The whole point of conservatism, according to pundits and talk radio hosts, is that it has a better argument in regards to the issues facing the country. The entire point of advertising that one’s group has the better points of merit in an argument is so that one can then use them in that argument.
Why then, is the GOP trying to get third party candidates thrown off of the ballot in swing states? Other than the very real risk of inciting blowback by angry voters who don’t like to be disenfranchised by the big two (remember, these are third party voters and third party voters are already substantially less likely to like the major parties – that’s why they’re third party voters), the GOP is ejecting itself from the very premise of its argument that it does, indeed, have the best answers to the problems that the country is facing.
The third party disenfranchisement argument goes something like this: “We don’t like what you’re saying, so instead of trying to convince you in an intellectual discussion, we’ll just silence you. Oh, and by the way, if we were to have said intellectual discussion, we would win because, as advertised, our policies are intellectually better.”
So why not have that debate? Why not have the discussion of ideas? Isn’t that what conservatism is allegedly all about? Well, perhaps this is the new conservatism, a neo-conservatism, if you will. Perhaps this is the “we’ll tell you what to do and you toe the line to do it” conservatism.
That would explain the events at the RNC where all opposing party views were squelched and the result was an angry backlash in affected swing states, not the least of which was Virginia, where a party unit chair resigned over it and several others sent angry letters to state party heads and a multitude of grassroots folks – the very ones the GOP claims it so desperately needs – have decided to sit this one out in protest in regards to volunteer efforts. So then why try and do this in the other swing states where a similar result is likely?
It makes no sense. Only a party afraid it will lose would even contemplate undertaking such a thing. Further, it’s the height of hypocrisy from a party that claims limited government and individual liberty. Trying to reduce via force of law the options that an individual has to cast their vote for is neither limited government, nor is it pro-individual liberty. In fact, it’s quite the contrary and voters don’t like it. There’s simply no excuse for it. There’s already a party that is fine with folks thinking for themselves, as long as they think what the party wants them to think and toe the party line. A second one is not needed, nor is it beneficial, nor is it appreciated in the minds of the voters.
One possible explanation is the idea that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Obama. That would only be possible under the assumption that elections are a zero sum game and that votes can be assumed. Clearly, they are not. Votes must be earned. Each vote represents the will of the individual that cast it. It is a very dangerous thing for parties to attempt to force individuals to do as the party wishes. That course of action reveals a degraded amount of respect for the individual, and reinforces the idea that the individual is subservient to the machine. In short, it sows the seeds of tyranny and oppression.
It’s a worrisome thing when both parties, claiming to stand for opposite ideas, engage in the same types of behavior. Perhaps this was one of the things Patrick Henry meant when he said, “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”
Third parties remain the consumer’s choice in the marketplace of ideas. The option of a third party allows voters to force the parties to hew to their demands when all other options have failed. Washington recognized just how important these options were when he decried the establishment of major political parties in his farewell address. Further, he recognized just how divisive these parties can be, as well as the problems that come with them. Specifically, “It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration … agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one … against another … it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption … thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”
Members of both parties feel forgotten and disenfranchised – as if their parties have left them – and for good reason. Expect third parties to have a banner year this year as these individuals protest major party candidates that they see as fairly ideologically similar on issues that these individuals see as important. If the major parties want their votes, they will have to earn them. That is, after all, freemarkets and a republican form of government in action.