Are two parties enough?
Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: I don’t think America is interested in more than two parties, because I don’t think America is all that interested in parties. But if the question is can somebody who is not a Republican or a Democrat win the White House, I would say absolutely. I mean the barriers to this that have traditionally existed have never been lower. Those barriers were money and the arcane laws of ballot access that the two parties used to keep people out of the process, and to keep them from engaging the public. Those two things simply . . . simply are less formidable than they’ve ever been. You can raise a ton of money online. You can . . . You can organize a ton of people in different states without having to spend a lot of money to go out and get you the ballot access you need. What’s . . . The only thing missing is the candidate. I mean it takes somebody who has tremendous credibility; and somebody . . . somebody of real stature; and not necessarily a billionaire because I think people are suspicious of that. But somebody who enjoys a lot of credibility and some celebrity in public life; and who is inspiring enough to you know . . . to get people to embrace a different . . . a different and more, you know, scarier direction. But I think it . . . I thought . . . I was writing 10 years ago that I thought it was more possible than it’s ever been. And I think it’s 10 times more possible now than it was then. And you know I don’t know. Maybe we’ve seen a handful of people who might have been able to pull it off. But we don’t see anyone . . . I don’t know of anyone out there on the horizon now who I think is the person to fill that role.
Recorded on: 12/13/07
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