Tulsi Gabbard

3 Reasons to Stop Freaking Out About a Tulsi Gabbard Third-Party Run

Promoters and detractors alike are not thinking through how unlikely it would be for Gabbard to seek and win the Green Party nomination, let alone come anywhere close to Jill Stein's totals from 2016.

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On Wednesday, third-tier but recently rising Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) published a Wall Street Journal op-ed under the aspirational headline "I Can Defeat Trump and the Clinton Doctrine." The piece has re-triggered speculation, most visibly from New York's Jonathan Chait, that Gabbard is eyeing a third-party run at the White House.

"What is very clear…is that Gabbard is now working hand in hand with the Republican party," Chait asserted, citing as evidence of that clarity the congresswoman's appearances in conservative media and her comparative skepticism about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump (which she nonetheless voted Thursday to support, sending Ann Coulter into a tailspin). "Gabbard's Journal op-ed today is the clearest sign yet of her future course. There is no line in the piece committing Gabbard to running exclusively in the Democratic primary. It doesn't even mention the primary."

Instead, Gabbard writes stuff like: "Whether Mrs. Clinton's name is on the ballot or not, her foreign policy will be, as many of the Democratic candidates adhere to her doctrine of acting as the world's police, using the tools of war to overthrow governments we don't like, wasting taxpayer dollars, costing American lives, causing suffering and destruction abroad, and undermining America's security." And also: "Why would Democrats think a Hillary 2.0 candidate would result in anything different?"

Chait deduces that such rhetoric "could…be turned into an argument for Gabbard as a second 'Democratic' candidate running against Trump, using a familiar Ralph Nader/Jill Stein case that the Democrats are going to fail, so you should vote instead for the superior alternative to the GOP."

In fact, the Ralph Nader and Jill Stein arguments, in the 2000 and 2016 elections anyway, were less about their Democratic opponents failing and more about how Al Gore and Hillary Clinton too closely resembled the Republican nominees they had seemed likely to (though ultimately did not) defeat. But that is hardly the only hole in the logic of Chait, or Gabbard, or anyone anxiously fearing or hoping for a Tulsi third-party run.

There are at least three reasons to pump the brakes on the freakout:

1) Post-"spoiler" elections are lethal for non-major candidates.

One of the most common failures of presidential political analysis is to constantly fight the last election, or at least to treat what happened four years ago as the starting line today. Electoral politics are way more dynamic than that, particularly when it comes to third parties and independent candidates.

Take what some people refer to as "spoiler" elections (keeping in mind that almost nobody who has studied the issue seriously concludes that Jill Stein cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election, even if that common misapprehension hangs over the never-ending Tulsi/Hillary dispute like a fart in an elevator).

Over the past century, there have been four presidential contests in which the third-place finisher received more votes nationwide than the margin between Republican and Democrat nominee—2016, 2000, 1992, and 1968. What happened to those third-place candidates and their political parties four years later? They collapsed.

Nader in 2000 famously received 2.74 percent of the national popular vote, in one of the most razor-thin elections in American history. In 2004, the combined vote of the longtime consumer activist (who ran for president as an independent, though he eventually received the endorsement of the Reform Party) plus Green Party candidate David Cobb was a comparatively miniscule 0.48 percent.

Ross Perot, the protectionist deficit hawk and swaggering CEO, posted the best third-party result in 1992 since Progressive Teddy Roosevelt in 1912—18.91 percent of the popular vote, more than three times the winning margin of Bill Clinton over incumbent George H.W. Bush. Four years later, Perotmania hadn't quite bitten the dust, but took a haircut down to 8.4 percent.

Segretationist law-and-order candidate George Wallace of the American Independent Party won an impressive five states and 13.53 percent of the national vote in 1968, in a race where the popular-vote margin of clear Electoral College winner Richard Nixon over Democrat Hubert Humphrey was less than a percentage point. In 1972, Wallace returned to the Democratic Party and failed to win the nomination. Meanwhile, his old third party nominated John Schmitz, who ended up with just 1.42 percent of the national vote, far less than Wallace received.

So history, albeit with a small sample size, suggests that support for third-party candidates after perceived spoiler presidential elections tends to plummet. Also, 2016 was the biggest year for non-major candidates in two decades. As I mentioned in January,

spike years in third-party voting tend to be followed by nosedives. The Strom Thurmond/Henry Wallace election of 1948 (5.38 percent for non-majors overall) was followed by 1952's 0.5 percent. The John Anderson–led 8.14 percent in 1980 dwindled to 0.71 percent in 1984.

High-intensity, high-participation, high-polarization moments are deleterious to the electoral health of non-traditional politicians and parties. On the eve of an already Manichean impeachment process, just about every indicator shows that two-party political polarization is accelerating. Pre-election-year voter interest is at an all-time high, a year after the midterms set records for highest turnout in a century. And those 2018 elections were uncommonly brutal for Libertarians, Greens, and independents.

2) There's no reason to assume the Green Party nomination is Gabbard's to lose.

Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, asserted in his controversial October interview with Hillary Clinton that "one of the reasons [Trump] was able to win is the third party vote." This belief, while not supported by available evidence, has nonetheless led to all sorts of conspiracy theorizing.

