Independent in 2012

At the Daily Beast, Douglas Schoen makes the case for an Independent centrist candidate for president in 2012.  Excerpt:
The American people are hungry for a third-party candidate for president, be it a moderate insider or an outsider with a proven record of experience from the business community or the military. . . .  Polling that was conducted before the midterm elections shows great support for a major third party in the United States. . . . A New York Times/CBS News poll that was released in mid-September reported that a majority of Americans think the country needs real, viable alternatives to the Republican and Democratic parties. . . .  a USA Today/Gallup poll released at about the same time as the Times survey found that only one-third of voters say the two parties do an adequate job of representing the American people. Indeed, a solid majority of liberals, moderates, and conservatives in that survey all said a third major party is needed, as did three-quarters of independents. . . .

But the two parties, who agree on nothing else, have shut the door on the possibility by setting up a nominating process with a series of ballot access rules and tests that make it virtually impossible for anyone to run as an independent without joining the Democratic or Republican Party.


America needs a centrist alternative to the dysfunctional party primary process, not only to break the stranglehold of the political elites but to expand the field of candidates and issues that are given serious consideration during the election campaign. The list of potential candidates from either side of the political aisle is much broader and all-encompassing when one holds out the possibility that such a candidate might compete as an independent rather than in one of the primaries. . . . 
He concludes:
The only way any candidate who is committed to real fiscal discipline, social tolerance, and economic revitalization can be nominated for president is on a third-party ticket. . . . unless the system changes and changes fundamentally, individuals with a central role to play in our political process—who can address even more important ideas and questions—will almost certainly be ignored.  That is a profound tragedy.

16 comments:

DLW said...

running for president is the dumbest way to bring change in the US... it's too expensive to have a strong campaign, like Ross Perot's and since we already will have a rather centrist candidate on the ballot, Barack Obama, it could help elect a non-centrist, like Palin or Bachmann as Prez or Veep.

Now, if the 3rd party prez candidate was willing to throw her or his supporters behind one of the top two, it could be useful, but you don't have to be a candidate to commit publicly to vote strategically in the next election based on well-defined issues.

Most US_Americans may not like the two main parties, but they also have relatively low political IQs. The problem is not that we have two dominant parties, but that our nearly exclusive use of winner-take-all elections and the way $peech has aggressively capitalized on the cultur wars wedge issues have left us with two very unresponsive slash irresponsible major parties.
dlw

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

Boy you really don't know what centrist means if you think Obama is one.

TiradeFaction said...

@Solomon

What is he then? I'd argue he's rather conservative, but many like to call him a "pragmatic centrist". What is your take?

mw said...

Hence the inherent problem with attempting to build a movement or organize independent voters around as amorphous, undefined, and subjective a concept as "Centrist".

Centrist is in the eye of the beholder.

DLW said...

props to MW...

Politics is too complicated for the categories of left/center/right to have more than a roughly heuristic significance.

I've no doubt that Solomon and some others have a shared notion of what it means to be a centrist and that our president doesn't qualify as such, but the devil is in the details.

I believe in a dynamic centrism from setting up the system so that neither side can get a "permanent majority" or dominate the other. In such a context, their incentive will be to work out "better" compromises more efficiently or with less grandstanding on both sides. And, of course, a dynamic centrism would give more voice to political outsiders who get the chance to move the center on their key issues.

dlw

TiradeFaction said...

I think the problem with Solomon's proposal is that there are real quantitative differences between the two parties, and that the Democrats are "far left socialists", and the Republicans are "far right", and the solution is to find reason minded centrists to bring a balance between the two. At least, this has been my experience with so called "centrist" advocates over the years. Sounds reasonable enough, the problem is, the analysis is flawed. I don't see how anyone can objectively look at the Democratic party now, and consider it a "far left socialist communist whatever" party, or even a left of centre party. And the differences between the two party are aesthetic "wedge issue" differences at best. The quantitative differences tend to be small to non existent, and oftentimes it's hard to tell the difference between the two parties, at least outside rhetoric.

