The More You Tighten Your Grip, Mr. Ginsberg…

Image of Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars

I’ve been working quietly on the next phase of the New Party for a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I was interviewed by reporter Gwynn Guilford for an article that was just published today.

It’s called “How the Republican elite tried to fix the presidency and instead got Donald Trump,” and I think it’s pretty great, both as a chronicle of the Ron Paul 2012 insurgency and as an explanation of how the Republican Party set itself up for self-defeat in 2016. Gwynn did her homework with the GOP rules nerds, and it shows:

…the big changes to the 2016 delegate math still changed the race’s strategic dynamics in a way that wound up favoring Trump. The binding of previously unbound caucus-state delegates made it impossible for grassroots activists to rally their support behind a challenger to Trump. The newly bound delegates included the hundred or so RNC representatives from each state—party insiders that, had they not been bound to vote for Trump, might have coalesced around a consensus candidate, giving that candidate motivation to stay in the race. Without Rule 40, more candidates might well have had the impetus to stay in the race longer. That could have given national convention delegates—the majority of whom don’t like Trump—a better chance of supporting a challenger to the party’s new orange-haired overlord in Cleveland.

By shutting up a vexingly vocal minority, GOP leaders may have summoned forth Trump’s “silent majority.” Though Minnesota’s James Heaney is avowedly anti-Trump, he still relishes what he sees as “poetic justice” in what resulted from the Republican elite’s rules overreach in Tampa.

“That line from Star Wars comes to mind,” he says. “‘The more you tighten your grip, Mr. Ginsberg, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.’”

Read the whole thing; she earned the clicks.

I am now officially on record comparing Ben Ginsberg to Grand Moff Tarkin, so I guess my career in the Republican Party as presently constituted (where I am currently clothed in immense power as precinct vice chair) is doomed whether or not the New Party takes off. I can’t say I’m the least bit sorry.

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  • David

    Since your last post, I have found myself openly flirting with the idea of becoming politically involved as I see our current political situation worsen.

    Although I would be open to joining your party if it were to materialize, I have a question. Why not join with one of the other established minority parties, such as the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, or the Solidarity Party mentioned in another comment?

    Keep in mind, this is not criticism, just an honest question. Where I live, the only routes I see to becoming political is to engage with either the Republican or Democrat parties. While I could be hyped to become the first representative of a new party here, I have no experience outside of my political reading and voting.

    • BCSWowbagger

      Excellent question, and perhaps worthy of its own post.

      The goal of the New Party is to be a major party. To do that requires assembling a very broad coalition — at least half of all Americans. Most existing minor parties are incapable of doing that, because their platforms are enormous, beautiful, lovingly-tailored political fantasies based on their founders’ particular ideologies, and their members are deeply committed to those same ideologies, and — largely as a result — their organization is terrible at actually winning votes or elections. Unwilling to compromise, deliberately branding themselves as small tents that exclude the vast majority of Americans who do not embrace the correct ideology, the minor parties sit out in the political wilderness forever… and, since most of their members are protest voters anyway, they’re actually fairly content with that.

      The Solidarity Party is perhaps the purest example of this: as far as I can tell, the Solidarity Party *does not exist*. There’s a platform, a Facebook page, and some likes. It’s a nice platform and I love it, but I wouldn’t even begin to know how to join it, because they don’t appear to have meetings, officers, candidates, or elections.

      The Constitution Party is a bit better, in that it actually exists and runs candidates, but its membership fits the stereotype I set above, and it is unimaginable that you would be able to take their very well-defined principles (principles I largely agree with, incidentally) and translate them into a 50%+1 coalition that includes all Americans. You could flood them with new members and seize control of the party, but you’d drive out all the current members and it would cease to be the Constitution Party in any meaningful sense. Better to start a new one.

      The Libertarians are the most viable minor party in America, and they are in a very interesting position this election. They are clearly willing to compromise their principles in a big way in order to make themselves into a national party — the nomination of Johnson/Weld proves that. Perhaps, if events take a very particular course, we could see the Libertarians evolve into something that erases the need for a New Party. But I am not counting on it, not least because the way the Libertarians compromised themselves is by running a fiscal-conservative/social-liberal ticket in Johnson/Weld… when I see the New Party’s coalition as including social conservatives and fiscal liberals. We’ll have to see how things play out with them.

