Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A REAL Third Choice?

Steve Baldwin, a Republican (?) lawmaker (meaning: not congressional member) has a suggestion for a new Third Party: it's a roster of signatures (e-signatures) that represent a pledge to vote for the new GOP-ish party when it gets enough names / funding to launch.

The new party, when it matures, will burst from inside the GOP like an alien chest-burster and devour the votes with it's dual sets of teeth.

This is actually not a bad idea: the concept is solid game-theory. You can add your name and but it doesn't cost anything (he concludes that people wouldn't go through a sign-up process just to troll--something he is deeply wrong about) so you still get to vote GOP (i.e. you don't lose any of your voting power) until the new party is ready to fly.

He has a couple of suggestions:

The Platform
Here's his unity-platform:
[I] believe we can find a consensus on dozens of constitutional principles such as downsizing the federal government, balancing the budget, reforming entitlements, cutting taxes across the board, defense of the 2nd amendment, the elimination of earmarks and crony capitalism, the development of our natural resources for our energy needs and so forth.
Even on the social issues, I believe a coalition between social and fiscal conservatives could be formed around the issue of eliminating all federal abortion funding, reversing Roe vs. Wade (let the states fight it out), and prohibiting the Federal government from granting special rights to people based upon sexual behavior (laws that almost always infringe on our religious, property, and freedom of association rights). I believe such a platform would unite all factions of conservatives and libertarians.
His Candidate
He's got a candidate in mind!
The new party will do to the GOP what the GOP did to the Whig Party 150 years ago: it will replace the GOP as the main party contesting the Democrat Party. We would also need a stable of respected national conservative leaders such as Sarah Palin and others to lead the charge on such an effort.
It's unfortunate she's just now starting her online pay-TV channel. She might not be available but how about Herman Cain? Surely he's ready to--oh, wait ...

But Snark Aside ...
The obvious issue with Baldwin's platform is that it's already the GOP's position. All that's missing is maybe something about immigration (what do you tell the Chamber of Commerce?) or, maybe, foreign policy (what does Third-Party want to do about ISIS?). Beyond that it's boiler-plate. There's no one in Republican office who wouldn't agree to every one of those points.

So why do we need a Third Party? If the above is more or less the glue that's holding the GOP together to begin with, what is missing?

What's missing is the victory. Here's his opening argument:
When one speaks with fellow Republicans about the future of the GOP, it is common to receive some negative feedback. This is because many conservative/libertarian Republicans feel the party has simply not done enough to challenge the Obama agenda. There is a widespread feeling among the rank and file that the country is hurtling toward socialism while Republican leaders sit on the sidelines and either do nothing or propose ways to manage socialism more effectively.
And the corruption and illegality of the Obama regime has been breathtaking, making LBJ and Nixon look like rank amateurs. How many people have been indicted for Fast and Furious? Zero. If Bush had used the IRS to harass his political opponents, there is little doubt impeachment motions would have been introduced. But no such impeachment motions have been forthcoming. The Federal budget is completely out of control but all the Republicans do is submit their own series of “earmarks.” We don’t want the GOP to pursue a “socialism-lite” agenda. We want them to go on the warpath and do whatever it takes to stop the destruction of our constitutional Republic.
This list of charges is interesting as a basis for building a new party:
  1. It's hard to think of something that Congress has just allowed Obama to do without substantial resistance (is he thinking about raising the debt ceiling?). Reid had to get rid of the filibuster in the Senate for confirmations due to strong resistance from the minority (Republican) party.
  2. He omits Benghazi from his list of charges going back to Fast and Furious. That's an interesting decision
  3. He seems to think Obama has been linked to the IRS scandal. That hasn't happened yet (and does not appear likely).
  4. The Federal Deficit is shrinking. There are no more earmarks (it's not clear what he means by 'earmarks'--possibly Federal loans?).

Wait, The GOP is Going To Win In November, INNIT?
Only 'kind of.' Firstly, if by 'win' you mean 'take control of the Senate' then the odds are just a little better than 50% as it now stands. That's entirely possible. But to win, to use a sports analogy, you have to "beat the spread" (that is, win by more than the basic odds favor you by).
Additionally, while 2016 is a long way away, the current players aren't looking great (Romney leads when included--otherwise Rand Paul 'leads' at around 16%. The betting money says it'll be Jeb Bush).

In other words, it's not that Baldwin wants to change the current state of the party--it's that he doesn't and he just wants to win more with the way it is.

Winning With The Status Quo
Now, yes: there is room for a less 'transigent' party to be in power: we've seen several Tea Party candidates lose primaries (although not all--ask Eric Cantor) this cycle. It's certainly possible to "dial up" the ideological purity ... just not by all that much. We're already pretty far into diminishing returns.

The ceiling for things like cutting government spending hits around the Big Three (Social Security, Medicare, and The Military). If you can't cut those and keep your job (and you can't) then you can't really cut government spending appreciably without getting into small-ball things like axing Sesame Street.

You could shut down the government or default on the debt--yes--but these are playing with fire and are not the moves of a calculated political operator ("Let's break everything and then capitalize on the ensuing chaos!" is the cry of the anarchist).

Is that what Baldwin wants? Maybe: his party would shut down the government and keep it shut down--they would probably not default on the national debt--and this calculation might pay off (so thinks Erick Erickson who is many things but not terminally stupid). On the other hand, it's hard to see a go-for-broke, damn-the-torpedoes strategy being a real winner.

The All-Or-Nothing play works once in a while but it doesn't work consistently and it seems unlikely that even at Baldwin's level of sophistication, he would find that a preferable strategy.

But that's not the point--this isn't a well thought out strategy: there's nothing to get us from 'here' (where the GOP is composed of mere mortals who are unable to exercise supernatural powers of governance when holding only the lower chamber) to 'there' (where an ideological party is capable capturing the entirety of the three branches by the power of purity alone) unless your 'there' is the mythical state Hillary-Clinton Military Stand-Down Order for #Benghazi (and once that comes out, the liberal gig is up!). This is just a way to try to evict GOP Establishment party members to increase the concentration of TruConservativism. It is an article of faith that this will succeed--that conservatism wins every time it's been tried. It isn't true--but people do believe it.

So, no: despite having an interesting plan and a framework that (besides Sarah Palin) looks almost legitimate, Baldwin doesn't actually have a winning idea. On the other hand, just having the loyalty pledge to the Third Choice would probably be a way of increasing the paranoia of elected officials even further. That might be the real value.


  1. I loved him in The Usual Suspects!

  2. Man, this guy is completely disconnected from reality.

  3. "The two enemies of the people are criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

    -- Thomas Jefferson

    Nothing new under the sun, amirite?

    -- Ω