The recent death of two-time Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne got me to thinking about the importance of third parties in American politics, and also the frustration that I feel when I see people with a constitutional vision and understanding get about as many votes nationally as the guy who came in second in the race for Paducah drain commissioner. What do third parties need to do in order to offer a serious challenge to the established two-party system?

Join one … temporarily. Read on and I’ll explain why.

Third parties – be they Libertarian, Constitution, Green, Socialist, Communist, Workers, America First, or any others – can’t and won’t make big gains nationally. Why? For the same reason that a dog can be surrounded by Alpo and yet starve to death – an inability to open the can.

Because a good number of socialists and others to the left have already infiltrated the ranks of the Democrats and even the Republicans, for now we’ll keep the focus on those third parties with philosophies closer to my own – parties like the Constitution and Libertarian, both of which promote smaller government, limited taxation and generally like to keep nosiness and government-sponsored pickpocketing to a minimum.

Since it’s difficult to design a political system for people who loathe political systems, being a small-government third party is tougher to manage than most other political philosophies. Like a group called “Humans Against Heartbeats,” the very act of existing tends to contradict its own cause.

Obviously, it takes big bucks to run for political office. Huge and often obscene amounts of money are poured into the political coffers – so much so that when a candidate leaves a fund-raiser, it looks as if they’re smuggling out the dinner salad in their suit coat pockets. There’s a reason for that: It takes money to be competitive in the system as it exists, and no amount of fantasy about the Founders intentions will change that.

The best way for third-party candidates to get in a position to obtain a high elected office in our current system would be to collectively climb inside a “Trojan Horse” of sorts and infiltrate the Republican Party. Why not the Democrats? Because we wouldn’t want to make it too obvious. Among the pool of Democrats, a limited taxation, pro capitalist, anti-big-government candidate would stick out like Mahmoud Abbas at a Bar Mitzvah, and the gig would be up.

This can all be done without compromising or lying about core beliefs. Just because the candidates are going to be politicians is no reason to become a politician.

If third parties stick to continued refusal to infiltrate the current system in the existing vehicles, they’ll be forever sitting on an airport runway, refusing to get on a 747 because they’re convinced they can build their own out of some two-by-fours, glue, mason blocks and the motor from a weedwacker.

It’s time for third parties to get serious.

Look at the Libertarians. Last week, the highest-profile current candidate in the party was “Chief Wana Dubie,” who is apparently running for Missouri State Representative. A campaign with slogans that I can only speculate will be along the line of “It’s morning in America, wake me in four hours,” “Some pot in every chicken and a van with flame decals in every garage,” and “Government will soon be fixed, not to mention dilated,” will get national attention, but not in a desirable way for a political party that hopes to be competitive.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul has done it the proper way. Paul is a Libertarian (and the presidential candidate for that party in 1988), but has since been elected and serves as a Republican. If the more conservative third parties could manage to sneak in several more Ron Paul types as Republicans, then they could split off into a third party with a ready and solid footing in Washington.

The Constitution and Libertarian Parties, having a firm grip on economics, believe in free markets, and as such should be familiar with the important concept of “critical mass.”

Third-party refusal to collectively stow away on the S.S. Status Quo and then, once at sea, take over, condemns them forever to a life of 8 p.m. meetings in the back rooms of Applebees restaurants across the country dreaming of what might, but almost certainly never will, come to be.

Come on, third parties – it’s time to gallop into Washington, D.C., in a Trojan horse.

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