Libertarian candidates, we could shake up the Democrats and the Republicans. Vote Libertarian, For A Change.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  228. Kyle Serrano

    Writing from: Little Rock, Arkansas

    As long as the media continues to portray third party members as fringe extremists, it will be difficult for these candidates to get a fair shake.

    Look at the news coverage of the Tea Party protests of ’09, or Ron Paul’s Presidential run of ’08 (ran as Republican but shares Libertarian principles). They were either portrayed as “radical/crazy” by the media or dismissed all together.

    Media coverage has a dramatic impact on the actions and perceptions of Americans.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  229. Lee

    Lee from Burlington, VT:
    MAJOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM has got to happen to stop the corporations and those with the most resources from buying our democracy for their gains. If you get the big money out of politics then maybe there's a chance for a true PEOPLES' PARTY!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  230. Chris in Philadelphia

    Well Democrats are in bed with one side of any issue, and the Republicans shack up with the opposing viewpoint, you would assume now is the perfect time. Unfortunately elections are so expensive to run and get elected that most people not affiliated with one of the big parties are lost in the background. I doubt we will ever see true multi-party coalition rule like much of the world.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  231. Grant from Denver

    Close the churches and dismantle labor unions. Without those two pulpits, the elephants and the donkeys won't have a platform from which to launch all the hate that flows from both sides and will give Independents a chance to find and field a viable candidate.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |

    What is needed is a very strong independent individual who can financially compete with the Republican and Democratic political machine (something that Ross Perot did several years ago). The Tea Party doesn't really represent the "people" since it mainly funded by Special Interests. It is definately time for a "Third Option".

    January 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  233. Ron, Indianapolis, IN

    What will it take to get a viable third (or any) party going?

    A viable candidate.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  234. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, why do we need one? The independents rule politics today, no matter how they are registered to vote. An Independent votes the issues, the person, and the solutions, not any party line, and that works really well. Let the party bases work their issues, the Independents have the final say, as they did last Nov. and this week. At least they are not afraid to admit they are wrong, and move out to fix it when it proves to have been a mistake. Dem/Repubs are so entrenched, their minds can't be changed, even when reality shows them they made a huge mistake.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  235. Jeff Jones

    If we changed our government's structure to a proportional system like other countries have -and not our winner-takes-all if they win 50.1% of the vote-, we could have other viable parties. As it is now, it is in the best interests of each party to obstruct and make fail the policies of the other. America is in a lose-lose situation now.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  236. Mode (PDX)

    A second American Civil War, Jack–and anyone who thinks such a suggestion is insane, isn't participating in the objective reality.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  237. wes

    Tuesday gives us an indication that now is the "perfect storm" for an alternative/third party candidate, because you hit the nail on the head, there is no difference between the D's and R's. Glad to see you finally put the Obama Kool-Aid down

    January 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  238. Dan

    The simplest answer...Preferential Voting. It would allow voters to choose a 3rd party candidate as their primary choice without having worry about increasing the chances of their less favorite winning...e.g. Perot pulling votes from Bush, thereby allowing Clinton to win.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  239. Dan

    Money. Politics = Money. With the latest supreme court rulling, maybe some rich millionaires will buy us a new party. They could name it like sporting event locations. The Buffet-Gates Independents comes to mind.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  240. Rodney Moore

    The reason Scott Brown won in Massachusetts can be summed up in three words PROGRESSIVES STAYED HOME.

    Independents in Massachusetts are NOT all middle of the road moderates, if you believe that you are incompetent as a political pundit. Independents in Massachusetts are to the LEFT of the vaste majority of Democrats. Obama and Democrats made a promise of CHANGE with the fierce urgency of NOW, independents and progressives heard this and voted for him. Over the past year, he has done nothing to advance his agenda of change. Obama and Democrats have angered everyone with inaction and excuses, so swing voters swang and progressives stayed home.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  241. Mark W (Mason City, IA)

    I think it will take people under 40 in this country realizing that they do have the power to choose what happens in our government. This is why companies market to younger people, they control the country. The unfortunate thing is that most younger Americans see a disconnect between us and Washington. They have no idea what it's like to be living in their 20's anymore. It's like our parents and grandparents trying to understand facebook.

