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Third Party and Third Way Politics
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Dad emailed me a link to this Vox Day column which outlines our political dissatisfaction and suggests it ought to be channeled into a 3rd Party approach. Though it's a bit naive in places — a 3rd Party! Why hasn't anybody else thought of that!?!? — I'm sympathetic to parts of his argument...
It is now impossible to argue Republican politicians are any different than Democratic politicians with regard to their intrinsic ideology or their long-term goals for the nation. The intraparty debate merely concerns the speed with which the Constitution is abandoned, the sovereign rights of Man are eliminated and global federalist government is instituted.

Reform is impossible. One can no more reform a political party than one can reform a Fortune 500 corporation. Competition is the only answer; if one does not like IBM's computers, one does not apply for a job in IBM's mail room in the hopes of one day becoming CEO and changing the company's direction, one starts a company selling rival computers. There are a plethora of examples of successful reformations by competition in the corporate world, and one can even find them in American political history; where are the Whigs today?
There's a reason that, despite about half a dozen organizations fighting—some for many years now—to supplant the Republicans or Democrats, we're still discussing the formation of a "Third Party".
So long as they are The State, Republicans will not be Anti-State
On the question of a third-party or third-way movement, the interest is certainly there, but it is permanently derailed by the triangulation (and ballot access issues, etc) of the two major parties. A former Libertarian Party chairman once described to me the problem with creating a viable third party: if any 3rd Party picked up an issue and gained significant voter support on that issue, their position would immediately be co-opted by a major party. If the voting public genuinely did demand, e.e., marijuana de-criminalization (a "wedge issue" the LP pursued), one of the major parties would either endorse decriminalization or they would endorse positions close enough to siphon off the public support picked up by the 3rd Party.

Under our system, a third party simply cannot be successful in anything like the long term. In the short term, however, that may not be true. The one possibility in the short term is for a popular figure to create a coalition based, essentially, on charisma, and hope that the coalition of personality can be institutionalized after he is gone. What Max Weber called the "routinization of charisma". But that can only be successful if it is immediately successful, because in the medium to long term the majors will simply co-opt his positions and/or gradually discredit him. (see: Ross Perot)
the Party in power is always anti-libertarian, because, hey, cool, power!
Charisma is, however, a useful tool for a little while. In that vein, I could genuinely see something like a McCain/[somebody] ticket in '08. (Biden? Warner? Hagel? Lieberman) McCain and some other politicians are broadly popular among the non-ideological, the moderates and the generally passive electorate, but would have trouble in their own Party primaries. An independent run could bypass that obstacle. Still, the institutional and practical barriers are quite large.

In any event, Day is right about competition being the best solution. So long as Republicans maintain the majority, there's not much incentive to placate the anti-state portion of their base. So long as they are The State, Republicans will not be Anti-State.

The only time Republicans have been anti-State with any vigor is when they've been out of power and confronted with Democratic initiatives. As I've said before, the Party out of power is always somewhat libertarian, if only to confound the Party in power; the Party in power is always anti-libertarian, because, hey, cool, power!
Nothing motivates the Republicans to be good Republicans like Democrats threatening to be good Democrats.
For my part, I think divided government is our optimal state right now. Short of an insurgent liberty-oriented 3rd Party — which I don't see happening — our only chance at limitation-through-competition is to have the Democrats square off against Republicans. Nothing motivates the Republicans to be good Republicans like Democrats threatening to be good Democrats.
 
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Nothing motivates the Republicans to be good Republicans like Democrats threatening to be good Democrats.
Well, that’s the sticky wicket, isn’t it? The Democrats make it extremely easy for the Republicans to not be "good republicans" In fact, large segments (too large to call "fringe" anymore) of the Dem party have trouble being good Americans let alone good Democrats
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The only way to stay effective in this coming election cycle, given the current players and rules of the game, is to withhold your vote from anyone whose actions you don’t approve of.

