Hate Third Parties But...
Burton S. Blumert
personally know most of the people running for president: Pat Buchanan,
Harry Browne, Howard Phillips, and Joe Sobran, before he quit,"
I bragged to a friend.
and you probably know most of the people voting for them,"
hardly a card-carrying member of the Buchanan Brigade, I've been
crazy about Pat ever since 1990. It's been a bumpy decade. The 1996
primaries provided the high point. Pat had swept the Republican
New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries and was on a roll. Things
were so hot that a pal seriously confided he wanted the U.S. Ambassadorship
to the Vatican in the Buchanan Administration.
your pick on low points but the press conference with the commie
Fulani scraped the bottom.
leads to my present condition. One morning last winter I awakened
to the dull pain of a disease long in remission. The dreaded virus
was back: Third Party Itis (TPI).
Buchanan was superbly cast as the Republican outsider. His intelligence,
wit, and commitment to principle exposed the rotten Stupid Party
for what it was. Rotten and stupid. But that is all changed now.
Pat has entered the world of third party politics, and I am having
decision to go third party released a flood of images I thought
I had suppressed. My initial exposure to fringe and third party
candidates was as a victim of direct mail solicitations during the
1970s and 80s. In those days it was a ten-dollar check if the fundraiser
pushed at least one appropriate right-wing button.
never occurred to me at the time, but not one of my candidate beneficiaries
ever came close to winning.
the early 1980s I received an emergency phone call on election eve.
The Council candidate in a Southern California city had a "real
chance". All that was needed was a last minute media blitz.
This was before Fed-Ex, and my $100 went Western Union. "We
can win it " was the last thing the caller said. The candidate
received 8% of the vote. Were these people crooked or dumb? No,
it is pure self-delusion. Roger McBride the brilliant, flamboyant
Libertarian Party Presidential candidate in 1976 used his own DC-3
aircraft to campaign, hopping from airport to airport. As the crowds
grew from a hand-full of well wishers to one hundred or more, McBride
actually believed there was a remote chance of victory.
what started as my innocent interest in 3rd party candidates
led to years of third party politics. Gradually and inexorably TPI
sets in; reality becomes blurred, quality and shoddiness become
indiscernible and critical judgment is lost.
Saturday, May 20, 2000, elections for Reform Party presidential
delegates were held all over the state of California. The Buchanan
campaign was well prepared, but it was unknown how much opposition
the anti-Buchanan forces were going to mount.
was on my way to San Jose. The drive to San Jose was California
freeway at its worst." Why am I doing this?" I implored
the heavens. (Have you noticed how many solitary drivers hector
to imaginary passengers?) I'm running as a Buchanan delegate, that's
why I'm doing it. With full knowledge of my Third Party Itis medical
history, and impaired judgment, the Buchanan campaign asked me to
run and there I was.
the major hotel chains are represented in San Jose, and there are
several outstanding upscale sites the Reform Party might have used
for the event. Guess where our meeting, followed by lunch, was scheduled?
You've got it: Denny's. Its safe to say that in the realm of two
party politics so important an event would be at the Ritz-Carlton
or the Marriott at least.
The Reform Party regulars at the San Jose elections were split into
two groups. Some were neutral about Buchanan, others were for "anybody
but Pat." Not only did we outnumber them, we "out-passioned"
them as well. Victory was almost complete. Districts 14 through
17 were Buchanan's.
for lunch, my hunger overcame the wisdom of delaying gratification,
and I still shudder at the memory of the overcooked burger swimming
in some sort of mayonnaise derivative. See what I mean about loss
Buchanan campaign still has big problems in California. Winning
the delegates to the Reform Party national convention was one thing,
but it was important that the State party, if not friendly to Pat,
at least not be hostile to his candidacy.
Reform Party state convention took place early this month, and it
was a dismal event The hotel in Los Angeles was a dump. Can you
believe that my room's TV only received four channels? A bellman
told me that the hotel had a disagreement with the cable company.
Sounds to me like they didn't pay their bill.
outcome of the weekend's agony was mixed. The Buchanan campaign
lost several key votes, but survived a bit of treachery from the
Fulani group when the convention voted down their insidious motion
to essentially gag the Party's presidential candidate from dealing
with "social issues". It's my guess that we won't have
anything but hostility from the Fulani group from here on in and
that is most likely a plus.
really bad news was that the virulently anti-Pat elements of the
party were emboldened by the results of the convention. We will
learn more about all of this in the days ahead.
been to a dozen or so political conventions, several of the 3rd
party variety, but the Reform Party's California state convention
was as amateurish as anything I've ever encountered. The parliamentarian
wasn't quite comfortable with Robert's Rules and on almost every
vote the delegates were unsure if "Yes" really meant "No."
ago I was invited to address a 3rd party Central Committee
had difficulty locating the meeting room in the large downtown hotel.
I found it, eased my way in, and sat in the rear listening to the
rituals and procedures for 15 minutes before I realized it was a
Teamster's local meeting. So much for the distinction between form
must confess that when Pat finally left the Republicans for the
Reform Party I had grave reservations. The GOP had returned Pat's
loyalty, principle and grace with betrayal, lies and plain old bad
manners. They made it clear there was no place for him.
is no third party type loser. He brings intellect, wit, and toughness
to the debate. Pat Buchanan has no reverse gear. With luck, he can
be included in the presidential debates. He may also expose the
two party stranglehold on ballot access, thereby making the electoral
process more equitable.
a second. The point of this essay was to discredit the third party
movement in this country. That is no giant task. But when all the
evidence is weighed what third parties represent may be infinitely
better than the corruption we presently live under.
Blumert, publisher of LewRockwell.com,
served on the Libertarian Party National Committee 1987-89, was
treasurer of the Libertarian Party Presidential campaign in 1984,
and chairman of the Ron Paul Presidential campaign, Libertarian