|In a country diverse like no other on
the planet, can the myriad of shades of political preference be
adequately represented by the two primary colors of the Democratic and
Republican parties? An increasing number of Americans are answering no.
The fastest growing category of registered voter is independent,
formally unaffiliated with either of the two major parties. Is it
possible for another collective political voice to fill this gap? Are we
on the cusp of the rise of a third party in this country?
Though rare, American history includes the rise and triumph of third
parties, the Republican Party being the most significant example. Today,
the relative success of Ross Perot's showings in 1992 and 1996
communicate that there is a latent desire for more political choices not
far under the surface of the American electorate. Determined efforts to
limit participation in key debates confirm that potential threats to the
two major parties exist.
What is the nature of this threat and what are the fundamental
weaknesses of the current system? Will it take a new party to respond to
what many Americans regard as an increasingly thin democracy in this
country? Will it take profound cultural reflection and a reorientation
of our public policy status quo? What issues need addressing first? Who
are the individuals thinking about these questions and acting on their