Paul on Politics: The Worth of Third Parties

My guest writer today is my uncle Paul.

The definition of a professional politician to me is one similar to Representative Adam Smith. Moreover, professionals are persons who deliberately chose to make a career of running for office or staying on for years by default. They will do most anything to remain in office. One trait is that professionals follow political winds without regard to ethical conduct. Another trait is they build alliances to stay in office using sophistry and giving lip service to what is right for our people and country. Our founding fathers never intended their descendents to be governed by an oligarchic political class.

Capitol domeFirst, I will acknowledge there are many politicians who defy my description of them and I can name several exceptions although none currently in office including John McCain (open to a deal), or Orrin Hatch, or most Democrats come to my mind. Naming one of the honest ones is Linda Smith who was a dedicated servant of the people. Sarah Palin may be another. I have a very low opinion of all politicians currently serving in any State, Local, or National office. Professional politicians sell their honor to large voting blocks of all kinds across the spectrum including business and unions, social services, et al, without regard to common sense, ethics, or decency. Both Republican and Democrat parties today are a corruption of their forebears’ examples. Parties and politicians connive to divvy up the fruits of our people’s hard work and the wealth that our fathers and mothers built. I am old enough to have lived in the thirties, forties, and so on. There was corruption that crept into the socio-political structure but our people were honorable and had pride.

In my view, the division began at the juncture of years, fifties, sixties and beyond. There are lots of reasons for the change but the explanation would take too long to illustrate here. For an example, one big event was the transfer of responsibility from fathers answerable for themselves and the support of their families to shifting the burden to government by virtue of government programs such as the Great Society.

How do we as citizens counteract the effects of the political class? Because we still have our individual votes, if they are not nullified by corruption at the polls, we can vote carefully. And we can use the tools available to us. For example: Use the statistical allocation inherent to choosing candidates to dilute the strength of vested interests. And, do it at the primaries by encouraging people to run for office and help them to get there. Numbers count. Don’t give your contributions to National Parties, give your contribution to your candidate, and give it to them early so they may use the money to build a campaign fund. Remember, overwhelming political funds allow the political class to buy communication outlets and it is overpowering.

However, all the money in the world cannot buy a cogent reasonable argument. Get your messaage out any way you can in letters to the editor, participation at public meetings, writing opinion pieces that move people, groups, voter’s pamphlets — in any way you can. Voter’s phamplets printed by the elections department are a good tool. The phamplets go to each registered voter in the district. Measures usually require pro and con committees to be formed to write them. Get your group or yourself on the committee. And then work for your candidate to get out the vote on election day.

Let us look at elections:

The Worth of Third Parties

Third parties always decide an election. For that matter, minor groups decide elections. The percentage difference in an election is usually quite close. Consequently, that condition causes the minimal number of voters plus one to decide the election. As a consequence so-called “swing voters” exert powerful control over the process. And they can force their issues by coercing the parties.

After the losses from the 2008 election ended in defeat, Republicans were mewling about becoming more like Democrats to win back voters to rebuild their party. They were contrite and remorseful, willing to get along. As the ruling Democrat party’s excesses multiplied, there came a populous uprising that led to Town Hall Meetings and so called “Tea Baggers.” Notably the Republican Party was forced by circumstances to follow the lead of the uprising tea-bag-populace culminating in the “Massachusetts massacre” we witnessed in January.
Republicans were wise to quietly help in the background while Scott Brown of Massachusetts carried out his plan. Brown disputed conventional wisdom to “get along” and was swept into office by Independents fortified by disgusted Democrats and Republicans. Think of the audacity, Brown ran on water boarding of terrorists as one of his issues.

Republican and Democrat parties rail against third parties becoming a political force because the parties do not like opposition to their dominance of the election process. However, it is possible for third parties to win an election despite the suppression. Witness the Ross Perot challenge of the nineties.

Statue of Freedom

Statue of Freedom. Architect of the Capitol

Perot movements arose out of the people, much like the contemporary “Tea Baggers.” on Perot’s promise to run for President if the supporters could get him on the ballot in all fifty states. On his promise, we took him up on it. Ordinary citizens across the political spectrum gathered in meetings all over the country and worked the system until Perot’s challenge was achieved. In my view Perot didn’t believe it would happen but then he had to make good. And the movement multiplied. We held conventions all over this state [Washington] gathering signatures until Perot could not be denied a place on the ballot.

Had Perot not weakened at the zenith of his popularity, he might well have won the election. I believe Perot suddenly perceived the forces he loosed and was overwhelmed by them – he crumpled. Steven Holmes of the New York Times at the time asks, “What if Mr. Perot had stayed in the race through the summer and fall instead of dropping out for months?” Talking about being President is much more fun than being one, I suppose. Being President is all consuming.

Conventional wisdom (usually easily challenged) set forth by Republicans contends Perot caused them to lose the election. There is no evidence the allegation is factual. The argument for the assertion analyzes the election as static and assumes Republicans would have gotten the Perot votes. Perot voters were sour on both parties. That is why they formed a third party. Elections are dynamic. There is no evidence that Bush the senior would have gained the Perot votes anymore than Clinton would have. It is an urban myth.

These are the numbers: Clinton 42.95%, Bush 37.4%, and Perot 18.86%. One can never know exactly which candidate would have gotten the Perot votes. As unknowns, on an even basis, statistics allot each contender a third of the total vote at the beginning. From there it becomes a contest to see who can get a part of the other contender’s allocation. As one way to estimate results, we can use a speculative analysis. One looks at the fraction of votes Clinton and Bush were sustaining. Then, multiply each one’s fraction times the Perot votes followed by adding each candidate’s portion to the their total vote.

Using that method, Clinton still wins 53.5% to Bush’s 46.5%. In today’s environment where the public disdains Republicans and Democrats — especially Republicans — Independents are fleeing from both parties. Under current circumstances Independents win easily as a third party. The question becomes; will the voter pool become tainted if Independents join the Republicans?

The Perot movement had a gargantuan effect on future conduct of the parties that led to the Gingrich Contract with America and the election of 1994.

Instead of pleading against third parties, and because of Republican’s low acceptance by Americans, Republicans ought to beg “Tea Baggers” (Individualists) to reform their party for them. Even that may not be enough for them to remain a major political force.

Unless the parties change, they have forfeited their right to govern.

Your comments are welcome.

Comments

  1. The post is really cool i don’t like politic but still i vote

  2. Thomas Littlefella says:

    Re: The Worth of Third Parties

    “Don’t give your contributions to National Parties, give your contribution to your candidate, and give it to them early so they may use the money to build a campaign fund.”

    I agree 100% – it’s the candidate not the political party that will someday
    fix this mess we have.

    “There is no evidence that Bush the senior would have gained the Perot votes anymore than Clinton would have. It is an urban myth.”

    Well that makes me feel good – I’ve been kicking myself ever since I voted for Perot.

    “Republicans ought to beg “Tea Baggers” (Individualists) to reform their party for them.”

    I disagree – both political parties are shot – there is not an ounce of creditable worth in either the democratic or republican party. I’m actually for a lottery type system to select candidates, but it doesn’t seem to get any traction.

    The Tea Parties have some traction with both political parties. The Tea Parties are attracting honorable people from both parties. As soon as the Tea Parties associate themselves with a specific party their influence will terminate.

    The Tea Parties need to endorse good honorable candidates no matter the party, preferably non career politicians. In fact, I believe a non political government at the national level is the only way to dig out of our shameless political situation.

    Politics and political aspirations should reside at the state level where people are free to navigate to the state of their political choice. A free society should not be held hostage to national politics and foolhardy behavior of any specific empowered political party.

    Thomas Littlefella

  3. Thanks to Thomas Littlefella for taking the time to comment about my offering on this blog.

    I wrote: “Republicans ought to beg “Tea Baggers” (Individualists) to reform their party for them.”

    The comment was a wry attempt as an aside to point up that Republicans need to look outside the party for their lead. They are doing that anyway under pressure from the Tea Parties.

    Sadly, it is difficult for third parties to win an election. Clearly, third parties can easily cause a change in direction to effect the election outcome.

    However, a party can be completely reformed. The way to begin is at the Primary level.

    A system endures because it is built that way. It has taken years for our country to be brought to this point under the collusion of both parties. It will take work to get us out of crisis.

    What concerns me today is all of that “walking around money” being distrubuted from the stimulus and Tarp money conjoined with the numbers of bodies available from entities such as ACORN and public employee unions. That is a formula for corruption of the election process at every level.

    That expressed, I agree completely with your thoughtful comments.

    • Do you have any predictions for November? For example, do you think incumbents will lose big? How much will Republicans gain at the Democrats expense?

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