People don't seem to get this. When you bring up a third-party candidate
, the routine refrain is simply that such a candidate cannot win. And when you point to Abraham Lincoln
, the similarly blankfaced response elicited is, "but.... but.... he was a Republican
." This seems intended to definitively end discusson of the question, as if there are eternal answers to eternal questions. Yes, Lincoln was a Republican, but this was back when the Republican Party
was this shiny new thing which had jumped up to disrupt the cozy two-party power-sharing arrangement between the Democrats
and the Whigs
; the Republicans were definitely still a third party as against those other two. More sophisticated objectors might even note that the Republicans had already had some success in getting elected to Congress
at this point, but this was regionally limited, the party's core anti-slavery
finding no purchase in the South
. In fact, it is useful to recall that the Republican party went from not existing at all
to winning the White House
in just six years.
So if anybody ever tries telling you a third-party candidate simply can't win the presidency
, simply remind them that not only
was Abraham Lincoln a third-party candidate, but he continues to be widely lauded to this day as one of the greatest of presidents -- the sort of thing which makes one wonder whether we ought to try a third-party candidate presidency again.