The Imminent Third Party

Shortly after Election Day 1922, President Woodrow Wilson’s former Secretary of War Lindley Miller Garrison advocated the formation of an “anti-radical” third party in a New York Times Magazine column.

Garrison said:

“I class myself as a liberal conservative.

The political division which is ahead of us will take this cleavage, then: The conservatives of both parties against the radicals of both parties; and it will be safer if this is done by the above-board formation of a third party under a new name, and by scrapping one or both of the old parties, or perhaps melding them under a hyphenated name.

Instead, something of the opposite happened.

A third party would command 16.6% of the popular vote in the next presidential election of 1924, but it was the opposite of a “conservative” party: Robert M. La Follette, campaigning jointly under the banners of the Socialist, Progressive, and Farmer-Labor Parties. He won one state: Wisconsin, the state he represented in the U.S. Senate at the time.

As for Garrison’s proposed third party, in the NYT column, he rejected the idea of calling it the Constitutional Party and suggested instead the Liberal Conservative Party.

Seven decades later in 1992, a party was indeed created called the American Constitution Party. Since that time, the party has never received more than a fraction of 1% of the national popular vote for president.

It does not appear there is, or ever has been, an American political party called the Liberal Conservative Party — at least not that I could find.

The Imminent Third Party

Published: Sunday, November 19, 1922

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