Originally Posted by Wonderment
Third party candidacies are often debated in terms of who benefits most. Some people argue that Nader was a wash, although many are convinced that Gore would have won without Nader. Some attribute Clinton's 1992 victory to Ross Perot. Then there's George Wallace in 1968. My hunch is that Paul as a third party would hurt Obama, but I'm open to questioning that assumption or following some empirical data that might help clarify it.
First of all, let me affirm your position that Ron Paul brings topics to the table that merit legitimate debate. I am perfectly fine with your a la carte
disentangling of Paul's peace issue from his other opinions. It's an issue that should be in the public debate. And I say this as someone who is not really in sync with the peaceniks. I pay no attention to the trolls who want to tar you with Paul's unsavory past.
On the other hand, I feel a Ron Paul third-party run is a danger to the republic. That's because I believe all third-party candidates are a danger to the republic. It's not a comment about Ron Paul, but a flaw in our electoral system. The problem is that third-party candidates tend to split majorities, and it's very important to win with a majority. When the day comes that we have a president elected by 38% of the voters, public cynicism will soar, confidence in government will plummet, and this will be very destabilizing.
I get so depressed when I hear these people on either side of the spectrum talking about the strategy of winning on the back of a spoiler. There's something anti-democratic about it.