Why Third Parties Lose (And How They Can Win)Submitted by Hubbs on Thu, 11/13/2008 - 02:57
This is spot-on:
What do you do if your party didn't win one seat in Congress, your Presidential nominee didn't come close to winning a single state, and most of the country either has no idea who you are or thinks that you actually nominated the guy with the blimp?
You declare "Mission Accomplished," of course:
"This is just the beginning," says Bob Barr, the 2008 presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.
He couldn’t be more right.
The 2008 election was yet another record-breaking year for the Libertarian Party. Not only did two candidates break the million-vote mark, it was also the first time in the Party’s history that our presidential vote total went up in three consecutive presidential elections.
Sorry, I'm not buying it. The libertarian movement (notice the small "L") received the biggest shot in the arm in its history during primary season, when Ron Paul stirred up previously-unheard-of enthusiasm (and money) for liberty-based principles. You sure as hell can't tell me that it was Paul's on-camera charisma, youthful vigor, or stunning good looks that rallied people to his cause. Yet the official Libertarian Presidential campaign didn't come close to matching Paul's donations or excitement. Why?
Well, you could fall back on the tired old line about Republican and Democratic campaigns having infinitely more money with which to buy advertising - which is true. You could give the usual spin about uphill battles for ballot access, for debate invitations, and for equal corporate campaign perks - again, true. You could say that Obama swept the nation into such a hopeful, feel-good American story that outsiders didn't have much of a market - and I'd concede the point. You could even make the more specific excuse that Bob Barr was an unpopular choice among the Libertarian base - entirely accurate.
But none of those things can adequately explain why a man advocating small government, reduced spending, gun rights, and personal freedoms fared so very poorly in the last year of a Republican administration that had clearly abandoned any pretense of fiscal conservatism, had invaded the privacy of homes, had expanded the powers of the federal government in every area from education to e-mails, had happily introduced the largest deficits in American history, and had nominated John McCain, a man who openly touted his record of giving the GOP a giant middle finger. Numerous polls show that roughly 1/3 of the country describes itself as "conservative," and despite the much-maligned apathy of American citizens, a sizable chunk of that third does, in fact, know what conservative principles actually are. Yet almost all of them voted for a man who would be very hard-pressed to find a single way in which he was the more conservative candidate than Barr. What drove the conservative masses away from the more conservative choice? What drove many of those aforementioned Ron Paul supporters away from the party that actually did nominate Paul in 1988?
The explanation goes beyond any of the traditional woes of third-party and independent nominees, who have eternally complained about the various advantages enjoyed by the two dominant parties. Their complaints are not incorrect - they simply miss the forest for the trees. The true obstacle to the success of those who shun the two-party structure isn't money. It isn't ballot access. It isn't the lack of a political machine. It isn't even their terrible choice of party colors. (Really, Libertarians, yellow and purple?)
Link with the rest: