Red Phillips: Ron Paul-To Run Third Party or Not to Run Third Party

Ron Paul: to Run Third Party or Not to Run Third Party

As it is now clear that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, chatter has intensified about what Ron Paul and his supporters should do. For a representative sample, here is a recent article from Justin Raimondo urging Ron Paul to run third party. Here is a reply to Justin from Ron Holland.

I am familiar with the work of both men, and I respect both men, but I am unable to agree with either even though they are making opposing cases. I agree with Ron Holland that Ron Paul should not run third party but disagree with the bulk of his reasoning as to why.

While I would love to have someone I could enthusiastically support in November, especially with the Constitution Party likely to nominate Virgil Goode who is not a clear cut non-interventionist and the Libertarian Party likely to nominate cosmotarian favorite Gary Johnson, I hope Ron Paul doesn’t run third party or independent.

I have expressed before my general wariness of candidates who compete in a major party primary who then jump ship to a third party when they fail to win the nomination. I make an exception to this if there were blatant shenanigans by the major party to keep the candidate down that could be exploited by jumping to a third party in which case the party switch could be viewed as a form of just punishment or payback, but in general I think it is a bad strategy and bad form. I say this because it strikes me as bad faith to go running to another party if you weren’t successful in the major party. It also reinforces the perception that third parties are for major party castaways and malcontents. If a losing candidate is unhappy enough with the major party nominee then he should refuse to endorse the major party nominee and endorse the nominee of a third party, not be the nominee of a third party. Also for the third party they need to do less waiting around for defectors and more recruiting of credible candidates of their own.

Ultimately, unlike Raimondo, I think if Ron Paul were to run third party it would diminish his standing in the long run the same way that Pat Buchanan’s Reformed Party run diminished his standing. Paul would very predictably start out impressively in the polls but would very predictably fade as the election grew nearer and the “don’t waste your vote” mentality set in. Ron Paul does his movement more good in the future as an ex-Congressman and an ex-GOP presidential candidate than he does as the/a poorly performing nominee of a third party or independent.

That said, the major case against a Ron Paul third party run in Holland’s essay isn’t really about a Ron Paul run in particular, it is about the electoral futility of third party politics in general. This is where I disagree with Holland. I readily concede that third party efforts are almost certainly destined to fail electorally, but that is only the measuring rod of success if you naively believe that the purpose of third parties is to win elections. As I have stated before, that is not the purpose of third parties or third party involvement.

Don’t get me wrong. I support and frequently counsel third party voting. I am the Constitution Party correspondent for Independent Political Report, one of the largest sites on the web for third party news and information. I attended the Constitution Party convention in 2008. I have supported the Constitution Party nominee in every presidential race since 1996 and regret to this day that I didn’t vote Constitution Party in 1992, its first year in existence. But I don’t believe that I am voting third party so that my candidate will win. I am voting third party as a way to register dissatisfaction with the status quo and either of the big two.

If you get past the notion that third party politics is actually about winning elections then Holland’s electoral futility argument is not persuasive.

If I hold my nose and vote for the GOP nominee (Romney) in spite of the fact that I have significant disagreements with him on the issues, my vote is still registering as a 100% endorsement of Romney. There are no half votes. There are no three quarter votes. Every vote counts the exact same. My holding my nose vote counts just the same as an enthusiastic “Rah Rah for Romney” vote. Voting third party is the only way I have of registering discontent. A vote for Romney is a vote for Romney and arguably a vote against the Democrat. A vote for the Constitution Party is a vote for the Constitution Party and a vote against the big two parties.

Now maybe this system is screwed up. Maybe there is something to be said for rank order voting or proportional representation or whatever, but this is the system we have. Our first past the goal post electoral system may favor the development of a two party system even though I don’t think this is what the Founders intended, but it also makes third party voting a real way to send a message to the big two and reject the status quo.

Also, Holland seems to contradict himself with his own argument. He says the power of Ron Paul and his supporters lies in their ability to keep the GOP Establishment guessing and anxious about what they are going to do, yet he rules out preemptively one option.

Holland also seems to believe a Ron Paul endorsement of Romney is a possible bargaining chip. That ain’t going to happen. If Paul endorses Romney I will be very surprised. Ron Paul is a man of principle, and he simply won’t endorse an Establishment figure like Romney even with a Rand Paul Vice President selection, a Ron Paul cabinet position, platform language on the Fed, etc. and if he did there would be a massive revolt among his supporters.

