In a post last week, I said I would prefer gridlock over the "bipartisan approach" that "has led to the monstrosity we now have as the federal government." That moved regular commenter Doug to ask, "Voting third party then, are you?" I think the answer deserves a separate post instead of being just a reply in the comments thread.
I have gone the third party route in the past, sometimes with the sense that I was sending a message or sticking up for principle, sometimes with the resigned feeling that I was throwing my vote away. When I was in Michigan City, with a publisher even more libertarian than I was, our paper even endorsed the Libertarian Party candidate for president. I think the Orange County Register was the only other paper in the country that did. Our reasoning, I recall, was that such votes weren't wasted even though the candidate had no chance of winning. The more votes that philosophy got, we argued, the more chance it had to be influential.
But this is not a year for subtlety or nuance or sending a message. There's one big thing to focus on, and that's stopping the agenda of President Obama and congressional Democrats. That means electing the most conservative candidates in all the races, and that means Republicans. Even if a given Democrat or two might be conservative, even to the right of the Republican in the race, there's no telling when, on a crucial vote, the party line will exert its pull. It's too big a chance to take. If enough Republicans get elected, the big-government agenda can be seriously slowed down. If not, I'll take just enough Republicans to be a major obstacle in Washington. I want the party of no to become the party of hell, no. As I said, gridlock is preferable to getting the wrong things done.
Yes, I know that the current federal government behemoth -- the deficits and debt, the unsustainable entitlements, the intrusions into every area of life, the blatant and cynical disregard for the Constitution -- is a bipartisan concoction decades in the making. I feel like I've been fighting against it my entire adult life. But it's always seemed like a fight of inches, and the other side just leaped ahead a mile. Or a different metaphor: The statists have been throwing water into the basement by the gallon and we've been trying to bring it out a teaspoonful at a time, and they just emptied out a tanker. In just two years, Team Obama has taken progressive lunacy to breathtaking extremes. It's become very clear that the federal government will do whatever it wants whenever it wants no matter the cost or consequences and with no regard for principle, let alone any sense of constitutional restraint.
I'm not naive enough to be too optimistic about Republicnas getting the job done. They've made promisese before, only to get sucked into the same old "spend now and explain later" milieu. Remember 1994? But they'd better know, as the country song might say, they only get one more last chance. The bar is closing, and it's last call. If Republicans slip again, there will be a third party movement the likes of which this country has never seen -- one that really could take back the country from both enervated major parties. I think those alternately amused and horrified at the Tea Party are focusing much too narrowly and completely misunderstanding the breadth and depth of the disgust with what Washington has become and how far this nation has drifted from the path it set out on.
As a footnote, I should add that I'm not quite so extreme when it comes to state and local races. Our page has endorsed some Democrats at those levels, and I'll even vote for a few. At the state level, the only reason to vote for all Republicans would be to grant the governor's desire to get a total lock on the General Assembly. I understand why he wants that, but I don't think one-party control is necessarily good for the state. And on small legislative bodies such as city and county councils, it's also a good idea to have at least one member of the minority party serving; otherwise the majority never would never hear dissent or arguments from the other side. Allen County has such a strong Republican majority that there's only one chance Democrats ever have at a council seat, and that's the one currently held by inumbent Democrat Maye Johnson.