The Danger of Third Parties

There is a strong undercurrent in the Republican Party that has been “brewing” with the Tea Party faithful since its inception; the idea of forming an actual Tea Party to counter the Democrats and Republicans.

There have been over the course of our great Republic many such efforts.  All of these efforts had one thing in common.  They all failed.  Most of them were formed around one man or one idea and when that man or idea lost its luster, the “third party” ceased to exist.

 A prime example of this was Progressive Party, also known as the Bull Moose Party.  It was formed by a cast-off Teddy Roosevelt who ran as a Progressive Party candidate on the 1912 ballot.  President Roosevelt received 88 electoral votes, 23% of the popular vote in that election and arguably cost Taft, the Republican standard-bearer, the election.  It is possible that Wilson might have won anyway, but going strictly by the numbers, it looks like the two “Republicans” cancelled each other out and Wilson was elected by default. 

After this election, the party stuck around for a few more years, but in 1916, when it, again, wanted to nominate Roosevelt, he refused.  The party then tried to nominate, then, simply endorsed Republican candidate Charles Evan Hughes, who barely lost to Wilson.  After this election, the party dissolved itself back into the Republican Party.

History is littered with such examples.  The only effort that can be called successful is the creation of the Republican Party, but instead of forming a true third party, it simply displaced the Whig Party and took its place as one of the two major political parties in the United States.

Fast forward to 2011, and the movement to form a third party is once again afoot.  Tea partiers are justifiably disillusioned with the Republican Party and its choice of Caesar milk toast candidates.  They rejoiced in their ability to nominate strong conservative candidates in the 2010 midterm election and expected that they’d be able to have the same success in the selection of the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee.

While it’s still very early in the process, many Tea Party followers are simply dumbfounded by the candidates that have entered the race on the GOP side.  They are hard pressed to find a winning candidate amongst the choices and are more and more convinced that they need a third party and a “dream” candidate

This would undoubtedly be a foolish and fatal idea.  Although it is still possible to draft a “dream” candidate, it must be done within the confines of the Republican Party.  Splitting off to form a Tea Party would do nothing but hand the 2012 election to President Obama.   Tea Party faithful need to ask themselves if four more years of this President is worth it.

The numbers don’t lie.  In 2010, 42% of those polled by Gallop identified themselves as Conservative or very Conservative.  20%, by contrast, identified themselves as Liberal or very Liberal.  This leaves a whopping 35% in the mushy middle. Where, exactly, would a third party naturally fit in this scenario?  It’d obviously have to be somewhere to the left of the Republicans and to the right of the Democrats.  That is not where the Tea Party is.

It is safe to say that a Tea Party would form to the right of the Republican Party.  This makes the movement untenable in that it’ll immediately divide the 42% of the self-identified Conservative or Very Conservative votes and give us an election result something like this:

Un-named Republican Nominee:   26% of the vote
Un-named Tea Party Nominee: 30% of the vote
President Obama:  41% of the vote
Undecided:  3%

As you can see, even though the race is relatively close, it’s just impossible to put together a plurality in an arrangement like this.  Granted, these numbers are based only on statistical averages.  A charismatic candidate could skew those numbers by a few points, but probably not the 11 or 15 points needed respectively.

Fold the Republican and Tea Party together behind a strong candidate they both can support, accounting for Obama also picking up some votes, and the numbers would look more like this:

Un-named Republican Nominee with Tea Party Support:  52%
President Obama: 45%
Undecided:  3%

That almost mirrors the 1980 election.  This is what needs to happen in 2012.

The challenge, then, to all the Tea Party folks reading this article is this:  Work within the system.  Don’t Panic.  It’s still early.

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Rich Mitchell

Rich Mitchell is the editor-in-chief of Conservative Daily News and the president of Bald Eagle Media, LLC. His posts may contain opinions that are his own and are not necessarily shared by Bald Eagle Media, CDN, staff or .. much of anyone else. Find him on twitter, facebook and

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  1. This is deceiving. It might be true that a third-party vote for PRESIDENT might make a difference (they didn’t make ANY difference in 2008, but they did in 2004 and especially in 2000), but remember there are OTHER third parties too that can pull Liberal votes.

    But most importantly, this doesn’t address the core issue of an absolute need for an intelligent independent voice of reason outside the GOP who is willing to run candidates at lower levels and earn its keep. This, in my opinion, and the opinion of many, is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to saving our Republic, because two party Progressive madness over about 80 years is the disease and Barack Obama is just a symptom.

