Friday, April 23, 2010

When three is not a crowd

In Britain’s mercifully short political campaign (the voting is May 6), they are actually letting a third-party candidate debate on TV.


The televised debates are a first in Britain, and they are giving much needed exposure to all three parties.

As a result, UK isn’t stuck in the kind of nasty left-right tug-o-war that is wrenching American politics.

The British electorate actually has to venture beyond the linear. This could be taken as a sign of political, even human, evolution.

We do not live in a politically polarized world. We live in at least three-dimensions. Rather than two sides to every issue, there are three. And if you can get to three, four becomes possible.

If American politicians knew that third parties must be invited to nationally televised debates, third parties, and even fourth parties, might form and expand the political possibilities.

The last time we experienced such a phenomenon was when Ross Perot ran in 1990 and 1994. The problem was that his campaigns, first as an independent and then as the leader of the Reform Party, had no congressional representation or legitimacy.

In Britain, the Liberal Democrats are an established Parliamentary presence.

But then the parliamentary system is another story altogether. For one thing, time — the time between elections, the political fourth dimension — can be quite fluid and responsive. Couple that with national television exposure and things get interesting.

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