It’s getting disturbingly easy to tell the politicians who do more harm than good from the fairly decent ones (e.g., Tom McClintock).
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
In fact, large segments (too large to call "fringe" anymore) of the Dem party have trouble being good Americans let alone good Democrats
Shark, that is a very extreme statement, and I’d like to see some extensive support for it.

In my view, a huge sector of the GOP has difficulty being good Americans, and I can and have, and will again, demonstrate why that is so. But you first.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
This may be one of your best posts, Jon.

Shark, I can’t decide if your view of "good Americans" sounds more like Dr. Joseph Goebbels view of Good Germans "a good German follows orders" or Gen Phil Sheridans view of Good Indians ("a good indian is a dead indian").

Either one is a long way from Libertarianism.



 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
In my view, we better hope the GOP holds control this year, because Hillary will be the next President in ’08....bank on it.

Can there be any worse scenario than a Prez. Hillary with a Democrat controlled, rubber stamp congress? USSA on the way...

(United Socialist States of America).
 
Written By: Dave (in Hawaii)
URL: http://
cindyb,
Would you tell me what shark’s view of good Americans is?
 
Written By: Anonymous
URL: http://
Dave writes:
Can there be any worse scenario than a Prez. Hillary with a Democrat controlled, rubber stamp congress? USSA on the way...
Perhaps so, and that would be what we have now. A populist Bush/Frist GOP with a rubber-stamp, supine Congress. Ain’t nothin’ remotely libertarian about this statist, anti-federalist, big-spending, Executive-cum-monarch, anti-intellectual and science, intrude-into-private-spheres GOP. The mantra "well the Dems would be worse" no longer resonates with or scares me.

Not that I want Hillary in ’80. To my surprise, I’d prefer a "left-winger" like Feingold, who at least has integrity and understands civil liberties ( with one glaring, ghastly eponymous exception known to all libertarians). But then, I’d also want the GOP to retain one branch of Congress.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
But then, I’d also want the GOP to retain one branch of Congress.
That’s where I am and at this point I prefer they retain the Senate.

Then, frankly, I really don’t care who ends up in the White House because I’m beginning to belive, given the hyper-partisan nature of today’s politics that most future preseidents will likely be one-term wonders.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Cindy, sorry if I hit a nerve, but I have to call it as I see it. The Kos/DU/MoveOn/Michael Moore/Sheehan/ANSWER crowd- with their numerous followers and bought politicians, including Dean and Kerry- are simply not good Americans. There’s no way around it.








 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The only way to stay effective in this coming election cycle, given the current players and rules of the game, is to withhold your vote from anyone whose actions you don’t approve of.
That won’t work when both parties run yahoo’s. Like it or not, with a two party system not voting for Cand. A is a helping Cand. B. The only minimum to win is the other guys # of votes + 1
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
Gen Phil Sheridans view of Good Indians ("a good indian is a dead indian").
Sigh. Can’t you get anything right?

Try "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.", which is slightly different and can be taken more than one way.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
“Nothing is more plain to the student of history than the tendency of one party to assimilate the principles and the policies of its opponent.”
Andrew C. McLaughlin, Political Parties and Popular Government, in The Courts, the Constitution and Parties, 151 (1912).

Of course there is some "triangulation" against third parties by the Ds and Rs, but the result has been steadily declining voter participation and voter confidence in government. The coopting of third party ideas has not reversed that trend, although it has slowed it somewhat.

In Hegelian terms, the original "thesis" and "antithesis" of liberal/conservative politics will eventually meld into the new "thesis" of statism, if it has not already done so. The new "antithesis" is already here, and the Ds and Rs have joined forces to contend with their new opposition. The question is how long they will be able to hold out before the dynamics shift to the new dichotomy.
 
Written By: Richard Shepard
URL: http://shepardelectionlaw.com
If no one votes for an R or a D, then more of the percentage of the vote goes to the 3rd. It’s time we get off of the merry-go-round and vote for someone who thinks for himself; why shouldn’t politics be anti-politics, e.g. reform? This year, Libertarians are much stronger, and are large enough for its crowd to make a point— I say vote for them; their principles will last them much longer when in office.
 
