Third Party Presidential Campaign Fan Fiction is only slightly more tiresome than Brokered Convention Fan Fiction.
— Wyeth Ruthven (@wyethwire) May 7, 2016
You get a party, and you get a party — everybody gets a party of their own! One should never dismiss any possible development in the multi-ring circus of American politics, especially in this particular cycle. And surely every American is entitled to his or her very own political Theory of Everything, whereby the sufficient application of correct thought to the perfect handcrafted artisan unicorn candidate will CHANGE THE CONVERSATION such that everyone lives happily ever after. But the latest media proposals by the usual batch of Media Village Idiots, reliably wrong ‘pundits’, and ambitious careerists gunning for earned media don’t even rise to the dignity of a couple of tinfoil-hatted cranks taking up floor time at local meetings and wall space on public buildings (or Facebook) to promote the Independent Union of Patriotic National Americans for Responsible Freedom…
Let's say enough Repubs were ready to overturn Trump's nomination: who would be an improvement AND would accept the nomination?
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) May 9, 2016
Anti-Trump Republicans should start a new party on IndieGoGo. I would say Kickstarter, but the pitch would never pass believablity test.
— Mark Sumner (@Devilstower) May 9, 2016
There’s at least three strains of Third-Party Virus been rampant in the media since Trump clinched the Republican nomination. First, the evergreen Both Sides argument, where adult professionals revert to their Risk-and-fantasy-sports-playing adolescence. Jon Chait at NYMag explains to them that, “No, a Conservative Third-Party Candidate Can’t Steal the Electoral College“:
… [T]he plan would run like this: A right-wing third-party candidate would split the Electoral College, so no candidate reaches the 270-vote threshold. In that case, the House of Representatives would decide the winner, with each state’s delegation (regardless of population) casting two votes. Since Republicans control most state delegations, they would pick the winner, who would presumably be their right-winger, rather than Trump or (obviously) Hillary Clinton.
What gives the scenario the veneer of plausibility is that the last part of the plan is completely true. If the Electoral College deadlocked, then the House would really decide, and it really would give the presidency to the right-winger. The actual problem with the scenario is that the first part, where the independent somehow prevents anybody from gaining 270 electoral votes, is completely nuts.
Right now Clinton has the inside track to a majority of the Electoral College. Polls are a little dodgy at this early stage of the race, but most forecasters assume Clinton would win something like the states President Obama won in 2012, and perhaps some more if Trump fails to consolidate his party. That assumption isn’t terribly important. What’s important is that adding a right-wing splinter candidate would not reduce Clinton’s share of the Electoral College at all. It would increase it. Every state gives its electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes. If Clinton wins 51 percent of the vote in Florida, she gets all 29 electoral votes from Florida. Crucially, states do not require a candidate to have a majority in order to win the state. And a right-wing independent candidate will draw overwhelmingly from Trump’s support. So an independent would not take any states away from Clinton. Instead, that candidate would make it possible for Clinton to win a bunch of states without a majority. States where Clinton might otherwise fall a bit short of Trump would become blue states…
@jbouie Conservative 3rd party might reduce Clinton's popular vote % down to low 40s. But it would also increase her EC % to the high 300s
— Mike Duncan (@mikeduncan) May 7, 2016
A serious third-party run will not throw the election to the House. It will cause Hillary to win a landslide. https://t.co/txrL8hyaQG
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) May 6, 2016
Bill Kristol wandering down Connecticut Avenue shoeless begging strangers to consider an independent run.
— Bob Schooley (@Rschooley) May 6, 2016
While the talking heads happily rules-lawyer together, the predictable right-wing idiots search for their lost dreams under the sputtering streetlights…
WELL ITS NOT PRIVATE ANYMORE IS IT??!! https://t.co/clLaroXXmx
— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) May 7, 2016
… William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard magazine and a leading voice on the right, met privately with the 2012 nominee on Thursday afternoon to discuss the possibility of launching an independent bid, potentially with Romney as its standard-bearer…
But knowing Romney’s reluctance, Kristol told Romney that if he remains unwilling to run, many top conservatives would appreciate having the former Massachusetts governor’s support for an independent candidate, should Kristol and other right-leaning figures enlist a willing contender…
If Romney runs on a third party ticket will he Etch-a-Sketch back to Moderate Massachusetts Mitt? I liked that guy.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) May 7, 2016
Acela cell service needs to be improved! Calls w Sasse, Coburn, & Romney kept cutting in & out. Conferencing them together even trickier…
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 8, 2016
— Big Sexy Jeb! Lund (@Mobute) May 8, 2016
But wherever could they find such a New Hope — a candidate of sterling conservative credentials, telegenic enough for the cruel media spotlight, someone who doesn’t mind risking the considerable chance of ending up as a nation-wide punchline? Cometh the hour, cometh the man:
Ben Sasse is so pissed about Washington just talking and doing nothing that he writes an open letter demanding someone do something
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) May 5, 2016
Hillary Clinton calls for Ben Sasse to grow up. https://t.co/B5zaeNt9YH
— Bob Schooley (@Rschooley) May 5, 2016
Mr. Pierce expands:
Just when you thought it was over, and the Republican Party was riding to its doom over a cliff of its own devising, there comes a voice from the west, a young man of strong convictions and principles as hard as the sod busted by the people who first settled the great state of Nebraska, a mighty wind blowing clear and strong and fearless against the foul gusts of Trumpian triumph that have enveloped entire cable television networks in their cyclonic embrace. Will a grateful nation raise its eyes to him and, girding its loins once again, follow into battle this gleaming paladin of the Plains…
He was the Tea Party darling elected to the Senate from Nebraska. His faith in the Constitution handed down to the Founders by Jesus His Own Self is firm and unshakable. Most recently, he showed up in Iowa prior to the caucuses in February and pronounced himself willing to campaign for any of the 16 other candidates against He, Trump. I have to admit, I rather liked that idea, although, in retrospect, it pretty much didn’t work, as the last two weeks have shown.
Now, though, young Ben has mounted the parapets of Facebook to defend America against the onslaught of drunken bros in fake Oakleys and the vulgar talking yam who leads them—oh, and also against Hillary Rodham Clinton, who scares all the moms at Walmart…
Go read the whole thing, which pretty much puts the cherry on this year’s Third Party sundae.
Speaking of dessert, here’s Ed Kilgore’s “Open Letter to Senator Ben Sasse”:
Thanks for taking the time from your not-so-busy Senate schedule to let us know via Facebook that you share our total disdain for the likely presidential choices that Beltway elements have foisted upon us, and that there’s still hope for what we actually want, which is a right-wing president who forces the squabbling parties in Congress to come together on right-wing policies…
And hey, thanks for being the only politician — or “citizen-politician,” or whatever you call yourself — to understand that our young people are searching for an alternative to the two corrupt liberal parties in Washington but are handicapped by their ignorance of “the meaning of America,” which you quite properly define as fighting terrorists, balancing the budget, and opposing political correctness. If we had better educated these young people, they’d realize we need to get rid of minimum-wage laws so they can earn the money to pay off their student loans instead of expecting Uncle Sugar to let them dodge their obligations.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of support out there for the clear path you identify: a “draft” of a candidate who will defy both parties by implementing a simple and totally noncontroversial agenda of more money for national security, less money for those godless entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, abolishing federal involvement in K-12 education, and ending “incumbency protections” like those that made Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina viable presidential candidates this time around. Who outside of Washington could possibly argue with any of that? Isn’t it obvious “limited government” is the one thing we can all agree on?…