    When the Millennial Generation realizes they can come together for politics like they have with many other causes, there will be a new 3rd party in the US. Look what happened when younger people had a general trust of President Obama, and a general mistrust of everyone else.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  242. Ben K.

    How about doing away with political parties? Individuals could run for any office, but campaign on the basis of what they have to say about issues that are important to them - both, pro and con.

    The, those who are elected would vote (in the House, or the Senate) according to their beliefs. And, only a simple majority ould be required to pass a piece of legislation.

    Let's do away with part labels!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  243. Linus McKinney,Texas

    Jack all it will take is about another 8 years of war in places we do not belong. The cost of these useless wars in life and money as well as world opinion will bring on the next viable party. I even have a name for this viable party and it is called the "Get your head out of your Ass party".

    January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  244. Jon

    I think there are four major things needed to get a third party going in the US...

    1. Integrity: it seems to me that many people are upset with their representatives and feel that their elected officials' priories are not aligned with those of the people. Too many times politicians have been promised change and have given politics as usual. What we need is a political party that not only speaks of their integrity and values but consistently ACTS upon them.

    2. Clarity: the most common frustration I hear from voters of any political mindset is the problem of "flip-flopping" and the confusion as to what a candidate stands for. Clarity is key in communicating a 3rd party's values to possible voters. A party needs to be clear in what it says and specify is something they stand for is subject to change in different circumstances and situations.

    3. Media Coverage: the overwhelming support of Barrack Obama was second only to, and possibly even caused by, the overwhelming media attention given to Obama during his campaign. If there is to be a viable third party there needs to be adequate media attention that equals that of the two big parties that dominate the newscasts today.

    4. Lobbyists: under the current political system (especially with the ruling by the Supreme Court today) it appears to be any sort of serious political competitor you need the support of lobbyists and the subsequent campaign contributions....or do you?

    January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  245. don, Dayton OH

    The powers that be will never allow a legitimate third party to disrupt their monopoly or to break up the illusion that voters have a 'choice.'

    Truth be told, there is no political choice in America. Each party has its own faces and logos but the bottom line is that they both work for the same people. And it's not Americans they are working for, unfortunately.

    The situation we're in now is no different than we were being ruled by another country before the revolutionary war. We are taxed but we are not represented as citizens of this country.

    We've seen the giant crack in the republican party with Bush and now we're seeing it with Obama. Nothing is changing and nothing likely will change until politicians quit working for rich corporations and start working for the American people.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  246. jim Blevins

    I don't think that we really want a third party - if you have three, then four or five or more is likely. This results in coalitions of parties which puts the result even more in the hands of the politicians and removes it from the people. However, that the Republican party seems to want more "purity", perhaps we could have a new party to replace the Republican party - maybe name it the Tea party.

    Jim, Craig, CO

    January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  247. Kathie

    Kathie, Knoxville, TN
    Yes Jack, both parties DO stink. The timing is right – the opportunity exists now – for a third party because of the general disgust with and distrust of Washington politics as usual and the never-ending lack of bipartisanship between the two current parties. Call it populist, independent, or whatever. A third party will require enough people that are actively engaged in a new direction to start gaining real momentum. It requires a new platform that takes on the established status quo of BOTH current parties of outrageous and excessive spending, back-door deals, special interests, cronyism, and politico arrogance and elitism. What will it take for a third party to become viable? A platform of “government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people.” Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost the “people” focus of our government.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  248. Lloyd Botway

    People are fed up with the Dems and Reps because both trample on basic rights. Simplistically: the Dems mostly support moral freedom (that is, victimless crimes are not crimes), but have no faith in economic freedom (laissez-faire). The Reps believe (half-heartedly) in economic freedom, but are opposed to moral freedom. Both, regardless of what words they mouth, believe that strong centralized federal government is best. We need to return to the Founding Fathers' idea of Classical Liberalism. The only nationally-organized, viable party that currently cleaves to this idea is the Libertarian Party. The more people realize that, the more votes will swing away from the Big 2.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  249. Will Smith

    We have a third party with a wonderful platform. .The Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party does not have many members because everyone feels as if their vote would be wasted, why join? Don't forget a vote is never wasted. Read your parties platform...that is if you can get through the 60 or 70 pages before falling asleep. Please elect representatives not politicians.
    Placerville, California

    January 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  250. Jamie D

    Right on Jack. Glad to see somebody in the maistream media admitting that NEITHER party gives a rats arse about the people. They only pay attention to the lobbyists that stuff the most money into their wallets.

