I see and hear comments about a viable third political party in the U.S. Wishful thinking, I believe. Thomas Friedman recently wrote about this possibility in a NY Times opinion piece called "Third Party Rising." In it, he speaks of a "radical center" in politics. I would call that an oxymoron but I am not as educated as Mr. Friedman so I might be wrong. Can a "center", a middle ground between Left and Right wing political ideology, actually be radical? I don't think so. It's very nature would be compromise and compromise is anything but radical.
There are other reasons I disagree about the emergence of a third party. Sides have been chosen, for one. That is, Big Labor has lined up on the side of Democrats (include teacher and education unions here) and Big Business has lined up behind the Republicans. That's a generality because a lot of Big Business also backs the Democrats (Entertainment, for one). It's one of those Catch-22 things... a political party has to be viable to attract reliable financial backing and it has to have reliable financial backing in order to become viable. Sure, there is a lot of unaligned money out there in mainstream America but that source is not something one can rely on. The general public can turn on you in a heartbeat. And, when they do, there goes the funding.
I have posted elsewhere that we need a 4 party system. Along with that, we'd also need to mutate into a parliamentary system and that isn't going to happen either. But a 4 party system would allow enough flexibility to allow for transient alliances to accomplish temporary political goals.
No, what we are stuck with is a two party system and we need to come to terms with that. The general public can exert influence by backing the party that best represents their desires and needs at the current political moment. It happened in 1980 where we had what were called "Reagan Democrats". It happened in 2006 and 2008 when Democrats regained control of Congress and the White House. People voted across party lines. It happens more often than is reported. It should happen this November. That is the prediction anyway but it isn't being reported that way. Instead, it is the "fired up" vs the "apathetic." Yet Friedman hints that there is something else going on. That this "radical center" is emerging. Well, wouldn't that naturally take from the two other parties? The so called "independents", the non-affiliated, are not really centrist. They are a mix of far left, far right, the indifferent, and the unwilling to commit.
Let's assume that a viable third party emerges and that this party is made up of the center left and center right folks. That would create a fairly balanced three party system... 1/3rd Left, 1/3rd Right, and 1/3rd Center. If you think there's gridlock now, just image how difficult it would be to get a simple majority to pass a bill. Not to mention a super-majority vote to override a veto or to invoke cloture.
Not going to happen. And even if it did, it would be dumped at the next election cycle. Happily. Hopefully. Because it would grant way too much power to the executive branch.
We can make a 2 party system work well. It worked pretty well until the last 30 or so years. It's being gamed a bit right now but that will shake itself out. When the voters start throwing what Peter Jennings called, in 1994, more temper tantrums. Remember, the political parties aren't just the leaders, they are the members of those parties.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago