Monday, March 29, 2010

Week of 03/29/2010

The Ugly Truth On The Cry For Third Parties
– by David Matthews 2

At the climax of the movie “A Few Good Men”, Jack Nicholson’s character began his evangelical explanation of how the ends justifying his means by proclaiming that the lawyers handling the court-martial case cannot handle “The Truth”. “The Truth”, of course, being that anything that he did, anything that he ordered, was done for the sake of protecting the United States from the “threat” of Cuba.

I am often reminded of that mantra of “You can’t handle the truth” when it comes to the continual call from certain conservative and neo-conservative activists who whine and cry for a “third party option”. As a long-time supporter of third party options, I don’t know if I should be relieved, excited, outraged, or just pissed-off to no extent to hear these people whine over and over again about how they “want” a third political party.

I would like to think that they really know not of what they are talking about, but I’ve been playing this game far too long to actually take them seriously about anything they talk about… except perhaps for the time of day, and even that would be with deep reservation.

You “want” a third-party option, you say? Really?

It’s funny you should proclaim that… because third parties have BEEN around for quite some time, and some of them have been around even longer than many of the people who are whining about “wanting” one.

Take the Libertarian Party. That party has been around since 1971. The Green Party has been around since 1984. Some of those new so-called “political independents” weren’t even out of diapers in 1984.

And it’s not like there weren’t challengers to the two-party duopoly before.

In 1992, a Texas billionaire sunk millions of his own money to run for the White House as an independent, riding a wave of voter dissatisfaction and political outrage that was not felt in generations, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Still, the turnout of that election was enough to create another third-party group called the Reform Party.

So I guess the real question isn’t why there isn’t a “third-party option”, but rather it is to ask why aren’t you LOOKING at the ones that are already there?

I suppose a possible answer would be that these tea party complainers are still relatively new to the idea of being abandoned by the Democrats and the GOP. I remember when I found myself parting ways with the GOP that I didn’t even know there were other political parties out there.

Or perhaps a more realistic answer is that they really don’t WANT a third-party option.

This is the point where I straighten up and do my best Colonel Jessep impersonation as I proclaim in a loud and clear voice… “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

Because let’s get brutally honest here… the bulk of the people who complain and whine about wanting a “third-party option” have no real DESIRE for a third political party. They really want one of the already-established dominant political parties (preferably the GOP) to kowtow to THEIR whims and to THEIR demands.

To that end, their complaints and threats are really no different than the threats made by stadium owners who vow to take their sporting teams and move to another city if they can’t get the new taxpayer-funded stadium they want. It worked for Major League Baseball owners, continually threatening to take their teams and move to Tampa… until the Florida Marlins were created in that city.

You see, when you abandon either of the two dominant political parties in America and you sign yourself up with an actual third-party option like the Libertarian Party or the Green Party or the Reform Party or any one of the dozens of other “third-party” groups out there, you also have to take heat for doing so. Abandoning the two dominant parties means they no longer have to CARE about what you want out of a political party. They don’t have to CARE about your causes. They don’t have to CARE about your concerns. They don’t have to CARE about what you think the party should concentrate on. In other words, they don’t have to CARE about you at all… just like they don’t CARE about the rest of America. They’ll miss out on your money, of course, but thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision about campaign finances, they can make it up quickly.

In other words, you’ll actually miss THEM more than they will EVER miss you should you really go the third-party route.

That’s why most of the so-called “Tea Party” people cannot be taken seriously when they start crying for a third-party option. Much like the spoiled brat who threw an Exorcist-style temper tantrum when his mom canceled his World of Warcraft account, their threats are all theatrics. Worse yet for them, the leaders and overpaid political advisors in those two dominant political parties KNOW that it is all for show. That’s why they’re not panicking when they hear about these “Tea Party” rallies. This whole thing is more scripted than professional wrestling!

Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to see a sudden spike in Libertarian Party membership because of this. I would LOVE to see another Reform Party upset like the kind that turned Jesse Ventura into the Governor of Minnesota. But I have been in the third-party desert long enough to know that as the November elections get closer and closer, those same people who are screaming for a third-party option will soon be singing a much different tune. They will instead be talking about the need to “come together” and to not “waste your vote”.

So if you REALLY want a third-party option, by all means come on over! There are plenty for you to choose from. But you better be certain that this is what you REALLY want, because the people who need your support far more than do the two dominant parties certainly don’t like being taken for granted. And I’m sure you would understand that… if your complaints are to be taken seriously.


Carrie said...

Sometimes I wonder if the Tea Party is just an elaborate scheme either to either get the GOP more support (wolves in sheep's clothing) or just to discredit the 3rd parties. If they were sincere, made amends for not speaking sooner and didn't act like brats (the Marvel incident), Fox would be at their throats for speaking up and victimizing them.

David 2 said...

I would suspect the former is true, Carrie. When your party's name is mud, the best way to associate with the masses is to pretend to put yourself above the mud.

BrentSTL said...

I have voted third party before - voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. And I was glad I did. I sure take them a lot more seriously now than I did before.

After the Nader vote in 2000, mom, brother and I were talking about it. I told her what I had done, and she wasn't happy. "You wasted your vote," she told me. Colin stepped in and said, "no mom, he didn't. You only waste your vote when you don't use it." She finally agreed. It was a really great conversation that day.