The Homeless Moderate

From a commentary by Bill King at the Houston Chronicle:
if you believe both that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned and that the federal government needs to balance its budget, you have no political home in today's bifurcated partisan political landscape.  I do not think that I am alone in feeling disaffected in the current bipolar political dynamic. A number of organizations and even some third parties have recently been formed seeking to provide an alternative.

I recently spoke to a young lady who was involved in the organization of a third party known as the Moderate Party in Rhode Island's 2010 elections. What the party's name lacked in originality was made up in large measure by its motto, "Fiscally Responsible, Socially Tolerant." It describes very much my sentiments while avoiding the confusion attending the politically charged terms of "conservative" or "liberal".

Unfortunately the Moderate Party had modest success. It only polled a little more than 6 percent in the Rhode Island governor's race, but that was enough to secure it a place on the ballot in the next election. Interestingly, the governorship was won by Lincoln Chafee, an independent. Chafee and the Moderate Party candidate together polled more than 42 percent of the vote, 10 points ahead of the Republican candidate and 20 points ahead of the Democratic candidate.

Still, it is not easy to break the Democratic/Republican partisan oligarchy. The two dominant political parties have laced the elections statutes with provisions that stack the deck against third-party or independent candidates. For example, in Texas an independent candidate must collect about 50,000 signatures to get on the November ballot and the petitioners cannot have voted in the primary, a daunting task to say the least.

But it seems likely that the current dissatisfaction with the contemporary political landscape so dominated by bipolar extremism will find some form of expression. Whether that takes the form of the rise of a third party, more independent candidates or a repositioning of one of the two dominant parties, I cannot predict . . . .

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