The Right Opinion

A Third Party

By Rich Galen · Nov. 9, 2012

From Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership
Annual Meeting

During the Q & A section of my speech to the Chamber group here last night, someone asked what I thought about the concept of a third party to counter the influence of the right wing of the Republican Party.

If there were a true independent third party in the U.S. House and Senate of, say, 10 percent of the membership that would mean 43 Members in the House and 10 Senators.

It is unlikely that either Republicans or Democrats would have enough votes to organize either Chamber without the buy-in of the independents.

Or, put another way, both Rs and Ds would need the votes of the INDs to elect a Speaker or grant majority status in the Senate.

INDs would get a share of Committee and Subcommittee chairmanships, office space, staff, and all the rest in return for their support. On major legislation, neither side would be certain of victory without bringing the INDs into the negotiations.

Sounds like a pretty good idea, right?

Actually, I had been thinking about that during the drive up from Alexandria, VA earlier in the day, so I was ready for the question. My answer was: Bad idea.

Here's why:

A legitimate third party – not the Green, nor the Libertarian but a party of moderate Republicans and Democrats would largely come out of current Republicans – RINOs as they are known; Republican In Name Only.

In the general election in most states – and I say “most” I know Louisiana requires the winner of the general election to get more than half the votes cast – you don't need a majority to win the general election. You might have a runoff in a primary election, if no one gets 50 percent +1; but general elections are typically won by the person with the most votes even if it is a plurality and not a majority of the votes.

Let's call our national third party the “New Way Party” and, for the sake of argument, say that candidates for the NWP qualified for the ballot in all 50 states. In elections for Congress and U.S. Senate, that would mean one Republican, one Democrat, and one NWP candidate in each race.

Most of the people who voted for the NWP candidate would probably have otherwise voted for the Republican, in effect splitting the non-Democrat votes between two candidates. If there were 100 votes available under the current system, the Republican might get 55 and the Democrat 45. Winner: Republican by a pretty big margin.

But with a third party candidate in the race, that tally might go 40 for the Republican, 15 for the NWP, and 45 for the Democrat. Winner: Democrat.

That would apply to the Electoral College in Presidential elections, as well. In every winner-take-all state (of which there are 48 and DC) the GOP's votes would be diluted and the Democratic candidate would be the beneficiary.

So, just get that third party business out of your head RIGHT NOW!

Looking over the tallies from Tuesday, as of last night 119,267, 255 Americans voted in the Presidential election. That was down about 10 million votes from 2008. It was part of the GOP's theory that Obama wouldn't get as many votes this year as he got four years ago and the theory was correct.

Obama got eight million fewer votes.

What the GOP didn't count on was Mitt Romney getting 1.8 million fewer votes than John McCain got four years ago.

The presumption was, with all of that Super Pac money thrown into the mix, Romney would power past Obama and win the Presidency.

That Romney fell short of McCain's total in spite of spending far more money, tells me that the GOP is maxed out on voters. It has squeezed every vote out of its available voter base and has no choice but to expand that base if they are going to be successful in the future.

The last thing the GOP needs is a third party gaining hold.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the CNN page for the results from Tuesday and a link to the Wikipedia page about the 2008 Presidential election. Also a pretty good license plate Mullfoto.

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19 Comments

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:

Mr. Galen;

I understand your reasoning. Yet, the problem now lies with how do we get rid of a GOP, that has morphed into Socialist-lite, or as I refer to them the GAP (Get along Party)? The lure of conservatism is that it allows for the retention of traditional ideas, while slowly and thoughtfully improving upon them over a period of time. This is 180 degrees opposite the Marxist ideology that change fits the moment, not the future. With BOTH parties pretty much subscribing to this mentality, even IF a third party were to arise, as you said it would be made up of the same ol' same ol' .

The only hope would be the creation of conservative party that would draw fiscal conservatives from the Republicans, and social conservatives from the Democrats. Such a scenario is unlikely to occur anytime in the future. Such are my dos centavos on this topic

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Peter in Nevada replied:

Herr Doktor, do you assume there are no fiscal conservatives among the Democrats and no social liberals among the Republicans? It seems to me there may be a large constituancy of live-and-let-live hybrids who would say, "Don't tell/force me how to live, and I won't tell/force you how to live. And don't take money from me to support your often foolish choices tolerated in the first statement."

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas said:

You need look no further than the Libertarian Party. Libertarians draw from both Democrats and Republicans, because there are people in both major parties who value liberty. The problem is that most Democrats AND most Republicans desire liberty in the areas that matter to them, but are unwilling to extend liberty to others whose "hot button" issues are different.

