A Third Way?
Earlier this week I did two pieces on the scary extremes of right and left in our culture and politics these days. Is there any hope of rescuing our culture and politics from the extremes? Extremes that are currently disproportionately empowered by the two-parties and the primary system.
At present 44% of eligible voters identity as “independent,” which suggests there is a constituency for an alternative. That is the second highest percentage of voters identifying as “independent” ever recorded.
At Post Alley, for which I am also a writer, Mort Krondacke argued it is time for third-party that doesn’t just play the usual third-party role, that of a spoiler, as Ross Perot did in 1992 and Ralph Nader did in 2000.
Krondacke calls attention to the proposal of New Jersey Congressman, Tom Malinowski, for a “fusion party.” Here’s Mort:
“Malinowski is dead right in saying that America needs a third party – but one that’s national and strong and not seen as a spoiler, but as a truly viable alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties.
“It likely would have to be formed by a powerful band of Republicans fed up with their party’s embrace of extremism, plus pro-police, pro-business, pro-merit, and anti-woke Democrats. The party would also need a charismatic leader who didn’t rely only on popular disgust with the two major parties, but could convince voters that moderation, civility, problem-solving, and national unity were the essential path America can take to avoid self-destruction.”
The same day that Krondacke’s piece appeared at Post-Alley, David Brooks served up a column titled, “A 2024 Presidential Candidate Who Meets the Moment.” If you dive-in expecting that Brooks will name the heretofore undiscovered Ms. or Mr. Right, you’ll be disappointed. He cites no names.
But he does argue, with Krondracke, that the hold of the two traditional parties has slipped badly and that Americans are looking for a “fusion” candidate, one that combines center-left economics with a center-right take on cultural issues. Here’s Brooks,
” . . . if ever there was a moment ripe for a Ross Perot-like third candidate in the 2024 general election, this is that moment. There are efforts underway to prepare the way for a third candidate, and in this environment an outsider, with no ties to the status quo, who runs against the establishment and on the idea that we need to fundamentally fix the system — well, that person could wind up winning the presidency.”
Brooks observes that both Democrats and Republicans no longer represent their historic constituencies, which were the working class for Dem’s and business for Republicans. The Dem’s are now “an establishment progressive party” while the R’s are “anti-establishment conservatives.”
I’ve tended to be skeptical of 3rd party candidates, especially after Ralph Nader gave us Bush over Gore in 2000, with a little help from the Supreme Court.
But it does seem to me that the current system is really a zero-sum game, where attacking and vilifying the opposition is more important than governing. That’s not a functional system. Moreover, the hostility and acrimony seep like a poison through our entire culture.
Krondracke and Brooks are right that there is a large middle not currently finding themselves represented by party. The current abortion debate illustrates this. The largest part of the U.S. public is not represented by early the punitive R’s or the abortion at any time up to delivery D’s.
Is a “Revolt of the Moderates” possible?