The possibility that a conservative third candidate could rise and challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is arguably the only thing keeping my fight or flight instinct at bay for the moment. It’s encouraging to see Weekly Standard publisher Bill Kristol promising to put up a third candidate. That encouragement comes with a very important warning.
Just a heads up over this holiday weekend: There will be an independent candidate–an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 29, 2016
Mr. Kristol, if the third candidate you or anyone else helps to launch is not a true conservative, you will not receive the support you’ll need to succeed.
Those of us who recognize the existential threat that both Trump and Clinton pose for the country are unwilling to vote for either of them, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll support a candidate who is “safe.” The Republican Establishment, the NeoCons, the moderates, or anyone else within the party that actively or passively opposes true conservative ideas will not be able to mount a serious challenge.
The other day I wrote about how I would begrudgingly support Mitt Romney. I did this because I do not believe that Romney is an “evil” in the ways represented by Trump or Clinton. However, I’m retracting my stated willingness. After further review, it’s clear that the only path forward is to have a strong candidate with Judeo-Christian values firmly intact, who embraces the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as the guidance to governance, and who believes in small government. Anyone with credentials that fall short of these marks must be pushed into the pile as being the third “evil” in the race.
Ted Cruz. Ben Sasse. Tom Coburn. Scott Walker. Jim DeMint. Mike Lee. Jim Bridenstine. Other than Sasse, there are no names on this list who have expressed a true interest in considering a run, so I’m not all that hopeful. With that said, It’s important to note for Kristol and anyone else proposing a third candidate that your only real hope is to appeal to the conservative side of the party. Why? There’s one logical reason that transcends my own personal desires for a conservative candidate.
Appeal to Trump’s Natural Tendency
Donald Trump is a liberal. He’s not a moderate. He’s not a Reagan Democrat. He’s a liberal. He has a conservative stance as it pertains to immigration, but otherwise he’s a big government, totalitarian, nanny state liberal who believes in his own decision-making abilities above any concepts of conservatism or reality.
If you run a moderate against him, Trump will appeal to both the right and the center. If you run a true conservative against him, you’ll force him to do what he wants to do already: shift left. This shift is the key to his defeat.
There are two things that can happen that would yield a third-party victory. The first is relying on the hope that Clinton will be indicted and Trump will be revealed as the amateur and charlatan that he is. The second thing that could lead to a country-saving victory is for the candidate to be a Reaganesque conservative who inspires Republicans and Independents willing to fight corruption. The names on the list above all fall into that category. There are others. Find one.
This cannot be stated enough: if the third candidate is a moderate (like Mitt Romney) or lukewarm conservative (like Jim Inhofe), we will not be able to mount a serious challenge.
Get us a conservative who can inspire us and we’ll happily get on board. Give us a moderate or Establishment favorite and we’re likely to go back to plan C: preparing for 2020.