Magazine article The American Conservative

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Magazine article The American Conservative

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Article excerpt

Poor David Cameron. The Conservative Party leader seemed set to become Britain's next prime minister--and that may still happen. But at this writing, the UK elections scheduled for May 6 have been thrown into a whirl by surging support for a third party. The Liberal Democrats, also-rans for the last 20 years, now poll within striking distance of second place. If they sap enough votes from the Tories, no party will have a majority in the next Parliament, and Gordon Brown might survive as prime minister.

What has propelled the Lib Dems to nearly equal footing with Labour and the Tories is the charismatic performance of their leader, Nick Clegg, in the April 15 televised debate. Britain has long been as sick of Labour and Tories as Americans are of Republicans and Democrats. But there as here, few voters know anything about the alternatives. Until Clegg appeared in prime time, that is.

Ron Paul would not be surprised--he catapulted to the top tier of Republican presidential contenders in 2007 on the strength of his appearances in debates with Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and the rest of the GOP pack. Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, and Ross Perot can also attest to the power of national debates to make or break a third-party effort. …

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