The third party movement - the next wave

By Jim Hill
web posted August 9, 1999

"Rush is right." I have the bumper sticker on my car. Most of the time, I believe he is right. On a few occasions, he goes off on tangents and other times I believe he's flat out wrong. Such was the case recently when he devoted his entire show to voicing opposition to Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire for leaving the Republican Party.

The idea of supporting a third party is something every principled activist will contemplate at one time or another, especially considering the last few years as both major parties have continually bowed their knee to big government. In today's environment, conservatives are experiencing great frustration finding representation in their government, not unlike the dilemma our Colonial forefathers faced prior to the Revolutionary War.

I admire Sen. Bob Smith for jeopardizing his seat in the Senate to take his stand. There are many reasons why conservatives not only need to reconsider their party alignment but why the formation, development, and ultimate success of a principled third party will characterize the next wave in American politics. Some of these reasons are:

1. Incrementalism is not happening. Conventional wisdom says that within our governmental framework, progress can only be made in small, incremental steps. Most people can accept this premise. Then, conventional wisdom says to stick with the GOP where small steps are being made. This could also be accepted if small steps were actually being made. The truth is, the GOP is not making any progress toward a conservative agenda. In fact, they are going in the opposite direction. If the GOP were even attempting to make progress toward the goals they promote in their platform, a lot of third party movements would dry up overnight.

2. Competition is needed. Conservatives believe that competition produces a better product. However, they only believe this applies to hamburgers. When political parties are involved, most conservatives will elect to continue supporting the established monopoly. Serious change almost always occurs as a direct result of what happens on the outside, not from within. A good healthy dose of competition has driven many industries into excellence and it can do the same for public policy. A third party could work wonders for our current state of affairs, even in the short term, without ever winning a single election. When both of the establishment parties are having a love affair with big government and taking their base supporters for granted, it's time to create competition.

3. One party will inevitably fade away. A common argument being made against third parties is that America is supposed to have a two-party system of government. Not true. Forty-two presidents have served since our founding. How many parties have these 42 presidents represented? Two? Three? Try seven. Seven parties have given us 42 presidents. Is this possible if America was truly formed as a two-party system of government, as modern day monarchists claim? Parties will come and go depending on their adherence to principle and their ability to maintain loyalty within the ranks - two areas in which the GOP is continually growing weaker.

Even though several parties have existed, there have really been only two underlying schools of thought. One is the belief that government should provide everything and be all things to all people. This group is currently well represented, mostly by the Democrat party. The other philosophy is the belief in liberty, traditional values, and limited, Constitutional government. This group has been represented by the Republican Party, in words, but not in deeds. As such, there can hardly be a need in the future for a party whose central message is, "we're not as bad as the other guys," which Republicans do by packaging and promoting a slightly more conservative version of the Democrats' liberal agenda. When conservatives catch on to the betrayals of this party, natural progression will continue its course and the Republican Party will fade off into irrelevance, just as the Whig Party who came before them.

4. Foundation principles are not being articulated. When was the last time you heard anyone from either of the major parties question the sanity of government involvement in education, health care, or the retirement pyramid scheme that we call Social Security? In the flat-tax vs. sales-tax debate, has anyone, other than Congressman Ron Paul, given voice to the Constitutional system of no direct taxation that served us well for over 100 years?

It's amazing how both major parties attempt to solve problems with near identical solutions, the only variation being one party wants to do a little bit more and one wants to do a little bit less. Yet, neither manages to question whether it should be, or Constitutionally can be, done at all. Truth manifests itself in fundamental principles and, like the human spirit, cannot be suppressed for long periods of time. Likewise, the absence of truth cannot coexist with a free society.

5. The results are the same. Consider these acts of despotism: the largest gun ban in American history, a national database of all employed persons, a national ID, dozens of new federal crimes, and the power to seize assets without due process of law. Sounds like the workings of evil Democrats, right? Wrong. All of these blows were dealt to us by the 104th Republican controlled Congress - the Congress we sent to Washington to get government off our backs! The 105th and 106th Congresses have performed even more oppressive acts. Since the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, government has grown bigger, more powerful, and more intrusive each year.

Yet, the Party machinery will still try to convince us that we ought to support the GOP for the sake of judicial appointments, cabinet positions, and the bully pulpit the presidency offers. The arguments sound good but the facts are not with them. Let's not forget that, in 1973, six out of the seven Supreme Court justices voting for so-called abortion rights in the Roe vs. Wade decision were Republicans, the "pro-life" party of America. Since then, Republicans have appointed or confirmed hundreds of liberal minded activist judges who have no problem subverting the Constitution, denying rights to the unborn, and making laws from the bench. What good does it do to give the ball to someone who wears your color jersey but scores touchdowns for the other team?

6. There is nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Too many advocates of the two-party monopoly want to limit our attention to the next election thereby attempting to scare us into accepting whoever the GOP nominee happens to be. They did this in 1996 pointing out the potential devastation to the country if Bill Clinton were to be re-elected. Today, they point out how much damage a Gore presidency would do. Therefore, they conclude, better to cast your vote for someone who is not as bad as Gore. Better to win a little than to lose big.

The problem with this reasoning is that it not only assumes we would be winning something - an assumption I would not make - it ignores the bigger problem. The GOP, while claiming to be our ally, is advancing the same destructive legislation in the dark that their Democrat opponents unashamedly advocate in broad daylight. To continue voting for Republicans when they obviously do not have our best interest at heart is to lend credence to their deception. The problem, obviously, is bigger than the next election.

7. Voting your preference is never a wasted vote. A wasted vote is one that perpetuates the downward spiral by reinforcing the status quo. As long as conservatives keep supporting establishment candidates, our support will continue to be taken for granted, establishment candidates will continue to run, and we will never break free from the chains that are enslaving us. We tell our children that the worst form of failure is to never try. But, for some reason, we only believe this rule applies to children. When we're adults, it's easier to go along with the media and our peers than it is to stand up for what is right. Fortunately, our Founding Fathers broke their chains, though it cost them dearly. We have it easy. All we have to do is vote. And, since we have nothing to lose, we run no risk of failure.

These are just a few of the reasons I believe strong support for a third party is forthcoming and is a worthy effort. Having been involved with the Republican Party for several years, I realize how difficult it is for an activist to accept the fact that his team does not support his cause. It has taken me a long time to accept this. Yet, I can still understand the concerns other party members are having who are only interested in the next election and what they describe as "winning."

In the 2000 Presidential race, I'll be voting in North Carolina's GOP primary for the conservative of my choice (assuming one is still in the race by then). If he doesn't get the nomination, I'm not letting "party loyalty" decide who I will support in the General Election.

Rush is still right most of the time, so I'm keeping the bumper sticker on my car. Besides, the third party movement is an inevitability that will happen with or without him, or any one of us for that matter.

Jim Hill can be reached at and make sure to visit his web site at


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