I am a conservative so I must call out my fellow conservatives on a point that I was made aware of this morning. There is talk about running a third party conservative against the Republican nominee Donald Trump. Some people may say that there is nothing wrong with this because Trump is not a conservative but I have a different take on this. I supported Ted Cruz during the primary and would love to have seen him as the nominee but he did not win. Trump is not my ideal candidate but he is a far cry from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. There are a few things he could do to garner support from more conservatives in the general election and we will hit on that but first I must address a hypocrisy that I see in this third party hubbub.
Remember when Donald Trump first entered the race and there were concerns that he would run third party if he failed to get the nomination? What did the conservatives and establishment Republicans do? They had him vow that if he lost the nomination that he would not run as a third party candidate fearing a split vote would guarantee a Clinton victory. Now, conservatives are setting up a third party run against Trump. How could this do anything but split the vote the same way? According to Quin Hillyer, the third party run is using polling data that shows a conservative candidate can win in many states. I do not trust this polling data simply because such polls have been wrong before.
We must remember that Clinton, if she is the nominee, will start out with roughly forty percent of the vote. Trump may well have around forty percent as well. That leaves twenty percent of undecided or swing votes. It is granted that Clinton may not get many of Sanders’ supporters because they feel she is a damaged candidate and choose not to vote for her but we cannot assume that these voters will defect to Trump. Some will but many will not. Right now there is a third party, Libertarian candidate in the running. This third party typically gets around eight percent and it is usually the same voters each election.
Traditionally, a third party run will siphon votes from the Republican Party as opposed to the Democrat Party unless Sanders decides to run as a Socialist Party candidate then tradition may go out the window. Assuming that Sanders just drops out if not the nominee, that leaves Clinton with the base of the Democrat Party and some independent votes that lean to the left. The remaining voter block will be decidedly right-of-center in their ideology and would gravitate more toward a candidate they view as “not too far right” or “overly Conservative”.
While I believe Conservative ideas and philosophy do work and that it can win elections, I am concerned that there are not enough true Conservatives that would welcome or even vote for a third party candidate, no matter how pro-life, pro-family, small government, and lower tax the platform may be. I think most Conservatives still have a bad taste in their mouths from Ross Perot. A third party run could be just the spoiler needed to get another Clinton into the White House and could forever cause a rift between Republican Party loyalists and outsiders that may give rise to a stronger Conservative Party and doom the Republican establishment to the dustbin of history. The real question here is; could the US survive a Clinton Administration for even four years? A third party run could provide the answer.
Now with all that said, here are a few things in my view that Trump could do that would assuage many Conservative concerns about the direction of his administration. First he should pick his running mate carefully and deliberately. He should choose a Constitutional Conservative who has knowledge of the limits of government and especially the president. This should be someone who would not rubberstamp Trump’s ideas but instead temper them with what Trump can actually do. Secondly, he should choose a chief-of-staff that is decidedly non-establishment to show that he is being advised by someone from the outside but not out of the party. These first two things can bring a few of his detractors closer to supporting him if he names the right people to the jobs. He would also be wise to bring into his cabinet those who have opposed him in the past and surround himself with as many Conservative thinkers as possible.
The final nail in the coffin of opposition should be to lay out a complete and concise platform with all questions about social, government, and moral issues addressed in a way that Conservatives can support. The things Conservatives want to see are a pro-life, pro-family, smaller government, less regulation, and lower taxes across the board. Some other things that need to be addressed are repeal Obamacare, end subsidies to “green” energy, reign in spending, and reduce the debt. Securing the border is a good start but we must see results which, unfortunately, have not materialized under any administration to date.
To my fellow Conservatives, Donald Trump is not the ideal candidate as far as conservatism goes but do we really want to run the risk of a Hillary Clinton presidency? Do we really want infighting to split us apart at this critical time in our history? Yes, there was a split that formed the Republican Party in the 1850’s but do we have two election cycles before we are in the permanent minority? We need to continue getting the Conservative message out and winning over people on the grassroots level but until we have more of the young people convinced of our ideology, would we be better off just supporting the current candidate?