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Comments of the Day: Getting Real About Third Parties in the Merry Old Land of Oz

Posted on November 30 2009 4:23 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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From Swemson’s Open Thread yesterday which highlighted how little private sector experience Obama’s cabinet has:

2009 November 29

I think it’s important to have some solid private sector experience AND not be crazy. Otherwise you get Ross Perot, Ron Paul, or some Libertarian candidate.

This entirely sensible comment from one of my favorite NewsReal regular commenters was met with an entirely predictable response from the Emerald City. Tar and Feathers should known better than to casually drop the Good Doctor’s name:

2009 November 30
Wizard of Oz permalink

So you believe that Ron Paul would be a bad choice for the country? He’s one of the very few solid, honest, common sense patriots currently in our congress or any other branch of the federal government. I suppose we’ve gotten good results from either the republicans or democrats (non-capitalzed intentionally) for the past 50 years, so it makes no sense to consider Libertarians (capitalized intentionally) or any freedom-centrist, constitutionalist candidates. Get real tar & feathers.

And Tar and Feathers returned with a solid retort:

2009 November 30

Hey, I’m as real as the next schlub. The Libertarian party is not currently viable. While wacky fringe group parties like American Independent, and the Greens increase their ranks, the Libertarians lag behind both. It took me ten years as a LP member to realize their lack of political savvy, and inability to be a genuine political force.

And as I often say, two things can be simultaneously true. One can be a patriotic constitutionalist AND be nuts at the same time. (Present company excluded.)

Of course it’s very difficult for me to resist using the C-word when the Good Doctor comes up in discussion. It’s just too much fun watching his followers’ heads spin around. (I recently got an email from a reader who said that I wasn’t particularly good at ridicule. However he seemed mainly irritated that I had ridiculed Paul whom he admired…)

My views are pretty well known here

But on this basic point Tar and Feathers is correct. At the national level third parties are ineffective. One needs to work within one of the two dominant parties (or both of them) in order to actually make things happen. Here’s what so many third party advocates don’t understand: within the GOP and the Democratic Party there are more than just the two parties. Each party is actually a coalition of differing ideological interest groups and constituencies. So if you want to be a libertarian you’re far better off just being part of the libertarian wing of the GOP than being part of the Libertarian Party — unless your interests are purely at a local level.

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