Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Third Party Foolery

Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL, has rightly decided not to run in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Since her chances of winning were very slim, the only effect she would have had on the outcome would be to take votes away from Democratic challenger Bob Casey, Jr. Michelman is upset because Casey is a pro-life Democrat. Unfortunately, in the real world, she has only two choices – to support a pro-life Democrat by choosing not to run, or assist a rabid pro-life Republican (Rick Santorum) by entering the race.

Her public consideration of running as an independent might have been pretty cunning. Maybe I am giving her too much credit, but if it was an attempt to get concessions from Casey, then it was mildly successful. Casey has apparently promised not to support any Supreme Court nominees that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

This discussion reminds me of the 2000 Presidential campaign, and everyone’s favorite independent, Ralph Nader. Nader’s followers have always said that they did not contribute to Gore’s defeat because Gore lost the election on his own. There is some truth to that; Gore should not have let that election be that close. How hard could it possibly be to defeat a lazy elitist with poor public speaking skills? But the reality is that some of Nader’s followers would have voted for Gore if Nader hadn’t run, and that might have swung the election in Gore’s favor.

I am glad to see that in Pennsylvania, we have learned a lesson from the past and decided not to split our vote. If we are truly serious about booting the junior senator from Pennsylvania, we need to all be on the same team. Otherwise, the somewhat more moderate Santorum will go into hiding for another 4-5 years and ultra-conservative Rick will reassert his dominance until the next election.