A couple of months ago, I signed a petition to get Ross Perot's Reform Party on the ballot here in Oklahoma, not so much out of a desire to see America's Ferengi in the White House, but to let my general displeasure with the Big Two parties be known.

Apparently this displeasure is fairly common. According to the packet of information dispatched to me by the Reform Party, about half the Democrats (about 15 percent of the electorate) and about half the Republicans (about 15 percent of the electorate) would prefer a third party if one existed. Of course, there have been third parties since the days of powdered Whigs; the Perot crowd believes that in 1996 a third party could actually elect a President.

Well, it could happen. Ross Perot himself, despite the swiftest descent into self-parody since Joe Piscopo, drew nearly one-fifth of the popular vote in 1992 against two fairly blah major-party candidates. This year, "fairly blah" is far too kind for either Bill Clinton or Bob Dole; you'd almost think the party faithful had decided that going through the motions wasn't worth it anymore, and that we might as well replace Executive, Legislative and Judiciary with Time Warner, Philip Morris and Wal-Mart and get it over with.

Still, this doesn't make Perot, or Reform's major announced candidate, former Colorado governor Richard Lamm, or anyone the party actually nominates at its August convention in Long Beach, anything close to a shoo-in come November. Both Clinton and Dole have resources at their command, markers they can call in, and neither the shapeless grey tramplers nor the cheerful jackasses will give in without a fight. But while they continue to spar with one another over the non-issues that dominate the American political landscape, the electorate has had it up to here with More of the Same; the time may well be right for the Reform party's brand of None of the Above. I'm not holding my breath, but anything that puts a scare into the very heart of the Beltway has to be good for us on a very basic level.

The Vent

20 July 1996

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 Copyright © 1996 by Charles G. Hill