Third Party, Replacement Party or just “Party on, Garth!”?

Back in October of 2011, Joe and I were going at it pretty hot and heavy about the creation of a third party. As my esteemed granddaddy,  Baker T. Goodwin, would say, I’m still agin it…but this time with one caveat – that this “third party” must be a replacement party for the GOP and the very, very few elements remaining in the Democrat Party that still appreciate Constitutionality – if there are any (if there are, they are kept carefully hidden from public view).

So I’m re-posting this part of our exchange because I believe that this theme is very true:

If conservatives don’t learn how to play the long game, we should get prepared to settle in for more Democratic presidents and Congresses for years to come. Then we can all come back here after 2012 and commiserate about how much losing sucks and bitch about liberals…or we can start working a plan so that our kids won’t have to have the same conversations. Our choice.

We simply can’t change to be Democrat Lite or we all might as well sign up for membership in Komrade Karl’s Kremlin Komedy Klub – the KKKK. His ideal features one party rule, too.

All is not lost; however, as I have noted that what has been the strength of Democrats is also their Achilles heel – the fact that their Party is a coalition of disparate, single issue groups, stitched together by political promises:

But it is not really about support for a minority, is it? It is really about the accumulation and retention of power. The “progressives” have a history of uniting disparate radical groups who are opposed to what America really is – statists, communists, Marxists, radical black nationalists, counterculture rebels, anarchists, anti-religionists, anti-military – all are part of the “progressive” base.

Once these groups realize that there is no way for every group to have what they want – you can’t give the unions what they desire and give the environmentalists theirs, too – the game falls apart.

Here’s the October 2011 post:

My ally, my good friend and colleague, Black3Actual, misinterprets my stance on a third party. In his post, The Third Party Way, he writes:

Utah and I have an ongoing disagreement about 3rd Parties. He holds the position that they are a necessary evil, while I have come to the opinion that, if you vote for the lesser of two devils, you still end up in hell.

He is right, wrong and then right again in the same two sentences.

First, we do have a “disagreement” with regard to “third parties” but probably not in the way that he thinks. While I do believe that there is a necessity for a different party, I’m just not convinced that a “third” party is the answer. I far prefer the clarity that a two party system gives even though there is a danger that the two can become one in the quest for self preservation. That is why we must have a path for party change and why any political party has to be held accountable for its actions, not just which planks its platform is built upon. We must have a mechanism for change within any major party, new or established, or they all run the risk of becoming sentient, bent on self-preservation and blind to the wishes of their constituents. In practice, any large organization can exhibit this behavior…that’s why corporations have boards of directors (not always effective but corporate governance is their responsibility).

I much prefer the decisive control that a two party system can bring. I do detest a multi-party system due to the dilution of purpose and policy that a “coalition” government brings. Using the UK as an example, the multi-party system makes it very difficult to unify a government. The UK basically has 3 “major” parties – Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) – since none of which has been able to achieve a clear majority, and the result is a combination of parties agreeing to compromise and share control in order to govern. The most recent UK governing coalition is between the Conservatives (center-right) and the Lib Dems (center-left) and even though the definitions include the word “center”, they are polar opposites on two critical issues, social policy and the EU. It has been a rocky marriage with the constant threat of dissolution of government and new elections. It makes it impossible to make true progress, what is made is tentative surrounded by uncertainty and it just provides an environment where the government seems to be slow and plodding in a rapidly changing environment.

From an earlier post, I’ve written that ideological “purity” is hard to come by, even in a two party system:

In reality, our wistful memories of Reagan are a little bit of cheerful nostalgia. We remember him as a staunch conservative, and he was, but the government he was given was not. Through his amazing communication skills and ability to connect with an American people fed up with Carter, he was able to get several major conservative policies enacted but he still had a Democratic controlled, big spending, Congress to deal with and Congressional leaders like Robert Byrd and Tip O’Neill who were directionally oppositional to conservative policies. The big example is how they screwed him on immigration by promising reform tomorrow for amnesty today. Reagan upheld his end of the bargain but the Democrats lied and immigration reform died.

Of course, we don’t have a parliamentary system in law but we do in practice. We are witnessing some of that now with the Tea Party movement. Internecine conflict within a given party has exactly the same net effect as forming a coalition without the officious nature of actually forming one – compromise within a party dilutes the core of the policies espoused by that singular party…it is the same as coalition building, just done in an extra-governmental manner.

I can foresee that our future is going to demand the ability to move quickly and multi-party program just won’t get us there. That is why I am against a “third party” in practice that can muddle the waters.

