Recently, Fox News star and radio personality Sean Hannity spoke favorably about the notion that conservatives should abandon the Republican Party to form a new conservative political party.
"Is it a third party we need? I've often argued no, [now] I'm not so sure anymore. It may be time for a new conservative party in America. I'm sick of these guys," Hannity said on his radio show.
Sean Hannity has contributed much to the conservative cause. He’s been at the forefront of many of the battles to get the federal government back inside its proper constitutional limits that we conservatives have been fighting, even though the air time he has given to Al Sharpton and various establishment Republicans confounds and disappoints us from time to time.
So when Hannity seems to endorse the idea of forming a conservative third party we think the idea deserves serious consideration — and a serious rebuttal.
This conservative disillusionment with the GOP isn’t new. It goes back at least to the 1950s and early 1960s when a vehement group of libertarian-minded thinkers, such as author Ayn Rand, argued for a separate movement while William F. Buckley, Jr. argued for a conservative takeover of the Republican Party.
Barry Goldwater had to swat down the idea of a third party, telling conservatives at the 1960 Republican National Convention to grow up and concentrate on taking over the Republican Party.
In the 1970s, as the New Right emerged and Ronald Reagan rose to prominence as the conservative standard-bearer, a group of influential conservative leaders approached him about forming a new conservative political party.
In the aftermath of the 1976 Republican Convention and the way the GOP establishment bought off the last few votes needed to hand the nomination to Ford, conservatives urged Reagan to launch “a full-blown national conservative movement” and run as a third-party candidate.
To his great credit, Reagan chose not to pursue that path.
Reagan’s answer to those, including some of his good political supporters, who wanted him to head this new conservative party, was to tell them “they were out of their minds.”
Reagan understood that if he was ever going to make progress in accomplishing the things he believed in, it would have to be within the Republican Party.
As Reagan saw it then (and he was right), the bulk of conservative voters in America are Republicans and they won’t desert the Republican Party for a third party. That is why I continue to operate in the GOP, but am first and foremost a limited government constitutional conservative.
Although dealing with the “dime store Democrat” leadership of the national Republican Party has often been a hard pill for us to swallow, the same has held true for most of us who became associated with the New Right.
And looking back over a career that includes more than 50 years of involvement in conservative politics at the national level, I can say that we have made great progress on accomplishing the goals “the Buckley generation” conceived for the conservative movement.
We accomplished the nomination of Barry Goldwater as the first conservative Republican candidate for president; we twice nominated and elected conservative Ronald Reagan as president; we now have a core group of principled limited-government constitutional conservatives in Congress, and while they may not be the majority on every vote, they are setting the terms of the national debate.
Bolting the Republican Party will not add to the number of conservatives in Congress, nor will it advance the cause of electing a conservative president.
As a practical matter, if a conservative third party were formed the Republican Party wouldn’t just disappear; the two conservative parties would split the conservative and liberty-minded vote, assuring that Democrats would claim the White House, a majority in Congress, and every other legislative body right down to your city council.
If that were to occur you may rest assured that Democrats would quickly move to tighten their grip on the political process to make it all but impossible for conservatives to regain power — America’s march toward socialism would become unstoppable.
Believe me, I was involved in the effort to recruit Ronald Reagan to lead a new third party — all this third party talk is a dead end.
If conservatives want to govern America we have to face the same reality Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan did when they heard the siren song of those advocating the formation of a third party.
It’s the primaries, stupid!
To win the elections necessary to govern America according to conservative principles, there’s only one way to go: Recruit the candidates and do the work necessary for conservatives to win GOP primary elections up and down the ballot.
Just as importantly, conservatives must get involved in the Republican Party at the precinct level, run for Republican Party office and take over the GOP at the local, state, and national level to confirm it once and for all as the permanent political home of limited-government constitutional conservatives.
Richard A. Viguerie pioneered the use of direct mail in politics. He made it possible for candidates and causes to raise money from millions of small contributors rather than from a few “fat cats.” Read more reports from Richard Viguerie — Click Here Now.
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