I have had a long and consistent view of independent and third-party political campaigns.  They are stupid, doomed to fail and generally hurt the political force with which they are most closely associated.

America is a successful two-party system by tradition and political reality.  In the broadest view, all politics are polarized by big-government liberals on one side and limited-government conservatives on the other.  Independent candidacies and third-party efforts only fragment one side or the other.

For more than 150 years, America has been governed by two specific parties – the Republicans and the Democrats.  The American Republic was barely out of its infancy when the political forces split into the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.  Jefferson was an anti-federalist who founded what was then known as the Democratic-Republican Party.  He was a conservative in that he wanted an extremely limited federal government.  He feared that a powerful federal government would eventually crush the power and the rights of the states.  

President Jackson dropped the “Republican” from the name as well as the Jeffersonian limited-government philosophy.  The Democratic Party evolved from name changes more than a successful rise of an alternative political party on the left.

The only time in American history that a new party took root was the Republican Party in 1856 – and that was due to a few unique circumstances. 

The Whig Party was deeply divided on the issue of slavery.  Republicans peeled off the abolitionists and the pro-slavery faction joined the Democratic Party.

The new Republican Party was successful in electing President Lincoln ONLY because the other side was split between three other parties loosely associated with the Democratic Party.  Lincoln won the presidency with only 39 percent of the popular vote – the lowest percentage of any winning President in American history.

Lincoln easily won re-election – and Republicans gained control of Congress – because all the Democrat states had seceded from the Union.   That – and winning the Civil War – made the GOP America’s second party.

After President Teddy Roosevelt lost the Republican nomination in 1912, he formed the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party.  The split in the GOP enabled Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win 40 of America’s 48 states at the time.

In 1948, southern segregationist Democrats attempted to form the Dixiecrat Party behind the presidential candidacy of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.  They won four states and nearly cost President Truman his re-election.  Immediately following the election, the racist Dixiecrats re-joined the Democratic Party as a powerful faction for the next 20 years.

On the historical record alone, the idea of extending the division in the current Republican Party into a third-party movement is folly bordering on political insanity.  If Trump is to remain a viable political figure, he must dispel the idea of a third party immediately and convincingly.  His only productive role is to create unification where he can – to reach out to independents and conservative Democrats.

Even toying with the idea of a third party could produce disastrous results for the GOP in 2022 – and for Trump, himself.  It would add a monumental failure to his legacy – putting him in the same position as Roosevelt and Thurmond.  Trump would be written off by a lot of voters who have voted for him with reservations.  The Party of Lincoln and Reagan would have to suffer more setbacks while hoping to find another popular leader.

So, there ‘tis.

By Larry Horist

So, there ‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

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