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After the first debate between Pres. Trump and Joe Biden, I saw some people on Facebook say they are going to vote for third-party candidates. Really? How is that going to help? They claim it will send a signal to both political parties. Neither party cares unless it damages one party or the other. The most affected party wins the election. This is important: Only one of the two major parties wins the election. A protest voted doesn’t do anything to affect the outcome of the two-party system.
Third-party advocates are determined to maintain that they are making a difference. Not a single state will be won. Not a single electoral vote will be counted. John Anderson had more visibility in 1980 than any third-party candidate has today. After being beaten by Ronald Reagan in the primaries, Anderson launched his “Unity Party” campaign. See if the following sounds familiar:
Anderson felt that neither party, nor its candidates, represented American ideals: the Republicans were too socially conservative and intolerant, he said, and the Democrats’ tax-and-spend, social welfare agenda seemed to ignore economic realities. The ongoing oil crisis, which had manifested itself in terms of long gas lines and rampant inflation, was a serious problem, and Carter's only response was to blame the public’s “crisis of confidence.” And Anderson feared that Reagan's hawkish defense attitudes and social conservatism were bad for America.
While Anderson received nearly six million votes, he did not win an electoral vote.
In 1992, Ross Perot ran on the Reform Party platform. He received nearly 20 percent of the popular vote (more than 19 million votes), but like Anderson, did not garner a single electoral vote.
Some will point to Theodore Roosevelt’s third-party candidacy in 1912. He received four million votes in the popular election and 88 electoral votes. What is not often mentioned is that Roosevelt had been president from 1901 to 1909. His success as a third-party candidate was made possible by his previous two terms as president and his many other popular accomplishments. But even with all his notoriety, he could not win a third term as a third-party candidate.
None of today’s third-party candidates has the high visibility of Roosevelt, Anderson, or Perot, and yet we are told that they can be viable candidates. At least Roosevelt and Anderson had electoral experience going for them. Anderson served as a U.S. Representative from the 16th Congressional District of Illinois.
Ron Paul, who had legislative experience and success going back to 1976, tried the third-party route, but in 2008 he ran as a Republican. He understood how the system works and decided to work within the system even though he probably disagrees with the majority of what his fellow Republicans do. I find it interesting that those who push for third parties hold up Ron Paul as their standard-bearer, and yet he ran as a Republican.
The Constitution Party was founded in 1992. The most votes received at the national level were 338,593 in 2010. In 2016, the top of the ticket received 93,315 votes. The best tactic is to take over the existing political parties where they are vulnerable. If you can’t take over an existing party, then what makes you think you’ll have enough voters to create a viable third party?
The House and Senate are where the action is. The 2010 election proved how much power one house of Congress can have to stop legislation. The President can’t do anything if he can’t get a majority of votes from the House and Senate. He’s having trouble securing enough votes from the Republican-led Senate. Vulnerabilities abound.
Find the most vulnerable seats in both parties, recruit good candidates, teach them how to run effective campaigns, raise money to back them, and get to work to get them elected. Keep doing this until we can get our vote-blocking majority. This is a simple strategy. It’s certainly better than putting up a sacrificial lamb each year to run for president who will never be president given third-party realities.
If third-party advocates are not willing to do this much, then they are not serious about their values. There is a greater chance of success taking this approach when compared to what third-party candidates have achieved electorally. With the internet, conservative talk radio, and other methods of getting the word out, I believe there is a high potential for success. I would extend this to county and statewide offices. Party affiliation is unimportant. Put up a candidate for whichever seat is most vulnerable. Rasmussen reports that “[r]atings for Congress now match the lowest levels ever recorded and a solid plurality continue to believe that most Members of Congress are corrupt.” Let’s take advantage of the discontent.
Of course, along with these election tactics, there will have to be a mass education initiative. An informed electorate is what we’ll need to pull it off (Ex. 18:20). How long will all this take? About as long as it took to get us in this mess. Two percent per annum is about right.
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This proposal will do more than all the huffing and puffing about third-party candidates.
What should we do in the meantime? Some Christians claim that they can only vote for a Christian. There are a lot of Christians who I would not vote for. God has used non-believers to fulfill His purposes. Pres. Trump, certainly not one with the best character credentials, has done a lot of what some Christian Presidents and Congressmen claimed they would do. King Cyrus was called God’s “shepherd” (Isa. 44:28) and “His … anointed” (45:1).
The thing of it is, we are not only voting for a President. We are voting for judges and laws that affect the Christian faith. If a Cyrus-like person can help out, considering the alternative, I’m OK with it.
Some Christians argue that we are obligated to vote for God-fearing men (Ex. 18:21). Maybe Cyrus was God-fearing (2 Chron. 22–23; Ezra 1:1–8). Nebuchadnezzar certainly became accommodating to the things of God and God-fearing (Dan. 3:28–30; 4:1–3), even with all his faults (4:4–37). Maybe Trump is God-fearing in a similar way. At times he seems to be. We’re back to the obvious, however. If we refuse to vote for someone who is upholding many of our values we end up with God-Haters.
The paucity of faithful Christian candidates who love God's moral standards are few and far between. In addition, millions of Christians are not engaged politically or trained in terms of what the Bible says about the issues of the day. We're seeing this from many Christian leaders who have become accommodationists to cultural trends.