California will be an instructive test case. No doubt Dole narrows the
gap against Clinton here in November. Nader whittles at Clinton's totals,
and it is assumed that Perot, if he enters, takes support away from Dole.
Let's all permanently put aside the pipe dream that Clinton will redefine
himself in response to outside challengers. (All together now: This guy
ain't moving left.) His handlers will continue triangulating him around
the middle-ground, trading spitball perception-jabs with Dole's spin-gunsels.
Both camps will attempt to lump Nader and Perot together, and then link
them with the "socialist" Buchanan, coding them as a triad
aberrant in hopes of erasing the residue of anger working people voiced
during the primaries.
It's a monumental wager by the morph councils, one they realize they cannot accurately measure. There are too many elements of both left and right arrayed against them in heretofore-unseen combinations, and too many issues which can no longer be marginalized or shunted aside.
An interesting scenario was posited prior to the 1992 election, involving a race between four candidates. Given a predictable voter turnout of only 40 percent, what may have seemed a farfetched challenge from a progressive candidate suddenly seemed very plausible. The prospect of a future where plurality victories could be achieved with a small percentage of the total vote has fueled the impetus toward the formation of alternative parties.
Five parties? Six parties, even? Such an occurrence is likely at some point, as a surplus of prominent names and organizations abound and wait expectantly in the wings. Any significant campaign finance reform will bring them onto the stump.
It will be telling, and not a little comical, to watch Dole choose his
running mate. His people will first proceed with a consummate evisceration
of Buchanan's standing in the party. Sufficiently mollifying the Christian
right could be accomplished by the choice of either of the midwestern governors
John Engler or George Voinovich, plus give the Republicans a foothold in
those crucial industrial states. As to the wavering ace-in-the-hole, Colin
Powell, he can only be brought aboard with Buchanan gone. There's no chance
that Powell, who on social issues is Clinton in blackface, will ever sit
in a convention hall as Buchanan launches one of his nativist rants.
The Powell question best illustrates both parties' treacly quest to perfect and occupy the ultimate center-right node. In entropic situations like that, no light enters or is emitted, and it's time we acted on that recognition. There should be no hesitation now about stepping outside the Democratic party and voting our real interests. Cautious incrementalism failed, but the vision sharpens. Right now, outside my window, the sun is shining and the hills are turning into season.