14 Feb 2018

Partisan Realignment and Third Parties
It's Third Party Season! With the 2018 mid-terms and 2020 presidential elections far enough in the future that candidates are not yet locked in, third party hopes spring eternal in the centrist breast. A hope that there just might be a viable alternative to the usual Republican and Democratic choices they find so disheartening. A hope that it might be different this time. And you know what? It just might be ... Thesis: In the United States, third parties always fail. But, on rare occasions in our history, with the right conditions, a New Party can successfully gut, destroy and replace one of the two major parties. This could be that time. Here are two steps necessary to make a New Party a Major Party: Step One: Do not call your New Party a "Third Party." Calling it a "Third Party" guarantees failure.  History tells us that U.S. Third Parties always fail. Meaning they: Do not fulfill the political objectives of their supporters. Never bec...

29 May 2011

coffee party not for centrists and moderates
(originally published at a now-closed moderate blog, where I wrote for a time before launching the precursor to this site) For some centrists and moderates, the development of the new 'Coffee Party USA' organization seemed like a godsend in response to the more extreme elements in the Tea Party movement. At first, I thought that this could be the grassroots movement I’d been waiting for – one that actually included centrist independents and moderates along with non-extreme liberals in a big tent, and actively worked across ideological divides to look for common ground, rather than partisan gain.In short, I was wrong. In short, after spending hundreds of hours on the group, I was wrong. I helped start, and ultimately ran, the Nebraska (and local Omaha) chapter of the Coffee Party, and given my skill set also helped upgrade sections of the national website. I was later recruited to work on a few ad hoc subcommittees that were trying to build ...

09 May 2011

In a political party system where many view the Center as a mere blend between two purer ideologies of conservatism and progressivism, political independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York often has something creative to say. Elected in a city of greater diversity, wealth and population than many US states and several countries, he’s someone that’s perhaps worth listening to. Yet is he actually creative? On last week's broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, Mr. Mayor did not disappoint. In a roundtable segment in which he was accompanied by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Obama Adviser David Axelrod and moderator David Gregory, he touched upon a number of topics with a degree of freedom we don’t often see from our two well known – and all too well defined – major political parties. He displayed agility of one comfortable with his thought process and willing to share it in a tone of centrist legitimacy. It was a thought process less defined by...

17 Apr 2011

Even if a majority of this post didn't say almost exactly the same thing that I said in a post a few months ago, this would still be one of the best posts I read all week. It goes into more about his foreign policy, which I'm not as versed in, but his analysis of Obama's political stance is the same as mine has been since last year - that Obama is a liberal, although by no means a left winger, and a pragmatic minded compromiser, as opposed to a unbending ideologue. Here are some good examples of this from tha article: Pragmatism may sound cheap and valueless, but compared to inaction in the face of urgent issues it's not so bad. Many of Obama's policy choices are compromises. Some are between him and the right, some are between him and the hawks in his administration, some are between him and our European allies, some are between him and the left and no doubt many are between him and his conscience or his own aspirations. This makes idealists...

02 Apr 2011

Steve Ball has a great post on over at Frum Forum, talking about how the "true believers" on the right wing of the republican tent are setting themselves, and the country, up for failure. The silver lining of all this is they might just push more people towards the center. A taste: Why are Republicans doing this to themselves? If the GOP “true believers” continue to substitute nonsense for substance, they will do exactly the opposite of what they have set out to do.  Eventually, they will isolate themselves, force the Republican leadership to make common cause with the moderate and conservative Democrats in both Chambers, and allow a true bi-partisan centrist landscape to develop in Congress. That result—a true example of unintended consequences—would be good for the country and good for fiscal policy.  Such a center, moving on its own without official endorsement of the leadership of either party or body, might actually begin to regain tr...

23 Mar 2011

The marketplace of ideas concept has been around for a long time. In a democracy, it means that competing ideas are free to compete for influence over policy based on their merits compared to competing ideas. Politicians and other political folks occasionally mention it as something they do or should support. In theory, it sounds like a good idea and useful tool to inform society about competing political policies. Does it really exist?: Is American politics dominated by a fair and honest competition between competing ideas and political policies? Is the competition fair and honest when special interest money behind a special interest idea in competition with a better idea with no money behind it? Free speech experts think about these things and they seem to think that money can affect the outcome. If that is true, then special interest money can get its second best idea elevated to law and policy while the best idea is discarded. Is that a a ...

19 Mar 2011

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, Ame...

16 Mar 2011

I have daily news alert emails for things related to independents, centrists and moderates, and I run across posts like this almost every day, but this one sticks out because Wisconsin has been in the news and I liked the quote that I modified a bit for the headline here. This comes from an op-ed in the Wisconsin State Journal, decrying the hyper-partisan nature of Washington these days, and why this is harming our country: What America needs more of are politicians willing to find compromise on workable solutions in the middle. America needs more politicians thinking long term, far past the next election. "For those who have come of age in today's hyperpartisan Congress - with its near-parliamentary levels of party discipline on floor votes, jagged ideological confrontations, and dominant role for leadership - it's easy to forget how different the institution looks as recently as the early 1980s," the National Journal wrote. It's time to ...

16 Mar 2011

I try to highlight the work of various campaigns and organizations whose work I think are forming the foundation for bigger and better things to come for the center of the electorate as much as I can, but just because someone is a centrist, moderate or independent - that doesn't necessarily, automatically or inherently make them better. This is a problem with those who let themselves not only have their own strong opinions, but they begin to get tribal about them. This mentality can lead to people giving those who think like them much more of a long leash to do wrong before they cast doubt their direction. We shouldn't do that with any political actors. A healthy dose of skepticism needs to be present at all times. This is why I rarely bring up the subject of one of the longest running groups for independents in the country... the New York Independence Party. I think the main trailblazers are the Oregon Independent Party, and their counterp...

11 Mar 2011

I said these exact same things, using nearly the same words, but it sure is nice to see it on the pages of CNN. Centrist independent CNN Political Analyst, and columnist at The Daily Beast (and I assume now Newsweek, since they just merged), John Avlon calls this pattern of faster and faster swings between the two major parties the 'evil twins of our time', and he's right. You've really got to read the whole post, but here is how it starts: Overreach and backlash: They are the prime drivers of politics in our time, pushing the pendulum swing back and forth between the parties faster and faster. We've seen the cycle before, and now we may be seeing it again in Congress and state capitols from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and beyond. Here's how it works. One party comes into power. Its more extreme politicians, encouraged by activists, willfully misinterpret their election victory as an ideological mandate. They overreach legislativ...