So Holland is essentially saying give us a Ron Paul acceptable VP nominee or whatever or we are likely to stay home. First of all, I’m not voting for Romney under any circumstances, and I suspect a lot of Ron Paul supporters feel the same way. I also highly suspect that a lot of Ron Paul primary voters (which is different than Ron Paul “supporters”) will vote for Romney anyway because they will be seduced by the “anybody but Obama” and “don’t waste your vote” argument that seem to be so persuasive every presidential election cycle. So the actual number of voters who might be up for grabs based on Romney’s overtures is possibly not that significant.

But Holland’s alternative if Romney is insufficiently gracious to Ron Paul seems to be to stay home on Election Day. Would someone please explain to me how staying home, which will be interpreted as apathy, is superior to voting for a third party candidate that you know will not win but that allows you to send a message? What communicates better to the Establishment your political will – one additional vote for the CP or LP nominee or one less vote from the total?

Holland and others who make similar arguments need to disentangle in their minds the electoral prospects of third parties from the act of third party voting.

So in summary, Ron Paul should not run third party or independent, but neither should he endorse Romney, and Ron Paul’s supporters should likewise refuse to endorse Romney with their votes and should instead register their dissatisfaction by voting for the third party candidate of their choice on Election Day.

 

Red Phillips  posts articles frequently to Independent Political Report .  He wrote this article for an upcoming publication, but allowed us to have it first.

34 thoughts on “Red Phillips: Ron Paul-To Run Third Party or Not to Run Third Party

  1. Let the T-Rex of Talk Radio Entertain U2day

    The LP needs to take the BOLD step and nominate Ron Paul as the ’12 Veep Candidate. Take back from the Republican Party most of that libertarian time and publisity. I don’t include money because $60M won’t be matched but the LP can use some of that publisity from the money which 50%+ more than likely came from libertarians. Why has the LP lost members, one reason they followed the Paul campaign to the republican party primaries. We need to get them back now that Paul is ending his political career. Someone nominate him for Veep and get someone to second, let the LP delegates decide if they want him on our ticket as VP all over the nation in ’12. Make national media in a HUGE way at this convention. Carpe Diem…..

    The purist can make sure the platform stays principled and intact and can also setup L education groups in their city and county to teach all the new bloods that will flock into the LP.

    Johnson/Paul 2012 and we’ll see some nice results in Nov. I’ll guaRANtee it !

    Obama and Romney are TERRIBLE !

    Anti-Obama 2012 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=kO6CL6eWhZk

    Still Voting For ‘Mitt Romney’? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQwrB1vu74c&feature=related

  2. Paulie

    The LP needs to take the BOLD step and nominate Ron Paul as the ’12 Veep Candidate.

    It’s against the bylaws, and against non-initiation of force ideas. This has already been explained on other threads more than once..

    Johnson/Paul 2012 and we’ll see some nice results in Nov. I’ll guaRANtee it

    I guarantee it won’t happen. Wanna bet?

  3. Let the T-Rex of Talk Radio Entertain U2day

    Would you please give me a link to the bylaw that states a Party member in good standing cannot be placed into nomination for a Party position. I will stop floating these ideas if you will.

    I have a suspision that many of Paul’s supporters would Welcome him running 3rd Party for P. They put a lot into this race to have it end in a 5 minute speech on Wed. or Thurs afternoon at Romney’s convention. Now is the time for those people to step forward and persaude Paul to go 3rd Party !!!!!!!!!

    There are many followers who are KOOKY enough to still think he wins the R race. Those are the dangerous souls who are good foot soldiers in the grassroots and are needed in the general election, but when it sinks in that Paul didn’t win they will be useless, claiming foul play and cheating and start to talk of a foolish “write in” effort.

    The LP will be foolish not to use Ron Paul (him and his movement) when and where possible. No force necessary to place him on the ballot. Some did so in ’08 iirc !

    Since you are in a betting mood, what about Johnson winning on a first ballot ? Odds ? I say he’s a 1 to 5 FAVORITE, is about right !

  4. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    lttrotreut: Please stop talking about Dr. Paul as Johnson’s vp. It ain’t gonna happen, and it’s insulting to him.

    My choice for the LP gig would be the consistent anti-war candidate, Lee Wrights. If he doesn’t win for President, I hope he’ll consider being vp. That would be a well-balanced ticket.

