House. My experience of third-party candidates is not limitedrnto this qnasi-neighbor, who only showed up next door once orrnhvice to sell the propert) (which, to show his contempt for hisrnneighbors, he had allowed to become run-down and had rentedrnout to what some neighbors called a biker gang) and to complainrnabout my famous tall bushes. I know and esteem HarryrnBrowne and Howie Phillips; Pat Buchanan is a friend and ally;rnand two of Pat’s predecessors in the Reform Part}- —Go-. DickrnIjamm and Adm. James Stockdale —have written several Hmesrnfor Chronicles.rnThe role of the part)’ in American politics has been debatedrnfrom the beginning. Parties were flourishing in Britainrnwhen the Constitution was being cobbled together in Philadehrnphia by the faction leaders and fixers who inserted no mentionrnof parties into their design. Washington hiiuself warned againstrnthe development of parties, even as Hamilton and Jeffersonrnwere at work dividing the nation. But even in Jefferson’s administration,rnhis brightest supporters showed tiieir spirit b goingrninto opposition to both the Federalists and Jeffersonians andrnforming the Tertium Quids.rnThe first real part}-, however, in the sense of being an organizedrnvehicle of corruption that can coerce its members —includingrnelected officials —into accepting the part”s positions,rnwas Martin Van Buren’s reorganized Democratic Part)’. JohnrnC. Calhoun struggled in vain against the machine, and his integrityrncost him the White House. The early emergence of therntwo-part’ system — informally in 1800, then a generation later asrna pair of synchronized and well-oiled machines —has meantrnthat the interesting action (for good and ill) in American politicsrnhas always come from third parties.rnSome have been single-issue (like the Greenback Parts) orrnsingle-candidate (e.g., John Anderson) movements; others havernhad longer legs, like the Progressives and Sociali.sts or—mostrnsuccessful of all—the xenophobic, anti-Catholic Know-Notiiingsrnwho regrouped on the slaver)’ issue and helped to createrndie Grand Old Part’. In their cla,ssic, non-partisan stud’ of thernAmerican system, Willmoore Kendall and Austin Ranney expressedrnconsiderable .skepticism about the virtues claimed forrnminor parties. The conceded, however, that “forming a tiiirdrnpart)’ has been and still is the indicated course of action for . . .rnan)’ ethnic, class, sectional, or occupational group” which feelsrn”that it has no chance whatsoever of getting attention for its demandsrnfrom the major parties and the groups that supportrnthem.” (hi other words, all those who have neither bought intornnor been sold into the system.) This suggests tiiat the opportunit)’rnfor any third partv will come from Americans who ]5a’ taxesrnwithout receiving contracts and kickbacks; who do not belongrnto a designated minorit) group based on race, ethnicih’,rnreligion, gender, or sexual orientation; who adhere to tire traditionalrnreligion (Christian), civilization (Western, classical,rnBritish), and moralih’ (the common moral traditions of Cliristians,rnJews, and European pagans).rnOver the decade, Ross Perot’s Reform Part)’ had somernsuccess in appealing to disgruntled, middle-class, k.uropeanrnmales, but Perot’s lack of coherent principle —even more thanrnhis persona] zaniness —kept his party an unfocused mob ofrnloudmouthed malcontents. B)’ supporting abortion, Perot excludedrnthe religious and moral conservatives, and by advocatingrntrade restrictions and open borders, he showed tiiat his priman’rnconcern was widi big business, not with the futiue of the Americanrnpeople. Pat Buchanan’s vigorous attempt to refashion Perot’srnincense-and-adoration club into a genuine part)’ has metrnwith obstacles all along the wa)’, some of them set up by Perotrnlo’alists, others .seeming to sprout naturalh’ in the exotic liothousernof niinorih’ parties.rnWhen, out of pure spite, some of the leading Perotistas werernwilling to support a professor of levitational physics at MaharishirnI), the essential stupidit’ of Perot and his cult was exposed.rnWhen most of mv friends were voting for Perot, I told them hernwas a dangerous megalomaniac who wanted to suspend constitutionalrnlaw and make himself popular dictator; and when DickrnLamm set out to challenge Perot four vears ago, I said the Reformersrnwere setting up a smoke-and-mirrors show to give the illusionrnof democracy.rnWhat a political sinkhole the Reform Part)’ has been, suckingrnin die energies of dissent w ithout producing a coherent challengernto the parh’ state that has replaced republican government.rnPrevious third parh’ challenges —the Populists, the Progressives,rnthe Socialists, the Wallace movement —all hadrnprinciples and platforms that challenged the ruling part)’ coalition.rnThe)’ were vehicles of protest, of course, but in standingrnfor principles, they redirected political debate and, in the end,rnhad more concrete influence than either of the major parties,rnwhich even in the 1890’s were bastions of entrenched interests.rnPerhaps the tiiird time is tiie charm, and tire Buchananites whornhave taken oer Perot’s party can inject substance into thernterm —as hollow as a tract-home door—”reform.”rnLet us suppose that, b some strange mischance, Mr.rnBuchanan fails in his presidential bid. What are the prospectsrnfor breaking up die oligarchy and recreating some form of popularrnand repul)lican government? About what they have beenrnsince 1945: none, hi 1940, 1944, 1948, and 1952,’at least, thernRepublicans could conccivabh hae gone into opposition b’rnsupporting someone like Sen. Robert Taft. They preferred peoplernsuch as Willkie, Dewey, and Eisenhower, solid establishmentrnmen of no discernible principle, men who coidd have belongedrnto either ])arh. (No one actualK knew whicli part’ Ikernadhered to, and Dewc)’ was closer to FDR tiian he was to thernsupporters of “Air. Republican.”)rnBut George Bush is no Tom Dewcv, much less a CalvinrnCoolidge, and ‘ice President Gore is a Washington lobbyistrndisguised as a window diuuniv. I cannot be the only Americanrnwho has reached this conclusion; Only 17 percent of those eligiblernactually xoted in die primaries in which the tvvo candidatesrnwere sipposcdl chosen. The rest of us knew that die fixrnwas in. It is not as if diere were nothing at stake in an electionrnthat pits Ilaliburton against Occidental Petroleum.rnPart)’ polities has changed very little since the 18th centur)’,rnwhen Robert Walpole perfected the .s stem as an instrument ofrncorruption, or since the Victorian age, when W.S. Gilbert describedrnit as a sort of machine for sorting dullards:rnWhen in that house VI.P.’s divide,rnIf they’ve a brain and cerebellum too,rnI hevve got to leave tiiat brain outsidern.And yote just as their leaders tell ’em to.rnBut tiicn tile prospects of a lotrnOf dull M.P.’s in close proximit’rnAll tiiinking for thcnrscKcs is whatrnNo man can face with equauiniih’.rnIf Dcnm’s Hastert and John Couers had not joined parties,rnthey miglil liae had to make up tiicir own minds without ha-rnNOVEMBER 2000/1 1rnrnrn