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Social & Political

See beyond the parties to the people, first

<![CDATA[Let’s (Third) Party – New York Times: Thomas Friedman’s talking third party in 2008.

What to do? I’m hoping for a third party. The situation is ripe for one: America is facing a challenge as big as the cold war — how we satisfy our long-term energy needs, at reasonable prices, while decreasing our dependence on oil and the bad governments that export it — and neither major party will offer a solution, because it requires sacrifice today for gain tomorrow.

I like Robert Steele’s idea better:

The Democrats, in my view, cannot beat the Republicans base-on-base or on the issues. Even a character debate will be a toss-up. There is, however, a major opportunity for a lasting revitalization of democracy if the Democrats will match up their most promising unity candidate with a new party, the American Independence Party, and a commitment to a Coalition Cabinet and Coalition Legislature committed to electoral reform.

This new party would be unique in history in that it would specifically foster the concept of “dual citizenship” and respect the original political allegiances of the moderate Republicans, the conservative Democrats, the Independents, Libertarians, Greens, Reforms, and the newly mobilized from both the Latin and Asian immigration pool as well as the survivors of the Dean revolution.

This party-that’s-not-a-party project promises to neutralize the partisanship of the existing parties from within.
I would suggest not calling it a “party” or “collective,” but a “campaign” in order to distinguish it from a permanent entity in opposition to the present parties.

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Robert responded to my comments on GreaterDemocracy, where he posted the coalition idea:

Mitch, although I understand your point, I think the idea has both lasting value, and international value.

Lasting value: serves as a kind of League of Women Voters on Steroids, where moderated Republicans (my selfish interest) can find allies against extremist Republicans on any of a variety of issues over time–but this first time out, we coalesce ONLY on electoral reform.

International: this concept has serve as a break on autocratic populism such as is sweeping Latin America, while empowering people in any country and then creating transnational bridges on key transnational issues.

Does that make sense?

My OTHER new idea, sparked by a question from Jock about immigrants not yet voters, is that this new NON-RIVAL party could be a home for immigrants earning their way toward citizenship, and be a place where they can learn English, preview the other parties (like a fraternity system, no rush until the end), get an ID card showing their progress toward citizenship, and generaly be energized, the idea being we don’t care WHICH party you join in the end, but JOIN one and stay active.

Does that sound interesting? I think we could pull at least half the Latinos and Asians on this latter idea. And of course get tight with the unions.

Robert, I understand your point. So, you’re actually suggesting obliterating the parties from the middle. That’s a promising idea and one that, politically, resonates for me. However, new parties attract as much corruption as old parties, they simply benefit from not having that corruption today.
I like the idea of a permanent body like the League of Women Voters, but that is not a party but a project, like I suggested. It’s just a long project that is, unlike a party, prepared to go away if that times comes. There may be nothing wrong with acknowledging that there are two general camps in America, represented by the parties. The coalition that sits outside that system and unites where the public can come together if they have a route to cooperation outside the parties, while leaving the parties to their frictive and sometimes entertaining ways, would attract my support. But I don’t vote a straight ticket and a lot of folks do, so who knows what the non-abnormal person (e.g., not me) would think?
I don’t agree that the political system can be rearchitected as Tim Keller suggests in the comments on your posting, because it has to evolve, not be built, which happens through people acting. An architect sits outside and, frankly, is totally unaccountable to the people of the system. Hacker ethic or no, political systems that have been architected are famously brittle and prone to collapse and/or opportunism by strong men.
While I am not sure we have a lot of time, I want to give the problem time to join with the citizens’ will. That requires leadership. So, I’d suggest we get down to finding leaders and recruiting and supporting them, locally, statewide and nationally, within the framework of accountability we’ve all been talking about for a long time know. Once they win a few offices, the reforms will come. Got to win first.]]>