Why Rocky Anderson and Other Third Party Candidates Will Fail in 2012


Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has filed the paperwork for a presidential exploratory committee in hopes of running for president in 2012. Anderson, a former Democrat, is leader/founder of the Justice Party, and will hope to find enough followers in the millions of disenfranchised individuals scattered throughout the country.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for liberal challengers to President Barack Obama, however Anderson hardly fits the bill. Third party candidates are nothing new to the presidential landscape and – regrettably – very few make a significant impact on the race. The Justice Party's hope is that the great number of individuals protesting Wall Street and politicians will find solace in the party and come out to support Anderson. However, a small-time third party candidate will do little to impact the race and Anderson will most likely fail to even make it on to a ballot. Two parties dominate American politics; there is no room for a third.

The thought of the Justice Party is noble: Who isn’t tired of the constant squabbling between parties, tireless party rhetoric, and the blatant disregard for common Americans? But the American political system is a bi-polar system; there are no other viable options. Politicians running for office have to play ball with either party or risk being left out in the cold. Sure, there are Independents, but when it comes down to it, they have to choose to caucus with either the Republicans or the Democrats.

Anderson’s attempt to reach the oval office will likely die before it gets off the ground because of the restrictions and barriers put in front of third party candidates. Ballot access could be a solution to our fledgling political system, as it would allow for more choices for voters and a greater challenge to the powerful parties, but it is unlikely to happen.

It is rare to see a third party candidate make an impact in presidential elections; I have only seen two: Ross Perot (Reform Party) and Ralph Nader (Green Party), and they barely made a blip on the radar. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money – not to mention a strong following – to even make it onto a ballot as a third party candidate, as petitions to voters must be compiled for each state. Third party candidates also have the stigma of being seen as radicals who are too deep-seated in their philosophies that it is inconceivable that they would connect with the moderates of the country – though as of late, no politician seems to be connecting with the moderates of the country.

Democrats and Republicans have a stranglehold on the American political system and there is nothing we can do about it. Third party candidates offer alternatives to the party rhetoric and partisan hackery we have all become accustomed to hearing, but our political arena is too entrenched in a two party system to let them in. Anderson and the Justice Party are but the latest attempts to crash the festivities, but they will go out with a whimper and go largely unnoticed. But hey, thanks for trying.

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