I guess there’s still an independent conservative trying to mount a presidential bid to offer an alternative to Trump, but if you can’t even summon up his name is this for real? And is it possible any more to get on enough state ballots to make any impression at all?
The impulse for either an independent or new third party is hardly new, and I’m not sure it is really more intense this year than it was in the past. By chance I happened to be browsing Herbert Alexander’s classic book Financing the 1976 Election (yes, it really is a classic, because Alexander was awesome, and moreover because 1976 was the first election cycle conducted under the new era of campaign finance “reform,” and his copious 872-page book captured brilliantly how it distorted the 1976 campaign, as it has every campaign since). Back in those days, there was a lot of talk of starting a third party headed hopefully by Reagan and George Wallace because it was thought doubtful Reagan could beat Ford for the GOP nomination. (For the record, Reagan didn’t think much of the idea, and thought even less of Wallace.)
Here’s where the “[Republican] Kids Say the Darndest Things” makes an appearance in Alexander’s narrative:
Despite the lack of enthusiasm from prominent conservatives, right-wing Republicans continued to explore the formation of a third party, predicting a Reagan-Wallace ticket would provide leadership and attract a winning majority. Some observers were quick to identify obstacles confronting a third party, however. Speaking at the 1975 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Karl Rove, chairman of the College Republican National Committee, commented on the difficulties associated with getting a candidate on the ballot in many states; the adverse effects of the $20 million limitation on spending for presidential campaigns; the resources required to gather lists for fundraising; and in ineligibility of a third party for federal matching funds until after the election.
Karl Rove, eh? Make of it what you will. A star is born? Or yet another sign that the party establishment really is established.