Buzz and Scot have already offered their reactions to ex-President Donald Trump’s comments this weekend in Perry. If you’re a Republican in a state that is, in this author’s view, has turned purple, you’ve got to be frustrated. Look, this was a “rally” at which the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and other Republican candidates for statewide office watched as Trump effectively endorsed a far-left Democrat, Stacey Abrams, over a sitting Republican governor, Brian Kemp.
Republicans and Democrats like to blame others for their losses. Ralph Nader and the Green Party got blamed for Al Gore’s loss in the 2000 presidential election. Russia’s supposed collusion with Trump’s goons was what cost Hillary Clinton a victory in 2016. Abrams blamed everyone but herself and, to my knowledge, still hasn’t conceded her 2018 loss to Kemp.
Many Republicans blamed the presence of a Libertarian on the ballot in 2008 against Sen. Saxby Chambliss for forcing a runoff against Jim Martin. Chambliss, of course, won that runoff. Republicans did the same in 2020 when Sen. David Perdue failed to beat Jon Ossoff in the 2020 general election and, then, eventually lost to Ossoff in the runoff. Some Republicans pointed fingers at Rep. Doug Collins for running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the special election. Loeffler, of course, lost to Ralph Warnock on the same day Perdue lost.
“Third-party and independent candidates are just spoilers,” the partisans will say. Republicans are even more direct about it. Those who play for the red team will complain, “Libertarians just steal votes from Republicans.” They’ll make overtures that libertarians should vote Republican because the red team believes in limited government and a free market.
I’ll admit that the Trump administration did some good things, and I got to lobby on a couple of those bills when they were going through Congress. But government spending grew dramatically, even before the pandemic hit the United States, and it would’ve grown even more if Trump had his way. In recent months, I’ve thought very hard about conservative-libertarian fusionism based on classically liberal ideals and come to the conclusion that it’s at best on life support or, at worst, fusionism is dead.
Admittedly, I’ve long believed that a vote in any election belongs to one person (the voter) and each candidate must earn that vote, but I do wonder who Republicans are going to blame if they lose statewide elections next year with Trump continuing to sow the seeds of division, not just in America but inside what is, at least theoretically, his own party.
If people who have traditionally voted Republican don’t turn out next November, who will Republicans blame if a Democrat wins? If a Libertarian is the difference between Kemp and his Democratic opponent—whether it’s Abrams or someone else—will Republicans whine incessantly about Libertarians “stealing” votes from Republicans?
With this lawsuit that the Secretary of State is fighting over ballot access, it has dawned on me that Republicans may try to eliminate the runoff by lowering the percentage of the vote that a candidate needs to win an election. A similar idea has been proposed before. But what happens when Trump costs Republicans another election in Georgia? He has already cost Republicans two U.S. Senate seats. What will Republicans do when Trump costs them more races? Blaming Libertarians won’t be a reasonable excuse, but Republicans will undoubtedly try to do just that because it’s easier than blaming themselves for following Trump so blindly into mindlessness.