Courting the Libertarian Vote

While at the Cato Institute, I picked up an interesting article entitled, “The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama”.  Not only does it explain and predict libertarian voter trends, it also shows the number of libertarian voters is much higher than one would expect (small “l”, not necessarily members of the Libertarian Party).  They estimate the percentage of libertarian voters is at least 14%.  Now by libertarian, they mean folks who are economically conservative and socially liberal.  The most interesting part of the piece for me was a segment on Ron Paul voters.  Not surprisingly, libertarians strongly supported Paul.  But, they discovered that only 38% of folks who voted for Representative Paul in the primary voted for John McCain in the general election, with 24% going with Obama and 33% to someone else.  In general, “the more a voter liked Paul, the less likely he was to vote Republican in the general election.”  This trend should not come as some great shock given that McCain and Paul had diametrically opposing viewpoints on many key issues.  With that information in mind, how can the GOP increase its share of the libertarian vote?

Let me start off by saying I have mixed feelings about libertarians.  I confess, in the early days of my political involvement, I held a rather dim view of libertarians.  Then again, like so many things we don’t understand and, as a result, hate, I didn’t know too much about them.  I thought that they were merely politically amoral.  Although we could agree on many fiscal issues, I didn’t like the fact that they many were socially liberal, that they would not promote our Judeo-Christian values in the government.  In addition, some of their theories sounded downright bizarre and when one of them refused to say the pledge of allegiance at a meeting, I was completely miffed.  Are libertarians anti-patriotic, anti-American?  (After reading more, I understand a bit better now).

On the one hand, I appreciate that libertarians continually hold firm to their anti-federal government stance even when some Republican leaders forget things like the Constitution and the 10th Amendment.  On the other, in general, libertarians either don’t seem to be able to instill their ideals into the heart and mind of John Q. Public, or don’t have the interest in doing so.  This deficiency likely springs from a lack of major party representation.

Given that the Democratic Party is largely liberal both economically and socially, while the Republican Party is largely conservative in the same areas, how will the economically conservative but socially liberal libertarians vote?  Obviously some will vote for the Libertarian Party, the fifth largest party by registered voters, but, given that Libertarian candidates are not always available, coupled with our first past-the-post system of elections, a large percentage will vote either Republican or Democrat.  So how can the GOP successfully court the libertarian vote? A better question is, why should libertarians vote for Republicans?  After all, in recent times Republicans haven’t even promoted their shared economic conservatism.  They exploded the national debt and eroded civil liberties through both the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security.  We (that is the GOP) must reclaim its principles, and it must do so now!  Don’t both libertarians and supposedly conservatives want a smaller, more efficient, more constitutionally limited government?  The national party should take a cue from the Republican Party of Virginia whose creed states: “That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations.”

Although I have been called a libertarian on many occasions, I assure you that I am about as socially conservative as they come.  I just believe that we must act within the confines of the Constitution.  Now, I know that as a social conservative, we sometimes toy with the appeal to promote our agenda in the nation’s capital regardless of the issue of constitutional restraint, but we mustn’t surrender to this temptation.  To do so would trample not only our own principles, but also the principles under which this country was founded.  It is the mark of the fascist, not the constitutional conservative.  After all, wasn’t it Ronald Reagan who said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help”?  D.C. has become an open grave for countless conservative ideals and politicians.

The Republican Party should never abandon their social conservative stance in order to woo the libertarians into their camp, but conversely, if we faithfully observed Constitutional limitations, I would expect libertarians would find many aspects of Republican politics to be far more appealing than Democratic ones.  With a sizable percentage of that 14% libertarian vote in our corner, Republicans both at the state and national level will find greater electoral success.  For far too long, the Republicans and the Democrats in D.C. have fought tooth and nail to see which can expand more entitlements, inflate bureaucracies, and increase meddlesome overregulation.  I don’t want to belabor the point, but the answer is simple:  Like Paul, we must advocate and implement policies that actually shrink the size and scope of the government.  Then we, that is the GOP, will be able to successfully court the libertarian vote.

Graham vs. Paul

Since this blog began back in June of 2008, I’ve written more about Lindsey Graham of South Carolina than any other Senator.  I suppose it stems, in part, to the fact he was (and still is) such a prominent and controversial figure in South Carolinian politics during my three month stint there.  Now there are certainly many issues that the Senator and I agree upon.  When it comes to both abortion and our second amendment rights, Graham is at the forefront of Senators.  However, once you consider his support for illegal immigrants (so-called immigration reform), cap-and-trade, Sotomayor, and bank nationalization one quickly comes to the realization that while Lindsey Graham supports a number of conservative viewpoints, he is clearly not a true conservative.