For instance, Clinton in the same interview predicted that Republicans are "also going to do third party again….[T]hey know they can't win without a third-party candidate, and so I don't know who it's going to be, but I will guarantee you they'll have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it."

This claim implies that in 2016, a progressive environmental party that had been competing in presidential elections for two decades (including one contest with the same nominee) was either the brainchild or at least the manipulation-target of the GOP, and that Republicans in 2020 are "guaranteed" to organize around a left-bent presidential candidates in critical swing states. (Insert joke about Hillary's non-campaigning in Wisconsin here.)

Major parties do sporadically find ways to encourage or make common cause on a case-by-case basis with third parties that are perceived to erode an opponent's support. But such trickeries usually take the form of tweaking behind-the-scenes rules such as ballot-access laws. Only very occasionally do they involve encouraging voters to back non-major candidates.

If Jill Stein was the beneficiary of disproportionate swing-state Republican support, as Clinton is implying here, it did not leave footprints either in campaign finance records or election results. Between 2012 and 2016, Stein's vote share nationwide increased by 297 percent, from 0.36 percent to 1.07. That's lower than the 331 percent jump (from 0.99 percent to 3.28) over that same period by two-time Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, who unlike Stein was not promoted in any meaningful way by Russian-backed troll farms. In the swing states that most haunt Clinton's dreams, Stein's increases were in line with her national totals—up 219 percent in Pennsylvania, 233 percent in Michigan, and 416 percent in Wisconsin (where Johnson's increase was 534 percent).

But we still haven't even gotten to the most bananas thing Clinton said in that interview: "…and that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up. Which she might not, because she's also a Russian asset….Yeah, she's a Russian asset, I mean, totally." (Side note: That "also" came immediately after Clinton said that Gabbard [who she did not mention by name but confirmed later she was talking about] was "the favorite of the Russians." So it is very plausible, Clinton-camp denials and fact-checker Pinocchios notwithstanding, that Clinton was suggesting that the congresswoman from Hawaii is also a Russian asset.)

Setting aside what at best is an allegation of useful idiocy and at worst is straight-up McCarthyism, what about Clinton's analysis of third-party dynamics? They, too, are piss-poor.

For starters: Jill Stein is not running for the Green Party nomination. "Three times is a lot. It's a lot for any one person and it's a lot for a party," Stein told The New York Times 14 months ago. "I would be kind of shocked if it came to that."

The Green Party's 2020 nominating season is already well underway, with four debates in the can (including one moderated by Stein), featuring a total of seven declared candidates. Howie Hawkins, the preliminary runaway leader in the fundraising race, has a pedigree sure to be impressive to the 400 party delegates who will select the nominee next July: He co-founded the Green Party and has been a serial candidate for elected office in New York, topping out in big-ticket races at 9.6 percent in a two-way election for Congress in 2004, while losing by as few as 4.2 percentage points in various city contests in Syracuse.

Hawkins, who has a claim on being one of the first developers of the Green New Deal concept, narrowly beat Libertarian Party up-and-comer Larry Sharpe in the 2018 New York gubernatorial race, 1.7 percent to 1.6 percent, despite being massively out-fundraised. He also last month received the Socialist Party's 2020 nomination for president. And to the extent that some Greens are weary of Stein's notoriety—consider that even her 2016 running mate, Ajamu Baraka, has opposed the candidate's lucrative post-election fundraising drive to engineer a swing-state recount—Hawkins is encumbered by no such controversy.

The Green Party is reliably progressive on environmental, economic, military, and social issues. Tulsi Gabbard? A good deal less so. A 2017 polemic from the socialist rabble-rousers at Jacobin contains much of the brief against: "Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Your Friend." She has an unorthodox history during her brief adult life of being anti-abortion, anti–gay marriage, militantly anti-"radical Islam," and supportive of nationalists such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (See John Stossel's recent interview of Gabbard for a full airing of the candidate's views.)

And then there was the most controversial part of Gabbard's political resume. "Her meeting with Assad? I wouldn't have done that," Hawkins said in a July interview, describing Gabbard's 2017* sit-down with the Syrian dictator "much worse" than what Jane Fonda once did in North Vietnam. Hawkins has also criticized Gabbard for not supporting free college for illegal immigrants, among other not-quite-left-enoughisms.

What about Gabbard's own interest in running for the Green or any other party's nomination? She says she has none. On August 29, before the Hillary fracas (and before she announced that she wouldn't be seeking reelection in the House), Tulsi told CNN flatly, "I've ruled that out." Nothing has publicly changed since then.

Yes, Gabbard could change her mind; yes, Greens could swallow their discomfort about her heterodoxies in exchange for her higher-than-Hawkins name recognition. But even if those two currently unlikely outcomes occur, Gabbard and the Green Party could face the problem of "sore loser" laws, which prevent candidates for a given office from appearing on the ballots of two different parties during the same election cycle.

3) The Democratic field is not a bunch of Hillary 2.0s, foreign policy–wise or otherwise.

