April 15, 2011
Third Party? Read the Fine Print FirstBy C. Edmund Wright
So you want a third party do you? You are fed up with John Boehner's recent actions on the budget and you've reached a breaking point - and you're ready to form a third party. Am I reading you right?
Oh I understand. I do. Please realize that I've been RINO hunting since 1992. I was anti John McCain starting in 92 and anti Karl Rove as far back as late 2000. I mention this just to let you know that I am the least likely person to fall for any "reach across the aisle" or "new tone" shenanigans or messaging from inside the beltway types.
I live "outside the beltway" in every possible way.
But back to the third party issue: I have a few questions first. Keep in mind I am assuming you are now serious about having a full-fledged political party that recruits and campaigns from dog-catcher through the White House. You know, a party that will have to pay for staff and offices and websites and email servers and travel and all of that. Oh, let's not forget advertising.
And you're ok with that, because you no doubt have a vast reservoir of virginally pure fund raisers and contributors of course who all agree with you on everything.
This is what you wanted, right?
Now, what's your position on the 59 House Republicans who voted the way you wanted them to on the budget deal? You know, Allen West and Michelle Bachmann and Mike Pence and so on? Will your pure new party contest these folks? Or will you magically recruit all of them to it? I really like those folks, so I beg of you not to defeat them.
What about some Senators you like? For instance Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and Jim DeMint? Will you run against them too? And unless I'm mistaken, there will be two senators from Massachusetts whether we like it or not - so can you even find someone to run up there better than Scott Brown - who I admit is flawed. Maybe the problem is Massachusetts, not Brown so much. You do plan on having a Massachusetts office don't you?
And what about the 700 some Republicans who won new seats in state legislatures across the nation. Most of those were classic tea party type candidates if news reports are to be believed. Will you throw them out too? Who will you run against them? YOU recruited them, didn't you?
And what about unelected Republicans -- folks who feel just like you do about the Republican leadership in the congress? What will you do about folks like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin? You are going to have to counter all of these folks with a message and messengers that are about 95% consistent with what they say?
And by the way, just what will your message be? As I look out there and see the third party frustrations building, I am seeing a plethora of differing ideas on just what this party should be.
As for me, if I thought it were the way to go, my perfect third party would be a strictly tea party type small government third party focused on spending and government intrusion into our lives. Constitutional government would be the key. It would be socially conservative but only to the extent that those issues would be properly left to the "several states."
And yet, I know folks who swear the tea party was almost as much about social issues as it was fiscal issues, and many are of the third party mindset. I also know Randians (Ayn) who claim social issues have no place at all in a fiscal movement. And then there are those who say philosophically you cannot separate them and be intellectually consistent.
The problem is there are at least three subsets of how social issues should be treated and at least two of how national defense issues should be treated. So are we forming one, or three, or five "third parties?" And if so, who gets to go "third" and who has to be the "sixth party?"
I bet in the first 20 comments to this article that 15 of them slam me for criticizing the third party movement and of those, I bet there are 8 totally different ideas of what this magical mystical party should be. That's my point actually.
It might be instructive here to point out that we already have dozens and dozens of "third parties" and anyone is free to join these parties and to build these parties and yet they remain irrelevant. So what will you do to magically have "your" third party emerge and grow big enough to be relevant?
There is nothing stopping you now.
You will need a person to spearhead it in all likelihood. So who will that be? Will it be Donald Trump? If so, you will have a third party leader who is a trade protectionist, pro union and who just two year ago said Barack Obama had a chance to be a great President. Oh, by the way, Trump is also a crony capitalist who likes to do business deals by jumping in the sack (metaphorically) with the likes of Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi. Yuck (not metaphorically).
Or will it be Sarah Palin? I think she already answered that question when she said that even the "third party" effort she supported in NY 23 a couple years ago was about sending a message and cleaning up the Republican Party.
Or will it be Ron Paul? Hey, there's your government reductionist par excellence. Never mind his current cultic followers. I'm sure they'll gladly move over and let you run this new movement the way you want to. And as we know, the Paul voters are all so reasonable on issues like national defense and terror. That insight no doubt comes from their repeated visits to NORML meetings. (And dang, even Paul is a registered Republican!)
And believe it or not, some third party folks believe the way to go is the Charlie Crist way. This is ironic, since beating Crist in a primary is exhibit A in my case that going third party is the wrong answer.
Now of course we could see what Ross Perot Junior is up to these days.
Say what? Oh, this is harder than you thought? Indeed it is. This is a hard game and an expensive game. Staffing a party means finding thousands of people who will work for the cause and hundreds of people who will run for office and millions of people who will donate.
And guess what? Every single one of those people will be a flawed human being. The staffers will jealously guard their turf and no doubt have little internal politics going on inside every office. And every candidate will be a human and they will be lured by the siren call of power and money. And every contributor will have an agenda and they will want influence and/or favors in exchange for their donations.
We don't need a third party. We need perfect humans who are in agreement. Since we can't find those, I'm afraid our only hope is to try and perfect one of the two parties we have. And really, there are only two ways to approach any problem. There is the way with "more government" and there is the way with "more liberty."
Everything can be boiled down to that. One current party is awful, but the other one is evil. I say do what Ronald Reagan did: improve on the one that is merely awful. This option is nauseating perhaps, but it's our only choice. And besides, we got off to a pretty good start in 2010.
See also: Will It Take A New Political Party to Save America?