Elections have consequences.
You know there’s more teams—err, parties—out there than just the donkey and elephant ones, and they have, over the years, played havoc with our electorate, to the point of changing the arc of history. We’re in such a time where these things matter.
Ron Paul, father of recently-exited GOP candidate Sen. Rand Paul, ran in 1988 for the Libertarian Party (which is a “thing”) before he ran as a Republican in 2008 and 2012. In fact, this year, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is running for the Libertarian nomination for president. Johnson’s competition is 70-year-old John McAfee, the guy who founded the antivirus company. You’ll see one of these guys on the presidential ballot in November.
(As an aside, Vermin Supreme, whose name sounds like a pizza special, won fourth place in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. The man is an insane hillbilly who wears a boot for a hat. In other words, he’s only slightly saner than Bernie Sanders.)
These days, there’s not much daylight between the Libertarians and the Republicans, although Ron Paul said the other day “You can search for a long time, but you’re not gonna find anybody in the Republican or Democratic primary that even comes slightly close to ever being able to claim themselves a libertarian.” That’s undoubtedly true, if you’re Ron Paul, who believes he’s the only true libertarian in the world.
But there are other parties too: the Green Party and the Constitution Party cancel each other out with equal and opposite dogmas. There’s America’s Party, the Independent American Party, Citizens Party, Modern Whig Party (that would be a fun one), Veterans Party of America, and the Unity Party of America. I have no idea what that last one is about.
The Communist Party USA is real popular in Cambridge, Mass., and nowhere else. The Freedom Socialist Party, and another five with the word “socialist” in their names never got together for some reason—apparently socialists operate best in small, splintered groups. Except when one of them becomes a Democrat and runs for president.
My favorite third party is the United States Pirate Party. Yes, it really exists. And no, they don’t favor parrots and buried treasure. They do advocate copyright reform and freedom from Internet censorship. According to Wikipedia, the USPP was founded in June 2006 by UGA graduate Brent Allison. So there’s something else besides football that the Bulldogs can claim, and that’s good. I think.
There’s a surprising number of U.S. Senators that hail from third parties or simply list themselves as “independent.” Senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont (he was technically elected as an independent), along with Angus King of Maine have no party affiliation. They join 48 other previous senators who were neither Democrats nor Republicans since Reconstruction. The sitting governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, is an independent.
No third party candidate for president has ever won the office.
Former President Millard Fillmore ran as a “Know-Nothing” (look them up and compare them to Donald Trump’s constituency) in 1856, but lost to Democrat James Buchanan. Horace Greeley was nominated by both the Liberal Republicans and the Democrats in 1872 in an attempt to defeat incumbent Republican Ulysses S. Grant, but he lost. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway since Greeley died shortly after election day.
One of the most famous third party candidates was Teddy Roosevelt, who ran for the “Bull Moose Party” (Progressive Party) in 1912. Roosevelt, a former Republican, split the vote so badly that he knocked incumbent Republican William Howard Taft into third place, handing the election easily to Woodrow Wilson, the most progressive Democrat ever to hold the office until Barack Obama. Elections have consequences.
In recent times, John Anderson took 6 percent in 1980’s election, getting 5.7 million votes, which did nothing to stop the Reagan landslide. In 1992, businessman Ross Perot took 18.9 percent of the popular vote, won zero states, and absolutely sunk President George H.W. Bush’s reelection bid. Again, elections have consequences—we ended up with 8 years of the Clintons (Perot took 8 percent in 1996 when Bob Dole challenged Clinton). In 2012, Libertarian Gary Johnson (see above) received 1 percent of the popular vote.
If Donald Trump can’t win the GOP nomination, we face a real possibility (once again) of a strong third party candidate. Considering this possibility: Remember, elections have consequences, and no third party candidate has ever won the presidency. Ever.