Water under the bridge, unfortunately.
Here’s why I prefer our two-party system. At best, third parties complicate something that is essentially simple.
The political history of the United States can be described as a tug-of-war between two sides that disagree about the size and power of government. Conservatives prefer a limited central government, liberals want a larger, more active government.
All other issues — abortion, gun control, climate, welfare — are best understood in this context, which suggests the futility of mounting a third-party bid based on a single issue.
In this conception, conservatives have an inherent advantage: Republicans run on small government, low taxes and less regulation; no Democrat can run on slogans touting “Big Government!,” “High Taxes!” and “More Regulation!” But real politics is the art of finding the middle ground and making it work for the good of the nation.
Or at least it was. You’ll recognize that the framework of American politics that I’ve suggested is oversimplified or, at best, outdated. Both parties have a problem with deficit spending, and while Republicans accuse Democrats of wanting big government, how much bigger can a government be than the one that is determined to take charge of women’s bodies, of the private lives of LGBTQ+ citizens and of the content of the curriculum in public universities?
But here’s the real problem: In the Trump era the imagined middle ground that parties such as No Labels aspire to occupy has shrunk to the point of nonexistence.
On one side is a traditional left-of-center political pole represented by the Biden administration. By definition, it has a left-wing fringe, but to call the Democratic Party socialist or communist is an absurd, politically driven mischaracterization. The Biden administration represents the current left wing’s version of traditional, business-as-usual American politics.
On the other side is mostly one man, Trump. Traditional right-of-center Republicans are the fringe of the party. Trump still contends — and contrary to the evidence, much of his party agrees — that he won the last election, and he’s been credibly accused of conspiring with others to stay in power.
Should he be reelected, his policies with regard to most issues are vague, with two exceptions: He has been clear that he will commandeer as much power in the executive branch as possible and that he will impose “retribution” on his enemies.
In short, a rematch between Biden and Trump in 2024 will not be a traditional American contest between the left and the right. There is no comfortable middle ground for complacent third parties or independents. Democracy is at stake. Imagining otherwise imperils the nation.