Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System, Douglas E. Schoen.
Random, $24 (272) ISBN 9781400067336
Is the U.S. ready to elect a third-party president? Campaign consultant Schoen, who calls American politics “dangerously mired in a dysfunctional two-party system,” gives the question a tentative “yes,” and he is in a position to know: his firm has advised top presidential campaigns for over 30 years, and is currently helping New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg weigh his options as a potential independent candidate. Looking at the “large-scale trend that could open the door for a major third-party candidate,” Schoen uses extensive polling to contend that the next election will be decided by the 35-40 percent of the electorate fed up with “partisanship and the extremist wings of either party,” a group Schoen calls “Restless and Anxious Moderates.” He also considers other factors bolstering a third-party effort, including the rising importance of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, and looks back at the history of third-party candidates, especially 1992 independent presidential hopeful Ross Perot. While a third-party candidate might not win in 2008, Schoen shows, he would provide—as Perot did—an important role in shaping the political agenda, invigorating debates and encouraging consensus between the two major parties. A cagey and comprehensive look at the weaknesses, and promises, of the American political system, Schoen’s analysis is as convincing as it is timely. (Feb.)
Douglas E. Schoen has been one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for over thirty years. A founding partner and principle strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland, he is widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling. His political clients include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Indiana Governor Evan Bayh, and his corporate clients include AOL Time Warner, Procter & Gamble and AT&T. Internationally, he has worked for the heads of states of over 15 countries, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and three Israeli Prime Ministers. Schoen graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, and holds a degree from Harvard Law School as well as a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.