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A Third Choice
With Ben Wattenberg
Ben Wattenberg Premiere: Friday, August 18th, 9:00 - 10:00pm ET - Check Local Listings
The Story of Third Party Candidates in America

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America has a two-party political system, but third-party candidates have played an enormous role in American elections and American life. Third-parties frequently identify new concerns among voters, and put them front and center on the American agenda.

Theodore Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, Eugene Debs, Henry Wallace, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, John Anderson and Ross Perot did not win the Presidency, but for good or for ill, they were important in shaping 20th Century America. (Arguably, one third-party candidate did win the Presidency: Abraham Lincoln).

Could a third party again become an important force in the near future? Could third-party candidates provide the margin of victory or defeat for major party candidates?

There are new players: Jesse Ventura, Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, Lenora Fulani. Lincolnesque? Doubtful. Important? Undoubtedly.

Originally produced in 1996, the award-winning and newly-updated “A Third Choice” covers more than 200 years of America’s most influential third party movements, drawing on interviews with leading historians, a rich collection of campaign memorabilia, rare archival footage, artwork, political cartoons and campaign songs.

The new edition of “A Third Choice” premieres August 18th, at 9:00pm on PBS, immediately following a two-month schedule of candidate-picking by Green, Reform, Republican and Democratic party conventions, all explored in the program.

Questions? Comments? Please email us at thinktank@pbs.org


The PBS Democracy ProjectPBS invites you to learn how to be a savvy voter with the PBS Democracy Project.




“The one-hour program, part of television’s ongoing Democracy Project, is a vibrant, telling look at history’s odd men out.”

— Chicago Tribune


A Third Choice is an absolutely superb documentary — public television at its best. Ben Wattenberg and his colleagues at New River Media did an excellent job of conveying a tremendous amount of information in a succinct and engaging way...”

— Steven Rosenstone
Professor of Political Science
Univ. of Michigan




Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg
the PBS program on ideas

PBS Pfizer Support for A Third Choice is provided by Pfizer, Inc., the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation, PBS, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.