Obamacare and the Third Party Opportunity

Last chance for the Republican party.

After more than a year or more than a century of struggle, depending on how you look at it, it is finally done: Socialized medicine has come to America.  With the enactment into law of Obamacare, we will all shortly be at the mercy of government bureaucrats for our very lives and health.

Yes, there are those who believe that Obamacare is the best work Congress has done in a long time; we've long since illustrated the countless reasons why this is not so in article after article, so it is pointless to recap the argumentation for our well-justified gloom here.

But wait!  Obama has yet to put pen to paper, and already there is a growing movement to Repeal The Bill.  Virtually every Republican of national renown has called for this unConstitutional travesty to be undone immediately if not sooner.

Never before have we seen hundreds of thousands of ordinary middle-class Americans attending political protests, much less angrily confronting their representatives in public - some Obamacare supporters cannot even eat dinner in a local restaurant without being accosted by an angry flash mob of furious voters.  Surely they will make their feelings known in November, casting the Democrats into outer darkness and returning a resounding majority of repeal-minded Republicans?

Not so fast.  Dana Milbank gleefully reminds us of some sobering history:

"We must repeal," the GOP leader argued. "The Republican Party is pledged to do this."

That was Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in a September 1936 campaign speech. He based his bid for the White House on repealing Social Security.

Bad call, Alf. Republicans lost that presidential election in a landslide. By the time they finally regained the White House -- 16 years later -- their nominee, Dwight Eisenhower, had abandoned the party's repeal platform.

The same is true of every big-government statist encroachment of the last ninety years.

The pattern is always the same: The Democrats attempt to create a new liberty-destroying bureaucracy.  The Republicans resist.  The fight goes on for a while until the Democrats eventually get their way, by hook or by crook.  The newly-angered Republicans run on a platform of repeal - but by the time they return to power, everybody has gotten used to the new rules and the issue has died, making the enlarged government the new baseline for the next round.

The only domestic victories conservatives have seen in living memory are defensive ones: defeating Hillarycare, for example.  Never do we ever recapture lost ground.  Today's Democrats could quite rationally be willing to lose an election or two, secure in the knowledge that when the worm turns and they come back to power Obamacare will be right there waiting for them to build on.

The Left knows this.  The Right, finally, does too, which is why the Tea Party has such appeal.  Many if not most Tea Partiers are every bit as disgusted and angry at Republican politicians for not fighting for their claimed principles as they are at Democrats who successfully have fought for their wrong ideals.

It's Never Worked Before - Until It Does

What good is a putative third party, though?  Third parties only ever act as spoilers in American politics - ask President Ross Perot and Teddy Roosevelt's "Bull Moose Party" supporters.  Most of the time the end result of a third-party run is the exact opposite from what its supporters want, because their allies' vote gets split and their worst enemy carries away the office.

There was, however, not always a Democratic and a Republican party in America.  Once upon a time, there were Democratic-Republicans, and there were Whigs.  The Whigs were unable to agree on a set of principles regarding slavery, the great issue of their day.  They broke apart into splinter groups and were replaced by today's Republican Party in the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln.

Until Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency, the Republican Party was not really "the" other party.  After his term in office, it was, and it's stayed that way ever since.

This year's election does not select a President, who automatically has a bully pulpit and megaphone he can use to build his party.  This is not the time to split the vote; not the time to support third-party candidates of Tea Parties, Constitutional Parties, Libertarians, or anything else other than the most conservative Republican available.  If there is to be any hope of immediately repealing Obamacare and beginning, at long last, to roll back the century-long march of totalism, it must be done by the existing right-leaning infrastructure embodied by the Republican party.

But 2010 is also the Republican Party's last chance.  The nauseating lesson of "the last eight years of failure" is that Republicans in power tend to do little if anything to further the cause of limited government.  Republicans frequently talk a good line, but when the hard choices must be made, almost all of them would far rather just give the Left 90% of the loaf and settle for a few crumbs.

Who needs friends like that?  Over the last half-century, Republicans as a party have been unable to reach agreement on the appropriate response to the great issue of our age, that of ever-growing, ever-more-intrusive government.  We have now reached the ultimate crux; have Republicans finally made up their mind?

Republicans in 2010 will probably take back the House and quite possibly the Senate.  The Constitution gives the power of the purse to Congress, not the President; a determined Congress can simply refuse to fund the overgrowth of programs, agencies, bureaucracies, and regulations that must be thinned back.

Repeal Obamacare?  Perhaps not, with Obama still wielding a veto pen; but he can be forced to wield it again, and again, and again, until all America sees him arrogantly thwarting the clear will of the American people.

In short, the Republicans have one last chance to show that they actually believe in the Constitution, in liberty, in small government, in the freedom our Founders bequeathed us.  They can show this by stopping Obama's agenda in its tracks and turning it right round to the maximum extent Congress' Constitutional powers allow.  Then, in 2012, they will have demonstrated their worthiness of the Presidency, to continue the long, long march back to our founding principles.

And if not?  If, come 2012, the Republicans have failed to use their 2010 gains to stop creeping socialism, to defund oppressive bureaucracies, to cancel intrusive regulations?

Then it will be time for a third party - for the Republican Party will have once and for all proven itself unprincipled, unworthy, and useless.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
I tend to agree, but we need to exercise a high level of caution. The liberals are NOT fractured and while the Republican Party has been anything but conservative, they are far superior to anything coming from the leftists in the Democratic Party.

But after 2012, if there isn't a strong conservative at the TOP of the Republican ticket, bring on the third party.
March 23, 2010 8:45 AM
I think the most relevant history is the rise of the Republican party starting in 1856 and culminating in the election of Lincoln in 1860. The Whig party was destroyed in three election cycles (1856,1858,1860). I personally would prefer to see the Tea Party take over the Republican party. It would be cleaner and faster.
March 23, 2010 8:49 AM
"This is not the time to split the vote"

This is exactly why conservatives must get behind independent and third party candidates NOW! Republicans will only deliver MORE BIG GOVERNMENT! THEY HAVE NEVER DONE OTHERWISE! To pretend otherwise is delusion.
March 23, 2010 1:44 PM
I think I agree with this. I don't want a third party in general because it will gut any Republican forward movement for at least a few cycles. But if we cannot repeal this, we are finished, and there is no point in waiting. Definitely a good benchmark or "line in the sand" to test the GOP with.
March 23, 2010 2:00 PM
When the Democratic Party passed ObamaCare they said to the nation "we no longer will listen to the people" - "the Constitution of the United States of America is irrelevent"
We the people must stop this attitude.
March 26, 2010 2:49 AM
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