Danger in the Third-Party Movement

Ken Blackwell
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Posted: Mar 23, 2016 12:01 AM
Danger in the Third-Party Movement

The pages of the political calendar are turning relentlessly. Yesterday, GOP voters went to the polls in Arizona and Utah. If things turn out as expected, Donald Trump’s path to the Republican nomination will continue unabated. Yet there are many variables still in play, and there’s no guarantee that Trump will reach the 1237 delegates he needs prior to the GOP Convention.

According to Real Clear Politics, as of March 22 Donald Trump had 680 of the 1237 delegates needed – 55%. Even Trump adviser Roger Stone believes that it will take an “inside straight” for Trump to enter the convention with a majority of the delegates.

I'm working to stop him from getting that 1237.

Still, some prominent Republicans are proposing a third-party. They say they cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump. Others argue that Clinton-Trump polling indicates a clear win for the former Secretary of State, such that the result will be akin to the Goldwater-Johnson blow-out of 1964.

This polling has motivated Erick Erickson, among others, to argue that a third-party presidential candidate is needed to bring Trump-loathing GOP-voters to the polls in order to save down-ballot Republicans. Erickson makes no claim that his candidate would have any chance of winning.

First, the effort is virtually impossible. These are not the days of an aggrieved Teddy Roosevelt storming-off after the 1912 GOP convention and becoming a national candidate. He was able to appear on all November ballots but one (Oklahoma).

Under today’s statutes and regulations, the formation of a viable third-party this close to the November ballot would be impossible. A third-party would have to create itself legally, convene somehow and somewhere, select a politically acceptable, credible candidate with a running-mate, and proceed to get itself on all the state ballots while conducting a national campaign for the presidency. Of course, this would require lots of money and organization. Neither of these exist or could be feasibly developed.

Then there is America’s electoral design, which is patterned after the British model. We do not have proportional representation. Instead, the candidate with the most votes wins in a territorially-defined electoral contest. One does not need a majority, only a plurality. This plurality voting scheme strongly promotes two-party systems because it behooves parties to form alliances that can garner the most votes. A party with no victories is a party that doesn’t exist. A third party cannibalizes the party it most resembles. Thus, a conservative third party will take votes from the most conservative main party, the GOP.

Erickson’s concept is problematic on its own terms. Voters whose distaste for Trump has left them uninterested in voting might come out to vote for the third-party candidate and the down-ballot Republican candidates. But wouldn’t they be even further discouraged as Trump’s poll numbers are driven-down by the third party candidate, thereby sending a message that a conservative or Republican presidency is impossible?

If you don't want Trump, beat him the old fashion way, at the polls and in an open and fair contested convention in Cleveland this coming July.

Look, given that a large number of voters have yet to speak into this election through the ballot box, let's not crown Trump the GOP nominee.

But for purposes of an exercise in scenario planning let's think about how we and he can save our Republic, if he prevails.

Would it not be better to invest time and effort to get these GOP voters to come to the polls even if they cannot vote for Donald Trump? There are many elections on Election Day.

Then there is a Supreme Court seat to protect. As long as there is a Trump-Clinton race, Trump has a shot. November is a long way off. And, truth be told, nobody has ever trained their guns on the Clintons the way Donald Trump will.

In a few tweets, he transformed Bill Clinton into Bill Cosby to shut down Hillary’s “war on women.” Then there’s Benghazi. Hillary Clinton appears to have lied to grieving parents on the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base next to their sons’ coffins – and then called the parents liars. What kind of person does this? Only one who doesn’t understand what difference it makes.

Server-gate is probably the greatest breach of the Espionage Act in American history by someone who wasn’t an outright spy. And, then there are the paid-for speeches given by Bill Clinton to foreign governments via the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Secretary of State.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump would need to shore up his conservative GOP base. He needs to drive his turnout and his voters and develop a sustained line of conservative arguments about social, economic, and defense issues between now and November. And mean it.

He would need to paint his road map to a third century of American exceptionalism in bold colors. Give us a choice, not an echo and we will defeat Hillary!