Reform Party should retain unified effort

Gov. Jesse Ventura’s victory earned the Reform Party a respectable position on the national political spectrum. Recently, however, several instances of fighting within the party threaten to undermine the party’s potential in the upcoming presidential elections.
Disagreements between supporters of Gov. Ventura — who has so far opted to stay out of the race — and former presidential nominee Ross Perot are fracturing what needs to be a unified effort if the party wants to seriously compete for the presidency of the United States.
Television host and conservative icon Pat Buchanan has openly considered leaving the Republican Party and seeking the Reform Party nomination. But Buchanan is not the best match for the agenda of the party, while another candidate has emerged who might well be: Donald Trump. While some party members favor a Buchanan nomination, frequently his values contrast with those of the majority of the party. Buchanan is very conservative about social issues, whereas the party leans toward liberal social beliefs.
Buchanan is involved in a scandal regarding several comments in his book, “A Republic, Not an Empire,” which could threaten his appeal with a national audience. Buchanan states that “Hitler made no overt move to threaten U.S. vital interests” following German victories after 1940. He further states that “after World War II, Jewish influence over foreign policy became almost an obsession with American leaders.” These beliefs, among others, will likely alienate Buchanan from most Americans.
Ventura, the party’s highest-ranking officeholder, has expressed his concern about Buchanan’s conservatism and prioritization of social issues. Social issues are not a “front-burning item,” according to Ventura, and they should receive less attention than governmental reform and economic issues.
Donald Trump, the favorite of Gov. Ventura, embodies the values of the party more than any other candidate. His career is similarly unorthodox — as was Ventura’s before his foray into politics. His national name recognition could be an asset to the party, while his net worth of more than $10 billion would be a major boon to the huge expense of a presidential campaign. Trump also appeals to distinct parts of the political spectrum: He appeals to Republicans because of his conservative economic ideals and also to Democrats because of his liberal social beliefs.
In the wake of this discord, the Reform Party of Minnesota has considered changing its official name to the Independent Reform Party of Minnesota as a way of distancing itself from certain national party members. Gov. Ventura’s victory proves the strength of the Reform Party of Minnesota, and any separation will only increase the fractionalization within the party.
The Reform Party should consolidate its caucus if it wants to seriously compete in the presidential election. By splitting the party into separate factions, they reduce their presidential nominee’s chances of being competitive in the 2000 election. Ventura should work to secure a Trump nomination, which would offer the party its best chance.