Jill Stein, in lashing back at the "McCarthyism" of Hillary Clinton's "Russian asset" smear, wrote an oddly dated passage in The Guardian:

Confronting the real reasons for Clinton's loss would open a much-needed conversation about why the Democratic establishment opposes progressive policies that are broadly popular—such as Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free public higher education, and other programs to improve working people's lives. They would have to reckon with the unpopularity of their disastrous foreign policy of global military domination.

While I for one may agree about the reckoning part of the disastrous foreign policy (particularly when it comes to the Clinton/Samantha Power–led intervention in Libya, which the 2016 nominee actually described as "smart power at its best"), Stein's complaints about Democratic domestic policy sound stale in a presidential field that Bernie Sanders has so successfully yanked to the left.

Medicare for All is the explicit position of two of the top three Democratic candidates, and Medicare for All Who Want It is the preference of most of the rest of the field. Rhetorical support for a Green New Deal, along with trillion-dollar plans to combat climate change, is now the Democratic default. Being against free college in the 2020 field is the exception, not the rule.

Al Gore—who was a centrist hawk for almost his entire career through 2000—and Hillary Clinton were both pre-ordained establishment candidates after two-term Democratic presidencies. You can see why progressives would get restive about their respective primaries being uncompetitive—why should we keep voting for the major party if they keep giving us the back of their hands, both in terms of policies and candidates? To an extent that anxious Democrats won't fully grok until one year from now, 2020 isn't anything like that.

That includes the main area of Tulsi Gabbard's selling proposition: What to do (and not to do) with U.S. troops overseas. At the September Democratic presidential debate, five candidates were asked about what to do with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and all five said to bring them home. (Yes, that includes Joe Biden.) "What seems to be the answer from the foreign policy establishment?" Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) said on MSNBC in January, regarding military presence in Afghanistan and Syria. "Stay forever. That is not a policy. We can't do that."

South Bend mayor and war veteran Pete Buttigieg, with whom Gabbard tangled over Syria at the October debate, has repeatedly stressed the need for having Congress authorize all military conflicts, and for such authorizations to contain automatic three-year sunsets. Former congressman Beto O'Rourke has long made similar noises, and both Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have been including the phrase "forever wars" in their stump speeches.

The biggest—really the only—case for there being a "Hillary 2.0" in the race is Joe Biden, who after all is the clear choice for those Democrats nervous about going too far left, has been in national politics for a half-century, served with Clinton in the Obama White House, voted as she did to authorize the Iraq War, and so on. And yet portraying Biden as another Clinton on foreign policy is a mistake.

In her new memoir, the Obama-era human rights honcho and ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, described the 2011 White House deliberations over the Power/Clinton-backed intervention in Libya:

Vice President Biden and Defense Secretary Gates both voiced opposition to any plan that would involve the US military. Biden, who had advocated bombing Bosnian Serb Army heavy weapons back in the 1990s, had grown dubious about using US military force. He regretted having supported the invasion of Iraq and consistently advocated for winding down the war in Afghanistan.

Emphasis mine.

While you can never count on the intervention skepticism and withdrawal preferences of presidential candidates to be translated into White House action (see: the previous four occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), you can and should pay attention to the real policy differences between politicians. Biden, unlike Clinton and Power, is "not a big fan of red lines." And rusty political weather vane that he is, he can't help but notice that the country and his party's base are even more weary of war than it was eight years ago, when he tried to prevent U.S. involvement in one.

Tulsi Gabbard has been running against "regime change wars" since the moment she announced her candidacy, and good on her for doing so. Democratic voters, meanwhile, do not seem to be in the mood for encouraging cavalier hawkery this time around among their presidential candidates. Good on them for doing so. Perhaps one of the reasons Gabbard hasn't climbed above an average of 2 percent in national polls, even after her recent spike, is that she is not surrounded by Hillary-caliber warmongers on the debate stage.

To sum up: If Tulsi Gabbard runs as a Green Party nominee for president and receives even 0.5 percent of the vote, I will wear a "Jonathan Chait Is Always Right" T-shirt the day after the election.

  • CORRECTION: Originally said 2015.

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  1. Please Tulsi….stay in the Team D race. Speak truth to power. 🙂

    I see Rep. Gabbard as a Team D Front-Runner Slayer, so I want her right where she is. Can’t wait for America’s Mother-In-Law to step out of line, open her mouth, and talk some smack about Tulsi. Tulsi will rip her 1/1024th Indian ass apart on national TV.

    I like her non-interventionalist foreign policy views, and her libertarian attitudes toward drugs and personal responsibility. Her domestic policy is just a dog’s breakfast.

    1. I agree with your theory about her role as “front runner slayer” in this; however, I’d much rather see her take out Biden and leave either Comrade Sanders or Liawatha the Mother of non Native American In-laws to get the nomination. That would pigeonhole them solidly into left wing territory and result in a resounding loss in 2020.

      Not that I in any way like Trump [who would?] or trust Republicans any further than I could throw the fattest of them, but given the choices…

      1. Ah yes – the self-con of the lesser evil.

        Without it, the propagandist can do almost nothing to manipulate the audience. With it, the propagandist need do nothing more to manipulate the audience.