Recently Senator Graham got into a heated exchange with some of his constituents over some of his voting as well as the subject of Congressman Ron Paul.  As I did with my earlier post, Graham Vs. Sanford, I was planning to write a bit comparing the two figures.  While I was compiling my thoughts, I discovered that Charleston political commentator Jack Hunter, a.k.a. The Southern Avenger, had already done so.  Given that his thoughts on the subject closely mirror my own, why don’t I let him do the talking?  Therefore, without further ado, here is what he had to say:

In addition, Hunter goes on to add the following thoughts several days later:

To add further fuel to the fire, Representative Paul sent out an email titled “Hey Lindsey” on Oct. 21, which includes the following paragraphs:

The other day when Lindsey Graham went after me, and accused me of trying to take over the Republican party, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Partisan politics is one thing, and about the only thing politicians understand. But ideas are something else. And our ideas–the ideas of liberty–are capturing the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, and that is what counts.

Ever since our presidential campaign ignited a prairie fire of freedom, especially among young people, I see our progress everywhere. The bureaucrats are right, for example, to be worried at the Federal Reserve. After putting us into this economic pickle, the Fed is under attack for the first time in all its years. The Fed has devalued our dollar by 95% since it was founded by the big banksters and one senator in 1913, but it took the recent boom-bust engineered by the Fed, and then our presidential campaign, to rattle the china at their marble palace on Constitution (!) Avenue.

The most important lingering question in my mind is this, who will ultimately lead the Republican Party and hopefully our country.  Will it be faux conservatives like Senator Graham or will grassroots conservatives realize that they’ve been duped by the rhetoric of leaders like Graham and embrace the notion of a limited constitutional federal government like the one Congressman Paul advocates?  Foreign policy aside, I strongly believe a majority of conservatives whether admitting it openly or just in their heart of hearts, would far prefer principled statesmen like Paul over Graham.

Life and Politics in the Old Dominion

Recently a fellow by the name of Mark asked me if I could tell him a bit about life and politics here in Virginia.  So, for the out-of-staters and the recently relocated, here are my impressions.  To begin, I need to inform you that I don’t have a whole lot of experience living in other states.  There are only three other states in which I have spent any appreciable time: Tennessee, South Carolina, and California.  Therefore I won’t be comparing Virginia to any particular state.  With that note out of the way, let’s begin.

As of this point I have lived in a handful of locations in the state: Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Charlottesville, Williamsburg, and to a much lesser extent Virginia Beach.  Geologically speaking, these cities and counties encompass a geographic majority of the state’s regions: the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Piedmont, and the Tidewater.  So if you enjoy the sun and surf of the beach, the gentle rolling topography, or the tranquility of the mountains, Virginia has all three and more.  Although much of the state is still fairly rural, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city areas such as Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax or the Hampton Roads area should be your destination.  Unlike any other state, cities and counties in this state are politically separate entities.  Virginia has 39 cities and 95 counties.  Cities in Virginia are not necessarily a reflection of a large and concentrated population as cities range from Norton with a population of 3,904 in 2000 to Virginia Beach with an estimated 440,415 in 2008.

Politically and culturally speaking, Virginia is still one of the more conservative states in the Union.  Although it is true that President Obama won the state, prior to his victory, no Democratic candidate for president has won here since Lyndon Johnson back in 1964.  Recently the Democratic Party has enjoyed a string of successes in statewide politics with the election of two Democratic Senators, two successive Governors, present control of the Virginia Senate, and two new members of the House of Representatives.  However, in order to achieve these victories, they have run candidates who are (or pretend to be) far less liberal than the national party.  For example, our senior Senator Jim Webb supports the second amendment right of gun ownership, supports making English the national language, and was against the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill.  When it comes to the culture, most businesses (at least outside the major cities) are either closed on Sunday or operate on abbreviated hours.  In addition, many citizens attend some sort weekly religious services.

