This country needs a viable third political party but just can't pull it off. That's too bad because a lot of people feel abandoned by the Big Two. Unfortunately, any possible alternatives that come along, such as the Tea Party, fly apart at the hinges after a big flash.
We watched it happen with the Reform Party that Ross Perot started. It seemed like a party of moderates that reflected where a lot of people were at the time. Perot wasn't a strong candidate, although he won a decent percentage of votes, and soon the party was hijacked by zealots and extremists and ruined.
The Tea Party caught a lot of people's interest when it cranked up in 2009. Although it's not a real political party, like Democratic, Republican, Green or several other parties, supporters sought to change elections. A lot of people who were tired of our nation's overspending and candidates being bought and paid for by special interests seemed like they were onto something. Almost immediately, though, here came extremists and hardliners who have done great harm to the movement.
Some came to capitalize on the Tea Party for their own financial gain. Others came because they just flat-out hated President Barack Obama, even for racial reasons.
And candidates were lining up, kowtowing to rigid Tea Party doctrine, even locally.
The Tea Party faithful then got behind bad candidates who refused to compromise on anything, and it turned a lot of Americans against them. They threatened to do "flag wavings" or protests in front of anyone who had the audacity to question them.
Fast-forward again to the last election and a couple of their candidates for national office who said ridiculous things about rape and women's rights. It did irreparable damage, or so it seems. Obama won big and Tea Party candidates didn't fare so well across the country.
According to a story by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, in 2010, 24 percent of voters identified with the Tea Party. A recent poll found that just 8 percent now identify with the Tea Party.
In Highlands County, the Tea Party is more interested in chasing one-world-order issues, it seems. They link just about everything to an attempt by the United Nations to take over our country.
Those theories have been around for decades and the vast majority of Americans consider it nonsense. The so-called militias claimed the same thing in the early 1990s, and groups did the same long before them.
It's sad that no serious party can come along and provide voters a real opportunity for quality candidates who don't fit into Democratic or Republican molds.
These same candidates can't get elected because they can't win a primary race or raise enough money to compete.
What will the next political movement become? Is there a third party that can work? We sure hope so, because what we've been getting isn't working.
Unfortunately, neither are the third parties that pop up every decade or so.