The readers of the New York Times basically called him insane, with hundreds of comments detailing how out of touch Mr. Friedman is with the the American political process. His reaction? "ALL IN." And, thus, Mr. Friedman has now declared that our long-term federal deficit can only be addressed by having a third party candidate step in, deficit hawk, Trilateralist, and Republican/Independent former US Comptroller, David M. Walker, and debate President Obama and the eventual GOP nominee (be it Gov. Willard "Mitt" Romney, Sen. Rick Santorum, or a brokered nominee to be named later) in order to shift the debate from our present day need for economic growth to a longer range discussion of revamping Social Security, Medicare, and the various programs that comprise our ever-fraying social safety net in tandem with a discussion of tax simplification and simultaneous tax increases.
What on Earth are you huffing, Mr. Friedman?
Inquiring minds want to know. Seriously.
Mr. Friedman, do you sincerely believe that third party candidates EVER effectively move the discussion toward their direction? Let us review. Did Ralph Nader effectively move Al Gore or John Kerry to the left? No.He did, however, help to elect George W. Bush in 2000. Did Ross Perot move George H. W. Bush toward radical deficit control in 1992? No, but he did hurt Bush enough to possibly help to elect Bill Clinton (who made deficit reduction a priority, in large part, because it was one of the few things that he and the Republican-dominated Congress could agree on). Finally, did John Anderson force the Republican Party to the center in 1980? No, but he possibly helped to elect Ronald Reagan by hurting President Carter with moderate Democrats.
Perhaps the ONLY recent instance of a third party candidate successfully changing the positioning of a major party would be George Wallace, whose campaign in 1968 successfully broke moved a large portion of conservative Southern Democrats into the welcome arms of Richard Nixon—and the Republican Party. And, there they have remained for nearly half-a-century.
Mr. Friedman, you are playing with fire here. First, deficit reduction, while important, is not going to fix an economy vying for life in our "ever-flattening world." And, radical deficit reduction would have been possible if the Republicans were simply willing to do things like raise revenues in exchange for spending cuts. Second, a third party candidate (unless it is someone like Donald Trump or Sarah Palin) is more likely to draw more from President Obama's fragile path to electoral victory than from the GOP nominee. Is a President Santorum what you really want?
Consider this safer, more considered path, Mr. Friedman
Perhaps, Mr. Friedman, you might throw your support behind Mr. Walker's potential run for Sen. Joe Lieberman's Senate seat. A Connecticut GOP primary might be an interesting sounding board for Mr. Walker's ideas. Wait. One problem. He's a Republican who abhors the deficit enough to raise taxes. Here's a better idea. Have Mr. Walker run for the same seat as a Democrat. Connecticut does have a long history of electing fiscally conservative Democrats to the Senate. And, until the Senate abolishes the filibuster and the anonymous hold, a deficit hawk such as Walker could really make a difference. Oh, wait. He has one small problem: Mr. Walker made a max-out individual contribution to Republican presidential hopeful Willard "Mitt" Romney in December 2011. Well, Mr. Walker could certainly run for Senate in Connecticut as an independent. They always have a strong history of electing former Democrats who back Republican presidential candidates, who then turn independent.
Alas, Mr. Friedman, you really don't understand the US political system, do you?