But I don’t think that third parties are a “necessary evil”.

We just disagree on what they are and how best to implement them.

About two thirds of my 30 year business career has been spent in the tactical implementation of strategies, the other third coming up with them (and making them implementable), so naturally my bias is toward finding ways to turn ideas into reality on the metaphorical battlefield of commerce.  While my experience doesn’t have the life or death component of a military campaign, it is far more like politics because, unlike the military, one does not have direct command over all the participants and to be successful, one must influence people to do things in accordance with the plan without the ability to issue a direct order.

What I do see is a pragmatic path to achieving the endpoint that Black3 champions but without the social and political upheaval that an immediate and abrupt change would have – one that that physically can’t take place right now (we need large numbers that we don’t have today for this kind of change, if we had them – we wouldn’t be having this discussion) and without the incrementalism that almost always causes the insurgent movement to be absorbed and diluted. Our current political structure (and the social welfare state that has been built by it) isn’t ready for this rapid change and if we usher in a period of too many radical changes, we risk handing long term control to “progressives” while we sort ourselves out. We have to remember that we now have generations of the populace that have known nothing else other than the patronage of the state and the false “benevolence” of the Democratic Party (and this isn’t just individuals – businesses and state/local governments are conditioned to live from the largess of the federal public larder). Unwinding a system that is wound as tight as this one is fraught with risk and rife with opportunities for disaster. We could win the tactical battle within the conservative movement and lose the strategic war with “progressivism”/ liberalism if we aren’t careful.

I’m not exactly excited about the potential of 40 years of wandering in the political wilderness while watching 10 successive Obama-like administrations play out. How about you folks? Sound good? I didn’t think so…

The contemporary history of third parties has not been a successful one. The outcome of the most successful third party was that of Ross Perot’s Reform Party (while Perot ran for president in 1992 as an “independent”, his platforms ultimately resulted in the formation of this party in 1995). Perot garnered 18.9% of the popular vote in the 1992 presidential election, a strong and historic showing for an “outsider” candidate but the net effect was to siphon off Republican votes from George H.W. Bush and elect the Democrat, Bill Clinton to the office. In a far more contested election in 2000, it can be argued that the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, who received 97,421 votes in a national election decided by 537 votes, took votes away from the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, and elected George W. Bush as president.

Dilution of the vote (since we do not have a parliamentary democracy and can’t form coalition governments -the majority winner takes all) – seems to me to be the net effect of a third party at a national level, the end game as it were, at least until another movement can gain enough critical mass to replace one of the two major parties. A “third party”  siphons votes from the major party that it is most ideologically aligned with and just about guarantees the election of the opposition party, at least on a national level – and let’s not forget that this is exactly what we are talking about – winning national elections with a “third party” candidate.

It is for this reason that I have advocated a two stage approach to building a conservative “third party” (really a “replacement” party) that includes activism within the Republican Party in the near term and a longer term strategy of electoral victories at a local and state level. In the near term, there is not enough differentiation of the policy stands to prohibit the Republican Party from co-opting conservative positions to dilute the impact of a conservative movement – the evidence is in full view with the adoption of many of the Tea Party positions in the 2010 mid-terms and the subsequent “watering down” of those positions to fit a more “establishment” mold.

If any political party is to have longevity, it must have the support mechanisms and the organizational support for the long haul.  There must be a strong foundation, not only in ideology but on the operational side as well. We can be confident in our convictions but unless we can win elections, we will just be relegated to writing and talking about it – sort of like what I am doing now… This requires playing the long game. Flash mob politics won’t get us there and lasting parties can’t spring fully formed on the political landscape as if they were Athena springing from the cloven forehead of Zeus. They have to be built to last from the bottom up.

Democrats do understand the long game:

The liberals and Democrats understand the long game; they have been chipping away for decades. They don’t see change in 4 year presidential term increments, they look 40 years out. They realize that American politics are rarely an exercise in paradigm shifts, a rapid lurch to one side or the other. Political evolution, slow and steady, is the process by which long term change is implemented and cemented. Most conservatives want a tectonic shift in 2012 – ain’t gonna happen, folks. 2012 is just the next battle. It can start the transformation but it won’t BE the transformation any more than Obama was the singular liberal transformational event for the Democrats.

