In the recent history of American Presidential elections, apart from the two major party candidates there’s been a tradition of the scrappy third-party candidate with no shot of winning the race (or even a single electoral vote) but with the ability to shake things up and perhaps add to the conversation. In 1992 Ross Perot, running on the Reform Party ticket, took close to 19% of the popular vote. In 1996 Mr. Perot again made a, much smaller, dent with almost 8.5% of the popular vote. Perhaps most infamously, in the 2000 election Ralph Nader took only 2.7% of the popular vote nationally, but 97,388 votes in Florida. Votes that many contend would have gone to Vice-President Al Gore had Mr Nader not been in the race, changing the outcome of the race in George Bush’s favour. In 2004 and 2008 third party candidates dropped off the map, arguably because of Mr Nader’s 2000 impact, registering miniscule numbers in both elections.
Here we are in 2012, enter Buddy Roemer. Mr. Roemer is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and former Governor of Louisiana. This election cycle he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination, finishing last in the Iowa Caucus (behind ‘No Preference’) and has been denied space at every Republican debate. He is now running independently without the endorsement of a third-party.
Mr. Roemer believes his campaign can find common ground between the two biggest American political movements of the last four years, the Tea Party and Occupy. The overlap, he claims, is the role that money plays in politics. In theory this appeals to the Tea Party because corporations lobby for laws that favour them; this makes government bigger, and it appeals to Occupy because it limits the influence of corporations in politics.
This above all has been his campaign’s main focus and thus far they’ve practiced what they preach. The Roemer campaign accepts no money from PACs, does not have a Super PAC, and does not accept individual donations over $100. He is running on a platform which pushes for full disclosure of every campaign contribution, real-time electronic reporting of campaign contributions, elimination of Super PACs, limiting PAC donations to the same as individual donations, prohibiting lobbyists from participating in fundraising, and criminalizing violations to campaign finance laws.
On other issues Mr. Roemer comes down as center-right. He would support a repeal of Obamacare but keep the coverage for pre-existing conditions. He would have a flat income tax of 17% with a $50,000 exemption and close tax loopholes for corporations. On national security he supports the use of drones and questions the productivity of a cash-based foreign policy. This is not exhaustive and you can view his full platform on his campaign’s website.
The other thing about Mr. Roemer is that he is surprisingly of the ‘establishment’. He holds a BA and an MBA from Harvard and he has held State and national office, as both a Democrat and a Republican. He is in everyway middle of the road, and his major issue, money in politics, is something that would unquestionably benefit the average voter by making government accountable to people, not to special interest. When you hear him speak with his Louisiana twang, you get riled up, you get angry, he brings you in, and he’s speaking directly to you.
So why is he totally and completely unelectable?
Fundamentally I think it’s this, accepting Mr. Roemer’s diagnosis of the American political system is accepting that American democracy, which one is taught to think is exceptional, is not only sick, it has stage IV cancer. You have to accept that under the current circumstances your vote, your advocacy, and your voice are meaningless; you are powerless. The leaders that you ‘elect’, no matter how much they talk about ‘hope’, ‘change’, or their belief in America, are really bought and paid for.
This is a bitter pill to swallow but it’s time America wakes up and gets some treatment.