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The Reform Party Goes High-Tech
This summer, the national political parties in the United States will hold their conventions, and one of them plans to conduct its voting from a distance. Ross Perot's Reform Party is putting together an unusual three-stage convention that will consist of:
- A day of nominating speeches in Long Beach, California, on August 11;
- A week in which party members will submit their votes for the Reform Party's presidential nominee by computer linkups, telephone, or the U.S. mail;
- The announcement of the party's choice in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on August 18.
All of this is a radical departure from the way the Democratic and Republican parties conduct their quadrennial business. Instead of gathering a few thousand delegates together in one place, the Reform Party will collect votes from its 1.3 million voters, all of whom could probably never be assembled in the same place at the same time. One member, one vote is the principle -- there will be no delegates chosen in party caucuses or smoke-filled rooms; every certified Reform Party member will have his or her say in the balloting.
The televised events in California and Pennsylvania --one on each coast -- will symbolize the nationwide appeal the Reform Party expects to have, and the announcement of the chosen candidate will take place in a historically important location. Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington.
Is this the year for a third-party win?
No third-party candidate has ever won the U.S. presidency, but is this the year that will break that long tradition? Consider the following:
- The Democratic incumbent leads in the polls, assuming a two-way race, but his popular support is generally considered to be soft as he and his wife face accusations of wrongdoings, moral and financial.
- The Republican challenger, who secured nomination early in the year and resigned from the Senate to campaign full time, finds it difficult to persuade voters that he is the man of the hour.
- The Reform Party is led by a man who is wealthy enough to fund his own presidential campaign -- and did, in large part, four years ago, when he captured more votes as an independent candidate than anyone else in this long century.
- This new party, the Reform Party, has attracted the support of a former Democratic governor, and the Reform Party's leader, Ross Perot, has recently co-authored a book, The Dollar Crisis, together with an outgoing Democratic Senator.
But who will be the candidate?
That is the question. Will it be Mr. Perot, a man of great ambition but also a man who showed himself to be irritable and ambivalent four years ago when confronting a tough press corps? Will it be former Colorado governor Richard Lamm, who has let it be known he wouldn't mind being the Reform Party's candidate but lacks the national voter familiarity Perot enjoys? Will it be Senator Paul Simon, Perot's new co-author? General Colin Powell? Patrick Buchanan?
Let the McKinley Internet Yellow Pages and the McKinley Magellan Internet Guide help you find up-to-the-minute information about the 1996 preidential campaign. These guides will point you to great Web resources, such as the 4-star online edition of the nonpartisan political magazine George.
Posted July, 1996.
© Copyright 1996 OBS