President Joe Biden unveiled a few tax plans this week while visiting places that were swing states in the last presidential election. What he didn’t divulge were his own plans on seeking another term in the White House. As of yet, no other mainstream Democrat has stepped up to a phalanx of microphones to announce his or her candidacy.
Former President Donald Trump has once again pushed all his chips into the middle and declared he wants his old job back. In an effort to offer an alternative for Republicans, ex-Ambassador/ex-Governor Nikki Haley has thrown her hat into the ring.
With apologies to my friend, polling virtuoso Matt Towery at Insider Advantage who is almost always spot on in his questioning of the public, let’s do a quick decidedly unscientific poll. If the election for President of the United States were held tomorrow, raise your hand if you’d cast your ballot for incumbent Biden. Okay, put them down. Now, how about those who would vote for The Donald? Hmmm. Interesting. (Don’t worry. I can’t really see you, but I’m making an assumption that several hands were in the air for both candidates. And, if recent history is any indication, it was a pretty even split.)
I’m thinking at this junction there should probably be at least one more question asked that could lead to others. How many of you would raise your hands to vote for Neither of the Above? Ah-ha. I thought as much. I’m envisioning quite a few hands. (And some of you, please vote with your whole hand and not just individual fingers. This is a family column.)
Granted, there are passionate supporters for both the men who ran in 2020. But there certainly seem to be many in the Democratic Party who think maybe Ol’ Joe is just that – old – and maybe it’s time for some new blood to carry the Party to victory. And there are quite likely just as many in the Republican Party who feel as if perhaps Trump has worn out his welcome.
What if you had another choice? And I don’t necessarily mean another member of either the Democratic or Republican Parties. How would you feel about voting for a third-party candidate? As you’ll no doubt know from history class or even from having been a participant in the process, 2024 would not be the first election in which an alternative to the two major party nominees was on the ballot.
In the 1912 election, Teddy Roosevelt ran under the banner of the Progressive or “Bull Moose” Party against his longtime friend (and incumbent President) William Howard Taft and against Woodrow Wilson. Teddy was quite popular and siphoned off votes mainly from Taft (garnering 10 times the electoral votes), leading Wilson to claim victory.
In 1968, Alabama Governor George Wallace ran as the American Independent Party nominee against Nixon and Humphrey. Almost 10 million socially conservative voters in the South gave Wallace some 46 electoral votes.
More recently, in 1992, Ross Perot ran as an Independent against Democrat Bill Clinton and incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush. Although Perot got almost 20 million people to choose him, he ended up with zero electoral votes. It was thought at the time that Perot probably took many more votes away from Bush than from Clinton.
In other words, independent presidential campaigns, even the most successful ones, have not resulted in a win. But given the climate of the day, is it possible that might change?
Here’s an example: Suppose West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin decides his party has veered way too far to the left for his tastes. You’ll recall Manchin was all over the news seemingly every night during last year’s spending debates in Congress. At the time, there was a 50-50 party affiliation split in the Senate, and Joe’s vote was key. He let it be known he wasn’t a happy camper, and garnered support from many on both sides of the aisle by voicing his concerns. Raise your hand again if you think a different Joe from the current one in office might be better suited in the Oval suite?
How about if a non-politician ran? Say, Elon Musk or another giant in the business world with a lot of cash, someone with perhaps not so much current baggage as Mr. Musk. In many ways, the United States is basically a very large corporation. Could a charismatic capitalist with a catchy catchphrase be successful?
Who would you like to see running things? Now’s the time to think out loud. Those primaries are going to be here before you know it. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, the choices could very well be “déjà vu all over again.”
©MMXXIII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer
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