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(excerpt from) The NY Times
Ross Douthat / November 1, 2009
[Re: candidates Chris Daggett in NJ and Doug Hoffman in NY]
…But both men deserve the public’s gratitude. They’ve injected real substance into their races, and they’ve given voters a much more interesting choice than they would have otherwise enjoyed.
It’s a shame that this doesn’t happen more often. Gerrymandered districts, the power of incumbency and our tendency to self-segregate along ideological lines all help make American elections uncompetitive. But so does the absence of third-party entrepreneurship…
It’s at the state and local level where an independent politician or party can actually hope to get things done. (In this regard, the cranks and idealists in your local Green Party have more sense than the pundits who fantasized about a Bloomberg-for-President campaign.) And it’s at the state and local level where we could use a lot more of them…
They could provide a counterweight to the corruption associated with one-party rule, whether in solidly red states or deep-blue cities. They could get unorthodox candidates elected, and win hearings for unorthodox ideas. And they could help fulfill the promise of federalism, by organizing themselves around local particularities, rather than the national political divide…
The Internet has democratized political organizing in ways that ought to weaken the two-party duopoly. Howard Dean and Ron Paul have proved that you can fund a presidential campaign with a laptop. Where Hoffmann and Daggett have gone, others should be able to follow.
For anyone who wants to try, the time is now. This year has been a good year for independent candidates. Given the public mood these days, 2010 could be an even better one — and there will be a lot more than three offices up for grabs next fall.