There’s no party like the third party


To the two life certainties of death and taxes (in that and in the reverse order), add this: over the next two years at the very least, the conservative/right-of-centre side of politics in the United States will be torn about by a bitter civil war over who gets to dominate and control the movement. On the one side, the followers of Donald Trump and his more nationalist and populist policies, on the other side the more traditional, old-fashioned conservatives, including most of the conservative establishment within and outside of the Republican Party. The only question is whether this uncivil civil war will be taking place within the Republican Party or whether it will pit the GOP against a new insurgent force like the mooted Patriot Party.

As tempting as it would be to have a brand new political party of one’s own, the formation of the Patriot Party would be a monumental mistake.

For one, it would split the non-Democrat or anti-Democrat vote and give the Dems huge majorities in both the House and the Senate, and this at a time when the right needs every vote it can muster to stop the radical left-wing agenda coming up in the years ago, including undoubtedly attempts to election-proof themselves against future defeats, such as by granting statehoods to Puerto Rico and the DC. There is already the Libertarian Party which siphons a not inconsiderable number of votes from the Republicans; we certainly don’t need a populist party to do the same, but on a much grander scale from the other end of the conservative spectrum.

Secondly, it’s much easier to move into a house than to build one from scratch. The Republican Party is an old institution, with a recognised brand, and an extensive structure covering the entire country. If you win the internal control over various units within the party – and the Trump wing certainly thinks it has the overwhelming majority of the grass-roots on its side, which can be mobilised to win the control of party’s geographic administrative units as well as primary Members and Senators you don’t like – you control the direction and the disposition of an entire major political party.

There is nothing that the Patriot Party can offer that can compete with that. There, you remain a big fish in a very small pond, without any real power to affect outcomes in the political world outside.¬†And don’t kid yourself that a new party can instantly overshadow another one that has been around for over a century and a half. Even if the Patriot Party became a real third force in American politics, attracting a respectable 20 per cent of the vote or so, those would still be voters taken away from the Republicans, denying the latter many electoral victories, while not being good enough for the former to win any elected positions either. This sort of an electoral pressure from the outside is not going to move the GOP closer to the ideas espoused by Trump; if anything, experience shows that a threat tends to polarise further.

By all means, argue and fight over philosophy and policy and direction, but doing it between two different political parties benefits only the Democrats and the left. You want to see Kamala Harris a two-and-a-half term president and America irrevocably and “fundamentally changed”? Then by all means, split. But that’s not very patriotic.