Unlike most states, both Virginia and New Jersey have elections every year.  In even years we elect officials to go to Washington, in the odd years we elect them to go to Richmond.  In addition, some localities hold their city or county elections at yet another time.  For example, until recently, the city of Harrisonburg held their elections for city council in the spring.  One can find some sort of election or campaign just about any month of the year.  This year we are electing every member of the House of Delegates, Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General.  Like every other state, with the notable exception of Nebraska, Virginia has a bicameral legislature, which is called the General Assembly.  The lower house is the House of Delegates, consisting of 100 members, and the upper house is the Senate, consisting of 40.  The Governor is a bit weaker than the executives of other states as he is barred by the Constitution from seeking successive reelection.  Our government is less involved and mettlesome than Washington in that our legislature meets only on a part-time basis (typically 30 or 60 days per year).

Recent legislation by the state has been a mixed bag.  While George Allen (R) was Governor, he succeeded in reforming parole and mandating parental notification for teen abortions.  Jim Gilmore (R) won as Governor on the pledge of elimination of the car tax (which, unfortunately, has not be completely eliminated).  In 2003, a number of Republican lawmakers allied themselves with then Governor Mark Warner (D) to raise taxes.  As a result, Republicans lost control of the Senate in the next election, 2007, a body they controlled since 1999.  Back in 2006, Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and forbids same-sex civil unions.  Recently Senator Obenshain unsuccessfully attempted to wrest control of liquor sales away from the state.  In Virginia, presently all liquor sales must be done through state-run ABC stores.  Although typically a tobacco (and business) friendly state, smoking will soon be banned in all restaurants.  Speaking of restaurants, as I’ve mentioned in the past, any one worth its salt will serve a good sweet tea.

I could write on for pages and more pages, but I’ve observed that most of the state’s values and traditions remain relatively the same from year to year, to borrow a quote from Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring movie “with change coming slowly, if it comes at all”.

Fascist Temptations

I’ve met a lot of social conservatives over the years.  It should come as no surprise; after all I’m one too.  For some people, the desire to promote all, or a specific, issue(s) in the social conservative agenda is their modus operandi, his or her specific driving force in politics.  It could be:  abortion, school prayer, gay marriage, obscenity, or a host of other issues relating to social or religious norms.  We believe despite the general liberalization of laws and society that we speak in favor of the “silent majority” of citizens who agree with our positions but do not exercise their political voices.  In addition, most social conservatives support legislation, as an extension of their religious beliefs, to shape the world in a manner, which they believe, would be pleasing to God.

The problem comes when social conservatives look to the federal government to promote their agenda.  By doing so, they put themselves in conflict with both the fiscal conservatives and limited government conservatives.  Under a strict interpretation of the Constitution, the federal government has been severely restricted in its powers and involvement in societal issues.   The 10th Amendment is, without a doubt, the most neglected amendment and yet, so much of our freedoms and liberties rest with this amendment.

Relying on the federal government is a two-fold problem.  First, it grants the government authority that the Constitution doesn’t allow. For example, suppose we pass a pro-prayer in schools law.  Once we allow the federal government the power to act on social or economic issues, what happens when the liberals get into power and enact legislation that is contrary to our own?   Perhaps they pass a law not allowing prayer in schools or a law, which is favorable to some religion other than our own.  What can we do?  What is our defense?  We can no longer claim the government has no authority to act in such a way, because we just used the might of law to enact our own social legislation when we were in power.  And so the federal government continues to grow, at the expense of the rights of the states and the individuals.  I ask you consider also the track record of federal government in social issues.  Do things get better or worse?  Let’s take abortion.  Since the federal government claimed jurisdiction over the issue in 1973, have the number of abortions inn this country increased or decreased?  A silly question I know.  Did it not overturn a number of state laws, including the laws of Virginia, to allow for a far greater number of abortions?  We must strip this power from the federal government and allow the states to decide.  Will abortion still continue?  Yes…I’m certain that a number of states will allow this practice to continue, but at least we can eradicate or vastly reduce this plague in Virginia.

There are a number of otherwise well-meaning social conservatives that will throw the other strains of conservatism aside in order to achieve their social agenda.  Although seemingly well meaning, this line of thinking is dangerous to both the social conservative movement and to freedom and liberty as a whole.  We all have some sort of grand vision for society, but using the might of the federal government to enforce a worldview leads to trouble.  I’d like to see society transformed where violence and profanity are drastically curtailed in the media and the rest of life.  A world without abortion…a world where the family is protected…a world where everyone acts morally and honor God.  A nice vision I think.  But if I use the heavy hand of government to enact such a goal, do I not destroy freedom and create a fascist state?  Some might retort, “Who cares?”  However, what happens when we enact a fascist theocratic state where some faction is in charge? What happens to the protected rights of those people not in power?  Could the Catholics persecute the Protestants?  Or the Protestants persecute the Catholics?  Or how about the Muslims, Jews, or non-believers?  The next thing you know the enemies of the state are quarantined or are even executed in the search for order, uniformity, and stability.  Is this the kind of society you desire?  Alas, as a result of neo-conservatives, both the nation and the conservative movement have been sliding in this direction.  Conservatism can succeed, but, with so many other problems in life, the federal government is the problem, not the solution.