To support the “long game”,  I also support the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment of the US Constitution. This amendment changed the selection process of the Senators from a vote of the respective state legislatures to direct election by the electorate. It is my opinion that this diminishes the power of the states and dilutes the ability of federal reform and control to come from the state level. Repeal of this amendment would make the elections at the state level far more important in the national scheme and would provide the opportunity for the success of a “third party”. This would generate much more attention to the local ans state elections and but more local skin in the game with respect to who gets elected. Career politicians would not be able to camouflage their true colors until they got to the national stage the way that they do now. Until this happens, my opinion is that a “stand alone” third party is simply not possible at a national level.

Take for example the current makeup of the state legislatures – Republicans control 26  state legislatures, assuming that each would vote for 2 Republican Senators, the Republican’s would have had control of the US Senate since 2010 with at least 52 votes to go with a majority in the House. If you look at Republican “leaning” states, it is possible to contemplate that a 60 vote “super majority” wouldn’t be out of the question. Tell me that this wouldn’t be an attractive proposition for conservatives!

Voting for the lesser of two evils does guarantee the election of an evil, we do agree on that – and a two party system does propagate this potentiality. I will vote Republican in 2012, maybe not because I am fully supportive of the nominee but because of a more general support of a philosophy. I wish that were not the case but electability must be considered because if you can’t get elected, you can’t govern.

I have written here that:

I like Thad McCotter , Herman Cain and I strongly support the positions of Michelle Bachmann – but realistically, they have only a slim chance to get the nomination and it is hard to see how they could get elected on a national level.  I would support any of the above over Perry, T-Paw, Romney or Ron Paul (Paul’s libertarian ideas present a lot to like but again – simply not electable on a national level).

Some absolute rules of politics are these: 1) you can’t govern if you can’t get elected, 2) you can’t change government from the outside, therefore, 3) electability is important, 4) true political change is a long term proposition and 5) we need the presidency AND control of Congress to make any structural changes. This may appear to create a “Sophie’s choice” sort of thing for conservative Republicans who will have to choose a candidate by electability over being a perfect conservative but only if we singularly focus only on the next election. I know many people who voted for Bob Barr in 2008 because they couldn’t stomach voting for McCain but voting for an unelectable candidate is a guarantee to get a Democrat elected. Even a 60% conservative Republican is better than any Democrat.

Pragmatism does not mean compromising on conservative principles; it means that the focus is on the long term implementation of conservative policy by winning elections with people who know how to play the long game. It means planting the seeds of conservatism the same way that Democrats have planted the seeds of liberalism.

I’m a conservative first and a pragmatic Republican second.

If people want to ignore the reality of national electoral politics and continue to vote for the Bob Barr’s and Ron Paul’s of the world, then by all means, enjoy your quest for conservative purity, that is your right but be careful in your righteousness because true change agents are seldom pure ideologues. They can’t be and be successful because true change involves leadership and leadership requires inspiration of everybody, not just your supporters. Reagan was an example of a true change agent.

I wish that it was as clean-cut as Black3 wishes – but the pragmatic strategist side of me says that it isn’t, therefore, I must propose that the fastest route to proper deference to the Constitution and effective governance is thorough co-opting the Republican Party, not the creation of an opposition or “third” party – but in real terms the longer strategy for creating a “third party” and a co-option strategy is the same. It isn’t quick but building something that is going to last never is. The faster we get started at the state and local level, the faster we will achieve the ultimate goal of returning the government to the people.

This is where I believe that Black3  and I are in complete agreement.

In closing, I’ll repeat something that I have written (sorry – but this ground has been plowed a time or two already) :

If conservatives don’t learn how to play the long game, we should get prepared to settle in for more Democratic presidents and Congresses for years to come. Then we can all come back here after 2012 and commiserate about how much losing sucks and bitch about liberals…or we can start working a plan so that our kids won’t have to have the same conversations. Our choice.

I understand Black3’s position, he is a patriot and a warrior. I don’t count myself anything less, I am no less a fervent believer in the Constitution, the Declaration and God – we just chose different weapons to achieve the same objective. Now that the battle is joined, it will take people like both of us to win the war.

27 thoughts on “Third Party, Replacement Party or just “Party on, Garth!”?

  1. The amazing thing about this post, Utah, is that I could swap a few names here and there, and this piece would reflect my feelings and views on third parties and social change.
    Like you, I know that rapid change would be disruptive. In a sense, Obama did move too fast on the health care ‘reform’, although the main problem was that he needed to address the economic crisis first. Still, the fears of changes in health care costs and insurance have paralyzed small businesses especially, Had the dems tackled unemployment and the debt first, they would have had a lot more support for their health initiative.

    Your slow-but-steady idea of course change is one of the reasons I have come to establish a rapport of sorts with you and Black3. I can no longer dismiss you as radicals who would destroy the system in order to rebuild on the rubble.

    Third parties have tended to help one or the other of the two major parties win elections, who then forget the 3rd party existed. Perot was probably the better choice in ’92, too bad he didn’t look like Robert Redford.

    I Threw my vote away in 1980, on McBride. Yes I was a libertarian then, a radical before that, and an Earth-Firster somewhere in there for awhile. I would have loved to have seen a President Nader, but by then I had learned the lesson you espouse in this fine piece.

    • Thanks, Mr. Cobb.

      Glad to have your perspective. We may find a way out of this mess yet. The hell of it is, a crippled economy and a diminished country hurts both left and right. We need to take a break from the examination of each others colons long enough to do the right things for the country…or else we will have more to worry about than someone occupying Wall Street.

  2. Utah,

    With respect, my friend, if we were going to have a chance to do things the way you suggest, we needed to start back when Ross the idiot muddied the waters. It’s too late for the “pragmatic” approach now. What’s more, “pragmatism” is the philosophical foundation of Progressivism. In essence, you are not only arguing their case, without intending to do so, your way would hand what’s left of our nation to the Progressives. In the time it will take to complete your agenda – if we are even successful – the Progressives will have completed their transformation of this nation. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not exactly going through a slow change without social upheaval right now. We ARE in the middle of a deliberate revolution. We’d better wake up to this fact.

    Furthermore, as I have said several times, the slow approach is deadlier to the approach I suggest. If you elect an Obama, he wakes people up because he is impatient and tries to devour the remnants of the pie that is liberty in one bite. HOWEVER, if you elect a McCain or Romney (or “W” for that matter), they will finish the pie off before the nation wakes up to the fact because they nibble at it in the cover of darkness. As I study Ron Paul’s arguments, and read Judge Nepalitano’s arguments at the same time, I realize our Constitution is TRULY dead. In many ways, the revolution has been accomplished, the one Party acting as two is really just consolidating their victory right now. There’s no more time for these games. Where Obama being re-elected will provide one last chance to wake the nation and fight back, a Romney or even Cain will deliver the last remnants of liberty in this world to the forces of darkness as it will put people back to sleep.

    I am serious about my attack on the one Party acting as two. It explains EVERYTHING we observe in politics today, and it is simple and coherent. I am equally serious about my assertion that voting for a lesser devil still lants you in hell. Finally, in a nation already in ermoil, I do not see how a movement ot reset original intent and put the Constitution back in place can be any more disruptive than what will follow when the people realize they have been enslaved. If you think an attempt to recover our liberty within the system would be too disruptive, think about what happens when the people in charge now FINALLY come down on what’s left of this nation. The answer is either a 1960’s version of upheavle, otr an 1860’s version. Which would you prefer?

    • I disagree. It took us 100 years to get here, we aren’t going to change it in 20…and you aren’t going to elect a Ron Paul – ever. The American people have to be eased back into freedom – look at Russia and how they are hanging onto the oligarchs as a vestige of the “safety and security” of the communist years.

      I would prefer neither because if either happen, you had better have a plan for feeding half of the population that depend on government handouts for their livelihood or some significant percent of their sustenance because 80% of the current population have no way to grow their own food.

      I understand what you say but the practical application is to collapse the economy and political system. If that happens, it won’t matter if it was a conservative motive or Cloward-Piven that did it, the endgame is the same.

      If the people in power “come down” as you say, people will push back.

      I either have too much faith in the American people or you have too little. Hell of it is, one of us is right.

  3. Hey, Greg! I’ve missed you! Oh, I’m a princess puffer no longer:) I would’ve tried your idea with the you-know-what, but it causes me to hear voices. Never a good thing when you work with a schizophrenic 😆

  4. It isn’t that I have too little faith in the American people, it is that I see too few American people left in this nation to affect the changes you seek. Remember, Franklin said:

    “Where liberty dwells, there is my nation.”

    Liberty doesn’t dwell here anymore, so I wonder how many Americans do? And I do NOT mean Amerikans, I mean Americans in the sense Franklin meant.

    Plus, I have more faith in my belief that I know what time it is, but then, that plants me firmly in the front of the crazytown express 🙂

    • I look at it this way – there are so many empty vessels out there waiting to be filled that if we can sell the right idea, you will be surprised how quickly it can turn. That’s how Obama got elected. He filled the vessels with something that the people thought they wanted…until he baited and switched on them.

      Sad to say some 200 years on but we have to, once again, make the case for self-determination, freedom and independence over dependence, serfdom and collectivism.

      I don’t believe it takes as many people as you think. We need leaders, not numbers.

      • Agreed, and you know I am working on a project to try to do just this: educate our children (and adults, too). But you have to start looking for a way to do this WITHOUT the media, TV, radio, etc. Those are controled by “the system.” And the “system” is already after the internet (you just need to start looking for the signs).

        It’s all about time and faith, my friend. Do we have enough of either left?

        Just know that you and I are allies 🙂

  5. I did. The porsche was the incentive. And she’s a beauty, mate. I still need to come out and pick some shrooms with you, then I’ll give you a ride. My dad got awfully upset with me when I took him for a ride. But he used to race cars! I told him that I was only incorporating everything I had learned from him! Well, I promise I’ll behave…..;)

  6. Let’s see, you are going to pull up in front of my house in a Porsche, and i am going to tell my wife that you and I are going mushroom-hunting

    Joiwind trusts me, but we had better return with a sackful!

  7. Greg; I’ll make her Shrimp Diane — loaded with shrooms– and then Joiwind will be breathless!
    Let’s face it, the way to any woman’s — or man’s — heart is through their stomach. It would be nice if we could get an assortment….Then again, if I scrounge up some psilocybin shrooms, she might very well fall in love with me 🙂

    Mississippi; Greg and I are just gastronomical geeks. And let’s face it; you’re a geek, too. Were I in Scotland, I’d pick you up in my Austin Healey (Kells fantasy) and prepare you a nice shroom dish…….

    Sorry. I’ll bee-hayve!

  8. My friend in England says that the mushroom hunting is fine indeed. He talked about puffballs(excellent, sliced thin and cooked with scrambled eggs) over a foot in diameter.

  9. Man, y’all talkin’ bout “Shrooms” brings back memories…kinda sorta. 😉

    I had responded in another post about third parties that it will, as Utah says, take several years and election cycles to either get a third party into local and state elective office or to change the ideology of the current GOP to a more Conservative stance and then bring that to the national stage. Until then, we’re just farting in a windstorm.

    Mike G.

  10. Thanks, MrGuy,for bringing us all back to the topic. And yet…. you fail to mention your memories…:)

    M., How the hello did you have an AH in college? You were a spoiled little OWS’er!

    Greg; I love anything over a foot in diameter 🙂

    Sorry….. this is exactly why I’m on restriction 😦

    • Hardly spoiled.

      It was a 1960 Mark I that my dad and I rescued in 1976 from a junk yard outside Jackson, Mississippi. The former owner had passed away and his wife scrapped it because the engine was blown. We found a wrecked ’74 Jensen Healey in Nashville and pulled the engine and drive train from it and dropped it in after some mods and suspension upgrades. I think we had $500 bucks in the whole thing. I sold the stupid thing when I graduated in ’82. Back then there was no internet and you just couldn’t find parts for them. I got tired of working on it every couple of months or so. Pretty and fast but not very reliable…a lot like some of the women I was dating at the time, as a matter of fact.

      But there began my love affair with sports cars, particularly roadsters…

  11. Pingback: Mitt Romney For President | The Rio Norte Line

  12. In case you didn’t hear, B. Netanyahu has confirmed what I have been saying here and on my own blog – a 3rd party equals chaos! He should know with 10 parties!

    And this is again why LIBERALtarians are DANGEROUS! They DO NOT understand their own US history as they espouse, they DO NOT know the extremely unique elements which created the Republican party and they also DO NOT understand the consequence PRECISELY BECAUSE they do not understand how uniquely blessed we are that we ever survived the creation of this Republic!

    LIBERALtarians tend to treat politics with an adolescent mind, an 8th grade view if you will and that combined with any real political power and this country WILL NOT survive!

    This is why Conservatism MUST win the day and sustain that win for generations until both extremes (Progressives and LIBERALtarians) are removed from power. They can have a seat at the table so we can always hear what radical sounds like!

  13. Holy, Moly! You’ve taken us for a ride in your Austen Healey Time Machine……..and I liked it! I’m getting the giggles because I’m trying to figure out how a post on a third candidate turned into fast cars and mushrooms!

    P.S.~ My boyfriend will be president. Accept it. (Wonder if I’ll regret this comment two years from now…..)
    P.S.S.~ I paid a nurse to get some pretty sweet ass shots of you. Do you mind if I sell them to Playgirl?

  14. Pingback: Republican Party Imploding? Good…Couldn’t Happen To More Deserving Group Of People. | The Rio Norte Line

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