    True, we need to replace him, but a) not just any schmuck with an “R” is going to solve our problems long-term, and b) this is a GENERATIONAL war wherein battles need to be waged at every level of Government for limited Government. The GOP, even with the Tea Party insurgency will never do that. This “revolution” is the fourth in as many decades, and nothing is going to change.

    If you want to go “lesser of two evils” for the White House because you’re scared of another four years of Barack Obama, go ahead, knock yourself out, but we cannot sit around and wait to give the GOP “one more chance”.

    They just had it. They blew it. Time to call it a day and move on. Vote on Principles not on Party.

    Butch Porter
    National Chairman
    The American Conservative Party

    1. Bruce,,

      You do make an effective argument about elections other than Presidential. I AM in favor of third parties built from the ground up, and do, in fact, support your effort, but such things were beyond the scope of my article, I was addressing this strictly from the angle that the Tea Party would split from the GOP in the event that someone lime Romscenarios the nomination.

      In this light, such an effort would be a no win proposition due to demographics. A consolidated effort from the ground up can eventually yield results, but these efforts take time. They need to be built around solid ideas, not personality. Previous third party efforts were always built around a person, and when he withdrew from the scene, the new parties died on the vine.

      1. I’ve had the good fortune to demonstrate with some local Tea Party folks when it first starting getting popular and my health allowed. I think you are underestimating these people in general. They are not a quasi-Republican entity. Many I’ve spoken to ONLY support the freshman crop of Republicans and are VERY distrusting of long-in-the-tooth politicians of BOTH politcal stripe. If there is one guy who gets widespread support it’s Rubio. These people, in my opinion, are more vigorous in pressuring local politicians and it is for them. all of them…, that they pose a real threat. “Local” Tea Party activists are a bit of a different breed than those you see the media covering who are fixated on national politics. The locals see cutting the roots of the corrupt tree off as good strategy. For the national elections some I’ve spoken to and maintain email contact with will vote an independent party candidate on principle if they sense a RINO is being nominated. To assume that the Tea Party vote is owned by the Republicans is to miss their point.
        ATTN: Webmaster
        Is it at all possible to narrow the size of that VERY annoying vertical-oriented ADVERTISE! graphic icon that obscures the l/side of the comment box needed to compose and post comments???

        1. You are correct that the tea party folks are a mixed bag. One group is staunch in its fiscal conservatism and the next in its social conservatism. Why doesn’t somebody give the Republicans a history book. They really came to power at the end of the 70s when the economy was in such turmoil. Reagan turned that around. I remember some social conservative having an issue with Reagn at first because he was divorced. But as time went on and their wallets got fatter, they “forgot”. But latter, they started bringing that social and religious agenda to the political table. And their power and influence started to decline. Is it me or does nobody else see the correlation between that rise and fall? We need to dig our heels in with regard to sound fiscal policy, get the economy back on track and let John Q decide for himself whether he want to attend Sunday School. If a successful third party or candidate emerges, this will be what it will take.

          1. Alfred, for myself I don’t separate a TRUE conservative into fiscal or social. If one is a true conservative he’s conservative across the board. My sense is you seem to consder any conservative who advocates a position based upon religious ideals/beliefs as a social conservative…, I don’t. As I’ve said on these forums before those two distinctions were introduced by progressive liberals intending to fracture conservative solidarity AND IT’S WORKED. For me it doesn’t exist.


            The left has practiced that old divide and conquer agenda that you’ve bought into, by simple accepting that distinction and repeating those two references to put one IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT. In doing that you do their divide and conquer work for them. I hope you can see that point. It is significant. If someone asks me what I am I say a Republican who happens to be an “Original intent” conservative. I think that says all that needs saying.

    2. Sorry Butch, I repect your intentions, but your prespective is all wrong.

      You closed with this observation:
      ‘They just had it. They blew it. Time to call it a day and move on. Vote on Principles not on Party.”

      THEY DID? HOW? WHERE? WHEN? You could have fooled me. They had control of one House of congress gained in Obama’s mid-term. With that weak single house majority and only a staunch bunch of freshman Repubs with the principles to toe the line, Boehner had enormous pressure to make some kind of negotiation…anything. He DID NOT hold THE POWER. The demonRATs led by the Oba-usuper knew just what they were doing by calling Republicans “obstructionists”. They knew the lame-brained media would pick that up and run with it and use it to pressure the Republican leadership. That’s reality. You, like many third party advocates, suffer from unrelenting idealism, but idealism doesn’t get the votes at the end of the day. By promoting what you do you actually favor the current party in power by initiating a breaking of any Republican solidarity.