I know the temptation to seek help from the all-powerful federal government, but as citizens in a supposedly free society, we must reject these tactics.  Although we may achieve success via these means, such success will only be temporary.  We will end up yoking ourselves to this totalitarian state and end up begging our masters to promote some sort social order.  Our liberty will be lost and we will have only ourselves to blame.

Final Reflections on President Bush

I’m sure you know that, as a conservative Republican, I have been extremely disappointed with the Bush Presidency.  Not only has he failed to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, he instead vastly increased it.  Unfortunately many Republicans, although privately critical of Bush, still continued to enthusiastically support him publicly.  Both fiscal and social conservatives have been marginalized and their votes and support taken for granted.  After all, whom else would they turn to?  The Democrats, awash in liberalism?  I should think not.

The Obama presidency with all its rhetoric of hope and change will likely just continue or even accelerate the rampant growth of the government making the Bush administration “good” by comparison.  Fortunately, this time no conservatives will hide their principles for the sake of the party in power.  The greatest hope Obama gives me is a strong resurgence of conservative principles in the midterm 2010 elections like was done in 1994.

Along this line of thought, I want to draw your attention to today’s post of the conservative Charlestonian commentator, Jack Hunter, a.k.a. The Southern Avenger.

All of you who still fervently back George W. Bush please rest assured that I have no plans to further discuss my disappointment with this President.  Regardless of party, we must now stand united against the threat of liberalism and socialism that this new President and Congress present.

For liberty with responsibility!

None of the Above

Well it is time for me to give my thoughts on the Presidential Race. As you know, I have been an avid supporter of Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. As you might also know, a couple of days ago Ron Paul gave a speech arguing that the public should not support either Republican John McCain nor Democrat Barack Obama. He is right (well…sort of). Conservatives, like myself, have been, at best, lukewarm about the candidacy of Senator McCain. Few, if any of us honestly believe that he is a conservative. Instead he embraces many big government solutions, which are unacceptable philosophically or constitutionally. When endorsing John McCain RPV Chairman Jeff Frederick called him a maverick. Well, guess what, Mr. Chairman? I don’t want a maverick, I don’t want a liberal, and I don’t want a moderate! I want a constitutional conservative. A number of local conservatives have recently thrown their support to McCain as a result of his choice for vice-president, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. For example, at our local city/county GOP gathering, the county chairman stated that although he knew that many of us did not care for McCain, we should vote for him in 2008 so that we can vote for Palin in 2012 or 2016. It is a sad reflection that more people are excited about Palin than McCain. I have never voted for a presidential candidate based solely upon his vice presidential choice. From what I’ve learned thus far, although I think Palin would be an acceptable conservative, John McCain is not. Also, McCain is running for president, Palin is not. The vice presidency is worth very little. Therefore, as a principled conservative, I must reject the McCain/Palin ticket. I highly recommend listening to Jack Hunter’s commentary on the subject of McCain/Palin found here.

But Joshua, you might say, John McCain is a conservative. He is solidly pro-life and is against pork barrel spending. Although both are conservative stances, those viewpoints alone do not make him a conservative. Need proof? Consider his position on illegal immigration and his support for amnesty. How about his support for big government solutions in “solving” global warming? Then there is the whole McCain/Feingold issue. Do you honestly believe that this bill does not violate the 1st Amendment? Remember that McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts and supports the death tax. He also advocates a very interventionist foreign policy. It amazes me greatly that so many so called conservatives derided Bill Clinton’s efforts to be the world policeman and nation builder but so readily embraced the exact same policies under our current Republican administration. You should expect more war and nation building under a McCain presidency. Oh goody! For these reasons and others, one can see that McCain does have conservative tendencies, but is far from a conservative.

When it comes to comparing John McCain to Obama, some conservatives argue that we should vote for John McCain because he is the lesser of two evils. If you buy this line, you must accept the fatal flaw in this line of thinking, which is that voting for McCain is still evil, just not as much. I’ll choose no evil, thank you very much. Others say that we should vote for Obama in order to teach the GOP the lesson that they cannot nominate non-conservatives and hope to win. Although I don’t want liberal Republicans, I cannot support liberal Democrats either. Liberal under either party is still liberal. Another option is to stay home and not vote, but I believe that to not vote is a failure of one’s civic duty. What’s a conservative to do?

