No, you can’t get a third party into power by 2014
There’s a lot of talk on the Conservative side on getting a third party into power. Even a lot of you here feel that the Republicans have consistently let you down. Almost instinctively, we turn to the Libertarians and get Ron Paul (please stay calm). Others think the Tea Party should break away. Here are just a few words on why it won’t happen.
There are two problems with the third party strategy. For those of you who believe solely in defeating the Democrats to fix what’s wrong with the country, you actually strengthen them significantly when you vote for a third party. When you’re outnumbered, you don’t divide the troops. Simple as that. The other problem is that we live in an age where third party candidates won’t generate much of a result at all. In a year’s time, unless you’re looking at Wikipedia or if he murders someone, you won’t remember What’s-His-Face Johnson’s name.
There is a reason why third parties don’t get much of a result when it comes to positions like Congress and the presidency. Simply put, there is never enough momentum to get those candidates into those seats. Ron Paul is the most successful those put forward because he had name recognition before. 2012 was a big year for him, and he did well enough, but could not seal the deal. The progression of a politician (typically) is to start at a smaller office and work your way up. Along the way, you pick up recognition and more people know your name. That’s one of the few reasons incumbents typically do better – people recognize the name (I know, that’s nowhere near the only reason, but often it plays a part). Ron Paul is a good example of this.
The path to creating a third party, if that is your ultimate goal, should be a lot like this. We like to use the term “grassroots” (after 2010, it became extremely popular). These movements need to really start at the local level and hit them much harder than normal. The communities have to get used to the idea of a non-traditional affiliation, and they are much more likely to support an advancing candidate if they already know the name. You can start as small as alderman or go right for the state legislature, but find a candidate who exemplifies what you want in a third party, primary them against the incumbent, and start generating recognition.
It’s going to take a few election cycles. This is not a quick process. It’s a grand strategy, something the Republicans simply will not take the time to create. You might not even get third party candidates in on the first go, but if you campaign them properly, people will know their names next time.
The fact of the matter is, unless something drastic happens (I know it’s hard to imagine that the McConnell Tax Hike isn’t drastic), you’re not going to get a third party active enough to do any damage even by 2016. Instead, find your Conservatives who know Washington D.C. is broken and get them to primary the entrenched establishment. Nothing that can solve the problem is easy. But we can scare the hell out of them.
See this post and others of mine here. Follow me on Twitter: @joec_esquire