        1. So? You still have a choice between the greater and the lesser evil. What the “propagandist” does is irrelevant.

          1. Not true. The propagandist frames the choices. Doesn’t ‘make’ any choices. What the propagandist has to do is eliminate critical thinking, detachment/skepticism, and a moral/ethical compass. That’s not easy to do.

            Once one buys into lesser evil, two of those are already taken care of – and the critical thinking part simply needs a hefty dose of demonizing (which is quite easy to do). Just keep demonizing the ‘greater evil’ as more and more evil – and hey presto, the lesser evil can get more and more evil in lockstep with that. The more evil the lesser evil gets, the more committed the lesser evil advocate is to that lesser evil cuz ethical relativism takes over.

            1. Yes, yours is The One True Faith

            2. So JFree, if you just sit home on election day, how do you signal your virtue?

              And as for lesser evils, I am far far happier to have Trump in the Oval Office over the Hag of the Nation [ok, the greater evil] any day of the week, who is now showing just how paranoid and insane she is [though she has been inclined to believe in “vast conspiracies” for some time now].

              Or look at it this way, we have Neil Gorsuch instead of Merrick Garland. Much better than a lesser of two evils.

              1. if you just sit home on election day, how do you signal your virtue?

                I don’t. Neither do you if/when you vote. We have a secret ballot in this country. The only person you can possibly ‘signal’ in any truthful sense via your vote stares back at you every morning from the mirror. If you think you’re gonna fool them who’s the fool?

                If you vote for Trump cuz you actually think he’s a positive good – then say so. At least that way you can pretend to or actually have some compass by which you can judge him over time. Otherwise, you’re just one of those lap dogs he himself displayed utter contempt for with his I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, ok? It’s, like, incredible.

                1. MAGA!

                  Trump 2020!

                2. Whereas you’re just a lapdog of everybody

                3. If there is a libertarian on the ballot for president I will vote to support the libertarian cause.

                  Main thing I go for is local ballot issues and elections. Also state.

                  I don’t believe in hold your nose votes.

    2. I was a Trump supporter in 2016 but would switch to Tulsi if she was on the ballot. She is sensible, cogent, and patriotic. Her takedown of Kamala Harris was epic and calling out the reptile witch (HRC) made her irresistible.

      1. Trump is owning all Democrat candidates.

        Me thinks you didnt vote for Trump in 2016.

  2. So Chait is having a paranoiac breakdown before our very eyes.

  3. If a 3rd Party Tulsi run were actually going to hurt Trump, then Putin would never allow it.

    1. Putin’s goal is to sow chaos in the U.S. He’s done a great job and Trump’s election has served his purposes. The best possible outcome from Putin’s perspective would be a 2020 election in which Trump loses and refuses to step down.

      1. Hivemind gonna hivemind.

        So, what evidence do you have that Putin is trying to sow chaos in the US?
        Beyond progressive/neocon shibboleth.
        And what does Putin/Russia gain from it?

        1. You know what Putin wants? Oil prices to go higher. I can’t think of anything he would prefer more than Warren or Biden becoming President and being able to ban fracking. Every Democratic policy would benefit Putin in some way. But, somehow it is Trump who is the Russian agent.

        2. And what does Putin/Russia gain from it?

          Lulz of course. Seriously I think he wants America’s respect or more preciously he wants Russia to be seen as a great power again, a country not to be taken lightly.

        3. So you believe that Russia is not sponsoring black-hat campaigns against the U.S.? If so, there is nothing I could say that a couple of Google searches wouldn’t do way better. Hivemind indeed.

          1. Maybe you should do a couple google searches, like all the influence we throw at other countries elections, and how many try to affect ours.

            Maybe then you’ll stop being so racist against Russians

            1. Tu quoque? Or sarc? Can’t tell.

            2. Nah, hivemind can’t think outside the progressive-neocon bubble.
              Orange Man bad!
              Russia Man bad!
              We have always been at war with north asia

              1. You’re letting your distaste for me get in the way of logical thinking.

                1. No, hivemind, my conclusions on Russia (not to mention my distaste for you) are entirely the result of logical thinking.
                  The Russia/Putin=enemy narrative depends on irrationality and lack of critical thought. It depends on ignoring the death of the USSR and investing faith in the myth that Russia is (needlessly) expansionist. It requires ignoring other perspectives and a great deal of evidence. It requires believing that our IC, MIC, and corporate press, so maligned for impure motives in other cases, is being honest and up front with the information it feeds us and how it characterizes that information.

                  Again: why is Ukraine so important to the US, such that we must send them billions in taxpayer funding and that any delay delivering installments is a “threat to national security”?

                  1. You’re tilting at windmills in using me as a TDS foil. I’ve not argued anything else than that the Russian govt is targeting the US for cyber attacks. Care to debate that? Or would you like to burn more strawmen?

                    1. Are we really considering spam bots as “cyber attacks” now? Because 99.99% of Russia “hacking our election” was the use of spam bots and fake social accounts to dupe impressionable democrats to stay home and not vote Hillary. Is it really Russia’s fault so many democrats are gullible stooges?