As for myself, I plan to vote for a third party candidate. Naysayers will claim that voting third party is throwing your vote away, but it is far better to support a cause with which you agree even though it will almost certainly lose than to support a winning cause you despise. No doubt some fellow Republicans will brand me a traitor, but principles are far more important than party. After all, without principles what is the point of the party? My line of thinking is far closer to the stated goals of the Republican Party than Senator McCain’s. Besides, with two prior exceptions, I have always voted Republican. These two variations occurred when Republican candidates betrayed or forgot about their conservative constituents, the 2002 Senate Race (Warner) and the 2004 Presidential race (Bush). In both cases I did not so much vote for another candidate, but rather against the Republican one. I should mention that I did not vote for either of the two Democrats (Warner or Kerry), as I felt they were not worthy of my vote. Maybe one day I’ll find a conservative Democrat running against a liberal Republican. Like they have in some states, if they offered a “none of the above” option, it would get my support.

If you saw the interview yesterday, Ron Paul mentioned that Americans should vote for a candidate who supports four key principles. These principles are ending interventionism and militarism in foreign policy, restoring privacy in part through getting rid of the Patriot Act, eliminating the national debt, and abolishing the Federal Reserve. Therefore, he could realistically encourage voters to vote for Bob Barr (Libertarian), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution), Cynthia McKinney (Green), or Ralph Nader (Independent). Ron Paul is only partially right here. Although they all apparently endorse these principles, I could not in good conscious support either McKinney or Nader. Until and unless these two embrace the ideals of the 10th Amendment and a limited federal government, they are as unacceptable as McCain and Obama. Instead, they support proposals like reparations and national health insurance. Therefore, the true choice for conservatives is between Barr and Baldwin.

I wish that I could support the Republican ticket this year, I really do. To stand in opposition puts me at odds with a number of friends and associates. You see those McCain signs that say “country first”, but it misses the greater issue. Without putting principles first, neither country nor party holds nearly the same worth. I am a conservative first and also a Republican as long as they hold the same values that I cherish. Let us hope that the party nominates a solid conservative in 2012. When they do, I’ll be the first to sing the praises. Until that day, we must not allow ourselves to be taken for granted any longer.

Is John McCain a Conservative?

Author’s note: This post was written on March 30, 2008 and originally posted as is on the VCAP blog. Please see “What Happened to VCAP?” regarding its reposting.

This morning while reading the paper, I came across a letter to the editor from a Mr. Corbo. Presuming that this is the same Mr. Corbo that I know (and please pardon me if it is not), he wrote how he, as a conservative, would not be supporting or voting for John McCain in the general election. Now the Mr. Corbo that I know is a good man and put in many volunteer hours on behalf of Senator Allen’s reelection attempt in 2006, so that is why the name popped out at me when I saw it.

Let me start out by saying that I am fairly certain that as conservatives, Senator McCain was likely not our first, second, or even third, choice for the Republican nomination early in the process. Perhaps it was Mike Huckabee, or Fred Thompson, or Mitt Romney, or Duncan Hunter, or for a select few of us, Ron Paul, but not John McCain. But, leaving history in the past, here we are with John McCain as the Republican nominee and either Hillary or Barack on the Democratic side. As a result, some conservatives have embraced McCain, while others (like Mr. Corbo) have rejected him.

When it comes to voting, you should bear in mind that there are several different types of conservatives. First, we have the single-issue conservative. This conservative values one or two issues as key and will not vote for a candidate who does not agree on that particular policy. Second is the grocery list conservative who considers a handful of issues to be important and if a candidate agrees with most of these positions, he or she will get that voter’s support. Third, we have the strict Republican conservative who will always (or almost always) vote for the Republican candidate regardless of any specific issue positions.

Unfortunately in Mr. Corbo’s letter he does not address the specific issue or issues that make him unable to support Senator McCain. Should he happen to read this post, I would greatly encourage him to write back and express his particular grievances, not because I wish to debate him, but rather to seek understanding. There are several legitimate reservations I think some conservatives could make about John McCain, such as illegal immigration and campaign finance reform, and therefore it would be very helpful to know his particular reasoning.