DLW said...

TF,
yup, and I was doing my best at my former blog, "The Anti-Manichaeist" to reframe the cultural wars wedge issues so that our system would deal more with all of the other issues.

But then I realized that it was the leadership of the two major parties that kept stoking the wedge issues and so I had to shift to strategic electoral reform so that third parties would get more voice and be able to reframe these issues, along with adding spice to many other issues. But I also realized that this didn't require an even playing field or another major party so I chose to focus on strategic state or local level electoral reforms that were more potentially feasible.

I think FairVote will be doing this strongly in the coming year(s)...Cuz' it's a well thought out strategy that doesn't entail changes to the US constitution or what-not!

dlw

mw said...

"I believe in a dynamic centrism from setting up the system so that neither side can get a "permanent majority" or dominate the other. - dlw


I like that - "Dynamic Centrism" - Very much in the spirit of Madison's Federalist #51 - "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition"

On the basis of this comment, I am inducting you into the United Coalition of the Divided. Congratulations.

DLW said...

tnx,
what does this entail?
be sure to link to A New Kind of Third Party, as well!!!
dlw

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

"What is he then? I'd argue he's rather conservative, but many like to call him a "pragmatic centrist". What is your take?"

If you think Obama is "rather conservative", then you don't understand what conservative means. Obama is a liberal, he's just by no means a left wing liberal, and he has a habit of bending with the political winds.

I wrote about this in one of my columns on WNYC's Its a Free Country:

http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/its-free-blog/2011/jan/26/obamas-no-centrist/

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

"Centrist is in the eye of the beholder."

No it isn't... all it means is the center of the electorate. This can be easily shown with public opinion polling.

Doesn't make centrists more right or wrong, but its not hard to peg.

TiradeFaction said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TiradeFaction said...

@Solomon

I read it, and I still think it's a flawed analysis. You claim Obama shifted further left when the Democrats had a super majority, but I find that rather false, given his actual track record, like on pushing and passing a Republican corporate version of health reform, backing the TARP bailout of the wealthy, and etc. etc. Whether you agree or disagree with these policies is besides the point, these are most certainly not "left wing" actions. Because so, I don't believe the problem is we're ruled by a "far right" and a "Far left" party, with no ground for "centrists" who create their identities by simply combining the two extremes together, but two parties that have a general consensus on many issues, and only are divided on culture war "wedge" issues.

That's my take anyway.

TiradeFaction said...

Also, I should point out the Republicans (depending on your perspective) are neither really Libertarian (for the Libertarian Republicans out there) or socially conservative (harder to make the case for, but it's doable) and thus are not actually "far right" either. Again, it depends on how you define "right wing", but I'd argue the Republicans aren't conservatives either, as the Democrats are not leftists...

DLW said...

My understanding of Obama is that he was doing what he thought would procure a "permanent majority" for his party. This entailed going conservative on some issues. But I think he wanted to make it so that our politics would start to tilt to the left, instead of tilting towards more and more kleptocracy.
It didn't work, but that doesn't mean his heart wasn't in the right place...

I donated to Obama because I believed he would do more to arrest the long-standing slide of the US into utter kleptocracy or democracy of the dollar. He has done that, but he hasn't reversed it and it's proven to be a lot harder than antincipated. I think this is because strategic electoral reform is crucial for making the US's democracy robust. We need a better mix of winner-take-all and winner-doesn't-take-all elections, like we had in the past. With almost only winner-take-all elections, the competition is too cut-throat and there's no incentive whatsoever to "love" one's opponents....

mw said...

"Centrist is in the eye of the beholder." -mw

"No it isn't... all it means is the center of the electorate. This can be easily shown with public opinion polling." - sk

Public opinion polling that shows a large plurality on the right and left thinking that their opposite number should move to the center (meaning be more like them), does not mean that they agree on what the centrist policy or politician may be. Nor does it follow that there is a significant constituency in the center. It just means that the 40% on the left think the right should be more centrist and the 40% on the right think the left should be more centrist.

 
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