I promised you this post a few weeks ago, and here it is.
When I left the GOP in 2016, I opened up my process for deciding who I would select for my Presidential vote. The eventual winner of that decision was a gentleman named Darrell Castle, who was the standardbearer of the Constitution Party, or CP. As a write-in candidate in Maryland, he received eight votes in my home county and a total of 566 votes statewide. He and running mate Scott Bradley were the second-largest write-in combination, although they finished miles behind the nationally promoted campaign of Evan McMullin. Overall, the Constitution Party eclipsed the 200,000 vote mark for the first time ever despite a lack of ballot access as they were on the ballot in only about half the states. (The same was true in Delaware, where the pair received another 74 write-in votes.)
Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed with the CP’s choice for President this time around, who reminded me of a grifter taking advantage of the ballot spot in those states where they had earned access. Don Blankenship was a former mining company CEO who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia in 2018 as a Republican, losing in the primary then running a “sore loser” campaign in the general election as a member of the CP. Apparently the nation wasn’t enthused either as Blankenship has so far only picked up about 57,000 votes. It’s going to be a significant retreat for the party which only four years ago seemed to be on the verge of breaking out.
But one problem they had: no one bothered to file the paperwork and pay the fees for Blankenship to even be a write-in candidate here in Delaware or in Maryland. In fact, the people in 20 states, including some of the biggest like Ohio, California, and Texas, could not vote for the Constitution Party. So it wasn’t just me, and that’s a real problem.
As is the case with most political parties, the CP will turn over its leadership with the new electoral cycle. In its case, everything old is new again: they brought back James Clymer, who was the CP national chairman from 1999 to 2012, serving three terms at a time when the party evolved from what was the U.S. Taxpayers Party to its current moniker and enjoyed its previous high-water mark in Presidential support in the 2008 election with Chuck Baldwin as its nominee.
Yet the burning question will be this: can the Constitution Party survive at a time when one side of the political equation demands the maintenance of the Trumpism that doesn’t mind growing extra-Constitutional government as long as it benefits the working class (essentially the platform of the Kennedy-era Democratic Party) and the other side wants to burn down the capitalist system to instill a fascist system when industry is allowed but does what government dictates while redistributing wealth and power to favored classes at the expense of the old order?
There may be room at that political table nonetheless. As I see it, though, the first order of business for the CP in this next cycle will to be putting an emphasis on maintaining ballot access in the states in which they already have it and securing it in states where it’s relatively easy to attain. For local examples, getting thousands and thousands of signatures in Maryland would be difficult to do without a significant investment of funds, and it’s a process that’s likely required for repeat every four years. On the other hand, ballot access in Delaware would require about 400 voters to change their registrations over from someone else to the CP.
However, the problem with the First State is that there are many other choices already here which are tantalizingly close to the 740 +/- registered voters required for ballot access. This is a rundown of the largest “minor” parties by registration numbers in Delaware, as of November 1 as well as the change in 2020 (in parentheses.) I’ll just list the ones ahead of the Constitution Party:
- Independent Party of Delaware: 8,640* (+1,375)
- Libertarian Party: 1,977* (+243)
- Nonpartisan: 1,120 (+203) (this is listed separately from the much larger “no party”)
- Conservative Party: 729 (+194)
- Green Party: 716* (-22)
- American Delta Party: 672 (-39)
- Liberal Party: 655 (+190)
- American Party: 573 (+29)
- Working Families Party: 347 (+17)
- Constitution Party: 270 (-4)
The parties with a star (*) had ballot access in 2020. The Green Party barely made it onto the ballot this year but would not meet the cutoff for 2022 as it currently stands; meanwhile, the growth of the Conservative Party puts it in position to qualify with just a few more voters. Apparently the American Delta Party was on the ballot as recently as 2018 but has lost its status as people exit the party, which probably explains its decline. (They are in the process of merging into the Alliance Party, so the name may change in coming months. It’s the party which ran Roque De La Fuente for President and about everything else recently.)
It’s hard to explain the rapid growth of the Conservative Party aside from the name; as it was they leapfrogged both the Greens and American Delta. There is a Conservative Caucus of Delaware which runs a website, but insofar as I can tell they are not the political party. If they are, they are a lot closer to attaining ballot status than the Constitution Party is. They certainly have the rapid growth that the Constitution Party would need to make it on the ballot in 2022. Similarly, the American Party did not field a presidential candidate but they have a conservative philosophy like the CP. And none of them ran candidates in Delaware.
Parties, however, should be about running and electing candidates for political office. It follows, therefore, that in a tactical sense perhaps the best option is a merger among the voters of the CP and American Party, with an invitation for the Conservative Party to join in. At least in Delaware, a merger of the national CP which has the wherewithal to run a presidential candidate and the voters of the American Party that have the same philosophy but are trying to mine the same played-out claim makes sense: it gives them a somewhat bulletproof 100 voter margin for ballot access plus whatever the Conservatives bring along.
And with a ballot line, they would be encouraged to run candidates on a local and state level. Once they have candidates, there’s a little bit of media coverage to explain the platform and its benefits. Obviously this won’t be enough to overcome the R vs. D duopoly in the near term but why should we try to attain our aims as cats in need of herding?
Given the weakness of this state’s Republican Party, Delaware may be fertile territory to begin a needed takeover of the conservative movement. We should also be encouraging the growth of the Green Party, Working Families Party, and Liberal Party at the expense of the other end of the duopoly. Shouldn’t it be power to the people and not the parties?
With everything that’s happened in 2020 and some of the promised change in our nation’s political direction if the Biden/Harris team is successful in stealing this election (there, I said it) 2022 is going to be the most reactionary midterm election ever. It’s time for the pro-liberty forces to join together, moreso than the TEA Party ever did, and make an impact at the local and state levels.