I am truly torn by the notion of entertaining a third party in national politics. Our current two-party system has been developed over a very long, long time. It pulls together local constituencies and funnels those constituencies upward to the national level.
Third party efforts have all been constructed from the national level downward and have not been able to sustain any long-term impact. Any successful third party effort MUST start at the grassroots level. You have to elect members to local and state governments before you can wield a national voting block to truly effect national results.
I believe that a third party mentality WILL be born out of the Republican Party. Not as an alternative to it, but as an overwhelming challenge to its existing leadership. In its platform the third-party element must provide a way to pull all local and state constituencies into it. The issue is not about party as much as the LEADERSHIP within the party.
There is only one thing that drives the conservative base of the Republican Party and that is "the message"! Ronald Reagan articulated "the message" in a way that captured the base of the Republican Party and also captured many so-called Reagan Democrats. His position did not tow the party line, it BECAME the party line. And so it must be now.
The Republican Party is currently lacking leadership. This void must be filled by articulate candidates who are willing to stand on principle, not party politics. I see someone waiting in the wings to articulate the position of the conservative base, not the party big-wigs. Care to guess who that person is?
Update: 7-20-09 6:42pm CDT
Here is what Rush Limbaugh had to say today about third parties:
"I'm telling you, there's a lot of talk about third party out there; that we ought to go third party. No. Let me tell you who ought to go third party, the people that hijacked our party: Colin Powell, John McCain, some of these inside-the-Beltway types, let them go form their third party and let us have our Republican Party back. They're the ones hijacking this party from its days of victory. They're the ones that can take a hike and form your own third party, as far as I'm concerned."
Do you think Rush and I are on the same track?