As conservatives come to the end of sitting shiva over Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party, many in the #NeverTrump movement are wondering: what next? After all, honorary American citizen Winston Churchill had a little something to say about surrender. A third-party conservative candidate can accomplish something positive this election cycle even if winning the White House remains the remotest of wild dreams.
- A conservative third party will lay out the principles of the conservative movement of the future – a new Sharon Statement of non-negotiables.
Not only would a third party give us a candidate to rally around, but it would also give us a platform. With the virtual implosion of the “establishment,” this is the opportunity for conservatives to decide what principles and policies are truly important to the cause, and build a constitutional restorationist party platform. Additionally, like the Against Trump issue of National Review, it would provide a line in the sand for future historians, when liberals begin the inevitable attempt to sling the albatross of Trump’s misdeeds around conservatives’ necks.
- It will deny Trump the White House.
The pundits who assured us that Trump could never secure the nomination are the same ones assuring us that he’ll never get to hang his gold-lettered nameplate on the White House gates. Conservatives should prefer divided government to President Trump, for the reasons detailed here. Recent polls have shown toss-ups in key states.
A reasonable goal for a conservative third party would be to aim for 15 to 20 percent of the popular vote and victories in a state or two. Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas – states that have shown real resistance to Trump’s nomination, but have low Democrat registration numbers – could be potential targets for a conservative candidate.
- It will give conservatives a reason to turn out and vote down ticket, when many might otherwise stay home and create a disastrous year for state and Congressional races.
Practically speaking, staying home in protest dooms Republicans down ticket – Republicans conservatives will desperately need to oppose either a Trump or Clinton administration. The new Trump voters are unlikely to vote a straight Republican ticket, since many are crossover Democrats themselves. Having an exciting third party candidate to rally around will bring conservatives out to polling stations in November, many of whom may not bother to vote at all when the Presidential choices are so unappealing.
- It will get a conservative on stage to communicate the conservative message to the country.
The presidential election every four years provides an opportunity for millions of Americans who do not normally follow politics very closely. If no conservative third-party candidate emerges to communicate that message, the next six months will be a conservative message-free zone. A candidate with high enough name ID to break through the polling barriers to get onto the debate stage would ensure that Americans hear conservative ideas while they’re tuned in to hear them.
- It will make it more difficult for Trump to ignore conservatives as a voting bloc.
Quietly staying home will not give Trump much incentive to placate conservative voters, something he’s proven he’s disinclined to do anyway. There are thousands of Republican voters preparing to hold their noses and vote for Trump who will think twice when presented with an even minimally-viable alternative. The threat of losing these voters will restrain Trump’s inevitable liberal pivot for the general election.
This year, Tea Party conservatives have learned the hard lesson that we are not just the minority of the electorate, we’re a minority even within the Republican Party. But a determined minority can do a great deal to sway the path the country; self-described liberals have never broken 25 percent in polls, yet they’ve undeniably deeply influenced the history and culture of the United States. An organized conservative third party bid has real, tangible benefits, and declares us as what we ought to strive to be – a vocal, organized remnant standing athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’”