♦Editor’s note: The 2016 presidential primary campaign has been one of the most contentious and vile in recent memory. The level of acrimony has re-ignited in many circles the call for a third political party. DePriest Voters Chronicles, in hopes of facilitating meaningful dialogue on that topic will offer readers a series of essays from everyday citizens on the pros and cons, as well as whether there is a necessity to have a choice besides Democrats and Republicans.
The level of outright nastiness, lies and revisionist history we are seeing at the presidential nomination campaign level can be described as nothing less than shameful. America has seen vitriol in politics, but not to the level we are witnessing today. While the Republican presidential primary bears a remarkable resemblance to a school yard fight; and the Democratic run is only slightly better. One truth is extremely clear. America needs a third political party. Discussions and examinations of the issues has taken a backseat to presidential aspirants playing the dozens.
Have we ever had a campaign where two potential nominees argued over whose wife was sluttier? Is this the first time two men vying for their parties nominations jostled one another about the size of their “manhood” versus issues that affect the nation? Even Chicagoans, known as observers to some of the most rock ’em, sock ’em politics hasn’t experienced this level of pettiness, rudeness and half-truths. Of course, the city got a healthy heaping of how nasty and mean-spirited politics can get when its
citizens elected the late Harold Washington, state senator, turned U.S. Representative. Mr. Washington took office in 1983 with the intention of disrupting, if not completely dismantling the exclusionary government and a political system that had shunned Black Chicagoans from the city’s best jobs, perquisites, and ultimately a better way of life. Unfortunately Mr. Washington’s ambitions encountered an irresistible force that included members of his own Democratic Party.
Michelle Alexander recently said on MSNBC “I believe that we need to think very seriously, particularly as folks of color and progressives, about building either a new party or a new movement that can hold the Democratic Party accountable or provide a meaningful alternative.”
Advocates of Mr. Washington attempted to eternalize his legacy by forming the Harold Washington Party. But traditionalist Democrats mounted a lawsuit against the Washington Party that ultimately was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court-marking the end of what could have been the state’s third major party. Here a five well-known third party candidates over the last 65 years who gained no traction.
- Strom Thurmond (1948)
- George Wallace (1968)
- Ross Perot (1992)
- Ralph Nader (200)
- Rand Paul (2008 and 2012)
New vs. improved
One school of thought is rather than go through the work, expenses and legalities of establishing a third party, African Americans, Latinos and other interested folks try to make the existing parties stronger. The big IF is whether African Americans and Latinos will coalesce like they did to elect Harold Washington.
Establishing a third party would require the initiative to secure at least $1 billion in funding. There has to be an extensive education campaign explaining to tens of million of voters why they should consider third party candidates. Another key