    To answer your question, it will take your bosses, and other mainstream media outlets, to give 3rd party candidates equal coverage and take them seriously. Anytime a 3rd party candidate picks up any real momentum, the mainstream media does everything in their power to paint them as fringe lunatics (Ron Paul ring a bell?). Personally, I hope Jesse Ventura decides to run for president in the next election. We need to take our country back!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  251. Michael Shea

    For several years I have supported the concept of a third party.I lost confidence in the Democrat Party when Clinton gave away our manufacturing jobs by embracing NAFTA and other free trade agreements.

    I was very excited about Obama but he lost me to some extent when he hired Clinton hacks and wall streeters like Tim Geitner. Obama also vacilated one single payer and the public option.

    Before we set up a third party we need to pass local and national campaign finance laws to reign in the big money.

    Following Clinto selling us down the river on the free trade agreements I joined the newly formed Labor Party. Unfortunately the AFL-CIO ignored the Labor Party because they didn't want to burn bridges with the Democrats.

    A third party must start as an issues forum. After each state and local builds their registrations then they can start running candidates for school boards and city councils.

    Both the Greens and the Libertarians have run candidates for the legislature, state offices and federal offices. As of this writing none of them have bee elected. They need to start slowly by getting involved elections at the smallest local level then build from there.

    The third party that had the biggest impact in recent years was the American Independant Party with George Wallace as their presidential candidate. He carried several southern states.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  252. Tom Crawford

    It will take the media taking a third party seriously rather than cowtowing to the Bush-Reid-Pelosi-McCain-Deomcrat-Repbublican axis.

    The book 1984, gave us two maxims: He who controls the past controls the future; and, he who controls the present controls the past.

    In 2010, The Media controls the present.

    You want a Third Party, you can give it to us. It's in your hands to do. The Donkey-Elephants won't give it to us: you can.

    Make us proud, Jack. YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  253. Randy Shumaker

    As an Independent I believe the first thing that has to be done is for the Independent Canidates to grab some of this coorporate money the supreme court is allowing these idiot polititicians to have. Money wins elections and unless Independent voters can honestly feel they know who their canadites are then it's a pretty hopless situation. The 2nd thing will obviously be to know where that coorporate money came from...because in the end that's who will be pulling the strings.
    Actually..maybe because of this recent supreme court decision it doesn't matter who's elected. It will actually be Exxon, the unions, Bluecross Blueshield, and Bank of America who will be running the country.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  254. Joanne B

    We are on our way. Tea Party has 41% of the American People, DEms and Reps have around 25-30%.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  255. Nikki Martin


    Do you ever feel like we're (Americans) are just plain screwed? Even if we were to get a third party by the next election, the professional politicians would have a "change of heart" and join. They are con men (women), flim-flam people determined to fight for their own self interests. The rest of us just want a little honesty.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  256. Rod

    We need the moderate Democrats and the moderate Republicans (hopefully they still exist) to all defect from their respective parties and form a new party aptly named, "the Moderates." This party's philosophy should be a mix of the best attributes of each party - fiscal conservatism and a liberal approach to human rights. This would hopefully ensure that the extremes of both parties can no longer get elected (i.e., religious right wackos and lazy, entitlement-happy leftists). Then finally we can get our financial house in order and stop legislating morality. Amen!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  257. Louis

    Our current system is broken and I am in total agreement that we need a third group to represent the growing moderate/independent citizens. I define myself as an independent and realize this two-party (either/or) system is terrible for our country. The times has changed since these entities were formed and our current representatives, pundits, etc. attempt to many times to push people into one camp or another.

    To get a viable third party going in this country, we need a serious candidate who is willing to be the representative of the independent or "3rd party" organization. I think the new party should have a way to incorporate the beliefs our citizens have into a charter that can begin to pave the way forward for a legitimate and recognized "party".

    I am very frustrated with the current system and don't see the USA being able to maintain is dominant position in the world because we continue to fight each other – it is so frustrating and sad. Looking forward to reading other thoughts on this subject.

