Ventura wise to leave national Reform Party

Last week, Gov. Ventura announced that he is disaffiliating himself from the Reform Party. Ventura’s decision to leave the national party was based in part on ideological differences with headline candidate Pat Buchanan. However, the national party, with the addition of Buchanan, seems confused about its own values. As more disparate politicians run under the Reform Party ticket, the party’s ideologies become more unclear. And as Buchanan gains popularity and influence, the shape of the party could become even more distorted. Considering the national party’s current state, Ventura’s decision to leave — accompanied by his supporters in Minnesota — seems a wise choice toward preserving his own political ideology.
The national Reform Party’s greatest weakness is its apparent lack of any firm ideology of its own. Instead, it takes on the characteristics of its most prominent proponent. Accordingly, June Hirsh, a national committee member from Washington, believes that Ventura’s political philosophy doesn’t match that of the national Reform Party. Hirsh claimed that Ventura wrongly tried to steer the party in a more moderate direction. “He just doesn’t get it,” Hirsh said, “We’re not a centrist party.” Hirsh, however, admitted Ventura helped the Reform Party gain visibility. Perhaps Ventura nudged the national party into the limelight, but it would be in the best interest of the Reform Party to stay away from high-profile politicians if they have dissimilar ideologies. By aligning itself with Ventura, the national party only made its political philosophy unclear, if it is not a fiscally conservative, socially moderate party after all, as Hirsh implies.
Ventura’s prominence certainly gave the Reform Party a centrist appearance, but with the addition of the ex-Republican and staunch conservative Pat Buchanan, one is left wondering where — exactly — the party stands. With so many conflicting political agendas, the national party has proven itself more of an alternate platform where anything goes than a well-defined third party with a clear ideology. Without some internal solidarity, it will be difficult for the national Reform Party to compete in the well-established two-party system.
If Ventura wants a third party based on fiscally conservative, socially moderate principles, then he has made the correct decision in leaving the national Reform Party. The national party is degrading to a grab bag of political philosophies, where any high-profile candidate who doesn’t fit in the existing two-party system can call himself a Reformist, despite endorsing ideologies that might conflict with party members. If Minnesota’s allies of Ventura want a strong platform based on the governor’s fiscal and social policies, then they’d be better off resurrecting the Independence Party of Minnesota, as proposed, rather than remaining attached to the national Reform Party platform while it crumbles under its conflicting candidates.