  5. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    @6: I have a suspision that many of Paul’s supporters would Welcome him running 3rd Party for P.

    But we would not welcome him running third party for VP.

    Get over it. Neither Paul, nor his supporters, would welcome some third party (any third party) drafting him for second banana.

  6. Trent Hill

    Jill—I think the LP would be well served to get Johnson and some party-guy as VP.

    The exception would be if Johnson has his own high profile, big money, or media-accessible guy of his own.

  7. paulie

    Would you please give me a link to the bylaw that states a Party member in good standing cannot be placed into nomination for a Party position. I will stop floating these ideas if you will.

    Knapp already has, and you haven’t. Here it is again:

    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2012/04/the-daily-caller-gary-johnsons-strange-foreign-policy/comment-page-2/#comment-738351

    LP Bylaws, Article 14, Section 2;

    “No candidate may be nominated for President or Vice-President who … has not expressed a willingness to accept the nomination of the Party …”

  8. paulie

    Since you are in a betting mood, what about Johnson winning on a first ballot ?

    Most likely he will do exactly that.

  9. paulie

    But we would not welcome him running third party for VP.

    Get over it. Neither Paul, nor his supporters, would welcome some third party (any third party) drafting him for second banana.

    That too.

    No force necessary to place him on the ballot. Some did so in ’08 iirc !

    Just because it was done by someone else last time does not make it right. It’s a good thing that it is against LP bylaws.

  10. Nate

    Good article, makes a lot of sense. However, I do wonder if perhaps at Ron Pauls age he has one last chance to campaign hard and this is it. Meaning, perhaps running independent (Libertarian seems to me to come with too much baggage), might actually bring him John B. Anderson level votes. He is similar to Anderson in that he voices his opinion to crowds that disagree with him, however the media mainly chooses not to treat this the same way they did in 1980. There are however voices from liberals that do appreciate this quality and if he left the GOP I think these voices would grow louder. Of course the trouble with an independent run rather than a Libertarian run would be ballot access and that is certainly a toughy, but liberals aren’t going to vote for “Republican lite” or “Further Right than the Republicans”, an independent on the other hand is an interesting alternative. Of course his abortion stance will hurt his vote total from liberals, but it will also gain him votes from many on the Right.

    Anyhow, I agree he probably won’t run and I agree it’ll probably be for mainly the reasons Red Phillips mentions and not that he’s afraid we wouldn’t win. (He knows he won’t win.) But it sure would make a more interesting election, as none of the third party candidates will break .7% and Ron Paul might even come close to electoral votes. (Alaska, for example.)

  11. paulie

    independent (Libertarian seems to me to come with too much baggage),

    Independent is much too late in practical terms for ballot access. Libertarian has little or no baggage; like it or not Paul would define the brand, not the other way around.

    liberals aren’t going to vote for “Republican lite” or “Further Right than the Republicans”,

    The ones that wouldn’t, wouldn’t vote for Paul. His disagreements with the LP platform are mostly that he is more conservative on some social issues.

    none of the third party candidates will break .7%

    Americans Elect almost certainly will, and could end up doing much better than that, or even winning, depending on who they run.

    Johnson could also possibly do better than 0.7% as well. Probably not by much, if at all, though.

  12. Rob

    As the leading candidates right now at Americans Elect are Buddy Roemer and Rocky Johnson….yeah I have a hard time seeing them getting over .7%. If the suits pull someone else out of the woodwork, that can change.

  13. Disillutioned T REX

    If you think Ron Paul is going to take a back seat to Gary Johnson then you’ve got another thing coming.

    If anything, lee wrights and GJ should be on the phone with the paul campaign screaming I want to be your VP, run as a libertarian

  14. ATBAFT

    Mr. Phillips has it exactly right that votes are counted, not weighed. Staying home or holding one’s nose forRomney is not going to be noticed.
    Two million votes for Gary Johnson is. TheLP has to become the balance of power in meaningful races in order to win concessions and be taken seriously by those voters leaning our way but not yet willing to abandon the two party system.

  15. Richard Winger

    #14, it is not too late for a new candidate to get into the general election. There is Americans Elect; and separate from that, no state has a deadline for getting on the November ballot for President that is earlier than June.