Written By: David Weller
URL: http://www.lptexas.org
Regardless of your primary approach to implementing your disapproval of the choke-hold that the two branches of the Incumbent Statist Party have on all levels of government, consider removing your vote entirely from the mandate calculus.

As the percentage of eligible voters continues to dwindle, those actually elected will be less and less able to claim that they have any majority behind them (they haven’t for years in most districts).

I was quite active politically for years, originally as a misguided Democrat when they actually gave a d*mn about liberty, later as a Republican when they actually had real, honest-to-goodness small-government conservatives involved, and for a long time as a Libertarian. When the Soopreem Kort handed down their hideous decision in McConnell versus FEC in December 2003, I promptly (the very next day) un-registered myself from the voting rolls, finally realizing that the election system was corrupt beyond recovery. This was just a few months after receiving over 29,000 votes in a county election (not enough to win, of course).

After this much time, I still am certain that it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. It’s not too late. Withdraw from the hijacked election system. Thwart the bureaucrats, just short of being whacked, whenever you can.
 
Written By: Ebony Bandera
URL: http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=3972
"As the percentage of eligible voters continues to dwindle, those actually elected will be less and less able to claim that they have any majority behind them (they haven’t for years in most districts)."

Okay, show me one who will let go the levers of power voluntarily because he can’t claim he has a majority behind him. Hint: this sort of person doesn’t run for office in the first place.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
We had a saying in the Reform Party: "Winners legislate". Plato (you’ve heard of him, haven’t you?) said, "Those who don’t take an interest in public affairs are doomed to be ruled by evil men." What makes you think doing nothing gets legislation passed your way?? The prisoners at Gitmo are hunger-striking— you have to do something to maintain your dignity. Yes, you can stop walking on a treadmill, but human nature says to change the treadmill to more of your advantage in order to survive. We are all Americans.
 
Written By: David Weller
URL: http://www.localdaily.info
In fact, large segments (too large to call "fringe" anymore) of the Dem party have trouble being good Americans let alone good Democrats
I find that a pretty repugnant thing to say. You’re certainly welcome to the view, though, and I’m sure they feel the same about you. I can only stand aside and wonder what the hell is wrong with all of you.
This may be one of your best posts, Jon.
Thanks for the kind words. Funny, though, how my reputation quickly swings from apostate to genius depending on whose ox I’m goring.
In my view, we better hope the GOP holds control this year, because Hillary will be the next President in ’08....bank on it.
You think so? I’d give her much less than a 50/50 shot. She’s still a polarizing figure and even the Democratic base is finding lots of reasons to dislike her. She may be the Democratic equivalent of McCain.
That’s where I am and at this point I prefer they retain the Senate.
I’m conflicted on that. The Senate is more important in some ways, which would give the Democrats lots of good chances to investigate. (good) But it would force Bush to nominate a Democrat-friendly SCOTUS nominee, should such a thing come up. (bad). But the House is the last vestige of decent Republicanism, so the Democratic Senate would be met by a strong opposition. (good)

But a Democratic majority in the House would more directly energize the Republican Study Committee, where the only decent Republicans are these days.
It’s not too late. Withdraw from the hijacked election system.
To add to what David said: electoral withdrawal is unilateral. You may stop voting for them, but they will not stop legislating at you. There is a time and place for punishing a party by refusing to vote for them, but unilateral withdrawal is not much different than surrender.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Kindly note that the very first phrase of my earlier post was
Regardless of your primary approach...
Naturally, continue to do what you regard as most effective.

I submit that the election system has been effectively hijacked, that ballot access is rigged heavily in favor of the Incumbent Party, and that campaign finance restrictions are equally antagonistic. Continuing to participate in such a corrupt system will not result in any change to the current state where a vanishingly small number of non-Incumbent Party members even get on the ballot, much less get elected to office.

If you think that not voting is the same as not being politically active, then you have no imagination. If you think that voting has any significant political effect, then you might consider that, yes, dropping a 40-lb. rock on your right foot is not the same thing at all as dropping a 40-lb. rock on your left foot. I suggest that you might want to stop dropping rocks on either foot, and wear metaphorical safety shoes for when others lob rocks your way.
 
