It’s Time for a Third Party, Kinda


Recent blogs by Lee Cary on this site have demonstrated that the establishment GOP has no use for the Tea Party and in fact may be our biggest enemy. We are dependent on the GOP party structure and he tells us, they are using it against us. The party we want to be part of is sabotaging our candidates. If this is true, and it appears to be, then the future success of the Tea Party is in serious trouble unless we end this relationship with the GOP or take over the party structure.

What should be the future for the Tea Party? Are we going to remain a wing or faction of the Republican party that is sabotaging us? If we could take over the party structure, do we really want to and could it be changed? The Republican party has been in existence for a century and a half and is clearly comfortable with the federal government they have helped establish. And now the country is going through major transformations toward socialism and economic disaster with no effective opposition from Republicans. Our future will be determined by how effective we are in opposition to this movement. Perhaps it is time for those in the Tea Party and other grassroots organizations to unite their opposition in a more effective voice.

I have long thought and aired the opinion that a third party would be a mistake for it would split the non-liberal vote and guarantee the election of the liberals or progressives. But on further thought, thanks to Lee, I now believe that is not true in all elections.

In elections where there is a runoff between the top two vote-getters, a third party candidate does not give the election to either of the other candidates. Consider an election where a progressive is running against a Tea Party candidate and a moderate Republican. In any district, regardless of majority political opinion, there is no reason that the progressive candidate would be more likely to get greater than 50% of the total vote count than if he were only running against a Republican candidate. In most districts the progressive would have a decreased percentage of the vote if a conservative Tea Party candidate was also in the race. Conservatives, that may not vote for a moderate and would never vote for a progressive, will have a candidate in the race and thus add to the vote count.

If the Tea Party candidate can out perform the moderate then the progressive and Tea Party candidates battle it out with the GOP not represented. The tables will have turned. The GOP supporters can now either vote for the TP conservative or see the progressive elected, so there is no reason to believe the progressive candidate would win in an election he would not have won anyway.

With a strong third party there will be many more runoff elections and experience shows that runoff elections are often determined by whose supporters are the more enthusiastic. In fact an effective strategy might be to force as many runoffs as possible given our supporters fall in to the more enthusiastic category.

These states have runoff elections, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.

Perhaps it is time to change the relationship with the GOP and provide a stronger more effective voice for our movement. This could happen if the Tea Party formed a third political party in selected states and ran candidates in all elections in those states that could be decided by runoffs and all elections where the incumbent Republican won at least 70% of the vote. In these cases the existence of the conservative third party will not give the election to the liberal or progressive candidate. It is equivalent to challenges in the primaries except we would not be running as Republicans.

In all other elections we can either support conservative Republican candidates challenging establishment Republicans in primaries as we do now, or run TP candidates that polls suggest can win the general election in a three way contest with a Democrat and a Republican.

Perhaps the best idea is to start the process by forming the political Texas Tea Party which by any other name would be just as good. Then TPOT could vet, select and support candidates that would prefer to run as Texas Tea Party candidates rather than Republicans in the general election. Those that preferred to be Republicans and to challenge establishment Republicans in primaries of course would also be supported. It would give our conservative candidates a second option and a second opportunity for those defeated in Republican primaries.

Is there a better state to launch what could become the next great political party, one devoted to liberty, state sovereignty, fiscal conservatism, and the Constitution? I don’t think so.

Starting in a single state, Texas, allows us to develop our game plan and to realistically determine the viability of a third party without going national with party leaders etc.  It may be difficult to find funding for candidates and candidates themselves willing to run as Texas Tea Party candidates. Opposition from the GOP may be intense and not easily overcome. If the project has to be abandoned it will not be on a national scale and should not doom the Tea Party or change the current path.

The greatest concern I have is will traditional Republicans vote for a Tea Party candidate in a runoff election that does not have a Republican in the race. Will folks that have probably never voted for any candidate other than a Republican go to the polls and vote for a Tea Party candidate in a runoff election.

The other problem I see is that candidates that might have presidential ambitions or Republican party leadership ambitions would prefer to remain in that party. I would assume Ted Cruz, who owes much to the Tea Party, would prefer to remain a Republican.

As a fall back if this is too bold of an idea, we could forget the Tea Party as a third political party for now and run our candidates as independents. But that would deprive me of the joy in seeing the panic at the establishment GOP headquarters the first time a candidate running on the Tea Party ticket wins an election over a GOP candidate.

Something to start thinking about.