Hannity interview highlights lure of historical failure — and success.
It is always an abysmal failure.
While being a spectacular success.
It has never elected a President of the United States.
It has elected some of history’s most important Presidents of the United States.
How can this be?
The Third Party — being murmured recently to Sean Hannity by both former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (“I don’t foresee that right now” she said, refusing to permanently rule out the idea) and Donald Trump (who dissed unnamed Republican candidates to Hannity as “stiffs”) is a powerful lure. For all the wrong reasons and all the right ones. (The Palin-Hannity interviews are here, here and here.)
Let’s start with a hard, cold historical fact.
No Third Party — by which me mean any party other than Republicans and Democrats — in all of American history has ever elected a president. The Republican Party was, at its founding in 1854, arguably a third party. But the power of the slavery issue was such that in short order it replaced the fledgling and philosophically shaky Whig Party, drawing into its center of political gravity millions of similarly inclined anti-slavery, pro-capitalist views. The Whigs vanished from the American scene altogether, as had the Federalist Party before it.
Both Federalists and Whigs were false starts at the very beginning of the American republic as the nation’s politics evolved into the American two-party system composed of Democrats and Republicans. Once that system had evolved, millions of followers across the country swelled the ranks of each. Party machinery was set up. Grassroots organization flexed its power, literally from bottom to top — from every house to the party club house to the state house to the White House partisans of the two were and are today everywhere.
In the 39 presidential elections that have been held since 1856 — the first time a Republican and Democrat faced off for the presidency with a contest between the GOP’s John Charles Fremont and the Democrats’ James Buchanan — only a Republican or Democrat has emerged victorious. No Whigs, no Federalists, no nominee of any other party has ever been elected president.
And there have been lots of other parties — or, as is said in the vernacular, “third parties.”
A partial list would include:
• The American Party (or “the
• The Southern Democrat Party
• The Constitutional Union Party
• The Greenback Party
• The Prohibition Party
• The Union Labor Party
• The Populist Party
• The Socialist Party
• The Farmer-Labor Party
• The Progressive Party (or the “Bull Moose Party”)
• The Communist Party
• The Union Party
• The Constitution Party
• The Socialist-Labor Party
• The Socialist-Workers Party
• The American Independent Party
• The People’s Party
• The Libertarian Party
• The Independent Party
• The Reform Party
And there’s more on the list!
In each case these parties fielded presidential candidates to challenge the GOP and the Democrats. Whether those candidates were running on platforms that were seen in the day as Right, Left or Center they always — always — lost.
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