                    2. Are you blind, hivemind, or just stupid?
                      Maybe both.
                      “the Russian govt is targeting the US for cyber attacks. Care to debate that?”
                      And you’ve presented no case whatsoever.
                      You haven’t even attempted to address why you think giving Ukraine aid is vital to US national security, nor have you attempted to address any possible motivation Russia might have for its “evil ways”.
                      You’re reluctant to debate, yet you whine for it?
                      Transparent deflection

        4. Putin is a pragmatist. He’s enduring this new hidebound Democratic Party/ziocon McCarthyism with great forbearance. Tulsi is right about the “New Cold War”. Cui Bono? Not the American people

      2. Putin doesn’t have to do a thing. The Democratic Party is doing it all for him.

    2. Clearly, all signs point to President Trump being in the pocket of Putin. We knew it soon after the election, and the years since then have shown us mounds of evidence to support it.

      Maybe Putin is covering his bases by also courting Tulsi?

      (Sarc)

  4. “Whether Mrs. Clinton’s name is on the ballot or not, her foreign policy will be, as many of the Democratic candidates adhere to her doctrine of acting as the world’s police, using the tools of war to overthrow governments we don’t like, wasting taxpayer dollars, costing American lives, causing suffering and destruction abroad, and undermining America’s security.”

    All true. Just ask Trump, who cannot withdraw troops from anywhere nor bring peace to Korea because the military/FP establishment dominates the government. I don’t care if Gabbard’s a socialist or even a communist as she would need Congress to implement any domestic program. But as president, she could do at least as much as Trump to bring peace to the most of the world as the US (government) is, by far, the worst aggressor.

    And, if she won the Dem nomination, she would provide cover for Trump to do peace deals as the military/FP establishment would have no where else to turn. If she goes 3rd party, and emphasizes her socialism, she’ll draw enough Dem votes to prevent warmongers who run the Dem party from getting in.

    1. Whatever Tulsi does, it has an ethical
      intent. She’s trying to save the world from a nuclear war.

  5. Next, 3 reasons to stop drinking lead paint. Nobody’s freaking out about Tulsi Gabbard.

    1. But every good story needs drama. Someone to keep us watching. I expect the producers to expand Tulsi’s role as audiences demand more!

      1. Yeah, I should have gone with the alternative “3 Reasons To Stop Freaking Out About Tulsi Gabbard They Don’t Want You To Know About, #2 Will Shock You!”

      2. They don’t need drama, they need a scapegoat. They are about to lose to the worestst candidate ever for a second time. Since nothing is ever their fault or could be any cause for self reflection, a scapegoat must be found. Gabbard is a good candidate.

        1. “They are about to lose to the worestst candidate ever for a second time. ”

          You may be right. But do you really think that they believe that? They look at the polls and the flagging economy and think that they have this one in the bag. The Democratic elite along with the leaders of their major institutions live within a bubble inside a bubble. They have absolutely no idea how awful that they appear to the average American voter.

          1. They lie so much, I don’t know how you could tell how much of it is them living in a bubble and how much is them just lying. I have to believe the top ones know the truth.

            1. Self deception is a narcissist’s armor. They bask in the glory of adoring throngs of fans who want to hitch their horses to winners. The narcissist assumes that this subset of people represents the greater population. Look at Trump, he truly cannot fathom that people don’t like him. He’s been told his whole life how smart and handsome, and amazing he is. He surrounds himself with people who flatter him, attends rallies with people who flatter him, and truly believes that he is everything those people have always told him. I see this same trait in other high profile people like college professors and executives I’ve worked with. It causes them to make strategic misjudgements all the time.

              1. Your resentment and projection is noted

                1. Are you following me? One chance is all you get sweetheart. Now pick up your things and hit the road.

                  1. Maybe, shut the fuck up, hivemind?
                    “Trump is a narcissist, waah!”
                    “OMG, I must be being stalked because I’m super important!”
                    No, hivemind, you’re just a progressive piece of shit who says stupid things and lies about your motives.
                    That particular style, that pretence to being above the fray but somehow compelled to carp and advocate from one partisan perspective, annoys me.
                    As it annoys me, and as it indicates that such a poster is of the most contemptible character, I like to point out the truth of such posts.
                    If you don’t like that, you can stop posting.
                    Either way, you can fuck off and die.

                    1. Didn’t read anything below hivemind. It’s obvious that you are projecting. Go be a good partisan republican somewhere else.

                    2. Fuck off and die, eric.
                      Better for you than being nothing other than a fraud who doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to do more than impotently

                  2. *impotently mimic the criticisms that have been leveled at you

          2. “…the flagging economy…”

            Whut?

            1. Flagging. As in “to slow down”.

              1. Ah, so OBL isn’t doing parody – he’s just Eric’s sock account!

          3. Yes, lack of self-awareness to the nth degree. They still learned not a thing from losing to Trump..The idea that Hillary, the village idiot is still reigning as queen in the party tells you everything you need to know. If I were Bernie or Tulsi I’d upgrade my security about now.

