My friend Juleanna Glover had a thoughtful piece in the New York Times today asking if “Republicans Are Ready to Join a Third Party?” I don’t agree with her conclusion.
My concerns are twofold. I fear a third party might help elect Democrats, perhaps one as liberal as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. I recognize that some Republicans have concerns about President Trump that may cause them to prefer a Democratic president. And the economy certainly isn’t the only thing that matters. But Democratic control of the government costs America a fortune in my opinion.
The Obama Administration’s economic policies yielded the slowest recovery since World War II. Productivity grew 2.5% in the 25 years prior to Democrats asserting unencumbered control over the government in 2009 and 2010. Since then, productivity has grown only 0.7% per year. Is it any wonder that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 45% from a cyclical high since Republicans won unencumbered control of the government?
More importantly, while one may prefer more moderate Republican candidates, those candidates open the door to far right primary victories. To avoid that, moderate Republicans need candidates who are conservative enough to prevent far right candidates from winning Republican primaries. I believe third party-like candidates are too moderate to accomplish that objective. Frankly, I fear third party-like candidates pushing Republicans further to the right and opening the door for a dominant Democratic Party that could win, even with candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Instead, I believe Republicans might improve their chances of winning by acknowledging the concerns of the Trump wing of the party who decided the last election—independent voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin with reason to be concerned that the costs and benefits of trade and low-skilled immigration are not evenly distributed.