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The Third Party Delusion

Vote for a no-hoper third party, and conservatism will never win again.

By Petrarch  |  October 16, 2016

There are not many living American voters who have had the privilege of voting for a Presidential candidate in many decades, if ever.  Every four years, amidst all the hoopla and hype is an ever-growing grumble of discontent at the increasingly unappetizing choices presented for us to select from.  "South Park" famously satirized our situation by presenting its student characters with a choice of school mascots to vote for: a sandwich of excrement, and a personal colon cleansing device.  When your only options are appalling, what's the point of bothering to vote?

In theory, we are not limited to the two official choices: we can always write in Mickey Mouse, as Scragged has recommended.  For those for whom this solution is too twee, there are several presumably living, breathing human beings on the ballots, though never on television or in your mailbox: Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, and independent Evan McMullin, who has garnered an endorsement even from a Scragged contributor.

Unfortunately, the plain fact is that none of these worthies are going to actually win; the Oval Office next January will be occupied either by Crooked Hillary or The Donald and none other.  That's been true for every third party vote for the last hundred years; not since ex-President Teddy Roosevelt ran in his own "Bull Moose Party" did there seem to be a serious possibility of someone other than the Democratic or Republican nominee getting the nod, and it didn't happen then either.

So we are left with a chicken-and-egg problem: it's a waste of time to vote for a candidate who cannot win, but if we only ever vote for the sandwich of excrement or the personal colon cleansing device, that's all we'll ever get.

History Doesn't Always Repeat Itself

Indeed, there was a time when the Republicans were the third party; its founders broke off from the Whigs in 1854.  They stood up their own third-party candidate in 1856, and sure enough, split the vote with the rump Whigs giving victory to Democrat James Buchanan.  In 1860, the Republican nominee was Abraham Lincoln, the Whigs were never heard from again, and the rest is history.  If it happened once, it can happen again, so let it happen now!

There are a few problems with this argument: Abe Lincoln won in 1860 because a) Democrat James Buchanan is regularly ranked among the worst Presidents ever even over some pretty stiff competition, and b) the Democratic Party itself split over the issue of slavery, letting Lincoln win with a minority of not even 40% of the popular vote, the second-lowest ever.

Is it probable that Hillary Clinton will be generally acknowledged as one of the worst presidents ever in 2020?  She may well be that, but even if the country was nuked back to the stone age and most Americans died, the last edition of the New York Times would still laud her historic leadership.

And, is it probable that the Democratic Party will split?  Actually, it would be good for Democrat voters as well as the country if it did; there is no logical reason that the full-bore honest socialists who support Bernie Sanders need to be joined at the hip with the bankster feminist crony-capitalist corruptocrats represented by Hillary.  But since, by hook or by crook, Hillary has managed to rope Bernie into supporting her, a split looks increasingly far-fetched.

Therefore, it is the height of Panglossian optimism to suppose that a vote for a third party, never mind an independent, is a stepping-stone to an actual victory someday.  Impossible?  Well, nothing is impossible, but the way our system is set up makes it about as close to impossible as can be, barring the complete collapse of our system which we have been predicting with increasing concern for some time.

Nevertheless, sometimes it's appropriate to "send them a message" by refusing to support the unsupportable.  In a real democracy, a true republic, this would be a legitimate and valid tactic.

Unfortunately, America is neither a real democracy nor a real republic anymore.  At one time, a slim margin of victory or minority win would produce a humble president who attempted no major changes without cross-party support.

Does anyone seriously imagine that would be the result today?  Of course not!  There is only one thing that matters to a modern politician: "I won!"  Hillary could win the Electoral College with 30% of the popular vote and she'd still claim a sweeping mandate, staunchly supported by the leftist media, and do whatever she wants, the Constitution or opposition be damned.

In fact, our electoral-college system is designed to produce this outcome, because our Founders felt it was wiser to give the winner an apparent mandate rather than leave him crippled.  This has served us fairly well for a quarter-millennium, but leaves us without that option for an effective shaming.

The Price of Purity

We hardly need to recap the reasons why people are hesitant to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump; the airwaves and the Internet are full of them.  Yet virtually without doubt, one of them is going to be the President.  What will the cost be of either choice?