        2. It seems a little early to be looking for a scapegoat, but I guess it’s better to be prepared.

    2. Nobody’s freaking out about Tulsi Gabbard.

      Except maybe the never-Trumpers in the Reason control room.

      1. If by “freaking out” you mean writing a few somewhat positive articles.
        Hillary Clinton, at least, seems to be freaking out about Gabbard. But she also seems to just be freaking out in general.

    3. But they just listed all the people who are indeed freaking out over a potential third party run by Tulsi Gabbard. Despite the fact that she has repeatedly said she won’t.

      Granted, none of those people are reading this website, so I’ll allow you might narrowly have a point.

  6. >>Promoters and detractors alike

    dissociating from either party’s success adds to the fun.

  7. At the September Democratic presidential debate, five candidates were asked about what to do with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and all five said to bring them home. (Yes, that includes Joe Biden.)

    Does anyone believe they mean that? Gabbard likely knows they don’t, and anyone but the most gullible voter knows it’s an insincere foreign policy position.

    1. Biden is a below-zero president, and he hasn’t even been nominated yet.

    2. There are a lot of gullible voters out there, then combine them with the ones who don’t care.

  8. Gabbard has forcefully denied even wanting to run for third party. But I guess this shit generates content and clicks.

  9. “Over the past century, there have been four presidential contests in which the third-place finisher received more votes nationwide than the margin between Republican and Democrat nominee—2016, 2000, 1992, and 1968. What happened to those third-place candidates and their political parties four years later? They collapsed.”

    If they changed the election results, why does it matter if they collapsed afterwards?

    The point is that a third party run might have an impact in 2020, and socialists running at the top of the Democratic ticket feel like they have a chance to do some real socialist damage if they’re running against someone as controversial as Donald Trump. If there were a serious third party challenger to the Democrats, she could change the outcome of the 2020 election–regardless of whether the third party candidacy collapses afterwards.

    Gabbard’s problem is that because she’s from Hawaii, she can’t even play as a Republican. She wins 80% of the vote in Hawaii because she’s a Democrat. If she were anything else, 80% would vote against her. Meanwhile, the Democrats have moved so far to the left that they can no longer accommodate someone as centrist as Gabbard. I’d say she’s done, but she never even got started. She hasn’t ever been in contention, and she never will be.

    1. The fact that you would call someone as far left as Gabbard “centrist” because she has the good sense to question endless intervention, shows how screwed up the current state of politics really is.

      1. Shows how screwed up the Democrats are. It’s even worse when a heavy weight like Hillary Clinton smears her as a Russian asset –for fear that a relative centrist–as marginalized as Gabbard is–might have an impact. I repeat: Hillary Clinton is a gigantic neocon in the endless war, pro-American imperialism, never consider shaking hands with nasty people, George W. Bush sense of the term. She’s doing the same thing to Gabbard that Hilary and McCain did to Trump–and for all the same reasons. They don’t want pragmatists to be within the Overton window, and they’ll say anything to marginalize them.

        1. Hillary Clinton is not a giant Neocon. Nor is she a Progressive, a Liberal, a Socialist, or anything else defined by something resembling a coherent policy. She’s a crook. She exists to steal. She hungers for power for the opportunities it provides to sell her services. As a secondary motive, she believes she is better than anybody else and people should do what she tells them to. She has the morals of the bait in a Badger Game, the ethics of an ambulance chaser, and the intelligence of a turnip.

          1. “She’s a crook. She exists to steal. She hungers for power for the opportunities it provides to sell her services. As a secondary motive, she believes she is better than anybody else and people should do what she tells them to. She has the morals of the bait in a Badger Game, the ethics of an ambulance chaser, and the intelligence of a turnip.”

            Yea, so she’s a progressive

    2. “If they changed the election results, why does it matter if they collapsed afterwards?”

      My thought as well; Welch seems to have either overlooked or simpy dismissed this detail about third party runs. Not that Gabbard would be another Perot, but sometimes a little Stein is all you need.

      1. Yes, lack of self-awareness to the nth degree. They still learned not a thing from losing to Trump..The idea that Hillary, the village idiot is still reigning as queen in the party tells you everything you need to know. If I were Bernie or Tulsi I’d upgrade my security about now.

    3. Ken….as long as Rep. Gabbard remains a One-Woman Political Wrecking Ball, I am good with where she is, presently. I never appreciated how good a counterpuncher she is. Now I do.

      1. It is testament as to how far out on a limb the party has gone that she poses any such serious concern.

      2. Tulsi is a Democrat who attracts conservatives, and white nationalist. She was a medic in a war, decorated. What has Hillary ever done for the country?

        1. Courage under fire?

  10. Tulsi looks like she knows she doesn’t take a bad photo i wonder if it scares some of the rest

    1. And image if everything in today’s politics.

  11. Bye any chance has Hillary ever been in Manchuria for a prolonged period of time?

    1. I doubt it. All of her (and Billy Jeff’s) massive speaking fees were in Mother Russia itself.

  12. Obviously if Gabbard is going to make a 3rd party run it will be as a Libertarian, not a Green. The fact that she’s not much of a Libertarian, except in foreign policy, shouldn’t be a hindrance, who else do they have besides William Weld?

