FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #23: “Those who seek a third party cede the election to the opposition.” -Old Pithy
THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES are often election spoilers. Dissatisfied with the direction of their party, they leave that party to form a new party. This, of course, will split the party they left. Some may follow. Most will probably not.
Third party candidates have small followings. They typically have a single issue that pushes them to leave their party. That single issue, though, may not be as important to those they leave behind. And this one issue may be anathema to the opposition. Guaranteeing very few, if any, will follow that candidate into a third party.
The Green Party, for example, is an environmental party. Environmental issues, then, dominate their political agenda. Environmental policies typically do not result in jobs or economic prosperity. They will draw some people from the Democratic Party. But only those with extreme environmental views. They will draw no one from the Republican Party which is more associated with jobs and economic issues than environmental issues. They, then, would have little impact on the party they oppose. But they may have a negative impact on the party that they would have otherwise supported.
And then you have your core voters. They have and always will vote for their party. Populist movements rarely change the way they vote. Populist movements may be single-issue. They may be more of a subset of an existing political party. Or they may be vague on details completely. They may be many things but the paramount thing they are is popular. And they pander to the people that are demanding something. And whatever that is, they say they will give it to them. Populist trends, though, don’t sway core voters.
SO WHO ARE in the two core parties? The liberals? And the conservatives?
Liberals are pseudo-intellectuals who want to tell others how to live. Because they are ‘smarter’ than everyone else. Most have never held a real job. They inherited their money or made it big in Hollywood or in some other entertainment genre (the guilty rich), are college professors, sponged off of government (the self-proclaimed political aristocracy) or are in the mainstream media.
Conservatives typically have jobs.
Few people agree with liberals so they have to offer special privileges in exchange for votes and political power. They get the support of the poor because they get the poor dependent on their charity. They get the entertainment elite by stroking their intellectual vanity. They get the various minorities and single-issue groups by throwing a few bones to them (i.e., by buying their votes). They get Big Business with crony capitalism. They get the unions in exchange for anti-business legislation. They get the young by being weak on drugs and morality. They get a lot of women because of their abortion stance. They get the illegal immigration community because they dangle citizenship in front of them while getting as many as they can addicted to welfare (so when they do become citizens they will become good Democrats. Of course, with the majority of illegal immigrants in question being Hispanic, it will be interesting to see how that loyalty will play out. A lot of Hispanics are practicing Catholics. Will they continue to support the party that attacks their religion and religious values? After all, they’re leaving a corrupt nation where only the ruling elite live well. They come here for a better life for themselves and their families. And many work hard for it. With their religious values being a strong part of their lives. Will the liberals tempt them with their welfare state after citizenship? Time will tell).
Many agree with conservatives because they, too, just want to work and provide for their families. And they would like their children’s future to be a good one. (Again, the Hispanic question is interesting. For they have conservative values, too. Amnesty for illegals may be a Faustian bargain, but wouldn’t be ironic if it’s the Democrats who are selling their souls? I mean, this large bloc of Catholics could very well vote for the religious right after citizenship.)
So liberals must appeal to their base during the primary election to get their party’s nomination. Once they have that, they then must start lying about who they really are during the general election. Because their views and opinions are minority views and opinions.
The conservatives just need to be themselves. When Ronald Reagan did just that, he won in a landslide. Twice.
LET’S CRUNCH SOME numbers. Some simple numbers. Let’s say there are only 11 voters. America is a center-right country based on honest polling. So let’s say that 4 voters are conservative and 3 voters are liberals. The 4 in the middle are independents and moderates. So what happens at an election?
If all of the independents and moderates do not vote, conservatives win (4-3).
Liberals cannot win unless some moderates and independents do vote. So liberals must encourage the moderates and independents to vote. And, of course, to vote for them. While making sure their base votes (‘vote early and often’ is their mantra). As well as some criminals. And some dead who haven’t been purged from the election rolls.
Independents and moderates, therefore, determine elections. And the general election is all about getting these votes. Both sides turn down the volume on the ‘extremist’ positions they held during the primaries. Conservatives talk about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle. Liberals campaign as conservatives. (Bill Clinton ran as a new kind of Democrat with some very conservative planks in his platform. When he won, though, he moved so far back to the left that he lost the House and Senate at the midterm elections, proving once again America is a center-right country.)
So back to our little example. If the conservatives get 2 of the 4 independent and moderate votes, they win (6-5). Liberals need 3 of their votes for the same winning margin. Advantage, conservatives.
Now let’s look at a rift in the conservative party. Two leave and form a third party. And take 2 votes with them. For the sake of argument, let’s say these two call themselves the Anti-Abortion Party. It is doubtful that any liberals will leave their party to join them. And it is doubtful that independents and moderates would make overturning a Supreme Court decision a key voting issue. They tend to tack to a centrist course through the prevailing political winds.
So the Anti-Abortion Party candidate will only get 2 votes. This candidate will not win. That leaves only 9 votes in play. Which means getting only 5 votes will win the election (less than a majority of the total 11). All the third party candidate did was to make it easier for the liberals to win. They only need 2 of the 4 of the independent and moderate votes. Conservatives now need 3. The third party took the conservative advantage (only needing 2 additional votes to win) and gave it to the liberals.
THE MORAL OF the story here is that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the opposition. The lesser of two evils may still be evil, but it is still ‘less’ evil. You should never lose sight of that. If a political statement is only going to result in the greater evil, it is better to be more pragmatic than idealistic when voting in a general election.
The energy of a third party or third party-like movements (such as the new Tea Party) should be marshaled during the primary election. To get good candidates who can win general elections. And who will remember that they are the people’s representative, not a member of a privileged, ruling elite.
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