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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Third parties are a joke

Efforts by the Never Trumpers to derail Trump's election reached the self-parody level when Bill Kristol offered a free-lancer at National Review as a third-party candidate. There also is talk of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson receiving more than the one percent of the vote he won in the last election.

I do not mean to diminish French's accomplishments as an author, soldier, lawyer and professor. I only mean what he is most famous for: columns at the National Review.

Third parties are a joke. A charade. A con. While many of the third-party candidates are sincere, some in the past were hucksters who used their candidacy to make money. Lyndon LaRouche comes to mind.

In 2012, five third-party candidates and several fourth-party candidates combined for less than two percent of the vote.

In 2008, less than two percent.

In 2004, less than one percent.

In 2000, less than three percent.

You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find a legitimate third-party candidate -- Ross Perot of the Reform Party -- to find a third-partier who caused a stir. He got 8.4 percent of the vote.

And you have to go back 48 years to 1968 to find a third-partier who actually carried a state -- George Wallace who carried five Southern states worth 45 Electoral College votes. Nixon won by 31 Electoral College votes.

Wallace and Perot drew voters because they had messages beyond being an alternative to the two major candidates. Their messages resonated among voters because they were specific: stop integration (Wallace) and balance the budget (Perot). The Libertarian message is vague and academic.

French's message of true conservatism is equally vague, but also elitist. The idea that he will make a difference is foolish.

I do not really care how other people vote. My purpose is to inform and entertain, not persuade. If people are unsatisfied with the major choices, then either they will stay home (which is what most of them will do) or vote for someone else. I do not see that as a waste of a vote. Two years after Perot's 1996 run, we balanced the budget for the first time in nearly 30 years.


  1. You cite Perot of 1996 as having "caused a stir", but neglect to mention Perot of 1992, where he got 19% of the vote, and almost certainly had an impact in the electoral college. I would argue that, but for Perot, Bush the elder would have won a second term against the very flawed Bill Clinton.

    Yes, third parties are a joke, because they're unsustainable in the long run. But don't dismiss the immediate effect they can have on current conditions.

  2. I remember being taught in history class better than 50 years ago how the Constitution practically dictates a 2 party system.

    The only time I can remember third parties making a big difference aside from Mr Peeerot - and we're still paying for his inflicting the Ozark Mafia on us, never forget, was '00.

  3. Don - this pundit from CNBC is coming around to what you have been saying about Donald Trump.

    - Mikey NTH

    1. Good article. Thanks.

  4. The ancient philosophers were always arguing with one another but had respect for each other's views, or at least their opponent's cleverness in expression. However they never asked the intelligent but untrained people listening to them to resolve their differences because, while they took money from them for the privilege of being in their presence, they had no respect for them as philosophers or even sometimes as human beings. So it is with Bill K and his subsidized band of pure thinkers contemplating Trump voters. To Bill et al,the uninformed are ignorant of the consequences of what they support, unworthy of the wisdom they, the keepers of the Flame of St Reagan have so long preached and explained in endless cleverly crafted pages,too expensive for the rabble to buy and too hard to understand, yes, but Definitely the Finis Bonorum et Malorum. I hope Trump wins and drives the philosophers from their temples of marble into the street with the rest of us.

  5. Let them go broke, Don; Trump's going to run the board.

  6. Do we really want to descend into European-style parliamentarism? - Elric