Voting Third Party in 2024
June 21, 2023 | 690 words | Politics
Have you ever voted for a Third Party candidate in a Presidential election? In my experience people who do tend to be idealistic and are also usually a little bit ornery. (I am both and confess to voting Third Party on occasion.) Reviving that option seems to be a recurring theme, given the rather lackluster Republican and Democrat candidates we have been presented with in recent years. With a likely Biden-Trump re-match in the offing, some otherwise sensible citizens are once again starting to explore their options, and are talking up the possibility of going rogue in the voting booth next year.
Democrats don’t have much to complain about, really, since re-electing Joe Biden would not be the worst thing in the world. His deciding to run again was not exactly a surprise, either, since a sitting President almost always tries for a second term. But given Joe’s advanced age and propensity for pratfalls, I was hoping he might step aside and yield the stage. If only a second Biden administration could be led by someone other than Mr. Biden. Could we maybe pencil him in as a sort of special senior advisor, and let someone else hold press conferences, give speeches, and be filmed riding bicycles and walking up the stairs of Air Force One?
The Republican population, on the other hand, has more reason to worry, as the return of Donald Trump to the Oval Office could very well be the worst thing to ever happen to the country. I can understand the appeal Mr. Trump continues to have for certain voters who feel thoroughly disenfranchised by the machinations of “free trade.” What baffles me, though, are supporters who fancy themselves more thoughtful than the common rabble, yet still champion Trump as a principled conservative. Then there is the religious contingent, who revere Donald Trump for having delivered the long sought-after reversal of Roe v. Wade, made possible by the three new Supreme Court justices he appointed while President. As if a newly minted federal ban on abortion resolves this complicated issue, once and for all.
No Labels, an organization first launched in 2010, works to reduce political polarization and Washington gridlock. It has amassed a budget of $70 million dollars, secured from an undisclosed source, which is being used on legislative action to establish ballot access for a potential third presidential candidate in 2024. If the two major parties continue to go off to the extremes, the group argues, then voters should have a more moderate option, a unity ticket of Republicans and Democrats who are willing to compromise to get things done.
Polls show many voters are less-than-thrilled by the thought of a Joe Biden-Donald Trump rematch. Statistical majorities tell pollsters they would rather not have either man run. This would seem to open the door for a third option in next year’s election. But historical data indicates voters often express dissatisfaction with the apparent front-runners in the early stages of the process, only to return to form and vote for their preferred, established political party at crunch time.
Of course, that might change if voters were given an alternative that could be taken seriously, and if that alternative was on the ballot in all fifty states. No Labels is laying the groundwork, by petitioning for ballot access around the country.
I do wonder, though, if this is maybe not the best time to implement their strategy. While the idea of a unity ticket comprised of a Republican and a Democrat might be just what the country needs, any electoral effort that could result in Donald Trump back in the White House should be scrutinized very carefully. Being idealistic and a little bit ornery is the familiar breeding ground of Third Party sentiment. In this election cycle I fear too many of these kindred spirits might already be firmly in the Trump camp.
But let’s see what No Labels can accomplish. Let’s see if it can get widespread ballot access, and then let’s see who might step forward to take advantage of that access and challenge the Republican and Democrat nominees on a Third Party ticket.
Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.