    1. If there is anything at all “libertarian” about Weld, I have no idea what it would be.

      1. Ask “bake the Nazi wedding cake” Johnson.

    2. Not being a libertarian didn’t stop Weld and Johnson running for the LP. At least Gabbard is nice to look at and doesn’t seem stoned every time you see them. So there is that.

      1. Plus she wouldn’t spend time fellating the Team Blue candidate(s).

    3. Tulsi is anti energy, believes in misanthropic global warming pseudoscience and that only Men with Service Pistols can save us from Sharknados by banning non-Chinese energy. But George Wallace was as whacky, and the third party in 1968 was his Jim Crow Dixiecrat splinter.

      1. “Tulsi is anti energy, believes in misanthropic global warming pseudoscience and that only Men with Service Pistols can save us from Sharknados by banning non-Chinese energy.”

        This is the best sentence you’ve ever written, hank.
        Well done!

    4. I suppose she’s technically closer to the Libertarian platform positions than any other major candidate, in the sense that she’s roughly 15% in agreement instead of like 3%.

  13. I’d love to see Tulsi Gabbard run third party.
    I’d love to see Justin Amash run third party.
    I’d love to see just more third party runs in general.
    The two-party duopoly is so much of what’s wrong with the current state of affairs. They get FAR too many votes from people who are so frightened of one of the tribes, and so they think they have NO CHOICE but to hold their nose and vote for the other tribe. Those are votes that are essentially unearned. More third party voices means that more people don’t waste their votes voting for one of the big tribes that they don’t really support out of fear when they could vote for a party or a candidate that they actually do affirmatively support.

    1. We don’t need third party runs. That just divides whichever side the third party comes from and hands to election over to the other side without them really trying. We need fourth party runs. Yeah, let Gabbard run as a third party from the left and some Neocon run as a third party run from the right with Trump and say Warren running for the major parties. That would actually give people some choices and sort things out a bit.

      1. We need fourth party runs….That would actually give people some choices and sort things out a bit.

        Agree 100%, John. But let’s talk implementation for a moment. Practically speaking, how do we get more parties into the mix, with a libertarian style solution? I make this suggestion: Expand the size of the House, and prohibit any taxpayer financing of political parties, or political party functions.

        One: To me, we should have at least 1,500-1,600 House members, just accounting for growth of population in the last century (when we last changed the size of the House). The addition of House members will add political and ideological diversity.

        Two, I would absolutely prohibit any government expenditure on behalf of a political party. No subsidies of political primaries. No campaign financing (i.e. matching funds), no tax preference, no nothing. You’re all on your own.

        If we did expand the size of the House, how do you see that playing out?

        I’d foresee the addition of a whole lot more ideological viewpoints, and a lot more political parties. It will force a lot more incrementalism (always a plus to me), because now coalitions will need to be built to agree on legislation.

        The two-party system has become dysfunctional, and sclerotic.

        1. Combine that with repeal of the 17th amendment and we might have something

          1. Absolutely Yes! However, I question whether implementation is possible. That is going the Amendment route…a MUCH bigger lift than simply passing a law expanding the size of the House.

            1. There’s almost no chance of passing any amendment these days, and little prospect for doing so in the future.
              The constitution will be arbitrarily enforced and ignored according to the whims of our rulers until the country collapses.
              All we can do is fight

              1. Republicans control 32 of 33 states need to convene an article V constitutional convention.

                38 states would be required to ratify amendments.

                1. I don’t think a Constitutional convention is a particularly good idea, 1789. Too much opportunity for mischief.

      2. Scary isn’t it?

        Almost subversive and radical. As if there were some people out there with a different point of view who might want to exercise their rights and have representation.

        1. I would never join a political party that would take me as a member.

          (Sorry Groucho)

          If you want to see a multi party system follow Israel politics. It is democratic and works, more or less, but makes American politics look like a Sunday school picnic.

          Typical day for Netanyahu. The head of the Shas (religious) party walked in and said if he conscripts the yeshiva boys he is quitting the coalition. The head of Beiteinu (secular) party said is Shas doesn’t keep its mouth shut and follow the rules like the rest of us he is calling for new elections. The Attorney General wants him arrested on corruption charges.

          Oh and the minister of defense called to say 12 more missiles fired from Gaza. Intelligence says Hezbolla is on the move and he is putting the anti missile force on full alert (that just happened today).

          So every system has its drawbacks. I have said all along ours is broken. It is a shell game where blue and red change hats and those in power stay there. The suckers think these people stand for something. Anyone who does gets thrown under the bus.

    2. I agree with John that four is the sweet spot but any legit third party would be great

    3. There can only be one third party. The others would have to be a fourth, fifth, etc., party.

    4. Personally I’d like to see structural voting reform; implementing any kind of voting in the US that doesn’t penalize minority parties (ranked choice would be my preference, but there are others) would be absolutely transformative. Naturally, the red and blue team both realize their big unwieldy coalitions would rapidly splinter if they couldn’t hoover everyone up into their “base” by that black magic of the lesser evil. Thus, they are stridently opposed to implementing that exact kind of reform.

