The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Third Party Option Is Culturally Critical

America needs a third party alternative, and it needs one quickly. As I tweeted earlier tonight, Americans who constantly complain about corrupt and politicians have voted by the millions to put two of the most dishonest candidates in America front and center in the general election. Throughout this election season, we’ve talked about various “lanes” to the nomination. There was the so-called establishment lane, the conservative lane, and the populist lane. Why don’t we create a new lane? Let’s call it the integrity lane, and it’s the lane for people who refuse to support corruption – who refuse to waste or destroy their moral capital by arguing endlessly over the “lesser of two evils.” Why not reject evil entirely?

In a Slate piece in March, my colleague Reihan Salam argued for a Mitt Romney third-party run. I would gladly support Mitt, but I find it hard to believe he’d toss his hat into the ring. Now is an ideal time for the Libertarian Party to get its act together and nominate a truly serious candidate — a person who may not meet the party’s typical purity tests but who can at least make a serious argument and advance a range of policies that unite both conservatives and libertarians.

The challenges for any third-party candidate would be daunting, but they’d be doing their nation a vital service. I’ll never, ever vote for Trump, but there are many people who will be pressured into choices they regret for the lack of viable options. Already we’re seeing formerly stalwart Trump opponents fall into line and kiss Trump’s ring. It’s a disgraceful sight, and most of these men and women will one day feel shame for their choice. 

The conservative movement will live on, but it will be healthier in both the short and long term if its core voters can rally around a banner this November. Who will step forward? Will anyone?

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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