Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exchange with Doug Ross Re Minor Parties

In response to my post regarding Phil Orenstein's blog on tea parties legendary blogger Doug Ross writes:

>As Mark Levin and Hugh Hewitt have stated on a number of occasions, any attempt at forming a third party would be disastrous: it would simply split the conservative vote when, even united, the job ahead will be monumentally difficult.

We must not and can not endorse the formation of a third party. It represents suicide for the conservative movement. We must instead reshape the Republican Party behind the aegis of Liberty vs. Tyranny.

Best Regards,

Doug Ross
Doug Ross @ Journal

My response:

I disagree with Hewitt and Levin as to the lack of viability of third parties. Third parties do not win but they influence future elections. There have been quite a few examples. One was the Anti-Masonic Party which never won but was instrumental in the formation of the Whig Party, and the Whig Party (a second party) was instrumental in the formation of the Republicans. Another was the Populists, which never won but succeeded in seeing the nomination of William Jennings Bryan. Although Bryan lost in 1896, his ideas were ultimately adopted via Franklin Roosevelt. This pattern also occurred via the Progressive Party in 1912. Although the Progressive Theodore Roosevelt lost, his socialist ideas, which were similar to Bryan's, ultimately won in 1932. Thus, there is typically a multi-step process involving third parties. They do not win but the major parties adopt their ideas.

This multi-step process has to be the case with a within-party insurgency as well. The reason is that there are no Republicans capable of leading a Lockean insurgency, and the party infrastructure is missing. Either way (insurgency or third party) there will have to be a multi-year process. An in-party insurgency will require several election cycles. The Goldwater election of 1964 was an insurgency that paved the way for Reagan in 1980. Similarly, the Bourbon Democrats, the pro-gold conservative Democrats, were around after the Civil War and saw their candidate, Grover Cleveland, win in 1884.

Messers. Levin and Hewittt overstate the distinction between an in-party insurgency and a third party. Either way (insurgency or third party) Lockean Republicans have little chance in the next two presidential cycles.

Additionally, I suspect that any Republican Presidential candidate who is put up to run in '12 will be just another big government type masquerading as a small government type unless there is a radical ideological cleansing of the entire Republican Party now. But I don't see how that could happen. So in a word, the Republicans serious about ideas ought not to think about winning an election in '12. If they do, they will just get more garbage. It is better to work on two things: building a new party and destabilizing the Democrats.

To give you an idea of how bad the Bush administration was, I went to Washington in 2005 to protest the accreditation of the National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), a left wing extremist body that has taken control of accrediting education schools. Rather than abolish the Department of Education, the Bush administration used the DOE as a patronage plum. But who received the patronage? Left wing extremists who supported NCATE---Many of the appointees on the board before which I spoke argued with me in favor of NCATE. So Bush appointed Lockean Republicans' enemies. It was more important to him to be able to do this than to abolish the DOE. That's how incompetent and stupid the incumbent Republicans are.

Do you really think a perpetuation of the current Republican Party is crucial? One of two things must occur in order to change: a third party or a serious insurgency. Otherwise, we will keep running around in circles forever.

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