The fact is, despite appearances, the consequences will be profoundly different, for two reasons.

First, consider the situation if Donald Trump wins.  Is the media going to grudgingly come round to give him a fair chance?  Absolutely not: they'll be sounding the drumbeat for impeachment from Day One if not before, with significant numbers of establishment GOP NeverTrumpers cheering them on.

Unlike any prior President, a President Trump cannot count on support from his party in Congress because it's not really "his" party in any meaningful way.  Its leadership has all but disavowed him and he them.

No, a President Trump will have to learn to walk as if on eggshells if he is to survive.  This would be enormously healthy - the modern presidency is many times more powerful than our Founders intended, and its comeuppance in favor of Congress would be very much to the public good.

Indeed, both parties of Congress would almost certainly cooperate in exerting Congressional power over the executive to the full.  This, too would be enormously healthy - maybe Congress, the direct representatives of the people, would get out of the habit of rolling over for almost anything the President says or does!

So is a Trump presidency doomed to failure?  Not necessarily, because the same force that put him there - the "forgotten men" of flyover America - would need to stay active and engaged in order to get anything they want.

Is Congress likely to cooperate on closing the borders, deporting illegals, expelling Sharia-supporters, and raising tariff barriers in response to foreign currency manipulation without angry crowds standing beneath their windows brandishing pitchforks and torches?  Absolutely not - and this would be the healthiest possible result.  Our republican democracy is dying mostly because its citizens have allowed it to happen; just possibly Donald Trump has harnessed their anger and awakened a sleeping giant.

None of these things are possible under a President Hillary.  No matter what Constitutional depredation she commits, the media will applaud and our useless rump Republican party will, at best, grumble impotently as they have under President Obama.  Indeed, it's easy to imagine President Hillary doing the same exact things that would get a President Trump impeached, to no effective complaint.

A third-party vote makes this dire situation even more likely than it already is, but it's much worse than that.  If President Hillary wins in a squeaker, at least there's the theoretical possibility that the Trump partisans can try again in 2020, with a different and somewhat more appealing candidate and a lot more preparation.

If Hillary wins in a landslide because the conservative vote, already a minority, is split two, three, or four ways, then the Republican party will tear itself to pieces.  This would be fine with us so long as the Democrats did the same, but we don't see that happening.

So, in 2020, President Hillary would run against a rump Republican, a Libertarian, a Constitutionalist, maybe an independent or Tea Partier, all drawing from the same minority pool of conservative Americanist voters - leading to an even more overwhelming Democrat landslide.

Some of the third parties may reach the 5% level which brings Federal funding, so they'd do even better next time around.  The right wing would be more evenly split in 2024, leading to - a Democrat landslide.  And on, and on, for the foreseeable future - nothing but Democrats as far as the eye can see, with illegal voters cheering them on.

The Virtue of Hillary

We condemn Hillary as evil, but that covers a lot of ground.  There is no reason to believe that she is a Hitler or Stalin, who wants her opponents literally dead in concentration camps.  A President Hillary neither needs nor desires roving bands of secret police, midnight knocks on the door, torture chambers, or the other violent hallmarks we think of in dictatorships.

Indeed, by the standards of the modern left, Hillary is quite conservative and reasonable in that she doesn't seem to mind if ordinary people disagree with her - unlike the Red Guards on college campuses who riot and assault any speaker who dares to challenge their pet views.  Only when you are actually starting to have an effect will she use the full force of government against you, as Dinesh D'Souza discovered the hard way.  As long as you're a hopelessly powerless loser, you can say whatever you want and she'll leave you alone.

What could possibly make her happier than our third-party scenario?  With her opponents hopelessly divided, she doesn't have to cheat.  She doesn't even really have to lie much.  She can simply sit back, let the right squabble and waste its votes, and cruise to easy total victories in a free, fair, legitimate election.  And her Democrat successor, and his successor, and his...

It is already nearly impossible for conservatives to win national elections thanks to decades of taxpayer-funded leftist propaganda in our schools and effectively open borders and voting booths.  After this election, as we've documented, it will be impossible if Trumpist mass deportations do not take place.

So this is what you're voting for, with a vote for a third party or write-in.  You might as well vote for Hillary and have done with it.