Do we need a third major political party? I often joke that I’d be happy if we actually had a second party, as when it comes to the big issues — war, monetary policy, civil liberties — the Republicans and Democrats are more alike than different. Perhaps that’s why a recent NBC News poll has found that nearly two-thirds of young people surveyed do not believe either the Republicans or Democrats are doing a good job and that a third major political party is needed.
I think this is an encouraging sign. I suspect the NBC News poll result reflects the fact that young people are not as easily hoodwinked by the mainstream media and by the two-party duopoly charade in Washington. This generation has grown up with the Internet and the abundance of alternative media that challenges what really is a one-party system in the United States. They have been exposed to many new ideas, including good ones like libertarianism and non-interventionism.
Currently, mainstream politics in the US is all about power — how to get it and how to keep it — and not at all about philosophy or ideology. It is about selling out principles at every turn in order to chalk up another point in the “win” column. On issues like war and spending, it’s incredible how easily the two major parties are able to “compromise.”
A serious effort to create a new political party could be very exciting, but only if that new party is based on real ideas rather than simply the desire for power. Creating a viable third party will not be easy. While there is plenty written in the media about foreign collusion in US elections, the real collusion is between the Republican and Democratic Parties to prevent new parties from joining them on the national stage and the ballot.
Unfortunately the Libertarian Party has failed to live up to what should have been its role as an ideological alternative to Washington’s one-party system. As was quite obvious in the 2016 presidential election, the Libertarians yielded to prevailing attitudes on war, welfare, the Federal Reserve, and more. In believing that winning was more important than standing for something, they ended up achieving neither.
I would still like to have some hope for the Libertarian Party, but to really fill its role as a challenger to our two party system (that is actually a one party system) it would need a major overhaul. It would need to actually embrace the core libertarian principles of non-aggression and non-intervention in the affairs of others.
At the end of my 2008 presidential campaign, I brought together the candidates of the “minor” political parties and proposed that we agree on some basic principles regardless of whether we are libertarians, conservatives, progressives, or greens. Among those was the idea that we should never go to war unless we were directly attacked or threatened, that the Federal Reserve should not be allowed to benefit the rich by creating money out of thin air, and that we should not endorse deficit spending.
If a new party could come together and agree on these basic principles while agreeing to disagree on other, less important priorities, we could begin a formidable movement toward peace and prosperity.
Let us hope that this NBC News survey provides the inspiration to a real pro-peace, pro-prosperity movement in the United States. I have much confidence in the youth of our country!
Ron Paul is a former U.S. congressman from Texas. This article originally appeared at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and is reprinted here with permission.