Libertarians see the need to reduce the size and scope of government. Period.

So do Republicans who want to reduce government intrusion in our professional lives.

So do Democrats who want to reduce government intrusion in our personal lives.

The problem is that most people in both major parties don't believe in liberty any more. Too many Republicans are too fond of laws governing the personal sphere, while too many Democrats are too fond of rules governing the commercial sphere. Neither party wants to give up their half of the stranglehold they have on American politics and they always convince their supporters that every election is "The Most Important Election In History!" so they have to stick with the status quo. Solving the underlying problem (progressive loss of liberty) has to wait until later - only later never comes because the next election always becomes "The Most Important Election In History!" just like every one before it.

I'm a conservative, but I acknowledge that if I demand that the government stay out of my gun cabinet I cannot demand that they rummage through my neighbor's medicine cabinet.

A party that favors liberty across the board could win enough votes to reset our political calculus. But enough voters need to discard the idea that every election is "The Most Important Election In History!" All that does in perpetuate the status quo, which means progressive loss of liberty. Make no mistake, our political calculus MUST and WILL be reset. Either we do it ourselves or it will done to us by our creditors.

Liberty or chains. Chose. But if we remain as two camps - one demanding that government micromanage lifestyles while the other demands that government micromanage commerce - we will continue our slide toward government micromanaging everything. As long as we continue with the current (two-party) system, we will continue to forge our own chains.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Peter in Nevada replied:

AOR, much more comprehensively stated.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Merry in Cave Creek, AZ replied:

Your are correct Army Officer. We already have a third party---The Libertarian Party.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 10:03 PM

enemaofthestatistquo in Monroe, GA replied:

I respectfully disagree that our creditors will reset our political calculus. When the end of profligate spending & licentiousness finally comes, we may chose to submit to our creditors who BTW assumed powers in our name but not necessarily by our explicit sanction and proceeded to incur the debts in our name. OR I say screw them when the time comes, & screw anyone who they owe in our name. Take China for instance we supposedly owe them, NOT. Because We The People have kickstarted their elevation into 1st world economic power, by funding with our investments in their infrastructure, the Fed & the banking system has used an accounting methodology which shows our investments as losses and as debt, BS. We continually buy their product with more of our money at cheaper prices, how is it that in order to buy cheaper from China, we must borrow more money than we would otherwise borrow to buy more expensively from ourselves? We have borrowed from ourselves according to the powers what be in charge, but We The People can at anytime repudiate this erroneous pseudo-debt.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Army officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

I see your point and agree with you in the short term. Our creditors could destroy us tomorrow if they wanted to, but they don't want to because they would destroy themselves in the process. But we're playing poker while the Chinese are playing chess, and they're positioning themselves to come out on top in the long run.

They're trying very hard to create a world in which the Yuan is 1) convertible and 2) the world's reserve currency (or at least one among a suite of currencies). That will take time, but once they approach that goal they will be in position to crush the dollar without committing financial suicide themselves.

The scenario you laid out amounts to default - the same principle as declaring bankruptcy. It has been done in the past in a lot of places, and it's only a matter of time before the dollar is devalued in a big way, but it is not without significant pain. It happened to every reserve currency before the U.S. Dollar, and it will happen to the U.S. Dollar too.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 1:41 AM

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia said:

As of today I will no longer defend the Republican Party of pale pastels.

The reason 3 million Registered Republicans stayed home is because they are tired of the GOP abandoning the conservative constitutional principles that make this country work.

The GOP leadership voted at the convention to ignore the Tea Party conservatives. It was done quietly enough ( quieter than the Dems voting to leave God out of their convention) that many did not notice.

The Florida GOP gerrymandered Allen West's out of his conservative district and likely losing the seat.

I have long insisted that the GOP must select the most conservative candidate in Primaries, so that third party conservatives will not dilute the votes in the general with a third party run, ala Perot. But it seems that even when that happens - the Grand Old Party will move to the middle, trying to appease "moderates", and then lose. Why not lose with a real conservative. At least we will get something real.

But the Libertarian Party is not the answer. The principles are great - but they ALWAYS have a weird bird at the top -- take your pick- Paul, Johnson, etc.. They all look like homeless guys or stoners, and none of them have ever appeared to have presidential gravitas or appeal. They may have solid limited government principles but are easily distracted into "free weed", and pacifism.

If the Republican leadership will not offer an alternative to the progressive left Democrat philosophy, the we will have to support the Patriot Party, and may have to create it. I am watching closely to see what the remnants of the moderate GOP brigade can do now. I doubt they have the cojones to even speak out against the Tyrant in Chief.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Capt. Call in New Mexico replied:

Dr. Timms, you are exactly right in your explanation. Conservatives are simply tired of all the compromise and downright betrayal of the principles in which we believe. Rich Galen rejects the third party option, but he is still too far left for me.

