i) Every time we have a new election cycle, we have the same debate. It goes something like this:
"You Christian Republicans are so naive. You imagine that if you can just elect a Republic president or Republican majority in Congress, that will return the country to conservative values. How often must you be hoodwinked by cynical campaign promises before you learn your lesson? The only solution is a third party."
There are variations on that objection, but that's the gist of it. By way of reply:
ii) We can only work with what we've got. In a better world, we'd have better options. But we must play the hand we were dealt.
iii) A perennial problem with the third party option is that a third party is a getaway car with square wheels. There are never enough third party voters to make it a viable national party.
iv) In fairness, someone might object that that's circular. If everyone who is now wasting their votes on Republican candidates formed a third party, there'd be enough voters to make it a viable national party.
To begin with, I have no evidence that there are enough voters to make that happen, even if they all threw in their lot with the same party.
But suppose there were enough voters, and suppose they all joined forces. Problem is, in my experience, many people who hanker for a third party object to the GOP, not because it's too liberal, but because it's too conservative. They dislike the GOP because they dislike the religious right. They view Democrats and social conservatives as two sides of the same coin: both groups want to use gov't to control human behavior, but curtail it in different directions.
Basically, they're secular libertarians. So if they got their wish, the third party would be even less accommodating to social conservatives than the GOP. It would be even less representative of my own policy priorities than the GOP.
I'm not saying everyone who waxes wistful for a third party shares that outlook, but at least in my experience, many voters want a third party as an alternative to the GOP because they wish to decouple their locomotive from the Christian railcars.
v) I don't vote Republican because I think that's bound to advance my political views, or even because I think that will likely advance my political views. That's not how I frame the issue.
Rather, it goes like this: if you fight, you may win or lose, but if you surrender, you are bound to lose. If you don't try to score goals, and you do nothing to block the other team's play, you effectively forfeit the game. I'll take a 10% chance of winning over a 100% certainty of losing.
The Democrat party is utterly intolerant of social conservatives. Utterly intolerant of Bible-believing Christians. Increasingly hostile to the Bill of Rights and the consent of the governed. That's a party which has nothing to offer someone with my views.
Suppose I have a teenager who's diagnosed with leukemia. The prognosis without treatment is that he will be dead in a year. The prognosis with treatment is that he's got a 40% chance of surviving 5 years, and maybe he will be cured. (I'm pulling those figures out of thin air.)
Those are poor odds. But it's worth it to me to have another five years with my teenager. If he foregoes treatment, there's nothing to gain and everything to lose. If he undergoes treatment, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I don't vote Republican because I'm an optimist about the GOP, but because I'm a pessimist about the alternative. I don't vote Republican on the presumption that the GOP will serve my interests, but because it's a dead certainty that Democrats will oppose my interests.
v) This isn't carte blanche for the future. I'm referring to both parties c. 2015.