Look, I’m for third parties. Indeed, I’m among many who’ve made the decision to walk clean away from the GOP in favor of one. So I don’t say this lightly:
Taking disaffected Republicans and former GOP brass to create a NEW third party is a monumentally stupid idea. For now. Generally, I wouldn’t feel it necessary to say this. It should, after all, be obvious. (If you’re someone who thinks joining one of the existing minor parties is a bad idea, this is, of course, academic.) But between GOP chatter and occasional online commentary, it appears many of us haven’t gotten the memo.
So I’m going to put this as delicately and as simply as I can: If you can’t find enough common ground to hang with either the Trump GOP, the Constitution Party, or the Libertarian Party (is the Reform Party still a thing?), the problem isn’t them.
Want a mandate from God Himself (per far too much of the pro-Cruz chatter before his demoralizing defeat)? Join the Constitution Party. Like the idea of generally leaving folks alone, and folks extending you the same courtesy (or perhaps just the idea of legalizing pot)? Become a Libertarian. And of course, if you’re actually fond of having a loud-mouthed, bullying, thin-skinned blowhard at the helm, feel free to stand pat.
The point is, the Trumpettes have one thing right: we are very nearly too fractured to win anything. Personally, I’d love it if we could all get on board with just one of the Constitutionalist Third Parties (The Libertarian Party, if I’m being all full-disclosure-y), but that’s not going to happen. However, if we continue to fracture and form brand new factions every time something like this happens, Conservatism will never be relevant again. It’s really that simple.
Now, perhaps down the road, if we can pull our heads out long enough to realize what a terribly awful and stupid thing the two-party system actually is, we can, like other countries, have multiple parties and simply form coalitions between them. Honestly, I think it’s a nice idea. (Some states do this on a local level already, New York being a good example.)
“So,” someone is already saying, “if YOUR third parties are okay, why not a new one? Hypocrite much?”
Well, okay. Here’s why it’s different. The goal of voting third party is not merely to protest, but to put a third party in a position where it is given credibility in future elections. To have the chance to actually get it on the ballot AND on the national media stage. In order to accomplish this goal, we need votes. In other words, if we want Third Parties — ANY Third Parties — to have a place at the table now or in the future, we need to have at least ONE third party actually break that barrier. The party currently with the best chance of that happens to be the Libertarian Party (although with enough support the Constitution Party could make a decent showing as well).
We’re at a critical stage in American politics. The GOP is all but broken. We have a real chance here to change the face of politics from the ever-degrading, polluted system we’ve had for decades. And, given what #NeverTrump is all about, I do know that asking for total unity is asking an awful lot. And that’s why I’m not. What I am suggesting, however, is a huge cooling-off period before establishing yet another third party to split the Conservative vote even further. We have a chance to make a big change to the future political landscape. And we run the great risk of permanent irrelevancy if we do it wrong.