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Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald

I’m like an old war horse nostrils flaring, eyes spooked when I hear the phrase “third party”.  Gallop, gallop, wherever it’s headed I feel the urge to trail after.   Speaking of Gallup The Poll, I’m not alone:

“PRINCETON, NJ — A majority of U.S. adults, 58%, say a third U.S. political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties “do such a poor job” representing the American people.

“Political independents have shown a far greater preference for a third political party than those who identify as Republicans or Democrats. Currently, 71% of independents say a third party is needed. That compares with 47% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans who say the same.”

Hello, the Donald, welcome Bernie!  From opposite poles they tap into a large unused energy source of mainly white people who don’t read the latest Census figures but feel somehow their America is being stolen from them.

(Latest government projections are in five years half new babies will be “minority”; by 2060 a fifth of all Americans will be foreign born.)

OK, at some point Bernie must return to the Hillary Clinton fold, and we’ll troop like soldiers to OR Book Going Rougethe voting booth even though she’s proving a cold fish on the campaign trail. Every four years like clockwork we get scared into voting for the least worst.

I’ve been dipping into The Donald’s books (not his money accounts but his literary output).  I’ve seen worse writing.  A single theme – How To Be A Billionaire Like Me – done with a certain brio with self-help chapters useful to any slothful writer like me.  Get up early, work late, enjoy what you do.  Good advice even if five-deferment chickenhawk Trump is blind to his Beelzebub who pops up when he strays from the Art of the Deal into Serious Thought.   He is, after all, a “birther” doubting Obama’s legitimacy, hates Obamacare and except on trade – where he and Bernie agree – can’t help beating up on the weak and vulnerable.

But when is being a moral slob ever stopped a Republican bitten by the presidential bug?

Donald and the pundits say if the top Republicans, who used to crawl for his money, aren’t nice to him he’ll bust in as an Independent or Third Party candidate.  Shades of Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose and Bob LaFollette’s Progressive Party going all the way back to the Anti-Masonic and Free Soil Parties of the early 19th century.

In the 1940s I loyally worked for former vice president Henry Wallace’s third party and, being a realist, just as energetically bet against it as a losing proposition.  (I made a mint of money.)

So I’m not naïve, just an admirer of America’s labor saint Eugene V. Debs, five times Socialist Party presidential candidate, who once polled nearly a million votes and ran from prison the last time, who advised, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”

Hopeless.  Unrealistic.  Even evil when you consider the possibility of a bum like Scott Walker – or a Donald – in the Oval Office.

But it’s a visceral thing.  Your stomach rebels or it doesn’t.  Lots of people are comfortable with our rigid two party system because it lends stability and continuity to The System.  But every now and then I get this itch which I’ve kept under control since Senator Obama’s first presidential run in 2008 when we helped run his phone bank.

Hillary and The Donald have awakened it again.  Scratch, scratch.

Doctors tell us the itch can be a symptom of psychiatric disorders such as hallucinations or delusions.   I should be listening to the doctors more than watching TV images of those thousands of Americans flocking to meetings of Bernie (bless him) and Donald who, against the odds, may not immediately self-destruct.  They’re tapping into…what?

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Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

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