Just as sure as one can be of the sun rising in the morning, one can be sure the political media will ask Ron Paul if he going to make a “third party” bid for the White House. Some media commentators seem obsessed with this possibility largely because he’s done it once before in his first bid for the White House as the Libertarian Party nominee.
Which is precisely he’s being sincere when he says he doesn’t want to do it again because he know how hard it it is to get on the ballot in all 50 states, (even with a mid-major party nomination) how hard it is to raise money and how hard it is to get media attention (you’ve think you’ve seen blackouts now?). Ron Paul knows all of this which is why he keep saying he has “no intention” nor plans of doing so. Apparently some journalists have forgotten the meaning of the word “no”.
So why not take no for an answer? My guess is many in the political media would love to see such a run if only to enliven a Obama-Romney snoozefest if that’s what it came down to and perhaps some sympathetically see an independent campaign as perhaps the best means of getting Paul’s message to the voters even if even if the facts show he’s gained for more attention for his views running for the GOP nomination than he ever would as an independent.
Still, this will be Ron Paul’s last campaign and while it is in a stronger position and far better organized than it was at this time four years ago, the fact his poll numbers remain consistent but stagnant while charlatans, fools, and the “Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players” that make up the GOP Presidential candidate field leap ahead of him the polls of likely Republican voters as the media’s “flavor-of-the-month” indicate an old truism about dogs and dogfood. If they don’t like it, for whatever reason, they will not eat it no matter how much money you put into advertising, product marketing and development. And an independent campaign is also tempting when the first poll of such a match-up (Obama-Romney-Paul) showed Paul at 18 percent to start off with. Not bad.
But if Paul were to make such a jump it cannot be an “independent campaign”. It cannot be a vanity run or the act of a spoiler. It can’t be something forgotten about years later like John Anderson in 1980 or Ross Perot in 1992. For his last campaign Ron Paul has to leave something substantial behind, especially for the many young persons who support him. It has to be an actual campaign of a third party, meaning that Ron Paul will have to create a new major party as his legacy, not just another minor one.
For this to happen several standards (and very high standards) have to be achieved to make this new party both feasible and credible. They are as follows:
1). Paul has to average 15 percent of the vote in GOP primaries and caucuses and probably win a state or two. Anything less will not cut it for voters outside the party with the base first and foremost. Gaining eight percent in Iowa for example in the caucuses would make such a bid pointless.
2). Such a party must included elected officials, which means Sen. Rand Paul has to be a member along with Congressmen like Walter Jones Jr. or Justin Amash or Mike Lee. Any non-major party bid puts Rand’s political future at risk and if he’s not a part of the new party, it doesn’t work.
3). It has to include more persons than just disgruntled Republicans. Bringing along Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich for example would give it more credibility to a broader swath of voters and encourage others who aren’t cultural Republicans to join. U.S. political parties are not parliamentary parties and never were intended to be. They were meant to be factions of voters to be brought together by a few uniting issues.
4). It needs at least three or four guiding principals all of its members can agree with. And these can be ideological or cultural or what have you. But it needs a centrifugal force to keep the party together. The Reform Party, the last attempt at building a third major party, failed because no one could figure out what those principals which united a quite diverse group ranging from Pat Buchanan to Lenora Fulani. Instead the divisiveness within the party became a battle for power and with it control a huge pot of Federal matching funds which turned a lot of people away from it.
What those principals would be I’m not going to speculate too much on. Certainly a broad belief in civil liberties, decentralization, End the Fed, localism, changing U.S. foreign policy and reducing the military-industrial complex would be a start. I think a such party could stand on a platform which reduces the size of the federal government and allows for power to the people where they live to determine their own lives is one a party like this could stand upright on. A party which respects the regional and cultural differences within the country instead of the “BE LIKE US OR ELSE!” mentality of modern liberals and conservatives might entice voters who have said time and time again in polls they want another major party to vote for.
Such a party probably wouldn’t win in 2012 but if it could emerge with a good stable of public office holders and spend the next four years organizing and increasing its strength, making itself ready for 2014 and 2016, then such a party could establish itself with a significant section of voters not strongly tied to either party. These are big “coulds” but given the current upheaval in world and the U.S., voters would certainly be more attentive to such a message than they were in the more placid mid and late 90s when the Reform Party floundered.
If you don’t believe Ron Paul completely closed on a third party campaign, maybe it’s because he’s of a similar mind: No more vanity campaigns, no more campaigns with pure ideologically based parties. The only third party run for the White House worth making is a run that actually goes somewhere.