  16. Robert Fallin

    I don’t think Ron Paul would pull a “If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.” If the Libertarian Party, Constitution Party and, perhaps, Green Party all vote to change their bylaws and draft Ron Paul, what is going to do? Refuse? I think not. This could even help Ron Paul in future REPUBLICAN primaries and caucuses, as the party would likely suspend the blatant voter fraud that is making it a nationwide laughingstock, if not pariah.

  17. paulie

    If the suits pull someone else out of the woodwork, that can change.

    Of course they’ll pull someone out of the woodwork. They didn’t spend all that money for no reason.

    I’m guessing Bloomberg, Patraeus or Huntsman. Could be someone else tho. Roemer may be pumped up as well, although that seems less likely. Not Rocky tho.

    The only other possibility is that it was a contingency plan for something that did not happen, like a Santorum primary win or a Ron Paul LP run (although there’s still an outside chance of the latter).

  18. paulie

    If you think Ron Paul is going to take a back seat to Gary Johnson then you’ve got another thing coming.

    If anything, lee wrights and GJ should be on the phone with the paul campaign screaming I want to be your VP, run as a libertarian

    True.

  19. paulie

    it is not too late for a new candidate to get into the general election.

    Of course not, but in practical terms it IS too late to do it as a pure independent. Sure, it’s theoretically still possible, but practically it isn’t.

    There is Americans Elect; and separate from that, no state has a deadline for getting on the November ballot for President that is earlier than June.

    Americans Elect is different from independent. I have other reasons to doubt Ron Paul could be their nominee, which I have explained elsewhere. There’s no absolute proof, but I don’t think it can happen.

    LP is the only logical alternative if it were to happen at all, which I don’t think will happen either.

  20. paulie

    If the Libertarian Party, Constitution Party and, perhaps, Green Party all vote to change their bylaws and draft Ron Paul,

    Why would they do that? The votes don’t accrue as a total, only separately, in most states. Ron Paul would in effect be running against himself (if he even campaigned at all, which I doubt) and all those parties would be cutting their own throats for ballot access and party building.

    They all have candidates this year, and all three have candidates who are stronger than in 2004 or 2008 so I don’t see them scuttling it for some hare brained draft idea.

    If Ron Paul wants to run with another party that’s one thing; the draft thing, forget about it.

  21. paulie

    Ron Paul will not run third party even if I would like to see him do it.

    Not likely, but still possible for 3 more weeks.

  22. Gene Berkman

    I admired Dr Ron Paul’s long-term career of educating for liberty and campaigning for liberty, and his willingness to stand for his principles in Congress.

    I actively supported his Libertarian Party campaign in 1988, and ran a blog supporting his 2008 campaign.

    That said, he is old enough to retire and become an elder statesmen of the Libertarian or Constitutionalist movements. Let him have a break. A candidate for President who is 77 years old is not plausible. The President has too much power for any one person to exercize rationally and responsibility, and finding this out after taking office has aged every President in my lifetime.

    Every President in my lifetime has left office with white hair, except for Ronald Reagan. He benefitted from hair dye, and a willingness to use it.

    Please, let Ron Paul retire in peace. And let’s hope we can get Ron Paul activists involved in The Libertarian Party in this year’s campaign and coming campaigns.

  23. paulie

    I don’t think Ron Paul is necessarily too old this year, but I think it’s probably a moot point at this stage anyway. He will not get elected this year and I don’t think he’ll run again. I don’t think he will completely retire though, I expect he will stay active with books, speeches, articles, interviews and the like for years – maybe even decades.

    I agree that the key now is trying to capture some of the support for the LP.

  24. LISTEN anytime 24/7 to the T-Rex of Talk Radio

    The Paul campaign so far has raised over $566T today (“in it to win it” money bomb)! Out of respect for Ms Pyeatt’s wish I won’t call for it, but you can understand why I wished he was on the LP ticket. This guy has lost, but these people continue to give, give, give. We need this enthusiasm (back) in the LP from ME to AK and from HI to FL and all points in between ! With money we would see historical LP progress. Yes $566T and climbing, can ya believe it ?

    Five Members of Romney Family Endorse Ron Paul for President – http://www.ronpaul.com/2012-03-05/five-members-of-romney-family-endorse-ron-paul-for-president-three-to-speak-at-idaho-caucus-sites/

    It’s NOT Working (for you and me) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=68yGJMUwd5k

    `Freedom Is Popular” Ron Paul 2012 Ad – Rise Up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6upR7KOgRhc&feature=related

    Still Voting For ‘Mitt Romney’? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQwrB1vu74c&feature=related

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