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Dan Phillips: #NeverTrump’s Third Party Dilemma

The following article was originally published on on May 18th, 2016 by Dan Phillips, MD:

Ever since Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his campaign and Donald Trump essentially secured the Republican nomination, certain elements of Conservative Inc. have been flailing about attempting to promote the idea of a third party challenge to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that would more precisely reflect movement conservative pieties. So far, their efforts have not exactly caught fire.

There are many reasons for this that I don’t have time to cover in a short essay, but one of them is clearly logistics. It is incredibly difficult and expensive to run nationally as a third party or independent candidate. Some important state deadlines have already passed and some states have extremely difficult barriers to overcome to get on the ballot as an independent or third party candidate. The crucial state of Texas is an example of both of these problems. You almost have to use paid professional signature collectors in some states and at a couple of dollars a signature that’s not cheap. The #NeverTrump third party advocates have also indicated that they are prepared to mount expensive legal challenges in states were deadlines have already passed, and there is no guarantee that these challenges would even succeed.

It’s ironic that difficult ballot access laws have historically been a tool of the Establishment to force most voters into one of the two party boxes and quell opposition to the reigning paradigm. Now that a non-traditional candidate has managed to secure the nomination of a major party, perhaps the Powers That Be will rethink the wisdom of that strategy, but for now I will admit to taking a bit of perverse pleasure in watching many of the same people who told me third party voting was futile, and, therefore, I had to vote for Romney, McCain, Bush II, Dole, Bush I, etc. struggle with the same barriers us outsiders have always struggled with.

With the logistical difficulty of running a de novo independent or third party candidate, it has been suggested that the #NeverTrumpers should consider working within an existing third party that already has an infrastructure and ballot access in some states, but herein lies the real dilemma for #NeverTrump. There are no movement conservative, neoconish third parties to speak of. That sentiment resides entirely within the GOP and to a much lesser degree than they previously thought as the success of Donald Trump clearly indicates.

While many #NeverTrumpers insist that they can’t support Trump because of his demeanor or temperament or fitness for office, and I don’t doubt that some are sincere about this, don’t let the bulk of them kid you that their motivation is not ultimately about a certain set of issues. The leaders of #NeverTrump will pretend that they are standing up for the long-established conservative “principles” of budget and tax cutting, social issues like abortion and gender segregated bathrooms and foreign policy hawkishness, and again, I don’t doubt that…

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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