    Great question Jack!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  258. Jesus

    People can't vote for someone they've never heard of. The major news outlets need to give more airtime to independent candidates. And what about hiring more "contributors" who aren't clearly pulling for either of these bankrupt parties? Why not ditch partisan pundits for actual subject matter experts with good track records of unbiased factually-based opinions? We've been in the middle of a financial crisis for the last year and a half at least and I'm not sure I've seen more than a handful of unaffiliated economists willing to explain exactly why everything we do is such a good idea. It just seems like everyone's standing around telling each other what good ideas they have and no one's asking any real questions.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  259. Jason - Toledo, OH

    Jack, our whole system would need to start over to make a third party viable. The two parties hold a monopoly – current third parties rarely get a chance to lead in state, let alone the federal, government. And can you imagine the tantrum Republi-crat party leaders would throw if a network tried to involve other parties in a televised debate? Until third parties have a chance to compete on an equal footing as the major two, they won't see any major success.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  260. Terry in Hanover County

    What will it take? A couple of elections where one of the choices on the ballot is "None of the Above." Something needs to get our Elected Jokers' attention and stop acting like elections are akin to football games. Maybe then they'd start working together and leave their party affiliations at the door.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  261. Alex Vincent

    Mr. Cafferty, I believe the best way to found a third political party which can work with the Democratic and Republican parties is to found one which does exactly that: work with them, in the center.

    With most issues, the Democratic Party is on one side and the Republican Party is on the other. There's nobody in the center, though, no compromise. Politics has been very "hard ball" brinksmanship for several years now. A third political party which agrees with the Democrats on some issues – and with the Republicans on others – could have a profound impact on this country.

    Note that the problem isn't just at the national level – here in California, people have been very frustrated with our state government's handling of the budget. The reason for the frustration: both political parties have dug in and are absolutely unwilling to budge. No compromise, no budget, no love for the politicians in Sacramento.

    Another thing it will take is time, and probably a few popular centrist leaders. The Republican Party didn't spring up overnight, and neither did the Democratic Party. As I recall, neither party existed in 1789, when the 13 independent Colonies formed their more perfect union.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  262. Lisa, Costa Rica

    Ross Perot tried it and failed.
    Now, The "Tea Party" is rearing it's head hailing Sarah Palin.
    Maybe if a "third party" had a statesman or stateswoman leading it, people would follow.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  263. Sue from Redwood City

    I am a moderate Democrat and often find I have more in common with moderate Republicans than the left wing. These same Republicans often find they have more in common with moderate Dems than the right wing. Since we think the extreme wings of both parties are crazy, I think many of us would prefer to be in a separate party of our own. Perhaps we could call it the Moderate Party or the Central Party...

    January 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  264. Steve

    Nothing! Every government in the world is virtually the same. The

    January 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  265. Frankie

    Well America needs a party of moderates. A third party that does not have liberals or conservatives. The Independence party of America looks like a party that might become a major third party in the future

    January 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  266. Charles Baker

    It would take you guys (the media) to start covering other parties. Simple huh?

    January 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  267. mewizemuzak

    We just took a giant leap away from any chance of that with the recent supreme court ruling on campaign finance.Unless big oil and the insurance companies become the 3rd party!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  268. Peter Babler

    Change the voting system to allow for a Second Choice. If the voter's First Choice doesn't win the election, then their vote defaults to their Second Choice.

    This method for second choice voting was originally proposed by the French mathematician Condorcet. For three candidates, ballots simply allow both a first choice and a second choice vote:

    1st 2nd
    [x] [ ] The candidate you really want.
    [ ] [x] The candidate you prefer if your 1st choice doesn't win.
    [ ] [ ] The candidate you don't want.

    When votes are collected, instead of just counting 1st choice votes, the winners between each pair of candidates are determined. In the example above, the voters with C as the 1st choice would probably have B as their 2nd choice, so:

    If B ran alone against A: the winner would be B.
    If B ran alone against C: the winner would be B.
    If A ran alone against C: the winner would be A.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  269. Matt (Philly)

    A start would be a cap on corporate gifts to presidential campaigns. Oh, wait, Bush's Supreme Court ended that practice today.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  270. Kathleen Glotz

    Seems to me that we already have a third, very powerful party . The Independants are now being heard.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  271. Mark

    Easy. The media need to let people and politicians speak their mind without crucifying them for not being politically correct.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  272. Collette Williams

    If it was in my power, I'd use DNA to bring back our Founding Fathers!. The current system is irreparably BROKEN – or so it seems day in and day out – year in and year out... Collette Williams, Barrington, RI

    January 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  273. Merrill in Portland Maine

    We don’t need a third party at all. We need a second party to oppose the Republicrats and we need it now before the entire system crashes. Just hope it isn't too late.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  274. Don Parker

    OMG – I'd walk over broken glass for a viable third party!!
    How about a name? How about "The American Party"..