      But you could do some work, starting in cities and smaller states, to put up ballot measures that would do an end run around the duopoly. I’d love to see Reason cover more of these (currently sparse) efforts, and encourage more of the same.

  14. I, for one, am hoping for a Temptress Tulsi / Mystic Marianne ticket.

    1. Just remember that voting booths are not as private as they used to be.

    2. Certainly would be a most appealing 3rd party run

      1. i volunteer to be the third party.

  15. Her vote yesterday tells me everything I need to know.

  16. Matt has a gift for getting spoiler votes wrong. Obama won for the same reason FDR won: prohibitionist asset-forfeiture Depression. Gore says he lost because of other econazis, but their poor showing next election shows only that the Dems had copied most econazi planks–which is the whole idea. The income tax and prohibition were put in the Constitution by parties with less than 2% of the vote. Libertarian spoiler votes are undoing that with more leverage. A vote is worth 16x as much to the LP as to the looters, and has proportional law-changing clout. Every LP vote repeals bad law just as every Populist/Prohibition/Dixiecrat vote made laws worse. It’s ordinary competition.

  17. “Rhetorical support for a Green New Deal, along with trillion-dollar plans to combat climate change, is now the Democratic default. Being against free college in the 2020 field is the exception, not the rule.”

    And you somehow find time to both sides the 2020 election. Amazing

    1. Reason practices rhetorical opposition to progressivism.
      Occasionally.
      While pulling punches.
      And making sure to “both sides” it.

      1. Of course, “Orange Man bad!” and “conservatives pounce!” is the Reason default.
        But “both sides”ing there would be inappropriate

  18. Over the past century, there have been four presidential contests in which the third-place finisher received more votes nationwide than the margin between Republican and Democrat nominee—2016, 2000, 1992, and 1968.

    The President is elected state by state. The nationwide vote is irrelevant. What matters is how a third party affected the electoral vote count, not the total national popular vote.

  19. Welch’s Believe it or NOT!
    “In 1972, Wallace returned to the Democratic Party and failed to win the nomination.”
    “In 1964, John F Kennedy failed to win the Democratic nomination.”
    “In 1968, Bobby Kennedy failed to win the Democratic Nomination.”
    –Tip of the Tricky hat to Oswald et alii, A. Bremer and S. Sirhan

  20. Most politicians say ‘bring them home’ when they’re running. Both Obama and Trump say that.
    The problem comes when you actually try to take the troops out. Two objections are raised immediately:
    “We can’t desert our allies” and
    “What, and let the RUSSIANS have it”?????

    We are pathetic as a nation.

    1. “We are pathetic as a nation.”

      Got a turd in your pocket?

  21. “What is very clear…is that Gabbard is now working hand in hand with the Republican party,”

    Dude! Is that stuff you’re on really legal? And can you get me some?

  22. I think Gabbard’s best way forward is to continue to be the voice of reason…or at least the non-rabid. The Democrats are headed fora major train wreck. I don’t see any of the full-moonbat candidates winning without massive, systemic vote fraud, and that isn’t something I’d like to try on Trump. The way they’ve been acting, if they DO try to steal the election not only will they be caught, they will bluster when they should shut up.

    Whether that possible train wreck happens, or they simply sink n a relatively honest election, the Party is going to be in a shambles in 2021, and Gabbard could be well placed to yank it back toward the center

    Especially if Her Shrillness, Granny Maojackets von Pantsuit keeps running her ratchet-jaw.

    1. Catch her Daily Show bit?
      I cannot comprehend how anybody involved thought that was a good idea

  23. Democrats. The party of “It’s all the Russian’s fault.” Seriously, if they’re that interested in losing 2020, maybe they should just run Hillary again.

  24. Despite how much Reason lover Gabbard’s foreign policy, she is still a domestic interventionist like Obama on domestic policies

  25. Fucktarded “Reason” thinks Gabbard is a libertarian. Sorry, far from it, sure her foreign policy is libertarian but the rest of her agenda is pure, leftard horse shit. “Reason” you don’t get it, as long as you tout yourself as “libertarian” the snobby leftards are never EVER going to accept you so give it up.

  26. Chait is a turd.

  27. The white outfits, the deep voice, the slow talking, the saying something without saying anything–Tulsi isn’t appealing to anyone but Tucker Carlson.

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  29. I can understand individuals running third party for their ego, maybe even because they have a message. What I can not understand is why any third party like the Libertarians or Green wastes their time. It seem to me that resources would be better spent on looking for House seats. Sure you can not get a lot but if you look for opportunities these parties might get a foot in the door. It will take time running a losing candidate for President every four years is unlikely to be more successful. I would think that if either the Green or Libertarians could amass about 10 seats they could have an impact.

    1. I think because it gets the brand name out there at least that is the hope. It is like the super bowl. Even people who never watch football tune in.

  30. “Gabbard and the Green Party could face the problem of “sore loser” laws, which prevent candidates for a given office from appearing on the ballots of two different parties during the same election cycle.”

    To my knowledge there haven’t been any ballots cast so, while unlikely, it’s a plausible option at least until next February. Maybe she could do a third party with Beto as VP.

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