Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Something for voters to remember when it comes to the final outcome on Election Day–the magic number is 270. No candidate can be confirmed as the president-elect without the majority of those electoral college votes. But here’s the tricky thing: If no candidate achieves that magic number, the 12th Amendment charges the House of Representatives to make the decision instead. That’s how John Quincy Adams won out over Andrew Jackson in 1824–and the Amendment itself was written to codify the procedure that had led Jefferson to defeat Burr in 1800 (“Well, I’ll be damned”).
Let’s consider a scenario of optimism–let’s invent the most viable third-party presidential candidate in modern American history. Let’s call their party something pleasant yet neutral. Let’s call it the Penguin Party. The Penguin Party’s candidate is somebody capable of commanding so much attention and goodwill that they don’t just win counties here and there, but are capable of winning entire states and the electoral votes within.
Realistically: The first time this prodigy of a third-party politician makes that historic run, the most powerful statement they make is denying either of the two more powerful parties that electoral majority. And that’s not a small statement. But at the end of the scrum, whoever’s party currently dominates the House of Representatives will decide who wins the presidency.
Now step back into our dimension and remember that the House of Representatives currently remains infested with tantrum-throwing Tea Party Republicans, led from on high by Paul Ryan, oblivious avatar of wealthy privilege. Paul Ryan has already shown us that when given the option to choose principle over power, he’ll bend his knee to Donald Trump.
I want a viable third party that can compete on every level, I do. Arguably, within the next two decades we’re going to need a viable third party to become the new second party after the Republican death spiral enters its arc of no return. But the 12th Amendment contains the sort of rarely triggered bylaw that one needs to be aware of when they suggest a top-down strategy is the right avenue for building that party.
Fill the chambers of Congress with Penguins and hold onto that Penguin Congress with good governance and smart politics. Then run that special, charismatic Penguin presidential candidate. Even when they fail to capture the majority of electoral votes, they’ll be poised to take the presidency through their Penguin allies lying in wait in legislature.