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What if Trump really does end up a third-party candidate?

REUTERS/Jim Young
In a most unconventional run for the Republican nomination this year, Trump has refused to commit to supporting the endorsed candidate and has left open the option of running as an independent.

With the popularity of Donald Trump as presidential timber this year, I recalled writing an academic paper while in college assessing the differences and similarities of third-party presidential candidates. 

slocum
Chuck Slocum

Third-party challenges are more common than most people think in our largely two-party system.

In that 1968 election, I correctly predicted that George Wallace’s campaign against Vice President Hubert Humphrey and eventual winner Richard Nixon would not change the election results as Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 campaign — Minnesota backed TR’s Bull Moose Party — against President William Howard Taft most certainly had resulted in the victory of Woodrow Wilson.  

I also researched the efforts of the regional third-party hopeful in South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond (1948) and movement candidates of the left — Robert Lafollette of Wisconsin (1924) and Iowa’s Henry Wallace (1948).

Unconventional Trump run could swing the election

In a most unconventional run for the Republican nomination this year, Trump has refused to commit to supporting the endorsed candidate and has left open the option of running as an independent. 

Such a 2016 effort by the 69-year-old billionaire could well result in changing the results, not unlike the way Ross Perot did in 1992 in his largely self-funded effort that garnered nearly one in five of all votes; eight in 10 Perot voters identified as conservatives and moderates. With the defeat of President George H.W. Bush that year by Bill Clinton, a new Democratic Party emerged.

Though I do not think that he could win outright, the most likely beneficiary of a Trump third-party run, of course, is Hillary Clinton, the leading Democrat who is currently struggling to credibly define herself to U.S. voters. 

Jumpstart look at 2016 Republican hopefuls

America got a jumpstart look at presidential campaign politics recently on C-Span when 16 of 17 (Trump-less) Republican candidates talked in a “forum” where each engaged one-on-one with a New Hampshire newsman; and on Fox News, where the first debate featured the seven announced also-rans followed by the 10 Republican candidates running strongest in the national polls.

I joined a record 24 million viewers watching Trump, who four days after the Aug. 6 exchange was supported by an incredible 32 percent of Republicans nationally, a percentage equal to the combined totals of Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker (Morning Consult Research, Aug. 10).

To determine Trump’s eventual role and to sort through the large contingent of Republicans, I’d suggest Trump get beyond the sound bites and silly, even offensive finger-pointing and focus on America’s real challenges at CNN’s Sept. 16 debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Califormia.

Important questions for Trump and the others

The questions for which I seek clearer answers:  

1)  What is your plan for reducing, over time, the federal budget’s annual deficit (in July it was $149B) and $19T federal debt?

2)  How would you oversee America, militarily and diplomatically, in regard to our allies and others?

3)  What are the threats and solutions for preparing businesses and the American workers to compete in the next decade?

4)  How would you, as president, deal with a politically divided country to make the right things happen?

Trump and other candidates for president need to better define how our form of democratic capitalism should work in a win-win for everyone, including 11.7 million undocumented immigrants who are currently in the work force and the one in four young people who are on a failure track in school and life.

Chuck Slocum, Minnetonka, is president of The Williston Group, a management consulting firm.  He got an “A” on his senior honors paper.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/20/2015 - 09:08 am.

    Is this satire?

    The author doesn’t actually expect real answers Does he? Well I take that back, Trump will answer honestly, “It’ll all happen perfectly, you”‘ll love it, it will be beautiful because I’m Donald Trump.” Not sure that’s what he’s looking for though.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/20/2015 - 09:25 am.

    Donald Trump is our Jesse Ventura

    Both are narcissists, both have turned their narcissism into personal success, both are very thin skinned when to comes to criticism. Over the years Jesse did manage to say one thing that I agree with. When you win as a third party candidate, as he did, there is nobody there to help you. I think as a Republican or a third party candidate Trump will have the same problem because he is burning too many bridges in the process of getting elected. I also don’t believe Trump can win as he is alienating the voters he needs to win. No way will he get the minority, women’s, or Hispanic votes he needs. Taking citizenship away from those who obtained citizenship, per the 14th amendment, is the political bomb that will doom all chances for the Republican candidates as they jump on the Trump anti-citizenship band wagon. The Republicans don’t like living within the law, they generally prefer to change the laws to only serve themselves. As the Republican noise machine drones on it is doing nothing to help their chances of winning. Republican voters want a leader and all the choices they have are followers. The GOP circus continues.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/20/2015 - 10:59 am.

    Those are great questions, Chuck

    Too bad we don’t have a news media with the correct sense of purpose to ask them.

    I’m confident that at least 4-5 republican candidates could answer those questions to the satisfaction of any serious voter. But Trump’s failure to answer these questions coherently will differentiate him from the others. His bloviating is getting tiresome and I look for him to be exposed as a vanity candidate before too long.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/20/2015 - 03:42 pm.

    Trump Will Never be Revealed to Be a “Vanity Candidate”

    because neither his most ardent supporters,…

    nor the current MSM, clearly including Weasel news,…

    are capable of telling the difference between Donald Trump,…

    and a SERIOUS candidate.

    The days are long since passed when the MSM responded to a GOP “conservative” candidate,…

    no matter how far out of touch with facts, evidence, and rational reality that candidate might be,…

    with “You can’t be serious!”

    There’s no point in that response, because those “conservatives” are always DEADLY (for everyone else and for our planet) SERIOUS,…

    and the owners of the MSM don’t like it when you challenge their favorite candidates or anger those who want to believe them,…

    and vote for them.

  5. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 08/20/2015 - 03:46 pm.

    Dream ticket

    If Trump does decide to run as an independent, I propose he should choose either Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or Joni Ernst as his running mate. Nobody else has enough “crazy” chops to keep up with him.

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