There is no denying that between libertarian leaning 2012 Republican candidate Ron Paul's unsatisfied following and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson's burgeoning support, there hasn't been a shortage of talk about third party candidates and runs during the current election season.
The increasingly popular notion is also a testament to American voters' discontent with the current menu of options, namely an incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama running on a slow economy and high unemployment, and Mitt Romney, a Republican challenger so far unable to articulate a compelling vision for a faster economic recovery amid the numerous gaffes that are threatening with dooming his chances on November 6.
America's latest, and most successful, third party run was during the 1992 presidential election when founder of the Reform Party, Ross Perot, ran against Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush and young Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. Perot didn't win any electoral votes. However, he gained an impressive 19% of the popular vote giving independent voters a voice in a two party system that seems bent to crush any potential dissidence.
Perot is back in the news with the announcement of his upcoming autobiography, Ross Perot: My Life, due in January 2013. He has previously authored a couple of books, Ross Perot: My Life and the Principles for Success and United We Stand. Though few of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson supporters would identify with Perot today, his return to the spotlight in this particular moment is a reminder that third party candidates also have a voice in the American political process,
Johnson seems the most likely candidate to repeat Perot's feat during the current election cycle. Though the Libertarian Party nominee and former governor of New Mexico will be on the ballot in all 50 states, he probably won't be allowed to participate in the presidential debates because of a National Commission of Presidential Debates rule that demands a candidate must poll around the 15% figure in order to be able to participate. Currently, Johnson, who nonetheless filed an anti-trust claim against the CPD, polls half of that.
And, even when third party candidates' haters dismiss voters who express their intention of considering a third option as people "throwing their votes away" while helping elect an unintended candidate, those who are thinking about writing Ron Paul or any other candidate in, or those thinking about voting for Gary Johnson, should not let anybody into bullying them out of the right to cast their vote as the see fit. Cause, as The Joker famously stated it in Christopher Nolan's film The Dark Knight: "it's about sending a message."