Richard Warren Field
National Third Political Party Day:
In June of 1912, a tightly controlled Republican Party Convention nominated
William Howard Taft. This followed a bitter primary season, with former
President Theodore Roosevelt winning nine out of the twelve Presidential
primaries (Taft won only one; future third-party Progressive candidate
Robert M. La Follette won two). On June 22nd, as the convention prepared
to make the Taft nomination official, Theodore Roosevelt called for his
supporters to walk off the floor. On that evening, he called for the formation
of a Progressive Party that would launch what became the most successful
third party bid for the Presidency in the 20th Century. Roosevelt's candidacy
was a rebellion against a Republican Party controlled by wealthy conservatives,
and he finished second in the general election, behind Democrat Woodrow
Wilson, in both electoral and popular votes.
Since that time, there have been three other major national third party
candidates for President; Robert LaFollette in 1924, who sprang from the
same Progressive roots as Roosevelt, John Anderson in 1980, and Ross Perot
in 1992 and 1996. (George Wallace in 1968 ran a strong third party effort,
but was primarily a regional candidate). Third party candidates have won
state-wide office, and Congressional seats, including the long-shot election
of former Navy SEAL and pro-wrestler Jessie Ventura as the Governor of Minnesota in 1998.
These candidates offer new ideas and perspectives missing from the ossified
agendas of the Democratic and Republican Parties. These aging components of
our "two-party system" are often so tangled in obligations to vested special
interests that a truly creative leader could never emerge with new, innovative
ideas, no matter how attractive those ideas might be.
Richard Warren Field
Would you like to try some TRIVIA QUIZZES on
this topic? How about Seven Third Party Ideas Ahead of Their Time?
Our thanks to the people at the ErisX
political clipart collection for use of the red/white/blue separators.