      Those are quick off-the-cuff thoughts, but what do you think? –James

      • David

        You bring up good points, which is a shame because it’d be amazing if the Constitution Party could become a power in its own right. But, I think it was my father who said all politics involve some kind of compromise, and I can see how that stalls any idealistic party.

        And I am not so ideologically pure that I am against some kind of trade-off for my political positions, depending on which ones we’re talking about. Right now, I’m haphazardly migrating to the Libertarian Party because they are the most viable counter against the Clinton-Trump situation, and while I disagree with their social positions, the emphasis on cutting down government and having a more of a ‘hands-off’ approach is enough of a compromise that I can at least temporarily support them.

        Granted, while Johnson/Weld are a solid choice, the Libertarian convention wasn’t encouraging given the strip-tease and all of the odd balls. There’s also a light animus to social conservatives that I don’t feel welcoming, which makes your social-conservative/fiscal-liberal platform more appealing. So, your prediction that the odds are against them truly coalescing into a major party has strength to it.

        On a more personal note, even if I pledged to your New Party, I’m not sure how much I can offer right now. Financially, I’m in poverty since I am a college student on the path of becoming a Social Worker. I am greatly interested in macro-social work, which has a viable path into politics because of the emphasis on working on policy matters. I am well read on current political matters and often speak about them on Facebook, but I only have 200 friends, which isn’t that large of an audience to spread New Party news. I am a former military officer, so I have some executive experience, but I don’t know how that could help right now.

        So, when all is said and done, I may have great potential ( or, at least, I’d like to think so) to do something good for the New Party, I have no idea how to translate that into actual support.

        Since my question, I’ve taken a few more steps in becoming politically active. I’ve started a diary on and have applied to join the Young Republicans organization. Do you have any recommendations for what I should do?

        A final note. Do you read the Federalist? I found it mildly ironic to see one of their writers also call for a new Third Party. He called it the Party of Life because of the emphasis on being Pro-Life. If nothing else, you’re not alone in the desire to break from the Republican Party and make something new.

        (How does the Party of Life sound as a name? Or you any closer to picking one? After all, there is power in having a proper name.)

        • David

          I realize that I’ve never personally suggested a name, though I’m not sure where things stand a month later.

          The topic came to my head last night, only 15 minutes before I was supposed to go to sleep. It occurs to me that the parties who seem to truly a lasting mark on this nation are typically named after a pillar of government. We have Democracy (Democrats), Republic (Republicans), Liberty (Liberterians), and Federalism (Federalists).

          Of course, it’s harder to be original after two centuries of dozens of parties coming and going.

          One of the ideas I had was the Citizens Party. Close to the Civility Party someone else suggested with the emphasis still on serving the average citizen. Granted, it’s history isn’t as clean as I’d like, but it’d be a chance to redeem it.

          Still, it’s not quite my favorite. I feel like there’s a certain political principle that would better represent your idea of a socially conservative yet fiscally liberal party. I’ll keep thinking and waiting for your next post.

          • BCSWowbagger

            Sorry about the lack of posts lately; I was about to post a piece as a blog post but sent it off to The Federalist instead. They probably won’t publish it, but until I hear one way or the other I need to just sit and wait on it.

            I really like Citizens’ Party, actually. The most important thing about any party name is that it not alienate anyone right off the bat. (This severely constrains the available options, since basically all politically-related words have been claimed by one camp or another in opposition to others.) I’m not sure who would be hurt by “Citizens,” though — and it does indeed get at something important about the party.

            • David

              The only concern I have about the Citizen’s Party is that it might conjure images of Communism… but I’m not sure why I think that.

              • Stalwart Sam

                Apologies for filling up your comment section with just myself and the name change. Not sure what username is attached to which account, but I’m both Sam and David. I have three names so they’re split that kind of way.

                To be honest, I was more intellectually interested than a true convert to your New Party idea. I thought the GOP was still salvageable, believing that their reluctance to support a candidate was more of a play on neutrality (unlike what the DNC just did) and so were stuck with a candidate the people gave them.

                That image was shattered by the appalling behavior I saw at the RNC. Threats and abuse were used to shut out the Conservatives to support a narcissistic bully. I still don’t understand why either Trump or Clinton think it’s necessary to squash that last 5% of resistance through corruption when victory safely belonged to them. Why spit on a man after you kick him down?

                So, I wanted you to know, if you are still pursuing this course, that I am ready to join your New Party. Just say the word.

  • Laramie Stewart

    How about the Minnesota Cuckhold Party?