September 1, 2009

Law of Unintended Consequences - A Third Party

There's been a lot of talk lately about the GOP not serving the needs of conservatives. They've lost their way since the days of Reagan and the Contract with America. That may be true. It's pretty much undeniable. How to extricate America from having a liberal party and a less liberal party though is where the splinters in conservative solidarity start to appear. Many people are swearing to never vote Republican again, and are looking seriously at third party options - new or exisiting. The Law of Unintended Consequences has been a subject I've been focusing on a bit more lately.  If ever the Law of Unintended Consequences were worth considering it's with respect to a third party for conservatives.

If you really are considering a third party option, regardless of the quality of candidate they might put up, you have to ask yourself two questions.  (1) Are you prepared to abandon the party of Reagan and the party of Goldwater because of a recent spate of weak candidates? Aren't you throwing out the baby with the bathwater? (2) Are you doing so with the full knowledge that there will be impacts from the Law of Unintended Consequences to your decision?  There are alternatives to a third party that would better serve the conservative agenda.  How can we expect to take back America from the liberals if we can't even re-take the GOP? 

The first question you need to answer for yourself.  But can you really consider yourself a conservative, if you are prepared to abandon the party because you feel the party has abandon you?  Where's your fighting spirit?  The run and hide approach is not what the country was founded on.  It's a weak solution akin to getting a divorce after 15 years of marriage because you don't like the way your husband/wife forgets to put the cap on the toothpaste.  Yes, this is more serious than that.  But it also has more history than 100 years.  The cut and run strategy is something we derided liberals for with respect to Iraq.  Do you really want to make that your solution now?  Conservative values mean fighting for something you value.  Conservative values mean valuing honored institutions.  Would you abandon your church if the most recent minister/priest/rabbi/etc. had views different than your own?  Or would you challenge them?  Or would you look for a third party church?  A third party wife?  Each has its own Law of Unintended Consequences related outcome.

The second question merits an even deeper consideration, because its focus is practical. There are a myriad of examples of where a lack of a united front has resulted in failure.  There are military examples.  There are parenting examples. There are international relations examples.  There are law enforcement examples.  There are lots of political examples. The proper focus however, is on electoral examples of third party intrusions and how the Law of Unintended Consequences ensured that the desired results could not possibly be achieved.

Example 1: Canada's 2 conservative parties

In the 1980's the conservative party of Canada won massive majorities in parliament, on more than one occasion.  Over time they fell from popularity with the same level of disdain that George W. Bush 'enjoyed'.  Liberals always hated them and conservatives realized that they were more liberal than conservative in many ways.  Subsequently they were decimated in elections in the 1990's to almost the same degree they had decimated the liberals. In 1987 initially as a result of the conservatives' leftward drift, a new conservative party was formed called the Reform party..  It's important to note that it was not a third party but in fact a fourth. It was the second conservative party aligned against a liberal party and a socialist party. It contested its first election in 1988 as a regional (western party) but did not win a single seat in parliament. By the 1993 election the party had grown substatianlly and took 16% of the popular vote.  The Law of Unitended Consequences had reared it's head however.  The party took the majority of it's votes from the collapse of the Conservative Party. The Reform party took 52 seats in Parliament the Conservative party, 2.  The Liberal party meanwhile managed to enjoy the results of the split and garnered a 177 seat majority. The socialist party netted 9 seats and a new Quebec separatist party (a regional fifth party) became the official opposition with 54 seats.

The next election in 1997 saw the same dynamic, but worsened for conservatives;
Reform had also failed in 1997 to establish itself as the clear right-wing alternative to the Liberal Party. The Progressive Conservative Party, which had been steadily rebuilt under Charest, enjoyed a modest revival in the 1997 election. It won 20 seats, up from the dismal two it had won during in the 1993 election. The split in the right-wing vote between Reform and the PCs allowed the Liberals to win a second majority government with only 40% of the vote, the combined vote of the Reform and the PCs in 1997 equalled the same amount. Political observers noted that it was a divided right which allowed the Liberals to gain a second majority government, and claimed that if the two parties did not put away their differences, the result would repeat itself.

There's a lesson to be learned there.  The various Canadian conservatives did learn their lesson and amalgamated the new parties under a single conservative banner.  They have since won two consecutive minority governments and are currently in power in Canada. The grip is tenuous but it is far better than the third party approach and the impact of the Law of Unintended Consequences that could have seen the conservatives in the wilderness for decades.  Instead it was only a single decade.

Example 2: Ralph Nader

Closer to home, in 2000 there was a beneficial example of the Law of Unintended Consequences and the impact of a third party.  George W. Bush beat Al Gore in 2000.  This despite garnering only 47.9% of the vote.  Al Gore in fact won 48.4% of the vote.  Everybody remembers the issues with Florida.  But had Ralph Nader not taken 2.7% of the vote, Florida might not have been an issue. Al Gore certainly would have won Florida. He also would have won New Hampshire.  Even Missouri would have been pretty close.  The net effect of the Nader campaign - a Bush win.

Remember the old saying, United We Stand, Divided We Fall?  How about patience is a virtue?  How about the words of Albert Einstein "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." As a conservative you are supposed to be standing on the shoulders of giants.  If you want to blow things up and start over, rather than trying to repair a fixable problem, you have to ask yourself if you really are all that different from the liberals who see a problem and decide that an entirely new solution is needed, rather than seeing all the greatness that has come from the old solution.  The solution that has already proven to work.

The alternative, to rebuild the GOP from within, concentrating on promoting and demanding real conservative candidates, would result in far quicker results and require much less work.

You really need to think about a third party option, and what the Law of Unintended Consequences will do for America for years to come.  You have to ask yourself, am I being practical?  Am I being petulant?  What do I hope this will achieve? And is this the best way to solve the problem, or are other alternatives a better idea?  If you can answer those questions honestly, really honestly and you still believe that you are doing the right thing, then by all means proceed.  Maybe you can live with the resulting Democrat dynasty and be happy with your principals, but realize that you have thrown all pragmatic concerns aside.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This