When political ideologies sway

The campaign for the upcoming presidential election highlights interesting trends in the two-party system. The established parties are compromising on issues more than usual to garner more popular support for their platforms. As the major parties coalesce, independents have gained more leverage.
Independent candidates frequently blast the existing system for one reason or another, though they rarely have any significant impact on the campaign. This election, however, shows Green party candidate Ralph Nader siphoning votes from Democratic candidate Al Gore.
At a recent Green party convention, the audience responded with enthusiasm to Nader’s criticisms of the two-party system. Nader says the parties are too similar and limit voter choice. Evidently, many Green party supporters agree.
Nader fans are not the only ones who feel the government is misrepresenting its citizens. Minnesota voters denounced the traditional parties — along with the conventional politician — when they elected Jesse Ventura as governor. Obviously, a growing segment of the population feels betrayed by the current state of politics.
As independents rally support from disappointed citizens, mainstream politicians veer further from their traditional platforms in an effort to court the more elusive moderate population. Stodgy old politicians may be learning a needed lesson: The extremists might be louder, but they are also fewer.
The polls show Bush has been the most successful in swaying the majority. Some of this preliminary success can be attributed to his “compassionate conservative” stance. Gore seems to believe voters will perceive Bush as more conservative since he has selected Richard Cheney as his running mate. Perhaps they will. But thus far, Bush has followed Clinton’s safe and inclusive approach by ignoring the political extremists. Bush, like Clinton before him, tries to directly address the opposing party’s concerns.
Gore must be feeling threatened by Bush’s success in luring voters. Since Bush announced Cheney as his running mate, Gore has ceaselessly attacked the oil company executive. There can be little doubt the Democratic hopeful is trying to paint the Republican platform as a party inexplicably tied to the interests of big business.
The predicted surplus has placed even more pressure on the candidates to take the safe road. Both Gore and Bush are more willing to cross party lines and appease voters in both camps by prescribing tax cuts as well as federal programs.
Nevertheless, as mainstream candidates vie for moderate voters — an increasingly significant segment of the population — more disenchanted liberals and conservatives are looking elsewhere. In some cases, the major candidates are choosing to alienate the extremists in favor of courting moderate voters. Now, smart politicians battle over the middle ground as disappointed voters look to the third parties.