    Wishful thinking however. The money mongers won't let it happen!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  275. RoRo

    In my humble opinion, Its not viable at his time. If there were a third party no bill would ever pass in government. The added division would cause nothing to get done. The laws governing congress and the house would have to change. Republicans for instance have made their decisions simply based on party lines and threats from within their party. The Democrats are not as unified and could actually represent the most diverse party for liberal to moderate conservative that we have. If other parties were based on this mix of ideologies and philosophy then maybe things could get done with a third party.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  276. Joe public

    At this point.
    Right now.
    If we all registered INDI both parties would kill themselves serving,
    the will of the people.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  277. Mike, Sandy, Oregon

    If the tea partiers or Palin or Rush keep up their present retoric it will look more promising every day. Gee, this is one time I hope they do.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  278. Troy

    Organize the independents, NO party affiliation. Moderates from both sides of the isle could meet in the middle and actually get something done for the people. It's the far left and far right damaging our society.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  279. Neil Pruthi

    To form a viable third party, I think a significant number of moderate Democrat and moderate Republican members of Congress must unite to establish the party and attract media attention.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  280. Monroe Bella Vista, AR

    A good solid team – the rest falls into place. I am all for it.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  281. J. Paul Adkins


    I'm not sure what it would take, but a third party is the only hope for our country. When I was a growing-up, we knew our politicians were corrupt but they at least tried to hide their transgressions. Now they proudly display their arrogance as they lie, cheat and steal right in front of us. I'm sure willing to participate in a new party. Sign me up if one gets organized.

    J. Paul Adkins
    Berlin, Maryland

    January 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  282. John M Collado


    The answer is simple! Get rid of the primaries elections for each party. The primary selections should list all the candidates running for an office. The voter will pick one! The top two will be in the general election. If it is two Dem, two Rep, Dem and Rep, or Indep and one of each party receiving the most votes as 1 and 2, who cares which party they are.

    DeMotte, IN

    January 21, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  283. Don

    When we have term limits,parties who don't stand for party first,me second,country third,and eliminate our current system of ,of the lawyers,by the lawyers,and for the lawyers,maybe we can get our country back on track

    January 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  284. Dan - Denver

    Do we really want an official third party or do we have more power as the group that the other parties have to appease? As it is, no one can count on an independent voter's support just because of the party logo on his podium.

    Maybe we need to create a new kind of party. The think tank party that honestly advances solutions, educates voters, and supports results. You have to be registered independant in order to be a member.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  285. Lin

    The current problem with voting for a third party candidate is that you are, in effect, throwing your vote away. To change that we need a different voting system, such as "approval voting," where you can vote for more than one candidate. If each person can vote for as many candidates as are acceptable to them (instead of for just one–the most acceptable–as now) then a third party candidate could get the most votes and so *can* win.

    The problem is, can you see the two parties that hold all the power in this country voting to change that???

    January 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  286. Jay

    How about finding a bunch of ignorant people who don't understand history and call this new group of nitwits the "Tea Party"?

    January 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  287. Alberto Donate

    Maybe it's a matter of timing. NOW it's the time!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  288. Joel

    I don't feel that a third party will help. There are so many perspectives that people come from, you can't have a platform that everyone would agree upon anyway.

    I feel that the real solution would have to include term limits. Once one gets elected, he/she starts worrying about getting re-elected (i.e. funding their warchests) vs. doing what's right for their constituents.

