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The Student News Organization for Rutherford B. Hayes High School

The Talisman

The Student News Organization for Rutherford B. Hayes High School

The Talisman

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Opinion: Roosevelt, Perot and Kennedy: Third Wheeling America

Third+party+candidates+often+receive+less+attention+than+other+major+players.+Historically%2C+only+a+few+third+party+candidates+have+gained+major+attention.
Brody Counts
Third party candidates often receive less attention than other major players. Historically, only a few third party candidates have gained major attention.

Theodore Roosevelt, twice elected under the Republican Party, then running against them as a Bull Moose. Ross Perot, Texan Billionaire and founder of the Reform Party. Robert Kennedy Jr., the 2024 candidate playing middle man.
In terms of ideology, these men have their similarities and their fair share of differences. However, the one thing that unites them is that they all either acted in or are pursuing roles as third party candidates—the underdogs of U.S. Politics.

The Bull Moose


Roosevelt was elected twice: first as the assassinated McKinley’s vice president and then again in 1904, winning by a landslide. He maintained a promise from his 1904 campaign, choosing against running in 1908. However, when he became displeased with Taft’s more conservative government, Roosevelt announced he would be running in 1912.
After failing to secure the Republican nomination, Roosevelt started the Progressive Party, a third ticket in the general election. The split caused by his separation from the GOP would end up propelling Woodrow Wilson to the White House, where he would serve two terms, after winning again in 1916.
Roosevelt’s 27.4% share of the popular vote remains the highest ever achieved by an independent ticket in a race featuring both major parties. He acquired 88 electoral votes, the highest total of the 20th century, followed in second place by George Wallace’s 46 in 1968 on the American Independent ballot.

The Cowboy

Exactly 80 years later, another cowboy had a go at the political tricycle. In 1992, Texas Billionaire Ross Perot stepped up to bat. Originally not intending to run, Perot accepted, retired from the race in July and then once again rejoined it in October of the same year.
Perot’s campaign played on the idea that trickle down economics wasn’t working. Additionally, he attacked the high spending and increasing deficit of the national government. He also rallied behind the idea that people had grown sick of the two major players.
Come the time of the election, Perot secured 18.9% of the popular vote. Unlike Roosevelt and Wallace, he failed to win a single electoral victory.
His 1996 campaign was even less successful, capturing only 8% of the popular vote while again failing to secure a single electoral vote. He fared slightly better in Ohio, securing just under 11% of the popular vote. He did not run again in 2000, and the Reform Party faded into relative obscurity, though maintaining an online presence.
His candidacy lives on as the bane of 92’ Bush supporters, and as a testament to the strength of the Republicans and Democrats in US Politics. However, he also highlighted the growing dissatisfaction of the American public with the two party monopoly.

The Descendant


In October of 2023, a wildcard entered the hyperpartisan environment already buzzing around the 2024 election: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator and attorney general Robert ‘Bobby’ F. Kennedy, and the nephew of former president John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy’s family reputation precedes him, something he played off of in a recent Super Bowl advertisement. The ad evoked the displeasure of the larger Kennedy family, but RFK Jr. claimed he had no involvement in its creation.
In the time before his announcement of a presidential bid – and beyond his family name – Kennedy served as a prosecutor for Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group in New York, for over three decades. During his time with Riverkeeper, he worked to help restore the Hudson, alongside publishing several books on his efforts in environmental law.
However, in recent years, former associates have moved to distance themselves from Kennedy as he began taking credence in a growing conspiracy theory: Anti-vaccination.
He aided the publishing of “Cause Unknown,” which alleged that the COVID vaccination was the cause of a supposed death spike in 2021. Furthermore, he hired Del Bigtree as a campaign advisor, a leading face in anti-vaccine groups.
Despite his support of such a theory, it’s believed that he could play spoiler in the upcoming 2024 election.
In polling conducted by Ohio Northern University, Kennedy took 11% of the vote in a Biden v. Trump rematch. While this isn’t an eye-wateringly large number, it’s still enough to sway things one way or the other in either of the major candidates’ way.
This could serve as a spiritual rerun of the “did Perot cause Bush to lose the 1992 election” situation, just with an even more divided political climate. With increasing distaste in the major political players, that 11% could end up being a deciding factor in 2024.
With recent allegations of campaign misconduct, what effect Kennedy will have is yet to truly be seen. However he nonetheless remains an intriguing third wheel to the 2024 campaign season.

Independence and Independents


These three men in a way represent the very spirit of the United States and her citizens. None are perfect, all with their own series of flaws (ranging from egregious to miniscule), and all with their own thoughts.
By stating their opinion, standing behind beliefs purely of their own, they exercised the most beautiful ability of an individual: independent thought.
In much a similar way, the Union was not and is not a perfect product. American democracy is a giant experiment, and it is the responsibility of her citizens to continue it.
Without the exercising of a person’s ability to state their feelings on a subject, democracy wallows and dies. With it, debate and disagreement run rampant.
That’s the beauty of democracy: it is an inherently flawed and ugly product.
But it’s also a reflection of a citizen’s ability and right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. People are the makers of their own destiny, and the right to that is theirs alone.

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Brody Counts
Brody Counts, Staff Writer
Brody Counts (he/him) is a junior at Hayes. This is his first year on staff. Brody can most commonly be found buying obscure research papers or with his head buried in a new book. Outside of school, he enjoys spending time with his pet dogs and dining downtown.
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