08 Oct 2010

"Might the Impatient Political Center be Ready to Rise Again?"

I couldn’t ignore this one, and no… not because it had three of the four words in the name of my blog in the headline.

There has been a bit more chatter than usual about moderates and centrists lately, much of it responding to Thomas Friedman’s article in the New York Times, predicting that the circumstances are ripe for a third political force to finally emerge in the center in 2012. As I always try to mention when this idea comes up, I estimate that 2016 is the year that I think might be that time of critical mass, but I can see how some may disagree.

Big backlash against the article though…

Critics of Friedman quickly returned fire. One particularly good essay, by Poliblog’s Steven L. Taylor, lays out the obstacle course to this perennial idea. The Electoral College is stacked against third parties, since the candidate with the most votes in a state gets all of the electoral votes. The party system can absorb an insurgency, but it squeezes out third party challenges. A last roadblock is the Senate, where the filibuster rules would be particularly cruel to a President without some kind of party support.

Such problems do not apply to the same degree at the local level. There’s a good example of this “revolt from the center” in Idaho, where an attrractive independent named Keith Allred, with support from both parties and a solve-big-problems agenda, is running as a Democrat and doing well, considering how Republican the state is. His playbook comes from Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat who won the Kansas governorship by trans-partisan appeal.

Its oh so simple to expect some big unmovable force like Michael Bloomberg to come along, throw down a cool billion and create a network of state groups that will be a catalyst for a national movement, but in the mean time, we need to be working on furthering the cause now, with what we have. Relying on a pipe dream that is just as likely not to ever come along is a prescription for failure.

A whole lot of other interesting related info on the subject in the article, some of it having to do with Seattle area politics, but mostly national. Give it a look.

Read the rest at Crosscut.com…

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