Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he won’t be pursuing a third party presidential candidacy after all. Can’t say I disagree with his logic. It does seem like there would be no clear path to winning, especially if/when Hilary is the Democratic nominee. His policies are too similar to her’s and it would cripple them both leading to a Trump presidency, which is by far the worst case scenario (as he noted).
But that leaves me to ask, will there ever be a third party president in America?
Historically, and at first glance, it doesn’t appear likely. Yes, there have been presidents in the past that were neither Republican nor Democrat but only because the Republican and Democratic parties that we know today hadn’t come about yet. Instead, they had an equivalent two party system like the Federalist party and the Democratic-Republican party. There have been many third party candidates for President in the past but they have often just swung the vote in favor of one of the other candidates in a major party. Much like Bloomberg feared he would do.
Will this continue to hold? I am not sure. On the surface, it looks like an impossibility. But if you look more closely you can already see the current political parties cracking at the seams. The current GOP is a prime example. Even before the 2016 election, the so-called Tea Party began it’s departure from traditional conservative policies. And while all Tea Partiers still run under the Republican party, the division within the party is clear and it will probably only be a matter of time before that portion breaks away.
And then you have Donald Trump. Trump is by no means a “normal” Republican candidate. And the GOP knows it. That’s why the party’s elites are trying all that they can to try and stop Trump. They don’t have any idea what types of things he will do in office, and the policies he is running on are already far different than the rest of the Republican candidates still in the field. So Trump could be the final straw that broke the camel’s back, so to say, and leave the GOP as multiple parties instead of just one.
The Democratic party doesn’t get away so easily either. Yes, they currently look a lot less dysfunctional than the Republicans do but don’t think Bernie Sanders’ rise was normal. Sanders is running as a self-proclaimed socialist. I bet 50 years ago anyone in America would have thought that would be impossible. But that’s where we are today. Sanders is hitting the same nerve Trump is, albeit in a much different way. But both show there are a lot of Americans out there today that are feeling left out and ignored and they’ve finally begun to find their candidates.
While the two major political parties continue to hold on by the seams, it will be interesting to see what happens in November this year and what the fallout from it will be. Maybe it will all pass over and we will act like it was all just a one time thing. But I think more likely, the two major political parties will start to fall apart and more populist movements will take over.
Now that almost everyone has a smartphone and internet access, it’s a whole lot easier to be heard than it once was. And I think that means more and more groups at the margins will begin to form their own parties. Will this lead to third party President? That remains to be seen.