I am old enough to remember the effects of the last third party candidacy (when Ross Perot selfishly gave us the "gift" of the Clinton years), and I am not a big fan of the idea.
Yes, I am familiar with the arguments of how a "true democracy allows for all voices", et cetera. But the fact is that the United States is not a "true democracy", it is a Republic, and the system set up by our forefathers does not lend itself well to a multi party system. It boils down to this truism, which anyone remembering their playground days can attest to: When you have a group of three, it always comes down to two against one.
What we need in government is One against One. The problem that we've had over the last couple of decades is that it hasn't really been one against one, it's been more like a juvenile delinquent and a little brother, both engaged in mischief. When the Republican Party lost its way sometime after 1994, it became, in effect, the little brother that could easily be talked into partaking in the same malfeasance that the democrat big brother did...like raiding the cookie jar, over and over and over again.
They've gotten away with it because the adults (the voters) have not been paying attention. Now, with the advent of the New Media--and in spite of the old Legacy Media--we have a much more informed electorate, and we have refocused like a laser on the elements of the system that have been running amok.
With both parties having the full and undivided attention of the voters, we have an excellent opportunity to hold them accountable. A third party will not accomplish that, it will only dilute the focus. A threat of a third party is, however, a valuable tool for keeping one (or both) parties at bay. It's simple, really. The elitist career politicians on both sides of the aisle crave power, and they need to be reminded that the power switch lies with the people, not themselves. A third party will only give them a better grip on power.
We will need to walk back about 80 years of progressive/socialist-democratic policies in order to reconcile the current political situation with the original American Dream. That is not going to happen in any one person's tenure in office. We will need to make a pragmatic approach, and recognize that we will be taking many, many measured steps to arrive at a long term correction. The ultimate objective of the Tea Party is absolutely the goal to be aimed at...but we won't get there if we try to take the shortcut and go the third party route.
That's not to say that if the Republicans don't toe the line, they can't be replaced by another, more effective party. I'm just saying that now is not the time. We must balance the romance of the grand vision the Tea Party offers with a pragmatic, long term grind geared to chip away at the monolith of progressive government intrusion. This election is the first step on a long journey. Let’s not try to leap to a solution--and end up falling down the slope of democratic socialism.