Monday, April 25, 2005

The Brownstein Wave

Ron Brownstein's column in the LA Times today has set the moderate/centrist quadrant of the blogosphere aflame with happy thoughts. In the piece, Brownstein hypothesizes that in this era when political polarization is coinciding with increased influence from the Internet in political trends, there is a very real opportunity for an independent political movement to take root and flourish: "the two parties are pursuing strategies that create an opening in the center of the electorate, even as the Internet makes it easier for a new competitor to fill it."

Joe Trippi, the strategist behind Howard Dean's insurgent "outsider" campaign in 2003-4, who believes that the Democrats have a better chance of winning by moving to the left and stabilizing that base (as Bush did with the right in 2004), recognizes that such a strategy has disadvantages: "We are now moving toward a very dangerous place for both parties. It is becoming much more possible for an independent or third party to emerge because they are leaving so much space in the middle."

The money paragraphs from Brownstein:

"[I]f the two parties continue on their current trajectories, the backdrop for the 2008 election could be massive federal budget deficits, gridlock on problems like controlling healthcare costs, furious fights over ethics and poisonous clashes over social issues and Supreme Court appointments. A lackluster economy that's squeezing the middle-class seems a reasonable possibility too.

In such an environment, imagine the options available to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) if he doesn't win the 2008 Republican nomination, and former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, now that he's dropped his flirtation with running for mayor of New York. If the two Vietnam veterans joined for an all-maverick independent ticket, they might inspire a gold rush of online support - and make the two national parties the latest example of the Internet's ability to threaten seemingly impregnable institutions."

The Bull Moose weighed in amorously on Brownstein's column this morning, and The Yellow Line's Alan Stewart Carl says of McCain/Kerrey '08 "We can only hope." Over at The Moderate Republican, Dennis wonders if 2008 will be the time, when a party or movement comes along that will "promote a strong centrism, instead of the mushy middle approach."

This RINO wonders too, will 2008 be the tipping point? If things continue on their current trajectory, there are certainly going to be a whole lot of disaffected folks in the political center looking for somewhere to go over the next few years, looking for someone who can offer anything other than more of today's unproductive partisan-babble. We want solutions to the problems facing the country, not political nuclear winter, and there's certainly a niche out there to be filled.

So how 'bout it, Senators?


At 3:41 PM, Blogger Mike said...

You have an excellent point. I think the fall of the mainstream media is going to have a big impact on politics. They are the major reason why a third party cannot emerge today. They never let the third party into the presidential debates. Well, unless they can secure a democratic victory (See Ross Perot in 1992). Hopefully the internet can change things because I think we're due for a change.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger EG said...

Two points:

1. A third party can only rise from the blogosphere (or a rich donor). Perot's 1992 campaign was financed by himself and his friends. I submit that many of the current third parties (Green, Constitution, Libertarian, etc.) are unknown by most Americans because they cannot get their policies before the general public.

2. If a third party expects to even make a dent in 2008, it must have some candidates or supporters on the ballots in 2006. There are about ten states that a third party either cannot appear on the ballot or will find extreme resistance. A third party candidate will need to fight in the remaining states and one way to start the momentum for 2008 is to have some candidates win local and state offices. At the very least, have some independents win office in the next set of elections.

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I think it is possible for a third-party to form from the top down, starting with the presidency and then getting converts from there. If anyone could do it, McCain is probably the man. And I think blogs could be a big part in pushing centrist convictions. Right now, there are FAR too few of us. But as more people tire of the vitriol from both parites, there could be a lot more of us come 2008.

It's ashame that Centrists are the ones now wanting a third party. I think, until recently, most of us felt the main parties pretty much were centrist, or had plenty of room for us. But it's becoming clearer that a centrist party IS needed. And it could become dominant, killing of the Dems like the Republicans did the Whigs.

Ah, to dream...


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