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A third party President in 2020?

I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Searsby, the campaign manager for Evan McMullin last year, at an event for Evan here in Des Moines during the campaign. Here's an interview with Joel by Jon Ward of Yahoo News on the ways in which centrist French President Emmanuel Marcon's out-of-nowhere landslide election last year may serve as an example for the inevitable bid to elect a rational, moderate third party candidate in 2020.

I have a feeling that it will be Evan McMullin again. But names like John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, and Sen. Lindsey Graham also keep popping up. Word is that Kasich may challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, an endeavor in which I'd wish him well but hold out very, very little hope for his success. I sadly expect that my conviction that the Republicans are dead as a vehicle for rationality and the reuniting of our fractured and divided country to be confirmed by the easy renomination of the most unfit and unqualified president in our history. The Democrats, sadly, can be confidently expected to nominate some left-wing ideologue who may talk a lot about the sadness of our divisions and the need for responsible moderation but, like Barack Obama, will in practice embrace the same divisive tactics and zany left-wing ideology for which the Democrats are famous, while making an empty and feeble gesture toward moderation by embracing only somewhat crazy left-wing policies.

Sorry, Bernie supporters, but I don't think the really crazy left will win the Democratic primary next time, either. Could be wrong about that, though.

On the other side of the coin, here's a less-sanguine view from Nate Silver's bunch. They suggest that only a former major party nominee would have a chance as a third-party candidate. I believe that Mitt Romney had a responsibility to run as an independent last year, and that had he done so, he would have won. I don't know whether he will recognize that responsibility in 2020 or not.

Here's an interesting article on the subject which suffers from the defect of including Democrats who want a third party even further to the left than the Democrats among those who are ready to abandon the dysfunctional established parties.

Finally, here's a pessimistic note from several political scientists. History buffs might be interested in the fact that one of them, Richardson Dilworth, is the grandson and namesake of the former Philadelphia mayor whom many expected to fill the niche in the 1960 Democratic presidential race eventually filled by John F. Kennedy. Readers of Theodore White's The Making of the President 1960 may recall the name.

One thing seems certain: a country in which the choices are effectively restricted to two political parties moving ever farther to the extremes, both having effectively abandoned the center is in deep, deep trouble. A two-party system in which both parties represent the craziest among us cannot bring an increasingly polarized nation together. If, as I believe, that increasing polarization and the resulting inability of Americans to even talk to each other with any hope of being understood represents a grave threat to our survival as a nation and certainly as a vital democracy, then a third party of the center is the only answer.

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