This week marks nine years since I moved to Maryland from Ohio. While at the beginning this website delved regularly into Ohio politics as a base of comparison (since that was most of my experience at the time), over the years I have worked away from the goings-on in the Buckeye state. But an article regarding the state’s bid to decimate the third party movement piqued my interest, and shamefully it’s backed by the legislative Republicans – all but one GOP State Senator voted for it.
It’s definitely worth pointing out that, in my estimation and memory, the Ohio Republican Party is more Republican than conservative. John Boehner is a good example of an Ohio Republican in that principles come in a distant second to party. Instead of showing leadership in good government, Ohio Republicans cynically shamed the overall GOP by creating one of the most gerrymandered Congressional districts in the country in order to place two liberal incumbents in the same district. (This used to be my district and part of my family lives there, so I have a vested interest.) I guess it should be expected from a party which bent over backwards to avoid primaries for their chosen, “electable” (read: moderate) candidates.
Of course I understand that third party votes generally tend to be siphoned away from the Republican side as opposed to the Democrats. Libertarians have just enough philosophical differences from the Republicans that they tend to draw support from the GOP pool, whereas the Green Party and Democrats are basically two peas in a pod. It’s noticeable to me that the Green Party in Maryland runs relatively few candidates in our state when compared to the Libertarian Party, despite the fact there’s supposedly far more liberal voters than conservative ones.
Yet the Ohio proposal is very draconian for a group which accumulated less than 2 percent of the vote last year. Yes, much of it probably came out of Mitt Romney’s total and it could have cost him the election. But is that the right thing to do? I don’t think it is.
Aside from the insurgent campaign of Ross Perot and the Reform Party, which proved to be a one-year flash in the pan back in 1992, the last time the two-party structure was challenged was the mid-1800s, when the Republican Party was born. All that movement did, though, was supplant the Whigs, which faded from the scene. In the years since, both parties have found agreement on methods to insulate themselves from the prospect of a challenge from other political parties.
I look at it this way: if the Republicans can stand on their ideas they should not be afraid of any challenge. If they want to prevent the rise of a conservative third party, though, they might want to reaffirm themselves to conservative, limited-government principles.