      Every independent party effort has always thought they had the solution to be successful and guess what? They cannot even find common enough ground to unite among themselves. I speak from the experience of having communicated during the Bush years with three independent party leaderships online (Constitution Party, Patriot Party and the America First Party) in a frustrated attempt to get them to unify to one UNITED effort and in so doing REALLY BECOME A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH. The leaderships are so ego-driven that I never even got a response, yet they all believe almost exactly the same thing and advocate for the same things. That defines why a third party cannot and will not work now. They pull support ONLY from the RIGHT, not from the LEFT, so they hurt the cause of all we traditional valued citizens by SPLINTERING THE RIGHT.

  2. I gave up on the lesser of two evils when it became clear that I was supporting a gradually increasing level of evil.

    Republicans and their supporters will continue to use the ‘third party’ split the vote potential to continue to give RINOs support to be dem-lite. I would rather face an Obama that drives conservatives deeper into conservative principles than a RINO that co-ops republicans and conservatives and destroys the country only slower.

    The sooner the GOP knows it has been abandoned, the greater the hope it will reform. But even now, this year, it does not show any desire to do so. Expect the ‘if people split from the GOP, Obama will win again’ meme to gain steam, even in the face of the GOP continuing to drive to the left.

  3. Why is it always about the Tea Party or other third proponents coming back to the Republican Party? I feel toward the Republicans like Reagan felt about the Democrats, I didn’t leave them, they left me. I’d be more than happy to forget the third party concept if the Republicans would come back to their roots – realistic economics! But this vote on lifting the debt ceiling makes them look like liberals. What is there to debate? Would we debate that 2 + 2 = 4? They might but I won’t waste my time. When you spend more than you take in, you go broke. People on welfare don’t provide capital to start businesses. When you drain the resources of the private sector through taxation, eventually you run out of money sources to tap and then you have no options left. These are not issues that we need to debate. They are simple, common sense, 2+2=4 type mathematical equations. The Democrats criticized Reagan for running up the debt so obviously they know it’s a bad thing (even if our yearly deficit is now $300B higher than all 8 years of Reagan combined). They praise Clinton for his surplus budget and the economy during his tenure. So why are they (and apparently the Republicans too) against a balanced budget Amendment? If what Reagan did was bad and Clinton was good, let’s assure more of the Clinton type approach and make it law. Until the Republicans go back to these principles, the third party movement will continue. The Whigs were around for a long time but are gone. The Republicans weren’t always a party but they are now. Parties come and go and maybe it’s time of of these two bit the dust.

    1. I disagree. You quit the Republican Party in obvious disgust RATHER THAN stand and fight to take it back. Like it or not this country runs on a two-party system. When you concede one party to the left-leaning, RINO, finger-in-the-wind populists you enable the swing to the left in this country.

      When the Ship of State starts taking on seawater and listing to port you jump in and help those trying to eliminate the source of the problem and help to right her. You don’t abandon ship! When a usurper boards that ship you REPEL BOARDERS and work to throw them overboard.

      1. You have a point in that it was disgust. I was disgusted that the Republicans got on a kick and wanted to legislate morality. That is an intrusion on our most basic freedoms. And it makes about as much sense as the Democrats’ position that 2+2=5. Neither works. As for taking the party back, that’s not my goal. I want to take my country back regardless of what party name does it. As for throwing the people who corrupted the party overboard, how does that accomplish anything? It still leaves you divided. Whether the Republican Party has their vote and not mine or my vote and not theirs, it all comes out the same. The independents decide elections. I saw a poll the other day where, on the question posed to independents of how Obama is handling the economy, 61% disapprove and 39% approve (and that was before the market swings this week). At election time, the economy will be the only issue. Americans vote their wallets – it’s that simple. If the Republicans can produce a intelligent candidate who brings specific ideas to the table and doesn’t bring a lot of social or religious baggage with them, they’ll breeze into office. Our men and women in uniform are dying every day fighting radical religious piety. If you want to see these independents go running for the hills, bring out a candidate whose answer is “God is on our side.” Right now (don’t know where we’ll be in15 months) with the mood of the country, if there was a Ron Paul with charisma out there, he or she would get elected and the voters might not care what party they were affiliated with. But I think the voters don’t trust either party right now and generally don’t trust parties at all. A true independent could have a chance if things don’t improve. After all, in a three person race, they just need 34% of the vote, not 51%

        1. Unfortunately, and I say that with great sincerity, the two party system is what we have. Taking back the Republican Party is the ONLY REAL OPTION AVAILABLE. I concede the demonRATic party to the refuse heap. They, by my standards, have through recent years prove themselves to be the “disloyal opposition” doing everything possible to guarantee this country fails. I could say that “I want to take my country back” also, which I do, BUT it must be done within the existing system. If you disagree then an armed revolution, which is anarchy, is the other remaining option.

