The last viable presidential candidate making a run for the White House on an Independent ticket was Ross Perot. In 1992, he financed and established the reform party of the United States and spent millions of dollars on television commercials educating the public on economy, foreign aid, taxes, government waste, campaign reform and term limits. He believed his new party was a “viable alternative” to Democratic and Republican political dominance.
Like Hillary Clinton, he was a major opponent of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), claiming we were outsourcing our high paying skilled jobs in manufacturing and technology to foreign countries. The end result would have us all working at a Burger King for minimum wage. He won two out of three presidential debates and had a great opportunity of being president until he, like most politicians, shot himself in the foot.
According to a gallup poll, Perot was slightly ahead of the other candidates. Unfortunately, on July 16 he suspended his campaign because he thought Republican operatives were going to sabotage his daughter’s wedding. He re-entered the campaign on Oct. 1, but Newsweek labeled him a “quitter” and some voters were unsure Perot was still a candidate.
With all the controversy, he still received 19 percent of the popular vote; the best performance by an independent presidential candidate since Theodore Roosevelt ran on the “bull moose” Progressive platform in 1912.
The highest elected position ever held by a Progressive party Independent member belongs to Jesse Ventura. The one-time professional wrestler was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998.
The 1912 presidential election was interesting. And this year’s election could have some similarities. Two of the three major candidates had previously won presidential elections. As vice president to McKinley, Roosevelt became president when McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz. He held office until 1909 and was succeeded by Howard Taft. At the time, he was the youngest president to hold office.
Roosevelt challenged Taft’s re-election and persused the Republican nomination. Taft won the party’s support at the Republican convention. Roosevelt, determined to win, called his own convention and formed the new Progressive Independent, “the bull moose party.”
There were no divisions in the Democratic party. The Democrats nominated Woodrow Wilson as their candidate and with the endorsement of William Jennings Bryan, Wilson won 42 percent of the popular vote. Although he didn’t win the majority of the popular vote, Wilson won the large major states and had a huge majority in the Electoral College. The Democrats had reason to celebrate Roosevelt’s entry as a third party candidate. Wilson was one of only three democrats to be elected president between 1856 and 1932. It was the last time a third party representative came in second in the Electoral College.
Today, there is a contentious battle going on in the Democratic Party. Obama is almost certain to be their nominee. Meaning this year would be ideal for Hilary and Bill to jump on the platform of the Progressive Independent party.
Politically, the Kennedy’s, previous Clinton cabinet members and other top Democrats have deserted the Clintons in favor of Obama. Hillary isn’t going to give up the thought of sleeping in the White House bedroom again and Bill still has his favorite closets filled with skeletons from the past. So, why not follow the steps of Theodore Roosevelt and run together as Independents?
Despite the skewed numbers, polls show the general election would be fairly even regardless of which Democrat runs against McCain. If Obama and Hilary each receive 35 percent or more of the popular vote and can carry the big states with the majority of electoral votes, there’s a 50-50 chance an Independent Hilary can win the White House.
Hillary could become the first woman president, Bill will be the original “first man,” probably the first time in his life he can say that, and the voters will have real choices in a three party political system.
With Hillary as a third-party president, she would be in position to clean up the monopoly of influence and corruptive power in Washington. And the words of John Quincy Adams would be prophetic: Voters would cherish the sweetest reflections that our vote is never lost.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.