A Centrist Case Against a Party of "The Radical Center"
When it comes to international affairs, Thomas Friedman seems a sensible guy, equally subject to criticism from leftie Israel bashers for being anti-Palestinian and right wing Zionists for being anti-Israel.
But once he lands in the States, all Friedman’s brains seemingly go out the window.
For a while now, Friedman has been one of punditocracy’s leading voices calling for the creation of a third party of the “Radical Center.” .Today, he’s at it again.
Last year’s flavor was called “No Labels;” this year’s model is called “Americans Elect.“
It is a product of those who think of themselves as “The American Elect.”It used to be these calls for such a “movement” came exclusively from rich white men, though now, in a sign of the “movement’s” growth, the calls sometimes come from rich women as well, and include Asians as well as whites.
One has to ask what these folks think is missing from our current line-up of political options.
Mostly, it seems they are outraged at gridlock and our inability to come together and compromise on tough choices.
On one side of the existing political spectrum Friedman calls the “duopoly,” we have a Party headed by a President incapable of expressing populist outrage, who sometimes goes through the gestures of throwing the left a bone, usually on non-economic issues. Other than that, he attempts to appease them by promising to try hard to save some small portions of the existing social services safety net, if he can.
In this endeavor, the President has twisted himself into a pretzel reaching out and trying to compromise, leaving little of what his party was supposed to stand for off the table of what he is willing to give to achieve a consensus.
The other party expresses plenty of populist outrage, and is divided between one faction which is doing its damndest to make sure that the richest elements of our society pay as little of their fortunes in taxes as politically possible, and another faction which feels that that just isn’t good enough, and that one should not give up on an ideal just because it is politically impossible.
It is the latter faction which is in control.
The proposed “Americans Elect” solution to the impasse between the existing parties is that we need to meet in the middle between these two extremes.
There may be room for a “Radical Centrist” party articulating unfocussed populist outrage, but it won’t attract many white male or Asian female political pundits.
Such a “Radical Centrist” Party, would be Perot-vian, protectionist and border obsessed, all the sort of ideas that neither party ever actually implements when it gets its hands on public policy (thank G-d) because the elites have little interest in them.
In truth, we have a centrist party; it is called the Democrats. The old liberal and centrist Republicans have been excluded from their own party by extremists desiring fewer and better Republicans, and they‘re pretty much ousted the moderate conservatives as well.
Meanwhile, as Bill Clinton put it, we (the Democrats) have become Eisenhower Republicans.
Thee saddest part of all this is that Friedman knows this already. As he himself says in his column:
“President Obama should dump the Democrats and run as an independent, which he is, at heart, anyway.“
Some on the left who understand this also think we need a new party. If we had some form of proportional representation, a system with its own ugly pitfalls, or instant run-off voting, I might say “Godspeed,” but with our current form of “first past the post” elections, this is just a formula for defeat.
A perfect sign of the uselessness of enterprises like “Americas Elect” is that they are largely the brainchild of liberal centrists like Friedman, and the only Republicans present tend to be those persona non grata within their own party.
Enterprises such as "Americans Elect" are essentially a self inflicted effort to divide the opposition to the "American Phalange;" the better to ensure that they achieve total victory. A new party of the center, would surely end the two party “duopoly” Friedman speaks of with such contempt.
Instead we’d have a government with all three branches controlled by the far right.
In other words, “Americans Elect” will elect no one but Republicans.
Friedman would surely get his wish. Gridlock would come to an end. Also, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Health Care Reform, and abortion rights.
For a start.
NOTE: Apologies to those offended by the Original Title: 'Hang Thomas Friedman from an Olive Tree and Run Him Over With a Lexus"
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