          By “throwing the other party overboard” I meant voting them out of office and taking CONTROL away from them.

          You ask…”How does that accomplish anything?”
          I respond that it renders them impotent to continue taking us down the current irresponsible spending path we’re on. Even if Obama would get re-elected, without control of congress he becomes a political eunuch for four years, effectively castrated by the voters.

          You said…”A true independent could have a chance if things don’t improve. After all, in a three person race, they just need 34% of the vote, not 51%”
          I respond…So what! If the congress then mirrors what you suggest NO party will be in control and that situation then prepares the fertile ground for cutesy politicos to start wheein’ and dealin’ backroom, shady deals just to recruit some House and Senate votes to their cause. The distinct possibility of a congress polarized by two diametrically opposite parties in the minority and a third minority that diaagrees with BOTH. A DO-NOTHING congress that cannot find the majority to pass law to make changes and reform the system! The peoples’ best interests is not served by that. Only the quest for power is encouraged.

          I agree that independents will hold the key in NOvember 2012 UNLESS Obama supporteers fractionalize and desert him and the demonRATs in droves and do not vote. Having stated that I think it’s a real longshot.

          My point is that you have failed to show me how supporting the Republican option will make things WORSE.

          I’m of the belief that we, meaning the Republicans, will take control of both houses of congress in 2012. i fight to regain a conservative influence withn the Repiublican Party because it is the ONLY REAL AND VIABLE OPTION. THAT is the key. For me, whomever is President is almost irrelevant. Even if Romney the RINO is the nominee and wins, Where is his motivation to lead us to the left when the reason that we got control of both houses was the public didn’t want to continue in that direction. He will follow, not buck, whatever the current trend is. RINOs are unprincipled, populists, nothing more. They pragmatically bend with the breeze they sense at the moment. They wouldn’t know what it is to stand on a principle if it stared them in the face.

  4. One must look carefully at the “third party argument” presented in this essay. All the third parties alluded to are “astroturf including the Bull Moose Party. One must clearly understand that the Santelli Rant of ’09 started a grass roots movement not a political party. The TEA (Taxed Enough Already) movement had been moving forward before the Santelli rant was heard through out the country. He just precipitated the idea into a solid wave. There are some that are trying to capitalize on the TEA party popularity. There are others that demonize it. But not many understand that the TEA party movement has scared both the Democrats and the Republicans more than either group is willing to let on. Just look at the ”
    tea Party Down-grade” hook in news stories lately.

    With that being said, a third party, working locally, and focused on electing conservative dog catchers, sheriffs, selectmen, counsel members, school boards, mayors, state legislators, and governors who in turn will run for the US house of representatives and senate will eventually turn the complexion of both parties back to the lower taxes, limited government we all yearn for.

    Robert Jeffery (USN Retired)
    Founding member
    Virginia Conservative Party

  5. Both #1 and #2 are absolutely correct. A third party has almost worked one time and it was in the late 1800’s. The third party became so strong with conservatives that it almost drove the Republican’s out of existance had it continued to build membership. It got so bad for the Republican Party that they finally cave completely in and embraced this third party and all it’s stands on the issues. In that case the Republican’s won the election. But it took a candidate that the Republican’s are not supporting but has all the qualities conservatives want in a winning candidate.

    And #3 has it right as well that possibly this is the time to move on and leave both parties in the dust. That is why I was commenting the other night that maybe America is ready for NO PARTIES and return to the conservative form of governance that our forefathers embraced so much. Most of them hated “parties” because they’ve seen what party loyalty could do to a country like Great Britain, and most countries in Europe. If you weren’t in a certain party in Europe you couldn’t get jobs. If you were a member of some “guild” in Great Britain you couldn’t get a job, and it went so far as if you weren’t a member of the Church of England you couldn’t own private property, or start a business. That is the way it is in America right now in the form of “government regulations”.

    That if you start a business and aren’t conforming it to government regulations then your business can’t be clean, built right and might fall in on people, can’t buy food or materials from venders who are properly licensed by the government, just to operate a truck that carries supplies from a manufactor to a business. That only the government can make your business legal enough so that the people will know that the food won’t kill you if you eat it, or that the quality of the materials is enough where it can be used and won’t fail.

