The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Unity '08: How *N*O*T* to build a center party!

In the posting on "Big Tent Revue" which I was talking about in my previous post, there was a reference by Rev. Sanders to the movement entitled "Unity '08." I remember that movement: they were going to try to build a ticket for the 2008 election which would take a Presidential candidate from one of the two major parties, and a Vice-Presidential candidate from the other of the two. This would in fact have been a blueprint for disaster. And in fact, we are seeing this happen this year in Massachusetts, where an independent ticket with a Democrat running for Governor and a Republican for Lieutenant Governor just broke up, with the Lieutenant Governorship candidate withdrawing and endorsing the Republican ticket.

The fact is that there is too big a separation between the Democrats and the Republicans who are currently in politics. Just about any Republican, no matter how moderate, is still closer to his fellow Republicans than to the most moderate Democrat. And just about any Democrat, no matter how moderate, is still closer to his fellow Democrats than to the most moderate Republican. (For the Republicans, perhaps I should have said "her" rather than "his": the most moderate Republicans in, say, the United States Senate would be the two Senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, now that Arlen Specter has crossed over to the Democrats.) In fact, this was demonstrated by the fact that Arlen Specter, who had been the most moderate Republican in the Senate, was not accepted by Pennsylvania Democrats as one of their own and went down to defeat in their primary. On the other side, do you think that Ben Nelson, who is probably the most moderate of the Democrats, will ever join the Republicans? I'm very sure not.

Perhaps the only pair of a Republican and a Democrat who might have been able to work together would have been John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, who are such close friends that their differences would have been able to be overcome. (In fact, there are stories that McCain wanted to put Lieberman on his ticket, but the idea was shot down by other Republicans.) But since the Republicans co-opted McCain in 2008, Unity '08 could not put up a McCain-Lieberman ticket.

No, the only way a group like Unity '08 could have put together the type of ticket they wanted to would be to nominate obscure people that nobody would have heard of, and this would not have drawn any votes. The only way that a centrist party could be created in a top-down manner would be for someone akin to Ross Perot, without close ties to either party but with enough money to advertise himself to the people, to be the nominee. And Perot was not interested in party building in his first campaign, while by the second, the bloom was off the rose; people didn't see Perot as presidential material any more. The other alternative, building from the bottom up, is one that the Libertarian Party has had some success with, electing a few state legislators and other local officers. If a centrist party were to go that route, they might have a chance, but I think our electoral system still makes it very difficult for any new party to succeed.

NOTE: Back in 2008, I'd thought that the post I made just after the election would be the last ever with a "2008 election" label. I guess I was wrong!

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