1st Edition

Spoiling for a Fight Third-Party Politics in America

By Micah L. Sifry Copyright 2003
    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    More Americans now identify as political independents than as either Democrats or Republicans. Tired of the two-party gridlock, the pandering, and the lack of vision, they've turned in increasing numbers to independent and third-party candidates. In 1998, for the first time in decades, a third-party candidate who was not a refugee from one of the two major parties, Jesse Ventura, won election to state-wide office, as the governor of Minnesota. In 2000, the public was riveted by the Reform Party's implosion over Patrick Buchanan's presidential candidacy and by Ralph Nader's Green Party run, which infuriated many Democrats but energized hundreds of thousands of disaffected voters in stadium-sized super-rallies.What are the prospects for new third-party efforts? Combining the close-in, personal reporting and learned analysis one can only get by covering this beat for years,  Micah L. Sifry's. Spoiling for a Fight exposes both the unfair obstacles and the viable opportunities facing today's leading independent parties. Third-party candidates continue be denied a fighting chance by discriminatory ballot access, unequal campaign financing, winner-take-all races, and derisive media coverage. Yet, after years of grassroots organizing, third parties are making major inroads. At the local level, efforts like Chicago's New Party and New York's Working Families Party have upset urban political machines while gaining positions on county councils and school boards. Third-party activists are true believers in democracy, and if America's closed two-party system is ever to be reformed, it will be thanks to their efforts

    IntroductionPart I. Challenging the DuopolyIntroductionChapter 1 The People Want More DemocracyChapter 2 The Moment is RipePart II. Organizing the MiddleChapter 3 Mad as Hell, Used and AbusedChapter 4 The Rise (and Fall) of the Reform PartyChapter 5 Getting Past PerotPart III. Organizing the LeftChapter 6 Compost Rotten PoliticsChapter 7 Nader's GambleChapter 8 The Duopoly Strikes BackPart IV. Organizing the BottomChapter 9 A Safe Way out of the Box?Chapter 10 The Little Third Party That CouldPart V. The FutureChapter 11 Looking AheadAppendixEndnotesIndex


    Micah L. Sifry, formerly an editor at The Nation, is Senior Analyst at Public Campaign, a nonpartisan election finance reform group. He is co-editor of the The Gulf War Reader, and his work has appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, Salon, Wired and Tikkun.

    "...in Spoiling for a Fight, [Sifry] has given us a sterling piece of contemporary political history...he also delivers a tough-minded critical analysis--based on detailed, first-hand observation--that can serve as a manual of dos and don'ts for citizens striving for a new kind of electoral politics." -- Doug Ireland, In These Times
    "[A] commanding survey of third parties...Sifry demonstrates a remarkable political fluency. ..His portrayals of the Nader campaign and of Jesse Ventura's upset victory in the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election are among the most subtle and incisive accounts I've seen...In a more politically developed country, Sifry's reporting would be the gold standard of contemporary journalism." -- Newsday
    "At last, an engrossing book about Third Parties that is dynamic and portentous for the future of American Politics." -- Ralph Nader
    "Finally, the whole story of the rise of third-party politics. If you want the facts on the revolution that's just beginning, read this book." -- Jesse Ventura