Mike Kueber's Blog

September 27, 2011

A third party in American politics

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:28 am
Tags: ,

Matt Miller, a columnist with the Washington Post (and a former Clinton aide), wrote a column today in favor of a third party in American politics.    According to Miller, the current political parties are (a) too focused on winning elections and not on solving problems that are eminently solvable, (b) unduly dependent on their special interests, and (c) afraid that voters will abandon anyone who talks straight with them.  Who can argue with that?

My favorite line from Miller’s column – “As always in a democracy, better leadership starts with better followership.”  I think there is a tendency to blame our politicians for America’s perilous condition, whereas I think the voters need to accept responsibility and accountability.  And Miller acknowledges that new groups such as Americans Elect and No Labels are doing good work in  developing, “a new politics of problem-solving. But we’ll never mobilize the ‘far center’ without an agenda around which people can rally.”

Miller takes a crack at creating an agenda for this new third-party:

  1. Fix the economy before fixing the debt/deficit.  Stimulate the economy by eliminating the corporate income tax and the payroll tax, and eventually replace them with a consumption tax.  Also impose an import tax on Chinese goods to counter their unfair currency manipulation.  And finally, spend to create jobs on shovel-ready infrastructure.
  2. Fix education.  More money for teachers, but nothing about union-based impediments to evaluating teachers and getting rid of those who are ineffective and are unable to be effective.
  3. Fix health care.  Tweak ObamaCare so that it relies more on private insurance, while retaining universal coverage, albeit less gold-plated and more catastrophic.
  4. Rein in Wall Street.  Increase capital requirements.
  5. Fix our broken political system.  Increase voter turnout by entering all people who vote into a multi-million-dollar lottery, give each registered voter $50 “patriot dollars” to give to the candidate of their choice, and lower the voting age to fifteen.
  6. Require national service.  Two years.
  7. Get our fiscal house in order.  Balance the budget by 2018 by cutting national defense and entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) and increasing taxes by implementing a dirty-energy tax and a new tax rate of 50% on those making more than $5 million, plus letting the Bush tax rates expire on everyone, not just the rich.

Although Miller’s agenda is unmistakably liberal (what would you expect from a former Clinton aide?), it is worth discussing.  Unfortunately, in our current environment, both sides would declare it dead-on-arrival.  Republicans would refuse to consider any tax increases or any stimulus spending, while Democrats would refuse to consider any cuts to entitlements or any tax increases to the middle class or any education reforms.

I’m not convinced that a third party is more likely to be effective than trying to elect moderates within the two parties, but I will be following this issue with great interest.

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