Over 100 Republicans (and counting) recently signed a letter to the Republican Party basically saying straighten up your act or we’ll start a third party. Among the letter signers included former Wisconsin Congressmen Reid Ribble and Tom Petri.

In an interview with Ruth Conniff of the Wisconsin Examiner, I expressed my skepticism about the effort. Conniff didn’t ask why (or she may have while I was in full stream on consciousness mode), but I am skeptical for two reasons.

One, the last time someone attempted to form a center-right coalition, the campaigns of Ross Perot, we learned that the numbers just aren’t there for a centrist third party. At least not as long as the two main parties remained the. most viable.

Two, I remember the aftermath of Perot’s “Reform Party,” which in 2000 attracted grifters, racists and flakes to compete for the party’s nomination (and $12 million in campaign funds), from Pat Buchanan to Donald Trump. (You decide in which categories they belong.)

So, given that the Republican Party has ceased to be a responsible political party respecting the democratic process, what is a good conservative supposed to do? Don’t vote.

From the article:

Trump’s enablers — including our own Sen. Ron Johnson, who recently called the idea that a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan 6 “a false narrative” concocted by the left — need to be brushed back. “If you’re given a choice in 2022 between Ron Johnson and any of the Democrats so far running, then don’t vote,” Wigderson tells Wisconsin conservatives. “Don’t reward Ron Johnson with your vote. Maybe then the Republicans will learn a lesson.”

He knows a lot of Republicans do not want to hear that advice.

“I understand people that are in the conservative movement, that have been active in the Republican Party and have been to all the campaign events and prayer breakfasts and everything else, that they just cannot bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. I completely 100% understand that,” Wigderson says. In the 2020 presidential election, he adds, “there was no way on God’s Green Earth I was ever going to vote for Joe Biden.”

But, he says, “At the same time, we cannot continue to go on rewarding a Republican Party that has taken an anti-democratic turn.”

Not voting is the best strategy he can come up with under the circumstances.

I also pointed out the fallacy of believing that somehow, someday the GOP will recover its senses without being pushed by the electorate.

It’s not just Jan. 6, Wigderson says. “I’d even go back to the day that Trump used force to clear Lafayette Square. … If you’re a conservative, and you believe in the constitutional order, and you believe in free speech and democracy, that should have been the warning that it was time to get out.”

He compares Trump’s ascendancy to a scene in the 1970 movie “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” “where they’re all standing around the atomic bomb, and they rip off their masks to reveal their true inner selves.” 

“Well, Donald Trump is the atomic bomb that hit the Republican Party or is worshipped by the Republican Party,” Wigderson says. “And he gave everybody an excuse to rip off their masks. … We’re seeing a side of the Republican Party that’s become ascendant that is really ugly.”

The authoritarianism, the boorishness, the conspiracy theories, the contempt for democratic institutions, the bullying and racism have, sadly for Wigderson, become the GOP brand.

You can read the whole interview at the Wisconsin Examiner website.