Third Parties, Third Ways, the Tea Party, and the GOP
“If the Republican Party does not perceive and understand that it is under threat from within by its own base, it will continue surrendering when it should be fighting.”
This morning I wrote, “If the Republican Party will not aggressively fight for real cuts and real reform in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, if at all, it very much will be time for a third party in this country.”The level of hand wringing and disgust from some was predictable. From others, it was downright humorous, if not a bit annoying. For seven years now I have written that third parties are not the way to shift this country. In fact, there is a whole chapter in my book about how third parties are not the answer.So, I’m advocating a third party and not advocating a third party? It presents a WTF moment and I don’t mean “winning the future.”Jim Pethokoukis, who is one of my must reads every day, I think probably got the point in this tweet.From my book:
Remember that 300 Spartans held off the Persian Army. Small numbers compared to the thousands of well armed Persians. Small numbers working well together can be powerful numbers. It just takes some dedication.Because of ballot access laws in the several states, it is virtually impossible to organize and operate a third party. Look at the Libertarians. They have been around for years and have zero nationally elected politicians and very, very few at the local level. Same with the Greens. And remember 1992? The Reform Party stormed onto the scene only to rain out.If we are to fundamentally change this country, we will do so through the existing party apparatus. And it is damn easy if you work at it with some friends.
That’s one reason the tea party became so prominent in 2010. It worked as a third party within the existing party apparatus. It did not succumb to the charms of the establishment. It sought to slay the establishment and in many places it worked.Unfortunately, since the election, we’ve seen a collapse of the national tea party movement, which has become much more fixated on lawsuits and fundraising, and local tea party activists have become very focused on local matters.If the GOP will not stand and fight on the issue of the debt ceiling and reform, the tea party is going to have to become resurgent in a way we have not seen since the height of the Obamacare debate. During that debate, however, the energy was focused on Democrats. Now that energy must be brought to bear against Republicans, many of whom are even now plotting tax increases and insignificant cuts and structuring of the federal government.The base needs to work now, within the party, to force the establishment to pay attention. The energy to create a third party and make it viable would distract from the present fight. Instead, the tea party movement needs to act like a third party within the GOP — separate itself from those presently in power if they are not true friends of the tea party movement and then seek to beat them from within.Along the way, the tea party movement ought to start examining the laws of the several states and see which of them will allow nominations by party convention instead of primaries. Find those states — Georgia is a good example — and start working to force conventions. Then do in those states what happened in Utah to Bob Bennett.If the Republican Party does not perceive and understand that it is under threat from within by its own base, it will continue surrendering when it should be fighting.