A Third Way In '08?

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This commentary was written by CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer.
I am convinced that this country needs a serious third-party presidential candidacy in 2008. I have written a series of columns recently praying, cajoling, scheming, plotting and wishing for the third way to appear.

In response, I got a cyber-boatload of e-mails that said, "Where can I sign up?" My response has been, "I wish I knew."

Now I know!

You can sign up at http://www.unity08.com. Or call 1-877-UNITY08. That's 1-877-UNITY08. Operators are standing by (I hope; I didn't actually ask).

The idea of Unity08 is to have citizens enroll in the movement online and nominate a unity slate by Internet voting. The goal is for this to happen in the first part of 2008 so that the organization can be sure to get on all state ballots.

What makes a unity slate? The presidential and vice presidential nominees must be from different parties or be independent. The Web-enabled newly active citizens would provide the foot soldiers and dollars for the campaign. It's pretty simple.

Their goal, unlike mine, is not to create a third party. They want this unity ticket to run and win in 2008 to give electroshock therapy to a polarized, petty, ineffectual party duopoly incapable of addressing serious issues in effective ways. If the movement lasts beyond 2008, fine, but that's not their primary concern at all.

The driving forces of Unity08 are a group of consultants-emeritus, Gerald Rafshoon and Hamilton Jordan, who worked for Jimmy Carter, and Doug Bailey, who worked for Gerald Ford and then helped start online political news ventures. You may recall that Mr. Carter beat Mr. Ford in 1976; now these foes are friends. Get it? Unity.

They also have brought in some smart college students and one of the best direct mail fundraisers in politics, Angus King, a former independent governor of Maine (and my Independent Party's candidate for a Maine Senate seat in '08).

Another founder is a "serial entrepreneur" and Republican-flavored banker from Denver named David Maney. He has a great quote: "The biggest unserved consumer market in the U.S. is the political middle."

How true. This gang deeply understands the myth of polarization in America today. Political parties are polarized. Some citizens who are highly politically active or ideological are polarized and their bile is at record levels. American voters as a population are not polarized; but they are only offered polarized options in elections. This isn't a theory; it is the evidence found in virtually every poll you could drum up about the public's views on the most basic civic issues.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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