Lastly, if you are a conservative who supports Senator McCain, feel free to comment as to why you support him, or if you are a conservative who opposes him, reply with reasoning likewise. If conservatives who think like Mr. Corbo make up a small percentage of the vote, then the Senator and his campaign would take little note, and I would project the election will go relatively well for him. However, if many are planning to dump the Senator, then it will be very tough for him to win, especially here in the Commonwealth. So if you are a fan for Senator McCain, or you despise him, respond here on VCAP’s blog this blog and let your voice be heard.

Update #1: The Mr. Corbo in question was the same person as the George Allen volunteer.

Update #2: Last weekend I attended a conference in Front Royal with about twenty-five other political activists. At one point, we were asked in a secret ballot, “Is John McCain a Conservative?” The result was a unanimous no.

Update #3: Despite my renewed efforts, still no word as to what happened to VCAP.

Senator Hagel’s New Party

Author’s note:  This post was written on March 23, 2008 and originally posted as is on the VCAP blog.  Please see “What Happened to VCAP?” regarding its reposting.

Recently, it has been reported that in Senator Hagel’s newest book, he calls for the creation of a new political party. Now I’m sure that as conservatives, we have all expressed similar thoughts, whether openly or not. As conservatives, in modern times, we mostly trend toward the Republican Party to advocate our views. Depending on what your most important issues might be: abortion, illegal immigration, gun rights, lower taxes, reduced government spending, the death penalty, education, welfare, or another issue, some candidates just aren’t want we had in mind. Some social conservatives are not fiscal conservatives and some fiscal conservatives are not social conservatives and, as a result, we sometimes fight each other. Neoconservatives will have a tough time supporting a Paleoconservative candidate and Paleos will not rally behind a Neo. The big tent mentality of the GOP can sometimes frustrate, but that is a result of our two party system.

So how about a new party devoted to always supporting the conservative way then? Well, if one hopes to create a new third party, I would highly recommend against it. Why, might you ask? The reasoning is quite simple. Our system works to prevent the creation, success, and sustainability of third parties. Our elections consist of single member districts typically with a plurality of the votes needed to take office. Therefore, he or she with the greatest vote totals in the first round of voting wins. With all due respect to our Libertarian and Constitutional party friends, when was the last time a new party enjoyed considerable and long lasting success in national elections? Answer: the 1860’s with the formation of the Republican Party. What was the difference between the GOP and other new parties? The Republicans formed after the splintering and dissolution of the Whig party that existed prior. They didn’t look to become a third party, but rather a new major party.

Now say that the Conservatives rise up and challenge the Republican Party with the creation of their own party. What will happen? Well, in the short term at least it should ensure success of the Democratic Party. As the traditional Republican vote will be split between the Conservative and Republican parties, the Democrats can make inroads into swing and Republican leaning areas. No longer needing 50% +1 of the vote, they can now achieve success in regions where they only capture 40% of the vote assuming an even split between Conservative and Republican. (The Democrat gets 40%, the Conservative gets 30%, the Republican gets 30%, and the Democrat wins.) Think it can’t happen? Here are a few historical examples of third parties or independents altering the course of the election. Consider the presidential election of 2000. I am convinced that if Ralph Nader had not run, Al Gore would have won the state of Florida and, as a result, the election. If just 538 of Nader’s 97,488 votes swung toward Gore, he would have won. Or how about the 1994 Senate race in Virginia, where Chuck Robb beat Oliver North 46% to 43% with former Republican turned Independent Marshall Coleman claiming 11%? Or the divisive Presidential election of 1912 where the defection of former President Theodore Roosevelt and his short lived Bull Moose Party took such a great percentage of the vote to allow the election of Woodrow Wilson?

I believe that unless we adopt a new political system (like proportional representation) we will always have two major parties and that any new party will ultimately result in one of several outcomes. It will either: replace one of the two major parties (rare), run in a few races lose and then die out (common), or run in a few races, shift one of the two major parties to adopt some or all of it’s platform and then disappear (also common), continually run but never make much success at least nationally (also common). While the second or fourth results would only serve to weaken the conservative movement, only the other two would be of any benefit. So, unless a conservative party could either achieve the first or third set of results, with all due respect to Senator Hagel, I would highly recommend against the creation of a new party. Sure, as a conservative, I would always like to see the most conservative candidate in office, but the reality of the political process forces coalitions of the two party variety.

Now, if, as Rush Limbaugh had stated during the primaries, the nomination of Senator McCain does indeed destroy the Republican party, then some party will, by necessity, need to come into existence to fill the vacuum and then might an even more conservative party take shape.