The impending nominations of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have prompted increasing calls for a third party candidate to provide disenchanted voters on both sides of the aisle another option. But the Libertarian Party, although they have nominated former governor candidate Gary Johnson in the past, has never gained significant traction. So what would a viable third party option look like? Robert Tracinski, writing at The Federalist, outlines 4 conditions for the coalescence of a new national political party which he believes are currently present or possible:
“1. A large constituency of voters who are dissatisfied with and underserved by the candidates of the two main parties.
2. A critical mass of successful politicians in other offices—senators, congressmen, governors—who are willing to jump ship or run on a parallel track.
3. A powerful incentive for a broad coalition of ideological factions and interest groups to overcome their objections to each other and unite around a consensus candidate and agenda.
4. A big load of money to build an organization and ramp up a campaign.”
If the new party must appeal to segments of the political left and right, what should it be called? Tracinski suggests a name that arose during a discussion he had with Ben Domenech (also of The Federalist): the Liberal Party. This may immediately turn off many voters on the right, but Tracinski reminds the reader that classical liberalism (and indeed liberalism in many other countries around the world) as a philosophy is closer to libertarianism than the progressive socialism it has come to represent in modern America.
“For those who have forgotten—and the legacy of the American Left is to make you forget it—the word “liberal” comes from the Latin word for “freedom.”…Calling our new right-of-center party the Liberal Party would have the advantage of bringing a certain amount of confusion and disarray to our opponents on the Left. As I told a left-leaning friend today, part of the purpose of doing this is to make people like her uncertain about what to call themselves—to make them question whether they are truly “liberals” and what the idea even means….The point is to seize control of a name the Left has begun to abandon….and to steal an agenda they have turned against.”
Tracinski’s case that “Liberal” label would force many on the left to confront that liberalism has become illiberalism in America and reclaim the word’s original meaning is an interesting gambit against the left. He argues also that trying to appease the now growing nationalist or populist wing of the Republican party is besides the point – the new party would be first and foremost about freedom:
“Let us openly fly the flag of our pro-freedom agenda by calling ourselves Liberals—and let’s set an agenda that will define the meaning of that word on our own terms. It might work a lot better, in the long run, than trying to rehabilitate the Republican Party.”
Read the whole column at The Federalist.