Forget about a third party president

My co-author Seth Masket partners with fellow Political Scientist Hans Noel to write a terrific Op-Ed in the LA Times about the futility of (and journalistic obsession with) hoping for a centrist, Independent candidate for president.  Awesome beginning.  Who says political scientists can’t write in an engaging way:

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Barack Obama and an independent and pragmatic president beholden to no party, ideology or interest group are walking down the street. At the same time, all four spot a dollar bill on the ground. Who gets the dollar?

Obama, of course. The other three are figments of your imagination.

Or, more to the point, the imaginations of many political journalists, who in every election cycle talk excitedly about the prospects for an independent candidate to run for the presidency. Recently, some columnists have been singing the virtues of a new organization called Americans Elect, which proposes an Internet convention to nominate a centrist, outsider presidential candidate for 2012.

The desire for an independent candidacy is easy enough to understand: Why wouldn’t the solution to our nation’s problems be a moderate president, without ties to the usual suspects, who is free to simply do what is right?

The problem is, it’s not going to happen. What’s more, we really don’t want it to.

Read the whole thing if you want to know why we don’t want this to happen.  Short version: political parties are essential to a well-functioning (and even not very well-functioning) political system.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to Forget about a third party president

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