Living in Europe with its numerous political parties makes the failure of third parties in the US even more striking and quizzical for me. At Sadly,No! , Retardo Montalban wades into the contentitious issue of third party politics, and admirably avoids getting bogged down in a discussion of 2000 and the attendant finger-pointing. He concludes with:
I agree that as a practical matter, supporting a third party is suicidal. But until it's acknowledged what drives the Left into the arms of third parties and something's done about it, it'll keep happening. The Left always gets killed; the height of cruelty is to demand that it shouldn't die at least on its own terms.
As one who has felt driven out of the Democratic Party for the last several elections (to the point of driving me out of the US), I can say that one problem is the utter refusal of the Party leadership to engage substantively in the issues which I deem important. The namby-pambying about Iraq is only Exhibit ZZ in a long line of major disappointments from the supposedly "centrist" Dems who supposedly know how to win elections (alternative energy, major electoral reform, education, blah blah, you can list your own).
And don't tell me to work within the established structure. I tried that in New York, Indiana and California, and there was almost zero input into national policy at the local party level. I understand that under Dean that has changed somewhat, but the DLC are still not welcoming us with open arms, which is a stark contrast to how the GOP wooed Southern conservative voters. Without wanting to replay 2000, I would dare to say that if Gore had made any acknowledgements of the concerns of Nader voters (he wouldn't even mention Nader's name until the very late days) about the environment, consumer protection, et al., that he wouldn't have lost Florida (assuming those votes would have been counted correctly).
Look, Dem leaders, I'm here to tell you that we progressives can be bought cheap. Really. Just tell us, as Clinton did, that you are concerned about our issues, and we'll be right there with you. We just want to be listened to (and loved). Is that so wrong?