3rd Party Stupid

Jon Huntsman, who started out the race for the Presidency as the moderate alternative to the other candidates and finished by trying to portray himself as the “true conservative” in the race is making an equally schizophrenic pitch for the third party.

Jon Huntsman called for the rise of a third party on Thursday as he argued the remaining GOP presidential candidates lack big ideas.

The comments from the former Utah governor, who dropped out of the race in January after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire’s primary, were striking given his support for Mitt Romney, one of the four remaining GOP candidates for president.

“Gone are the days when the Republican Party used to put forward big, bold, visionary stuff,” Huntsman said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I see zero evidence of people getting out there and addressing the economic deficit – which is a national-security problem, for heaven’s sake,” he said. “I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”

…”Listen, until someone comes out that we’re going to sweep-clean the tax code, until we have the opportunity for a manufacturing renaissance … I’m a little disappointed that the big, bold, visionary stuff that the Republican Party is famous for is not on display for people to see,” Huntsman said.

In addition to calling for a third party, Huntsman endorsed campaign finance reform and term limits, saying both would be healthy for a democracy mired in the two-party system.

He also argued that Republicans had made a tactical mistake in embracing a culture-war argument over birth-control mandates.

“Not only is it a waste of airtime, but it’s a political loser, because of the impact it has on the demographic you’re describing,” Huntsman said to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who had just discussed conservative women in his life who were upset with the party over the issue.

This is a particularly bizarre argument coming from Huntsman.

First off, he mostly seems to be complaining that the field isn’t conservative enough, which is funny since he didn’t make any of these ideas, which are all popular with conservatives (except campaign finance reform), into the core of his campaign (The centerpiece of his campaign actually seemed to be “I know a lot about China,” which isn’t exactly a world beating message). Moreover, Huntsman has endorsed Mitt Romney, who’s the least conservative, biggest “play-it-safe” candidate in the whole field. Here we have a guy telling people we need a third party to push run-of-the-mill conservative ideas, but he didn’t even endorse a conservative for President when he had the chance. How much sense does that make?

Moreover, it’s weird to hear Huntsman complaining that there are no “big ideas” in a field with Newt Gingrich in it. I’d also note that Perry was a big idea guy who was hardcore about states’ rights, all the candidates have talked incessantly about the budget deficit and changing the tax code, and Santorum has made manufacturing into a key part of his campaign. I’d like to see term limits more discussed, but I really doubt that it could be passed through Congress right now and the ideal campaign finance reform would simply be letting any American give whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, as long as he puts his name on it — which is something Gingrich has endorsed.

Furthermore, there is already a political party that’s fiscally conservative, but doesn’t care about social issues; It’s called the Libertarian Party and it pulls less than 1% of the vote in presidential elections. Additionally, show me an elected Republican who doesn’t care about social issues and 9 times out of 10, I’ll show you a Republican who’s not very fiscally conservative either. For every Ron Paul, who’s not very good on social issues, but is fairly strong on spending (I say fairly strong because Paul is a big earmarker), there are 10 Arnold Schwarzeneggers who aren’t any good on either set of issues. Moreover, there is NO FISCAL CONSERVATISM WITHOUT SOCIAL CONSERVATISM. Let me repeat that, there is NO FISCAL CONSERVATISM WITHOUT SOCIAL CONSERVATISM. That’s because without social conservative votes, fiscal conservatives generally can’t win elections. Again, see the Libertarian Party for a great example of how that works in the real world.

The reality is that we have a political system that’s set up to handle two parties. Since the Republican Party replaced the Whigs more than 150 years ago, the only thing third parties have done is hurt the party that they have the most in common with. When you hear people touting a conservative-themed third party, what they’re in effect doing is campaigning for socialism, especially since there’s no reason to think a third party would stay any more “pure” than the Republican Party in practice. After all, if conservatives can’t dominate the GOP where we make up the majority of the money, idea power, and volunteers, what makes anyone think we could dominate a new party?

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