America Needs a Contingency Third Party
13 July 2016
I repeatedly write about the troubled political, governmental, moral, and social condition of America. Anyone interested in the details of my assessment should use this link to access my website, scroll down, and read a few of my columns: http://karlmerritt.pairsite.com/articles/.The thinking and concerns raised in much of my writing has brought me to the conclusion America needs a contingency third political party. What follows are the why, when, and what of such an effort. Readers are invited and encouraged to send me feedback regarding what I present here.
The consideration that finally brought me to this conclusion regarding a third party is stated well by Gary Odom, political activist and former National Field Director for the Constitution Party, in “A Brief Look at the History of Third Parties in America” posted on the organization’s website. My use of the quote here or any other reference to Gary Odom is not an endorsement of the Constitution Party:
“One doesn’t have to subscribe to a “conspiracy theory of history” to understand that this “pendulum-style political system” serves the big-moneyed special interests and the entrenched parties, whom they control, quite well. The powerful special interests, sitting, figuratively, at the fulcrum of the pendulum, contribute to and exert tremendous influence and control over both, the Republican and Democrat parties. While the voters feverishly push the political pendulum back and forth from one side to the other, election after election, under the impression that they are making significant changes, there is actually almost never any significant change made at all when it comes to real policy. In fact, those who exert the real power and influence behind the scenes (or at the fulcrum for the purpose of this example) rarely, if ever, care which candidate or party is elected. While the names sometimes change, and the rhetoric may be passionate and seem significantly different between the parties, policy almost never changes because the big money power brokers who effectively control most of what happens in both major parties remain the same and so do their interests.”
I read Odom to say whether a Democrat or Republican is elected to an office, the primary American course will always be what serves the well-being of “big-moneyed special interests.” Regretfully, I have finally concluded he is right. Look at what has happened over the past 18 months with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. I do not see that there has been any change in a single major policy resulting in adverse impact on powerful special interests. I shared this thought with a friend of many years. His response was, “Oh, I have seen changes.” He was thinking about changes brought by President Obama. In light of his response, I thought further about Odom’s conclusion and my acceptance of it. Winking at illegal immigration, pushing for same sex marriage, failing to seriously address extreme Islamic terrorism, supporting the LGBT agenda, and so many other similar changes…none of this adversely impacts big-moneyed special interests. So, I am back to agreeing with Gary Odom.
This situation requires formation of a political party that will not and cannot be controlled by a few people driven by self-interests. There are political parties in this country other than Republican and Democrat. However, as best I can tell, they are or would be open to the same kind of control currently at work regarding the two dominant parties. It would be a “contingency” party in that the organization would only activate to the point of putting forth candidates in 2020 if the Democrat and Republican Parties continue to fail America. Knowing that in the wings there is a party with superb organization, substantial human and financial resources, solid strategy and tactics, a huge informed voter base, and will not be controlled by moneyed self-interests; maybe one or both primary parties will do what is right for America. If that happens, this contingency party would support those major party candidates whose actions, not just words, fit with its mission and principles. That failing, the contingency party shifts to a full-fledged political party putting forth candidates for 2020.
A key to success in any effort is being clear about the mission. From my vantage point, the mission of the Democrat and Republican parties is to win elections. That mission engenders personal attacks, chasing financial donations, lack of substantive discussion of issues, and an overall process that is downright disgusting. The mission of this third party would be to give America an opportunity to do what is right for her citizens and in our interactions with the entire world. Winning elections would be desirable, but not controlling. “Doing what is right” controls.
As I wrote in a recent column, doing what is right requires a solid source of principles which define “right”. As for this third party, succeed or fail, Judeo-Christian principles would be the source for identifying what is right. Many people will deny it, but these are the principles on which this nation was founded and thrived. There would be no turning from, no wavering, regarding adherence to this course. President Ronald Reagan spoke truth when he said, “If we ever forget that we are ‘One nation under God,’ then we will be a nation gone under.”
Beyond mission and source of principles, a contingency third party could learn much from studying the 1992 independent presidential campaign of Ross Perot. The billionaire received 18.9% of the popular vote. His opponents were George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton. Perot performed so well that he qualified to participate in the final debate of that election.
Ross Perot recognized that many Americans vote based on emotion and not informed understanding of issues. The situation is no different in our time. Neil Cavuto on Fox Cable News interviewed a young lady who supports Bernie Sanders, 2016 Democrat presidential candidate, because of his promise of free college. Neil asked her how Sanders would pay for this benefit. Her face went blank and after several seconds of silence, she blurted out, “Tax the rich.” No thought given to details of the issue; simply driven by a feeling of deserving more. Perot recognized this sad situation in the 1990s. For this reason, he did infomercials that addressed issues that informed voters. A contingency party must be about informing voters. Please, go to this link and watch one of Perot’s infomercials. It will be time well invested:
Media sources have consolidated to the point that a few companies and individuals control what information is made available to the public. Without doubt, most news, commentary, and even entertainment align with liberal thinking and aim to disparage conservative candidates and views. Perot avoided any such treatment of him because the controllers of media likely realized if they did not cover him and do so accurately, he had the money to purchase advertising and still get his message out. A contingency third party must have similar leverage regarding media.
Perot had the financial means to impact media as explained in the preceding paragraph. He had those resources because of personal wealth but also because of successful grassroots fundraising. This combination allowed Perot to operate independent of the moneyed self-interest class and media bias. This contingency third party must do the same. That is, raise substantial cash, but do so in small donations from the grassroots. This approach avoids coming under the control of big-money donors.
On July 16, 1992 Perot withdrew from the presidential race stating that he could not win and staying in the race would only create problems for the electoral process. At another point, he said his withdrawal was due to receiving warning that digitally altered photos of his daughter would be released if he stayed in the race and her wedding might be disrupted. He returned to the race in October. His withdrawal and somewhat questionable reasons cost Perot momentum. The lesson for a contingency third party is “be transparent.”
America’s troubled condition requires bold aggressive action to give our nation an opportunity to do what is right, not what is easy or pleasing to human desires. I believe a third political party very different from any party in existence today is required for that kind of action.