A SIMPLE PLAN
The conventions are over. I was wrong again. The Democrats this year outshone the Republicans, by a long chalk.
The question at hand is what is the future to be?
The one thing both conventions demonstrated is that we can have little hope of a more effective Congress than we have now. Recalcitrance in both parties is unyielding. We face another four years of push/pull in-your-face incivility and unreason, which means, in short, no solutions or progress at all.
This sounds dire and pessimistic. It is. On the other hand, this may be the very moment when a real solution to Congressional gridlock can begin.
I am not advocating the beginning of 2016’s campaign today.
What I am advocating is a slow, steady construction of a third party which in 2016, say, can capture perhaps ten house seats. Not necessarily even a third party: a block of independent legislators whose politics could fairly be described as middle of-the-road-sensible, or, if you will, liberal Republicans.
This is what happens in parliamentary politics in other countries.
If there is a small, committed, intelligent block of “independent” House (or Senate) members that needs to be wooed and won in order to make certain that either the Republicans or the Democrats can get their own legislation approved and signed for the benefit of the country, then so be it. Make the majority parties deal with eight or ten unaligned “third party” members to get their programs approved and the nation has a chance eventually to see the end of what we have experienced as mean-spirited, selfish, career-prolonging obduracy.
We’ve had third parties before. Some have been angry offshoots of disappointed convention delegates or candidates, some carry titles currently like “Green” or “Peace” or “Libertarian.”
But mostly people have realized how difficult this task is, that finding direction and leaders is uncertain, that constructing a platform that is fairer or less prejudicial or simply better for the country is too great an uphill battle.
Facing down the current two parties on any footing has seemed futile and doomed to a moment in the sun before fading to black.
But, really, what would it take to do this?
Funding is not the problem. To begin with what are required are ideas and resolve. Determination. Communication in today’s tech-savvy world belongs to us all, and would-be politicians (albeit of a different stripe) have as much access to this as anyone else.
There have been, and there still are, independent “consultancies” made up of former House and Senate members. Often these groups include industry legends who have access to information and economic theories, or to legal niceties and knowledge.
These pro-publica groups are not always led by “personalities” as often as they are by deeply concerned Republicans and Democrats who have come together in frustration and hope. They have issued plans and ideas for fiscal solidity, for wartime strategies, for consumer safety, for public health.
What they haven’t done is taken the next step forward: consolidate their thoughts and ideas into something that every day voters and citizens can hang onto, can build with them. We need to know that if we enroll in a new approach to government that the group offering it will last. We need the same certainty that Wall Street says it now lacks, the same sense of safety in investing in manufacturing or infrastructure planning that the nation as a whole now lacks.
The best part of all this is that this can start now, in preparation for 2016’s very modest electoral successes.
People can begin to consider this as a viable proposal that in time will make our government more responsive to what is truly needed for the public good.
Organization need not be secret, just inexpensive and effective. Pledges rather than immediate contributions can be solicited, which gives the public time to prepare for this initial skirmish. And, wonder of wonders, if this can be done over the next four years, there is plenty of time to prepare a campaign of selective targets, i.e., those current lawmakers who can be identified as intransigent, ignorant, selfish, ambitious for themselves to the exclusion of representing the people who somehow (thanks once again largely to Citizens United) elected them. Or legislators who slipped in quietly, have sat on their hands, followed whatever a party’s line is, and collected benefits.
The announcement of such a plan would also serve as fair warning to those same legislators.
In fact, if such a program were developed now, the House elections of 2014 could serve as a template for 2016. Better, it would serve as a demonstration of what works and what doesn’t. All at a price we the public can afford.
Apart from the intellectual quotient needed for its appeal, this “parliamentary” system needs only a few, a dozen at most, committed, perceptive, experienced men or women new voters can depend on to be as good as their word.
Surely in the US of A we have a dozen like that?