Trying to get elected as a third party candidate in American politics is extremely difficult if not impossible. Ballot access is an obstacle since third parties have to meet additional criteria not required of Republicans and Democrats.
Reform Party candidate Ross Perot was able to get on the ballot in all 50 states in 1992 as was Pat Buchanan in 1996. Perot was a nationally known figure who had lots of money to pour into the process. The Reform Party affected both elections but did nothing to advance itself as a genuine third-party player. While Perot received nearly 20 percent of the popular vote in 1992, he did not receive a single electoral vote.
Ron Paul, the perennial outsider, did not run as a third-party candidate. He worked within the system and energized a lot of people, but it wasn’t enough to win. Paul was not a newcomer to politics. He has represented Texas districts in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1976. He ran and won political offices on the local level before he ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian (while still a Republican) and as a Republican in 2008 and 2012. He saw the reality of working within the system because he understood the inherent obstacles of a third party.
Many Christians supported Chuck Baldwin and the Constitution Party in 2008. Baldwin didn’t have a chance. Why would anyone vote for someone who had never won elected office at the local and state levels? I can’t see how anyone who has not won some political office somewhere has any business running for president no matter how right they might be on the issues.
So what’s to be done? At this point in time, we are stuck with a two-party system. Deal with it.
As I wrote in a previous article, conservatives give up too soon. That’s what liberals in both parties count on. When Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, conservatives were on a roll. The electoral slaughter of Walter Mondale in 1984 was additional evidence that a party could be taken over. So what happened? Conservatives thought that winning two big battles meant they had won the war. They slacked off. Their interest in politics waned because they believe the war was over. They didn’t understand that the election of Reagan was just the start of a long political war. The statists in both parties clawed their way back to control.
Keep in mind that the statists never left the Republican Party. There were a number of Keynesian holdovers who bided their time. They held on to power because there weren’t enough people from inside the GOP putting pressure on them to get out or there were not enough practiced replacements. The revival of the conservative wing of the GOP was mostly a protest movement. It didn’t understand that there was the need to move up the leadership ranks from inside the party in order to change the leadership. Ideology isn’t enough.
If radical leftists were able to take over the Democrat Party and a mini-Republican Revolution was started by Reagan in 1980, I can’t understand why we would not put our efforts into taking over the GOP. It’s vulnerable. If we can’t take over a party that consists of tens of millions of conservatives, what makes us think we can create a competing third party?
The old adage that you can’t change just one thing applies here. First, a two to six-year election process needs to begin now to capture the Senate and the House by picking the most vulnerable incumbents. Tea Party Republicans pulled it off in Indiana and Texas. Todd Akin is making a comeback in Missouri. A new poll shows that he’s even with Democrat Claire McCaskill. An article on the poll noted:
“Ultimately this race will be decided by conservative voters who have to decide if they’re so unhappy with Akin that they want to let Democrats keep control of the Senate. My guess is those folks will ultimately hold their noses and support their party’s candidate.”
This shows that conservatives have the upper hand. This is not the time to desert the GOP. It’s what the establishment hope’s you’ll do. They tested the mettle of the conservatives by last-minute rule changes at the convention. The establishment hoped conservatives would walk.
Second, begin to recruit and groom candidates who will run as reform candidates on a unified competing political platform within the GOP. It would help to find candidates who have political experience and some name recognition.
Third, bloggers and websites should be started immediately to lay out the specifics of the new platform. Use the web to get around the political establishment gatekeepers. There are email lists to rent to help get the message out on a candidate and raise money.
Fourth, build a giant email list of donors, bloggers, information gatherers, and propagators of the party-within-the-party takeover movement.
Fifth, keep the kooks from taking over the process. It doesn’t take long for wackos, true believers, ideological political perfectionists, and fringe politicos to ruin a campaign. The political purists are the worst. If they don’t get everything they want today, they’re walking. Let them walk and rant and rave on Facebook.
Sixth, the energy behind the effort will encourage other candidates to jump on board. We might even get the kind of presidential candidate that will truly be about reform. But a new president won’t be enough. There needs to be a national reform effort that affects local, county, and state offices. Politics is a bottom-up enterprise.
Will the malcontents follow this strategy? Probably not. They will bellyache about how bad the candidates and the two-party system are then tell those who don’t vote for one of their miracle candidates that they are not “principled” voters.
The Republicans and Democrats are in power because they worked at it. If you want to revamp the political system, it’s going to take a lot of work and very few miracles. Are you up to it?