Is the time right for a new political party?
By John D. Turner
24 May 2006

As the Democrats in Congress rub their hands together in glee at Mr. Bush’s low poll numbers, and drool over the prospects of taking control of the House and, dare they hope, the Senate during the mid term elections in November, have any of them paused to notice that their own poll numbers are even lower?

Yes, George Bush’s approval rating is down to 31% and falling. How low it will go is anyone’s guess. After years of continual barrage by the mainstream media, I’m surprised it’s not lower. But as low as that is, Congress’s approval rating, at 22%, is even more abysmal.

In fact, while the Democrats would like to believe this to be a referendum on Republicans, since they control both houses, that number is lower than congressional polling numbers were when the voters threw the Democrats out back in 1994. Since throwing the Democrats out didn’t seem to fix things, these numbers may indicate disgust on the part of the electorate with both parties, rather than simply a desire to put the Democrats back in charge. Voters, presented with a choice between two parties, neither of which seem to be doing a job they approve of, may simply say “a pox on both your houses”, and stay at home in November.

Historically, such an outcome would favor the Democrats, who benefit more from low voter turnout than do the Republicans. Overall, there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, and Republicans are highly dependent on the “independent” voter and turning out their base in large numbers, to tip the scales in their favor.

But what if there were a third choice?

I am not talking about one of the existing “third parties”, which abound in profusion. Although some, such as the Libertarians, the Socialists, and the Greens run candidates every year, and sometimes win in local elections, at the National level they are political non-entities. Voting for one may salve your conscious, but is only one step removed from not voting at all. Historically, the only value third party candidates have in a national election is to pull votes away from one party in a close race, allowing the other party to win. The two major parties are in no way fearful that the third party candidate will win, only that they will prevent them from winning.

But what if a new major party were to emerge?

This is not something that has occurred very frequently in the history of our country. The last time a major party was birthed was when the Republican Party was formed in 1856. It’s not easy to form a major party. Most of them end up as one of the “also ran’s” on the ballet.

But could it be that now, with approval numbers so low, that the public’s disgust with politicians of both parties could be high enough that a group of people with vision and drive could step forth and mobilize enough support to win seats, at least in the House, in the upcoming elections?

What would it take for a viable major party to be formed, and not just another marginal “third party”? Three things are necessary to win a political campaign; a strong candidate, particularly one with name recognition; a strong message that resonates with the voters; and lots of money. The latter is particularly critical, as not only does the media have a built-in bias toward the two party system, but the incumbent of either party has a huge media advantage in that they are currently in the contested seat, and benefit (for good or ill) from free media coverage of their daily activities.

At this point, I must admit that I am in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand we are at war; this is not the time to complicate the national political picture with a new major party and the resulting political chaos that will ensue. On the other hand, we are at war on multiple fronts, and I do not see the Democrat or Republican parties as being able to successfully lead us to victory. We have quite a bit more at stake now than just the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have what is looking more and more like a battle in our own backyard; one that the current Republican administration seems unwilling to confront or even admit exists. If the Democrats take power, I foresee our withdrawal from Iraq, and two years of congressional hearings on the conduct of the administration. Two years in which the forces of radical Islam will have time to regroup and strike back. If the Republicans remain in power, they will consider it a “mandate” to continue doing what they have been doing. When it comes to addressing the problems on our southern border, and the growing wave of anti-American leftism sweeping across South and Central America, what they have been doing amounts to nothing. If left unchecked, this presents an even greater danger than bin Laden, holed up in some cave in Pakistan.

In fact, there is growing evidence that al-Qaida is exploiting the growing situation south of the border. And if you think Vicente Fox has an agenda, take a look at Andres Lopez, the man who may be the next President of Mexico.

So while I am not a big fan of changing horses in midstream, the fact is that the Republicans seem to be wearing blinders, charging straight ahead, oblivious to other threats, while the Democrats remain a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick; seeking the return of their faded power, and determined to “stick it to” those wraskely Wrepublicans. What is needed is a new horse, and there isn’t one.

