Why the Third-Party Bus Is Going Nowhere
My wife likes to tease me that my life's purpose is to alienate every single human being on the face of the earth. In truth, I find this to be the simple result of trying to be as honest as possible. But whether it's a bug or a feature of my existence, there is simply no doubt that the candidacy of Donald Trump has taken me a long way to the goal. By neither supporting the abysmal businessman nor declaring myself in the #NeverTrump camp, I am gathering enemies like a certain substance gathers flies — and many of those enemies would say the simile is more than apt!
But while I'm still listening to the arguments of both #NeverTrumpers and those who believe Trump would be the Second Worst Thing that could happen to the country, there is one thing I'm pretty sure of: a third-party candidacy is a very bad idea.
Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard — a very smart man who seems to get every prediction wrong (a Kristol Ball and a crystal ball sound the same but are really opposites) — says a third party is just what we need:
The Republican National Committee and the Trump and Clinton campaigns are trying to sort of strangle it in its infancy. Because they're scared of it... When you throw Mitt Romney's name in... he right away is at 22%. 37-35-22. He hasn't done anything. In other polls, the independent, generic independent continues run 20, 21. Half of the Clinton voters and half of the Trump voters don't want to be for Clinton or Trump. They're against the other person. If they had an alternative... The way the country is really set up, a quarter of the country is for Trump. A quarter of the country is for Clinton. Half the country is open to an alternative. The ABC poll shows half, basically half, 45% saying, we would like to have a third choice.
Which brings me to the subject of mass transportation. Have you ever wondered why mass transportation is almost always subsidized by government? Even airlines are partially supported by hidden taxes and fees paid for as much by those who don't fly as those who do. The reason is this: in order to be useful, buses have to run every few minutes, but only a few of those buses will actually carry enough passengers to pay for itself. Everybody wants a bus when he wants one, but only a few people want the same bus.
Same thing with third-party candidates. Kristol says 45% of people want a candidate other than Clinton or Trump, but they don't want the same candidate. Those alienated from Clinton — Bernie voters, for instance — are unlikely to want the same candidate as those alienated from Trump — Cruz voters, say. No real candidate could unite such disparate groups.
Kristol says Romney is polling well even though he hasn't done anything. Not true. He's polling well because he hasn't done anything. So is a generic third-party candidate. The minute either one steps into the limelight, he will alienate about one half of the third-party supporters, if not more.
Kristol may have a big brain, but it is clouded with denial. The fact is: Conservatives have lost this election. There is no good outcome for us. We have been given a bad choice, and we have to make it. It's Trump, Clinton or no one — and each is worse than the other two.
For more commentary, listen to my podcast Monday through Thursday.
(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com and AP images.)