The Corner

The Siren Song of Schism

In my book, Can She Be Stopped?, I specifically warn Republicans and conservatives about the temptation to listen to the “siren song of schism” — the notion that they would be better off casting a protest or third-party vote in 2008. Such a vote, no matter how principled it might seem, would have only one result, and that is to elect Hillary Clinton. It is a default vote for Hillary Clinton. I wrote those words in October 2005, but I did not anticipate the degree to which they might be true only weeks after the publication of my book in 2006. Today,Peggy Noonan offers the first sustained version of the siren song of schism almost to the note.

Even though she suggests those who might join a third party would come from both sides of the aisle, any cold-eyed observer of political trends would have to look at the correlation of forces at the moment and determine that there is no earthly reason why a resurgent Democratic Party, a party that managed to drum up 59 million votes for John Kerry of all people in 2004, would actually lose votes and voters between now and then — especially since it has the ability to blame all the woes of the world on the GOP. The notion of a vital and successful third party is a pipe dream. We’ve existed with the two parties we have through the Civil War, major depressions in the 1890s and 1930s, world wars, Vietnam and the civil-rights era. They will be with us for a long time still.

If people cannot stomach voting Republican and need to cast a protest vote, that is their right. But nobody should be under any illusions about what it means. It means Democratic rule.

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