19 Mar 2011

Why Both Major Parties are a Lost Cause for Moderates

My main and essentially only interest in politics is arguing for a new political party to replace one or both of the Democratic and Republican parties. In my opinion, something better is possible but it is unlikely to come from either party.

The nature of the two political parties is human nature: Who has real power and influence in the Democratic and Republican parties? Outsiders and newcomers? Life-long insiders, hard core partisan ideologues and major campaign contributors? Neutral and objective analysts? People like you? Common sense argues the real influence is with the money and life-long, partisan insiders. The money probably carries the most weight just ahead of (or tied with) the politician’s penchant to put re-election above the public interest. Why shouldn’t outsiders or newcomers with no money but a good idea get a fair hearing? There are at least three good reasons:

  • First, ordinary outsiders don’t have money. Like it or not, American politics is mostly pay to play, i.e., no pay, no play. The money, “extracting rent” from interest groups, is just the cost of doing business with political power. There can be a great return on investment.
  • Newcomers are not life-long insider activists. People tend to trust and work with people they know. That’s human nature.
  • Outsiders with a truly good idea will, more often than not, suggest something that goes against the grain of the prevailing political and/or religious ideology. The idea simply gets rejected. That’s human nature too.

The broken contract: Remember Newt’s 1994 “Contract with America“? It went OK until it hit up against the part that said lobbyist influence should be somehow reigned in. It was a great idea. But, once that agenda item came up, the “contract” was crushed. It died and went away. Special interests with money didn’t like it. The concept of reigning in special interest money morphed into the corrupt K street project and nothing much has changed since. In politics, money talks and most everything else, except re-election, walks. Buying votes explains the money, nothing else. Despite the rhetorical blasts coming from both parties these days, neither even mentions the money and the “access”, i.e., votes, it buys.

Softer power: Life-long insider activists have a different power. They are hard core ideologues and have often spent years toiling for the cause they usually honestly believe in. They know they are right. Why should the parties listen to much of anything from an outsider who goes against the grain? In the Republican party ideology is king. RINOs are hunted down and shot. The Democrats may even be considering something like that for DINOs. Well, if RINOs and maybe DINOs are being purged, why expect an outsider to have any influence? What does your common sense say?

Homeless pragmatists and moderates: So, where do pragmatists and moderates go to get a fair hearing? Nowhere. No major third party is free of blinding ideology either. Ideology and pragmatism are not compatible for the most part. That may be why pragmatists and moderates slosh back and forth between the Republican and Democratic parties. Until pragmatists and moderates understand that the two big parties and the third parties do not share their views, their viewpoints will be largely ignored. Pragmatists and moderates will remain fourth class citizens behind special interest money, political self-interest and partisan insiders.

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9 thoughts on “Why Both Major Parties are a Lost Cause for Moderates”

  1. Blocking a three party system is likely the only thing the two D & R parties will agree upon, even work together for.

    Still, if the centrist movement demonstrates that reasonableness is a feature of the majority, there’s little that can stop it.

    If 2011 has demonstrated anything this year (so far) it is that the people ultimately have the final say, if/when they are willing to exercise the right.

    1. As much as I’d like to say otherwise (and as much as there are sparks of it that could evolve into pockets of it in some localities and states), there is no centrist movement yet. If things don’t change drastically in the next few years, I do think it is inevitable though.

      The biggest thing stopping it is the lack of organizations forming a foundation for the growth of such a thing. I started this blog to try and stir up more of a centrist blogosphere, and that seems to be working slowly, but we need think tanks, issue orgs, parties, grassroots groups, candidate campaigns, etc… lots of work to do.

      One lesson from political organizing 101 is that the people who organizations and campaigns actively engage with the most are the people who end up participating the most. This is not a chicken and egg deal, this is cause and effect.

      Until we have groups actively engaging with centrists and moderates, educating them and prodding them to take action, we will continue to be the whipping boys of politics, as we just don’t take action to push for our beliefs nearly as much as partisans do.

      I say this a lot… but in a democracy, it is up to US to represent ourselves. The left and right can be fairly attacked for some of what they do to hinder us, but ultimately it is our own fault for not rising up and forming an opposition.

    2. I agree that the D&R parties would both act to oppose the rise of a new political party. Forming a new party would come in the face of both subtle and overt opposition. The opposition would be full of the usual spin and deception.

      Nonetheless, if discontented folks living in politically restricted places like Libya and Egypt can act for real change, why can’t we? It amounts to finally seeing the two parties for what they are and then a matter of will power to do something about it.

      I know that won’t be easy. But, it would be easier than trying to change a tyrant in a dictatorship.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. It’s sad that both parties will not accept moderates into their ranks. Liberal Democrats think somehow moderates are in bed with corporate America, and conservative Republicans think moderates are somehow an abandonment of principles. Too often, moderates are treated with disdain, and both parties think independents and moderates don’t stand for anything. The only time we are welcomed into either party is at voting time when both parties try to court us to get them over to their side. Moderates and independents decide elections, and I, for one want to be treated with more respect, and not thrown to the side like yesterdays garbage. We vote, and we matter!!!

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