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John Anderson


I suppose it’s worth mentioning the death of John Anderson. As someone who has thought a good bit about vanity third parties presidential campaigns, largely with pure contempt for them and the people who vote for them, none have made less sense to me than Anderson in 1980. It’s true that I have never studied that election in any meaningful way, but how a Republican congressman becomes the brief darling of college liberals as the straight shooter telling the truths they want to hear is completely beyond me. He was polling at 25 percent in June! And while that fell to less than 7 percent, that still has not been bested by a third party candidate since except for Ross Perot in 1992. At least with Perot in 92, I get the political vacuum he filled. Anderson seems to have appealed to people disgusted by Reagan but who also hated Carter. I imagine he briefly attracted a lot of Ted Kennedy voters who couldn’t support Carter after their candidate failed to defeat him.

And then after the 1980 election, Anderson totally disappeared. What did he even do for the last 37 years? Basically, occasionally show up and talk about third parties.

Weird guy, weird moment in American political history. But at least he wasn’t Jon Anderson, whose “contributions” to music make him by far the most poisonous of all the Jon/John Andersons in history.

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