Erick Erickson, Third Parties, and Free Markets

This weekend, Erick Erickson posted an article on with a title that makes you initially think that maybe he’s seen the light on things like competition and free markets. Unfortunately, the post “Maybe We Really Do Need a Third Party” isn’t Erickson advocating third parties at all; it’s just him calling out Republicans for being afraid to practice what they preach.

Erickson has a valid point. Republicans in Washington (with the exception of a very select few) are awful. And lately even the good ones are bad. They say they support smaller government and free enterprise, but their votes betray their words.

In his article, Erickson points out how Republicans recently raised regulations that forced small businesses to close their doors and how Republicans in Washington have completely abandoned principles of limiting government and advancing freedom.

While Erick hit the nail on the head pointing out where the GOP has gone wrong, it’s important to understand that despite what his headline makes you believe, he is not (nor will he be) advocating a third party in American politics. This is, quite frankly, because Erick doesn’t believe that competition in a free market is a good thing. If he did have faith in a free marketplace, he would welcome competitors with confidence that the competition would make his candidate better.

That’s not the case with Erickson. (But to be fair to Erick, it’s not the case with most Republicans.)

Republicans reject the legitimacy of a third party partly because of a lack of faith in free markets, but even more simple than that is the reality that with only two parties, we can have two ends of the spectrum: good and evil. “They” are always wrong, and “we” are always right. The acceptance of a legitimate third party would force prideful Republicans to admit that they’re wrong on some issues, and that’s just too big of a pill to swallow. (I’m picking on Republicans here, but Democrats are just as guilty on this issue.)

Free markets either work, or they don’t. We either believe in free markets, or we don’t. I believe they work. They work in business; they work in economics; they work on issues like competing currencies; and they would work in elections if we would let them.

But politicians have a stronghold on the election process, and they have no reason to let any other players into their market. They can force out competition without having to worry about practicing what they preach. Voters have shown time and time again that they will chose the “less evil” of the two parties. With voters willing to settle for some level of evil, where is the incentive to not be evil?

The most frustrating thing I’ve found from reading his article is that Erickson is in a position to have a great influence on the Republican Party if he would embrace the concept of free markets in elections. He has an audience willing to listen to him, and he’s close – so close – to understanding how a third party would benefit the GOP, yet his willful ignorance causes him to miss that point entirely.

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