    Limit each to two terms (one would even be better). Then people would serve to serve instead of just aspiring to become career politicans.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  289. Thomas M. DeBoni

    If the Republicans and Democrats continue to espouse polarized positions on all issues, a moderate, compromise-driven party will arise naturally.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  290. Kate Lerner

    Hi Jack. I think we need to have no parties. Parties are inherently divisive. No matter how many there are, there will be arguments severe enough to incite devious behavior to enforce a win. If we want to work together, then lets be a single UNITED STATES to begin with.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
  291. Cathy Ward

    Citizens for a Grown-up America. Let's do it. There are many of us real grown-ups out here, ready to create a mature nation. Where is the convention?

    January 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  292. Luciano Ramalho

    The US voting system organized around districts and states where "winner takes all" tends to reduce the number of viable parties to two. Britain has the same problem. If 20% of the voters in California support a third party, they should be able to elect at least 10 of the 53 seats apportioned to that state. But since the voters are geographically dispersed across districts, it is quite possible that none of the seats will go to an independent. Lots of countries have other systems. So if US voters really want a third party the first change must be the district voting system. But it won't be easy to convince the incumbent parties to make that change...

    January 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  293. Michaelyn Graham

    Both parties are leading this country toward "one world government".
    We will all be slaves to the "new world order".

    January 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  294. Greg Carlson


    We do have other parties besides the Dems and Republicans. We are all aware of these other parties, the Libertarians, the Green Party, etc. The fundamental problem is that big business: big corporations, insurance giants, Wall Street, etc. own most of the elected officials in Washington, and spend billions to keep them in office. These other parties basically don't have the money to compete with them. And today, we can all thank the Supreme Court for just about guaranteeing that scenario for big business for the forseeable future.

    Greg Carlson
    Orlando, FL

    January 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  295. Tony Durchholz from Ohio

    A successful third party requires educated people committed to the US Constitution and its entitlement to the fourth branch of the government: the people.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  296. syhamgar50

    A third party is a really stupid idea. Look how much trouble we have with the opposition when the President wins with percentages in the fifties. With three parties, it would be more like percentages in the forties, or even thirties. Opposition groups would go nuts.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  297. John

    Why not allow Democrats and Republicans who are running for office to declare themselves Independent? They would run in a Primary as the candidate of choice. Create a platform and invite Bipartisans to run as an Independent D or R

    January 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  298. John

    Eliminate all parties. Take parties off the ballot and force people to actually listen to what people are for and against. By voting this Brown guy in, nothing will get done until 2012 when Republicans take all the power back again. Maybe not the presidency, because that is the only time Democrats actually come out to vote.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  299. Tanner

    How about we abandon all parties altogether? President Washington warned us about the troubles of political parties... let's heed his advice and disregard parties, take each issue independently.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  300. Curtis L. TN

    I dont think there will ever be a stable platform for a third party in Washington , because the Dems and Republicans wont alow a third party canidate to ever participate in a debate due to the posibility of a regular joe making them look bad in the eyes of the public,the media,and in the world aswell. The Dems And Republicans have all the money to hold court in the media spotlight, until the media stands up and alows the third party's the same coverage aforded to the Dems and Republicans, there will never be a platform for the smaller third party's.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  301. John from Forest

    Jack, the problem with third party candidates is that they do it all wrong - they're Lone Rangers who start at the top. Even if one of them wins the presidency, he or she will have no party backing in Congress.

    A third party has a chance if it targets a single state and tries to win the Congressional races. It could happen in a split state like Virginia. Form the party, put up candidates in all races, win a few, and there will be similar movements in 49 more states the next time arond. After a strong Congressional base is built, then go for the big prize.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  302. Tim

    Cincinnati, OH

    If I'm representative of the typical fiscally conservative independent who would support a third-party (or independent) candidate in a national election (and I suspect I am), the third party would need to leave vocal social conservatives behind in the Republican Party. I'm troubled by the social conservative agenda more than I am current fiscal irresponsibility.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  303. Richard V.

    How about limiting the amount groups can spend on their campaigns. If parties can't spend millions upon millions in advertising it might allow for some other groups to get their message heard!

    January 21, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  304. bill

    well after this last SC blunder handed down today. by the time the election roll around the puplic is going to be so few up by corperations,pacs, and both parties I think micky mouse will stand a good chance of getting elected.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  305. alton

    Never happen–Americans are flip floppers as indicated in previous elections. Impatience, shortsightedness, and or ignorance are so prevelent that no group could amass enough support.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm |