You Say You Want a 3rd Party?

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Image Courtesy Michigan Review
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by Fred Propheter, President of the Frederick County Conservative Club

I had planned to address this topic at the last two meetings of the Frederick County Conservative Club. January’s meeting would not allow the time and Mother Nature called me in to work keeping me away from February’s meeting. If you will indulge me now…

Ever since the results of the 2020 Presidential (s)election chose Sleepy Joe Biden as the next occupant of 1600, the clarion call has been “We need a new party!” or “Trump needs to form a new party!”. So, in my best Joe Pesci or Ron Burgundy voice, I must ask: Are you sure?

I am not going to pussyfoot around. I’m going straight for the jugular. This is absolute fool’s folly. If you want to remain at the bottom of the totem pole, the bottom of the political food chain, have at it. I refuse to give up on our once great party. A party that we built. The Party that Donald Trump chose to launch his “America First” platform.

So, why is this so foolish you may ask? Let’s start with facts. We are a Representative Republic not a Parliament like our former rulers across the pond, as it were. Our congressional districts are ‘winner take all’, meaning whomever garners the most votes in a particular district is deemed the winner. Unlike Parliament we do not split factions of say, Democrats, Libertarians and Unaffiliated and then try to build a coalition between the three groups. If you have ever watched Parliament in session you will know how absolutely nutty things get, and in the end, everyone ends up with compromised principles.

Statistically it is impossible for a 3rd party to ever win a Presidential Election, at least not in our lifetimes. Said 3rd party would have to gather enough seats in both chambers of Congress in order to garner the Electoral College votes necessary to win. A quick look back in history will prove my point.

Teddy Roosevelt served 2 terms as President from 1901-1909. His heir apparent was William H. Taft. During Taft’s term as President, Roosevelt grew disillusioned with Taft and challenged his once protégé in the primaries of 1912 and did very well, just not well enough.

When the delegate count during the Republican Convention went to Taft, Roosevelt and his delegates stormed out and decided to form the Progressive Party, later to be nicknamed the Bull Moose Party. Without going into all the minutia, the Republican Party was split and the good ol’ USofA elected its first Democrat President since 1897 with only 43% of the popular vote.

Fast forward to 1980, the peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter and the ‘misery index’ occupied the White House. John Anderson a congressman from Illinois was unable to gain any ground on Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination and rather than going away quietly chose to run 3rd party. Thankfully that move was not as disastrous as the 1912 split. Anderson’s 50 cent gas tax hike proved a sure loser and the Gipper rolled on to a landslide victory.

1992 brought us another almost viable 3rd party challenge. George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge of “no new taxes” proven false, ushered in businessman H. Ross Perot who promised to “get under the hood (of government) and fix it”.

Had he not been looney tunes crazy, dropping out of the race at one point because ‘black helicopters’ were spying on his daughter’s wedding, and then reentering the race, he might have had a chance.

For his antics and populous appeal Perot was able to peel 18.9% of the popular vote away from H.W. Bush and delivered to us ‘Slick Willy’ Clinton with only 43% of the popular vote.

So, I hope you understand why I call the 3rd party movement fool’s folly. With the congressional districts and the 270 Electoral College votes required to attain victory, a candidate any less than Jesus Christ himself could not achieve what you hope to accomplish. Given today’s political climate, even J.C. would struggle to attain victory.

Come back to The Tentacle Monday, I’ll share some suggestions for how we can move forward.

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