Where can the center find a home?

An interesting look at Libertarians and third party options. I am more optimistic about a real third party gaining traction. The center is enormous. At this point they need to be a one-issue party: Fiscal Responsibility. The anti-incumbent wave is a force that needs to be harnessed. I disagree that centrists are all moderates or that they are not angry.

Pat Duggan


Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 5:49 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. The original article written by Mark Penn and the comments posted by David Boaz merit separate consideration but I’ll focus on Boaz’ for the moment. First and foremost, I haven’t any idea what Libertarians espouse and apparently neither do they. It all depends to which Libertarian you’re speaking to at any given time. Some define their political philosophy in terms very reminiscent of anarchism which would place them firmly on the side of the extreme Right (less government) while others embrace what they fancy to be Libertarian Socialism. Some are pro-property rights; anti property; it’s not the governments business; and so on. Libertarianism then, much like anarchism, can be pretty much whatever you wish it to be (so long as your party is not in power and required to achieve anything, that is). But Boaz succinctly defines Libertarians as,
    ” fiscally conservative, socially liberal — voters [that] are often torn between their aversions to the Republicans’ social conservatism and the Democrats’ fiscal irresponsibility”.
    If accurate, then this definition betrays greater problems for Libertarian voters than Boaz may have at first suspected. Since the elephant and the donkey have already been claimed as symbols for the two respective main parties, I propose the Libertarians quickly claim the Duck-Billed Platypus for their ensign. A warm-blooded mammal which lays eggs and looks like a cross between a beaver and a duck would seem quite a propos to represent an equally confused political paradigm. What Boaz euphemistically refers to as,” rational drug reform” for example, is a favorite subject among Libertarians and comprises the one thing they all seem to agree upon; legalization of illicit drug use. Therein we see the liberal social policy aspect easily enough, but joining that idea with fiscal conservatism is another matter altogether. While legalization will undoubtedly bring down the price of said drugs, it will not in any way assuage the physical/psychological and long term social devastation which is sure to follow.”Rational drug reform” will in no way make heroin, cocaine, crank, etc. any less addictive or dangerous and historically the state has had to step in (fiscally and otherwise) to help control rampant violent crime, prostitution and HIV/AIDS. The failure of the Methadone program and countless clean-needle initiatives here and abroad should stand as sufficient evidence to anyone of intellectual integrity that legalization is not in anyone’s interest.
    Boaz goes on to compare the Tea Party’s surge with ‘progress toward marriage equality’. There is no comparable surge in support for same sex marriage outside of our current administration’s decided push in making it so by decree. Witness the recent revision of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the President’s pandering to supporters in San Francisco shortly after reassuring attendees at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California that as far as he was concerned marriage was strictly between one man and one woman.
    Lastly, Ross Perot was not “the only third party that achieved even modest success in recent history”. That distinction belongs more correctly to Abraham Lincoln. What Ross Perot’s political adventure actually did achieve was to split the conservative vote and usher in 8 years of Bill and Hillary Clinton; dubious achievement. In Perot’s defense, however, we should remember that Clinton’s opponent was George Bush Sr.; dubious distinction.
    Organizing a third party, or even a fourth or fifth is not difficult at all. It is done all the time in the Third World and as often as not these parties are paid for and organized by one of the primary candidates. Once again the idea is to simply split the vote among several like-minded candidates. A win, even by a narrow margin is still a win and has all the trappings of democratic election. Former Chilean President Salvador Allende, for example, the first elected Marxist president in the Western hemisphere won office with a whopping 36.2% of the vote using just this very tactic. The same method has been used more recently in Nicaragua and our own elections brought Clinton to office in 1992 with only 43% of the popular vote. Whether or not we can successfully organize a new third party is not the question; the real issue is whether it is a good idea for us to do so. We don’t need a new party, we need to clean house!
    A Republican or a Democrat I may not be, but I’ll be damned if I let myself be lumped in with a gaggle of apolitical metrosexuals who Boaz sees as comprising the Center. Both he and Penn can stop worrying about, “socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters,” forced in every election to ”sign on with the religious right or the economic left.” They are their own worst enemies.

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