From the Bottom Up

In a so-called Letter from Washington in the New York Times, Albert Hunt of Bloomberg News provides a critical view of the top down political strategy that is being pursued by Americans Elect.  Hunt makes the case for working from the bottom up:
America’s two political parties are too often captives of narrower interests and a my-way-or-the-highway base. That flaw afflicted Democrats a generation ago, and today the central cause of political irresolution is the unyielding, out-of-the-mainstream elements of the Republican Party that often call the shots.

Sharp disagreements, disputes and divides are healthy in democratic societies. The debt ceiling, however, is not the stuff of earlier battles over war and peace, or civil rights or the New Deal. And when it comes to unsustainable deficits, Democrats and Republicans both are culpable.

Still, for more than a century and a half, these two parties have served America well, creating a more stable political system than most democracies. Sometimes they have benefited from independent or third-party movements, absorbing ideas and disaffected voters.

It may be that this time, one or both of these parties have gone too far and the new technology affords opportunities for sweeping change. If so, independent or third-party advocates should focus next year on electing hundreds of state legislators, dozens of members of Congress and perhaps even a statewide officeholder or two. That might provide the start of the necessary infrastructure of a new movement, or force the major political parties to adapt.

That is less sexy and a lot tougher than tapping someone to run what history tells us would be a quixotic campaign for president. 
In terms of possible Independent centrist candidates for president in 2012 or thereafter, would it not seem that Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee would be an obvious choice for consideration?  From the Providence Journal:
Is Governor Lincoln Chafee a viable third-party presidential candidate in 2012?
Apparently, the online readers of Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza seem to think so.
Chafee, the nation’s only independent governor and a former Republican U.S. senator, was among the top-10 political figures cited by readers, according to an item last week on Cillizza’s blog, The Fix.
The list includes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, businessman Donald Trump, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and CIA Director David Petraeus.
Chafee on Thursday did not deny his interest, but said simply: “I’m focused on Rhode Island.” But his spokesman, Christian Vareika, had more to say the day earlier: “The Governor is appreciative of this national recognition of his record of independence while in Washington, including his consistent fiscal conservatism and his farsighted votes against the war in Iraq and the Bush tax cuts, both of which have resulted in enormous deficits and our country’s current debt crisis. However, while flattered, Governor Chafee is focused on Rhode Island and bringing job creation and economic prosperity back to our state.”

1 comment:

Leonidas said...

Didn't Chaffe run to the left of the democrats in his last election?