    All that is a lie and everyone knows it. But who made all that crap? A Party that believed that it’s idea of how a business should be run is best. But if you look at our Constitution it doesn’t say anything about what the government says about how your business should be run or the quality of your food or the materials that you sell to the people. If we followed the Constitution we would be left accountable to the public, that if some got sick at your resturant, people would stop coming there to eat and you’d go broke. If some Democrat said that only some union could give the level of guarantee well enough that people could have confidence that that building wouldn’t fall down, but you would have to pay the money to hire the union workers or it would mean you don’t care if your building falls on people. And it was this party in the government that said so. But the Constitution says you should do your best to provide a product that the public can trust otherwise you will fail. But the deal is you are free to get up, and start again but this time you will provide a better product so that you will succeed.

    No parties means that the Constitution is the only thing that the government has to operate by. There is no party politics that it’s members in Congress and the Senate goes by, and gets the courts to go by, and gets the President to go by or the members of that party will over ride his veto. Screw all that! No parties means that we would not have to remember to vote only for a man who says certain things that will get us more money on our checks we get from the government. No parties means that if you qualify for assistance then it won’t be taken from you if some party members think all people like you don’t deserve any help, so they cut the checks off and force you out on the street to try and find a job, where you die.

    Our forefathers knew that no parties meant that the Constitution would be the only way our country would be run, and run as fair as men could agree to. And no parties meant that men would have to figure out how to agree with the Constitution or nothing would be done and problems wouldn’t get solved.

    I believe that we need to elect conservatives and somehow figure out how to get the parties out of our government!!

  6. I can say that most of all the laws that we are presently having to live under were passed by Democrats. And I believe I can say with accuratecy that most of all of them were unconstitutional. And the reason why I can say that most if not all of those laws were unconstitutional is that all hurt the country or hurt the people of this country. And they were not Constitutional because you can look at other forms of governance and the laws that the Democrats used came from those forms of governance and not the Constitution. So that makes them all against the Natural Law that is the basis for our Constitution. Natural Law must be followed in order that harm or damage or both do not occur to our country, it’s government, or it’s people. It must be this way in order for our country to operate like it’s supposed to, and that American’s are free to do what they want and have the liberty to go where they please and create what they want. This is the American Way that no other people on Earth have as a way of life.

    The Democrat Party is the only political ideology that has messed this way of life up for every one in this country. They have overtaxed us, they have over regulated us, they have over restricted us, they have over micromanaged us like we’re some kind of small animal in a cage that needs constant care in order to keep it healthy. Democrats have taken more of our freedoms away from us than any other political entity. We don’t have freedom of speech anymore, that hasn’t been deemed a “hate crime”. We aren’t free to practice our religion anymore because it has been deemed “racists” and “discremitory” against anyone who isn’t a believer in our religion. Democrats have take trillions of dollars away from the wages and salaries of working people and have created fake crisis to put the money to, or they’ve created certain people who Democrats claim need our money because they can’t make it on their own and need ours so that it’s easier for them to get by.

    All those things are unconstitutional to do. And I’m not going to leave out the Republican Party members who have given in on what is against their Party platforms they run their candidates on so that the public will believe that the Republican Party is conservative and Constitutional in it’s stand on our freedoms and liberties, and rights. When the two parties get together in what they call being “bipartisan”, and they are showing that they can operate under “bipartisanship” agreements between each other, the same thing happens to bills that are passed into law that would have been if only Democrats would have voted on the bill(s).

    So I believe that since it may not be possible to get rid of all the old head country club, big government liberal Republican’s we call RINO’s until everyone who comes up for election is replaced by a conservative who is a follower of our Constitution and does not believe in being “bipartisan” or “bipartisanship”, but strictly Constitutional in his decisions. Most people in America do not see much difference between the two Parties, and believe that there is only one party in Washington who is taking this government in only one direction and that is towards Socialist and on the path that Globalist want the world to become so that this thing called the New World Order can come about where only one government will run all the countries in the world. I don’t want to see this come true at all. I believe that people of different countries should remain the people of those countries, and not to lose their national identity. We are all different people in different countries and it should stay that way. The only way we can guarantee that the different people who make up this country can live and be treated fairly by it’s government is for it to be strictly run according to the Constitution, and not under any Party politics.

  7. Hey.. loved the article .. you absolutely correct, I couldn’t agree move. Wish the perfect person did exist but a 3rd party is a recipe for disaster .. hope a lot people read this!

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