Thursday, June 01, 2006

Noonan: America ready for third party?

From Peggy Noonan:
Something's happening. I have a feeling we're at some new beginning, that a big breakup's coming, and that though it isn't and will not be immediately apparent, we'll someday look back on this era as the time when a shift began.

All my adult life, people have been saying that the two-party system is ending, that the Democrats' and Republicans' control of political power in America is winding down. According to the traditional critique, the two parties no longer offer the people the choice they want and deserve. Sometimes it's said they are too much alike--Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Sometimes it's said they're too polarizing--too red and too blue for a nation in which many see things through purple glasses.
The Perot experience seemed to put an end to third-party fever. But I think it's coming back, I think it's going to grow, and I think the force behind it is unique in our history.
The problem is not that the two parties are polarized. In many ways they're closer than ever. The problem is that the parties in Washington, and the people on the ground in America, are polarized. There is an increasing and profound distance between the rulers of both parties and the people--between the elites and the grunts, between those in power and those who put them there.

On the ground in America, people worry terribly--really, there are people who actually worry about it every day--about endless, weird, gushing government spending. But in Washington, those in power--Republicans and Democrats--stand arm in arm as they spend and spend. (Part of the reason is that they think they can buy off your unhappiness one way or another. After all, it's worked in the past. A hunch: It's not going to work forever or much longer. They've really run that trick into the ground.)

On the ground in America, regular people worry about the changes wrought by the biggest wave of immigration in our history, much of it illegal and therefore wholly connected to the needs of the immigrant and wholly unconnected to the agreed-upon needs of our nation. Americans worry about the myriad implications of the collapse of the American border. But Washington doesn't. Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican George W. Bush see things pretty much eye to eye. They are going to educate the American people out of their low concerns.
More to the point, people see the Republicans as incapable of managing the monster they've helped create--this big Homeland Security/Intelligence apparatus that is like some huge buffed guy at the gym who looks strong but can't even put on his T-shirt without help because he's so muscle-bound. As for the Democrats, who co-created Homeland Security, no one--no one--thinks they would be more managerially competent. Nor does anyone expect the Democrats to be more visionary as to what needs to be done. The best they can hope is the Democrats competently serve their interest groups and let the benefits trickle down.

Right now the Republicans and Democrats in Washington seem, from the outside, to be an elite colluding against the voter. They're in agreement: immigration should not be controlled but increased, spending will increase, etc.

Are there some dramatic differences? Yes. But both parties act as if they see them not as important questions (gay marriage, for instance) but as wedge issues. Which is, actually, abusive of people on both sides of the question. If it's a serious issue, face it. Don't play with it.

I don't see any potential party, or potential candidate, on the scene right now who can harness the disaffection of growing portions of the electorate. But a new group or entity that could define the problem correctly--that sees the big divide not as something between the parties but between America's ruling elite and its people--would be making long strides in putting third party ideas in play in America again.
Libertarian, anybody? Well, we couldn't elect anyone who was 100% loyal to the national Libertarian Party platform, since the LP believes in open borders and no war on terror. Maybe I should start a NeoLibertarian Party to match the neolibertarian ideology?

I, however, would not want to run, since I wouldn't want any political opponents rummaging through my closet to find any skeletons. I swear, I did not know she was a cop! Plus, she said she was 18, so how was I to know? ;-) For those of you on the left, the prior two sentences were sarcastic.