Friday, November 9, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado replied:

Three million stupid, self-important morons together with 1.2 million Libertarians handed the election to Obama. The rest is crap! Romney may not have been perfect but he was a thousand times better than Obama. Now we get to live with the consequences! Thanks to all the assholes who stayed home pouting. Thanks to all the assholes who voted for Gary Johnson. Feel good about America now? Obama's laughing at you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Arym officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

Not one single elector went to Obama rather than Romney as a result of Libertarians. Not one. Romney lost because Democrats are better at giving away other people's money than Republicans are, and Romney could not articulate why that is bad.

Even if your numbers were right (they're not), you are assuming that every Libertarian vote was cast by someone who would have otherwise voted for Romney. You're wrong. Plenty of Libertarians started in the Democrat Party too, but decided that they wanted liberty more than they wanted a handout.

Face it: your candidate lost. Nominate someone who believes in liberty next time and he'll probably get my vote. Nominate another New England moderate and he won't.

Libertarians don't fall into the faux "left/right - Democrat/Republican" dichotomy. I don't much care whether the tyrant telling me what to do is wearing a blue tie or a red one - I want them BOTH to leave me alone except insofar as they are performing one of the very few LEGITIMATE functions of government.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 1:27 AM

Peter in Nevada replied:

Dr. Timms, I generally scan through the comments looking for your name; but you surprise me here. Neither Dr. Paul nor Gov. Johnson looks like any homeless person that I have ever seen - maybe the homeless are better dressed where you live. "Free weed" and non-interventionism (not pacifism - which is not what either of them advocates) are natural conclusions of the preference for the greatest amount of personal liberty consistent with good order. The trouble with conservatiism as currently practiced, especially by the evangelicals and the neo-cons, is that they want to tell other people what to do just as much as the progressives do - they just want to tell them to do different things. If you object to pale pastels, then you ought to be listening to what Paul and Johnson have to say, and not worry too much about their appearance. Ideas matter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Gregory in Yakima said:

To be other than a guarantee of Democratic dominance it is necessary to see the political reality of the 21st century instead of the delusions you love to believe.

I correctly predicted the election results based on Republican policy. It was easy to see you had it wrong. Doubling down is the fools way to assure obscurity and irrelevance.

I hope you do double down. That way you'll be fodder for my columns and good for a laugh at your more progressive conservative's expense. Thank you in advance.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Veteran Soldier in Yakima said:

I voted for Gary Johnson as well. I voted for him as a proxy for Ron Paul. I believe we can have leader is in this country that articulate a way out of debt and a return to the constitutional principles of our republic.

We were never designed as a welfare state, nor as a welfare state, and yet we excel at both. We need a candidate who puts an end to the end to the constant wars and rumors of wars, while at the same time reducing the reliance on government for hand-outs.

Today we have a rhetorical climate where "truth is treason in the empire of lies" - the lies are so prevalent they don't even sting anymore when proven as such...they are accepted as a de facto part of politics. And supporters of the liars do not hold themselves accountable or to a higher standard.

Power, not ideas is the driving force in politics today. The Libertarian party's platform and beliefs are but one ray of hope across an otherwise bleak and desolate political landscape.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Veteran Soldier in Yakima replied:

EDIT: We were never designed as a WARFARE state nor a welfare state.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado replied:

You voted indirectly for Obama. Enjoy the next 4 years. What ray of hope are you talking about? Do you really think Libertarians will win in 2016? 2020? Your "ideas," many of which I agree with don't mean anything if you can't WIN!.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Rod in USA replied:

Concur with what Robin's said. Another problem is the hate-mongering: the libs have worked to condition the American public (again least those who do not engage their brain) to deny conspiracy FACTS about dems, and believe libel as facts about conservatives.

Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:08 AM

Tom Slaten in Fairfield, CA said:

Scott Adams (yes the Dilbert author, who's actually very smart and thoughtful) has suggested the 3rd party be the "science" party.

It's a short read and the comments are interesting: http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/modernizing_the_constitution/

Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Rod in USA said:

Rich, I see one flawed assumption that needs better explanation: that NWP votes would come solely out of the Republican base and nobody who votes D would change to NWP. Were you arguing the worst case scenario?

The problem I see is that logic reason and critical thinking no longer rule: emotion and feelings rule, as do the 47% who can vote themselves a share of your wallet. How else do you explain a failed presidency being returned to office with the economic (and lots of other) facts at hand?

Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:03 AM