By Ted Becker
Third parties have been a very important part of American history. They’ve arrived at pivotal moments and caused seismic shifts in the politics of their day. Most Americans don’t realize that the Republican Party started as a third party, united under Lincoln to win the presidential election of 1860. Their victory was a major factor behind the start of The Civil War. They beat the Whigs and Democrats and became a majority party nationally up to The New Deal.
The Populist Party was a serious force in national debate and politics at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Though they didn’t win the presidency, most of their party platform became law through statutes or constitutional amendments within a few years. And Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party won a large amount of votes (around 20%) and gave the 1912 election to the Democrats over the Republicans. In more recent times, Ross Perot managed to set up a nationwide Reform Party in a few months of 1992…and his 19% of the vote cost George W. H. Bush re-election. (more…)