Big Government has a series on the history of Third Parties and the possibilities of a Third Party run in 2016. They’re all worth the read, but there’s no page for all of them: I had to do an internal search to find them from the beginning (though of course all of them are linked on the last in the series) It’s a Five-Part series, and four have been posted.
Part 1 highlights the political mood of the populace vis-a-vis the major parties. Everone is mad:
Still, looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections, members of Congress in both parties might be a bit unnerved by yet another Pew data point showing that just 23 percent of Americans approve of the national legislature. To be sure, approval of individual lawmakers is much higher, but when overall disapproval is that high, there’s the distinct possibility that a “throw the bums out” election could be on the way.
Enh. Such things rarely manifest into actual action. It’s always the other guy’s Representative who is a swine, never yours. And most of them are in “safe” districts so even the two-party opposition is helpless.
Part 2 discusses the history of third parties, from the rise of the GOP and concomitant implosion of the Whigs in the 1850’s, to the Populists, Progressives, Dixiecrats, and Perot’s Reform Party. The upshot is that since the collapse of the Whigs, both parties have become adept at co-opting third parties.
Part 3 explores the No Labels moevment as the seed of a centrist third party. Basically, they’re too small-ball to inspire boldness, too generically good-government to really fit into a conservative’s or a progressive’s conception of why the government exists and what it should do. They want to “fix problems” but they don’t want to challenge
Part 4 looks at Rand Paul and the Tea Parties, and concludes that the Tea Parties and liberty-minded folk have no intention of bolting from the GOP, and that people tend to talk more libertarian than they actually vote. Both of which are almost certainly true. But, as Professor Reynolds likes to say, things that can’t go on forever, won’t. If the GOP continues their policy of pre-emptive surrender, the libertarians within the party will find themselves without a choice. If entitlements continue to be un-fixed, we’re going to find ourselves in the bracing anarchy of default libertarianism.
I will post Part 5 here when it appears.