Reform Party

A few weeks ago, a wolf in sheep’s clothing prowled the White House lawn. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Washington, D.C. to sign a boring trade agreement with President Barack Obama. The details of the deal aren’t important—they’re so staid and sensible that I’ll leave it to the reader with a masochistic bent, or severe insomnia, to Google them. A quick glance at their mildly laudable contents will probably reinforce the American predilection to view Canada as a sleepy enclave of bureaucratic good government and tepidly left-wing policies.

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David Jungerman of Raytown, Missouri has attracted attention for a large sign by the highway calling Democrats the "party of parasites": The Kansas City Star reports that Jungerman himself falls into the parasite category: The Raytown farmer who posted a sign on a semi-truck trailer accusing Democrats of being the “Party of Parasites” received more than $1 million in federal crop subsidies since 1995. But David Jungerman says the payouts don’t contradict the sign he put up in a corn field in Bates County along U.S.

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Joseph Stack, who flew his plane into an IRS building, turns out to hold a greivance against... the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Yes, I know -- your first guess for the issue that set him off was going to be SCHIP expansion. But the 1986 tax reform turns out to be something of a magnet for political loons. In 1999, Donald Trump noisily pondering a presidential run, centering on the issue of his opposition to that measure. It turned out to be a flimsy basis for a populist insurgency. I wrote about this forgotten comic episode in a 1999 Diarist.

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Parlor Game

Peter Beinart's case against Iowa.

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All in the Family

It is obvious to the folks at Bob Jones University that I do not belong. For starters, I am the only woman on campus wearing pants: The university dress code requires female students and faculty to clothe themselves in more appropriate attire--dresses or skirts, mostly of the floor-length variety. What's more, I have a small press pass dangling around my neck. Just by looking at me, therefore, locals can instantly tell that I hail not only from the liberalmediaelite but from the secular-avant-garde-that-scorns-the-traditional-moralvalues-- that-decent-Americans-hold-sacred.

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Ross Perot's reform party is about to do something no third party has done in a century: transcend its founder. And it will be thanks to Pat Buchanan. Although Buchanan won't give either major candidate a scare in this year's presidential election, he'll probably line up enough disenchanted social conservatives, blue-collar workers threatened by imports, and disillusioned independents to win 7,000,000 votes.

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Third Out

AMERICAN POLITICS isn't physics, but it has rules nonetheless. And one of the clearest has to do with third parties. Since the nation's founding, no third party has knocked off one of the reigning two, and none has taken power. (The Republican Party of the 1850s, sometimes cited as an exception, actually emerged as a major party after the Whig Party expired.) That's not to say third parties always fail; they just succeed in a different way. When third parties succeed, it's because they change the terms of debate. They take a cry from the margins of American life—an issue, or an interest, or a

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The Third Rail

LARRY KING: "Can a three party system work?" ROSS PEROT: "There won't be a three party system. One of these parties is going to disappear. One of those special interest parties will have a meltdown." KING: "Are you saying the Republicans or the Democrats are going to disappear?" PEROT: "Two will last. That is my fearless forecast." Here in Washington, campaign junkies obsess about whether Ross Perot's candidacy will help Clinton or Dole.

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