Jonah Goldberg is right about a third party but wrong about why it’s needed

Jonah Goldberg third party Republicans Democrats

Jonah Goldberg is right about a third party but wrong about why it’s needed

Calling it a “better alternative to the the vote-for-Democrats gambit,” Jonah Goldberg recently posted an article calling for the creation of a third party to “cure what ails the [Republican Party].”

Jonah Goldberg is right about the need for a third party, but wrong about why it’s needed because his “solution” doesn’t get rid of the Republican Party and the duopoly; it perpetuates it.

Obviously frustrated with how Trumpism has replaced conservatism within the Republican Party, Goldberg doesn’t believe a third party can win — he admits to being a “skeptic” about voting outside the duopoly — but he thinks that if properly structured, a third party will force Republicans to abandon Donald Trump and return to conservatism (via The Dispatch):

The primary system is the GOP’s Achilles’ heel because it makes a mere plurality of the vote a de facto majority of the vote. A recent Pew survey found that 44 percent of Republicans want Trump to run again. As 2016 showed, that’s more than enough to win the nomination in a crowded field. The same dynamic explains why Republican congressional candidates kowtow to Trump—they’re afraid of his primary voters. And right now, there is no countervailing pressure within the party.

So why not create pressure outside of it? Specifically, a third party with a simple, Reaganite conservative platform combined with a serious plank to defend the soundness of elections? For simplicity’s sake, think of it as a GOP minus the Trump personality cult.

If a Republican candidate met its requirements, a new party of the right could endorse the Republican, the way New York’s Conservative Party does. If not, a non-Trumpy candidate could play the role of spoiler by garnering enough conservative votes in the general election to throw the election to the Democrat.

I have always been—and remain—a skeptic of third parties, because they punish the party they have the most in common with. The historian Richard Hofstadter famously quipped, “Third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die.”

But in this scenario, that’s a feature, not a bug. The point is to cause the GOP some pain for its descent into asininity. Giving conservatives turned off by both the Democrats and the Trumpified GOP a way to vote their conscience in the general election would put political pressure on Republican candidates to curtail their Trump sycophancy. It would also serve to remind the GOP that if you abandon conservative principles, conservatives might abandon you. (emphasis mine)

Goldberg doesn’t want to see a new party created; he wants to save the old one.

The third party threat against Republicans sold out to Trumpism was made earlier this year by over 100 Never-Trump Republicans — including some who used to work for Donald Trump — but unfortunately, they share the same motivation as Jonah Goldberg in that they believe the change we need can be accomplished within the duopoly.

The threat to “breakaway” from the Republican Party to create a new party is good news, but it’s bad news if breaking from Trump is the only objective. Obviously, Donald Trump destroyed conservatism when he hijacked the GOP, but the party was broken before he arrived on the scene. All he did was finish the destruction.

If the call by the Jonah Goldberg and any other to create a third party means going back to the broken Republican Party that gave us Donald Trump in 2016, the only accomplishment will be a return to the same pathetic, weak, ineffectual, cowardly, compromising, self-interested, lying, pusillanimous, perfidious and untrustworthy representation we’ve been getting from the Republican Party ever since Ronald Reagan rode off into the California sunset in 1989 after serving eight years as president.

I’m Never Trump and Never GOP, which means I’m a firm believer in the need to abandon the Republican/Democrat duopoly if we are to ever take back our liberty. This is why I support the idea of creating a third party — a REAL third party.

We often hear the lie from the power brokers controlling the Republican/Democrat duopoly and those who accept the binary approach to voting is that a third party vote is a wasted vote because third parties can’t win. I find this claim particularly ironic when it comes from a Republican because the Republican Party was a third party when Abraham Lincoln was elected by beating candidates representing the Democrats and the Whigs.

When that argument fails to gain any traction, both Democrats and Republicans accuse third party candidates of helping the other side — Republicans say third parties help the Democrats, and Democrats say they help Republicans. Such a conclusion has no basis of fact and is usually little more than the sour grapes of the losing side. For example, Republicans blame Ross Perot for George H.W. Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton, and Democrats blame Jill Stein for Hillary’s loss to Trump.

Those who dismiss third-party candidates are political illiterates possessing little to no understanding of the power we wield with the vote. They’ve become lazy and/or indifferent citizens unwilling to do the hard work required of citizenship. Instead of treasuring the power they’ve been given to elect representatives who reflect their values, they sell that power to the highest bidder representing the lesser of two evils.

Noah Webster once said:

“If the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made; not for the public good so much for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.”

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: placing unprincipled men and women in office is the true definition of a wasted vote.

Based on past history, talk about creating a third party will ultimately be little more than an empty threat. And even if it proves to be real, it will most likely result in a return to the broken party that existed well before Trump destroyed it.

Jonah Goldberg is right about the need for a third party, but he’s wrong to think that saving the Republican Party is why we need it.

Destroying the Republican/Democrat duopoly is why we need a new party if we are ever to see a return to conservative values.


David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.

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