Thank god the Reasonable Ones are finally moving ahead on this.
America is divided. As never before! Everyone from Congressmen to economists to the fabled Man on the Street will tell you this. It is a product of four decades of increasing inequality, stagnating middle class wages, and a political system that has failed to remedy those things because it has come to be controlled by money more, and more, and more. In short, our national political system has, for decades now, not only failed to fix the long-term economic trends undermining the lives of the vast majority of Americans, but actively abetted those trends.
So pissed off people elected Donald Fucking Trump. And here we are.
Within politics, there have been two distinct reactions to this anti-establishment upheaval. The establishment—particularly of the Democratic Party—has concluded that the solution is to run to the center, “moderating” (meaning changing) positions as necessary until a sufficient number of people are attracted to a muddled, something-tepid-for-everyone platform. And the left and right wings—where the anti-establishment sentiment originated in the first place—see this as an opportunity to double down and attract disaffected people to their sides. The mistake that the established political parties make is to think that if they run to the center, everyone is obligated to follow them. Why? There is a much more straightforward solution: Put a third party in the middle.
The Clintons attend the same hedge fund weddings as Tiffany Trump. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner vacation on the yacht of a billionaire Democratic donor. Kellyanne Conway and David Koch flit about the same Hamptons party as Chuck Schumer and Gwen Graham. It’s not that all of these people are exactly the same, but they are more alike than they are different. The Clintons and the Bushes have far more in common with one another than either of them do with Bernie Sanders, or Steve Bannon. The majority of powerful people in both current parties that like to refer to themselves as “mainstream” may haggle over minor issues, but the generally agree that the government must boost and protect private capital, that America must be a military powerhouse, and that the current state of affairs must only be tweaked very slowly, if at all.
Put all of these people in the same party. Let the people who actually have ideals have their own parties on each side.
True left wingers want a radical reordering of wealth and power. True right wingers want decentralization and a radical deconstruction of government as we know it. It is absurd to pretend that either of these groups should be satisfied with a political spectrum that ranges from Hillary Clinton to Mitch McConnell. Nowhere in that spectrum will you find full socialism, or full “deconstruction of the administrative state.” That is because the existing establishment is, quite naturally, focused most of all on the maintenance of existing power structures. Its ideological arguments are minor. That’s because “the center,” as it is defined currently, represents not an actual political ideology, but a set of focus-grouped hot button positions designed to rope in the maximum number of disaffected voters—in the service of the power structure staying the same.
Of course, the ruthless logic of our two-party system dictates that if either the left or the right starts up a third party, all it will accomplish is to weaken either the Democrats or Republicans, thereby splitting the vote and allowing the opposition party to triumph. Everyone who actually believes things is told to suck it up for the sake of lesser evil. But if you put the third party in the middle, this problem goes away. Are you one of the 20% of people who approve of the job Congress is doing? Great—vote for the Centrists. Are you happy with the way that the rich are taking all of the economic growth and stuffing it in their own pockets while nobody else can get a raise? Great—vote for the Centrists. Are you enjoying an overfunded military, underfunded health care system, and endless unwinnable wars? Great—vote for the Centrists. They will, as they always have, keep everything pretty much the same.
If you want to smash this shit one way or another, vote for the Left or the Right. Each of them, at least, will change things. (For the worse? Maybe!)
In our miserable post-Trump era, the groundwork for this is already being laid. Here we have the anti-Trump Republicans, allying with some of America’s least inspiring Democrats in the “Centrist Project.” Here we have the pathetic “Centrist Democrats,” founding a group called “New Democracy” in order to ensure that the party does not mistakenly allow itself to be used to actually push for policies that might improve the lives of millions of people but cost the rich money. The centrist spirit is in full effect. Up with business! Down with passionate philosophy of any kind! Wave the flag at the Iowa State Fair and eat a fried Oreo and deregulate the financial industry! Huzzah!
Put the third party in the middle. Let the people vote for what they actually believe. Let me vote to tax the rich. Let the Breitbart lunatics vote to carve the Ten Commandments on every school. And let the CEOs vote for their own protectors. This will give us a political system that actually represents where people are. Not just what people are forced to settle for.
Don’t let the Centrists piggy back off of everyone else’s convictions. Put them right in the middle. Right on their own island. And watch them drown.