Written By: Ebony Bandera
URL: http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=3972
alright lemme get this straight so if because i dont like either the D or the R candidate i vote 3rd party but youve already said that if a 3rd party were to run on any platform one side or the other would use there political schema to siphon off enough voters to make the 3rd party useless, then i ask, what exactly is the point.

The idea that a libertarian would be able to run in a primary election and be put on a ballot is closer than it use to be as you can generally tell with peoples ideals, i mean people hate the govt right now and they have no idea what to do about it. The best thing for america right now it to endorse those 3rd parties that want change that want reform away from the USSA, but to do that you have to hit the right group. Namely those that in 2 years will be able to vote, they are loud, obnoxious but there are alot of them. They are the 17 yr olds in high school the 18 yr olds that have never voted. and like myself the 22 yr old that refuses to vote unless he really thinks the person he is voting for deserves it. otherwise there is no point to vote for or against someone specifically because you dont like someone else running...
 
Written By: Libertaspraesidium
URL: http://
alright lemme get this straight so if because i dont like either the D or the R candidate i vote 3rd party but youve already said that if a 3rd party were to run on any platform one side or the other would use there political schema to siphon off enough voters to make the 3rd party useless, then i ask, what exactly is the point.
I didn’t suggest that you ought not vote for a 3rd Party, sit out the election or any other scheme. I just pointed out inherent problems with a 3rd Party.

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I find that a pretty repugnant thing to say. You’re certainly welcome to the view, though, and I’m sure they feel the same about you. I can only stand aside and wonder what the hell is wrong with all of you
Strange....you’re generally not shy about making value judgements about other people or cultures. I wonder why you’re so hesitant to do so now?

It’s not repugnant to note that a vile person is......well, vile. I see a post about Al Gore today. Besides his latest "renegade rightwing extremist" broadside, he’s issued quotes comparing Bush and his supporters to traitors and nazis. And this is a man who will get a large vote should he run for the presidency.

If you want to say Al Gore is a good American, then be my guest.

And as noted, large segments of the Dems are even more virulent than Gore.

And if you want to say they’re good Americans, again, please be my guest.

Of course, we can point out reprehensible Americans on the right also. No quarrel there. But I know which way the scales tip...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
If you want to say Al Gore is a good American, then be my guest.
I’m not even sure what constitutes a "good American". If there were such a classification, though, I would think it would include "freedom to disagree". I disagree with Gore. I may even hold him in contempt in some areas. I fail to see what that has to do with being a "good American".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The solution is simple.

1) Get people to take the smallest political quiz.

2) If they don’t land in the Libertarian sector, educate them the best you can.

3) If they do land in the Libertarian sector, explain how GOP and Dem polticians will react to threats by co-opting that portion of the platform, and that anything that gets our agenda accomplished is a good thing.

4) Point out that the only way to apply this pressure is to vote consistently Libertarian.

5) Also point out to the registered Republicans that Tom McClintock and Ron Paul are the only elected GOP to push for smaller government. The rest of the blow hards talk a good game and then play the game. More pressure will produce more like them.

6) If that doesn’t convince them, remind or inform them about the existence of the Republican Liberty Caucus and how it can help move things in our direction.

Incrementalism sucks, but it beats not making ANY progress.
 
Written By: Brian Jones
URL: http://
If anyone doubts that there is really no distinction between the Democrats and Republicans, go to Unity’08 and take a look.

Indeed, the Hegelian dialectic is at work, and sooner or later the media and the public will catch on.
 
Written By: Richard Shepard
URL: http://shepardelectionlaw.com
I checked it out, and they have everything except the MEANS to develop a platform; apparently, they want to let the candidates do that. So, that means we all sit back and let the candidates debate over who has the better platform. How is the Unity08 system going to keep the process smooth and without the problems they say today’s political system has?
 
Written By: David Weller
URL: http://www.localdaily.info

 
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