When the Republican Party was formed, the big issue was slavery. The issue sharply divided the country. The catalyst was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the newly created territories of Nebraska and Kansas to decide, by popular vote, whether or not slavery would be allowed in each. This caused a firestorm of protest, because it abrogated the Missouri Compromise, enacted in 1820, which restricted slavery to parts of the country below the Mason-Dixon Line. It fractured the Whig party, so much so that met privately, in February, 1854, to call for the creation of a new political party. They united with members of the Free Soil Party and the American Party, and the Republican Party was born. This spelled the demise of the Whigs, who, during the 1856 election were only able to carry the state of Maryland. It is a measure of the intensity of feeling present in this election, that fully 78.9% of eligible voters cast their ballots.

Slavery was still the big issue in 1860. If anything, the contest was even more heated. With 81.2% of eligible voters casting ballots, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. After only six years of existence, the Republican Party captured the Presidency, and the Whigs are left on the ash heap of history.

Today, the big issue is Immigration, and neither the Democrats, nor the Republicans seem to get it. Could immigration be a big enough issue to do what abolition did back in 1854? And if so, which party, Republicans or Democrats, will be the one torn asunder?

One might assume it to be the Republicans. But according to polls, immigration is an issue that cuts across political lines. A new party, with a charismatic leader, and a plan to stop illegal immigration and secure our borders could pull in large segments of the American public who are sick of all the pandering, posturing, and foot-dragging seen on a daily basis by leaders in both major parties.

Such a party could gain instant credibility, particularly if existing members of the House and Senate, such as Congressman Tancredo of Colorado and others of his ilk were to abandon their current party and join. (I’m not suggesting that Congressman Tancredo has any such plans, just using him as an example). One thing is sure. With the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats so narrow, a pick-up of even a few seats would mean real political power for a new party. The Republicans would need them to pass legislation, while the Democrats would need them to block the same. This would give them quite a bit of say in the legislative process.

We have an issue – illegal immigration and securing the borders. We are assuming one or more “charismatic” candidates. What about the money?

It isn’t likely that big business will enthusiastically support a candidate running on a platform to choke off illegal immigration and secure the borders; at least not businesses who stand to profit from the current open immigration, open border policy. However, both parties have shown that a lot of money can be raised via grass roots campaigns. And some companies, particularly those that don’t have a horse in the illegal immigration race, may decide that the favorable publicity such a stance might generate would be worth the expenditure.

And despite the conventional wisdom which says that the candidate with the most bucks wins, history is replete with counter examples. Steve Forbes did not win the Republican primary, either time he ran, and we never had a President Ross Perot, just to name two. The important thing that money can buy is publicity. In order to win elections, people need to know who you are. This is particularly critical if your name doesn’t have a big D or big R in parenthesis after it.

A new party, with a plan to end illegal immigration and secure our borders, with existing representation in Congress, and a charismatic leader at the fore will be sure to garner lots of free publicity from the media. With CNN, Fox, MSNBC, talk shows, and the major media airing their views on a daily basis, everyone in the country will know about it in fairly short order.

And who might this charismatic leader be? My preference, of course, would be a conservative. Someone who is sick of the do-nothing attitude of the current administration, who sees the danger that unrestricted immigration and open borders presents, and who is willing to step forward and put their political career on the line to fix the problem. Do I have a particular candidate in mind? Not really.

Of course, there is no guarantee that I will get what I want. It could be anyone; John McCain for example. He is known as a political maverick. Perhaps he might see this as an opportunity to sidestep the Republican primary process, and to grab a once in a century opportunity to ride the political winds of change to the Presidency.

Or even Hillary Clinton. She has definitely been positioning herself for a run in 2008. She might see this as a way to sidestep the Democrat primary process, and become the first female President at the head of a brand new political party. What a legacy that would be!

Hmm. Maybe this new political party thing isn’t such a good idea after all. You know what they say about being careful what you wish for…you just might get it!