Monkey in the Middle

Andrew Sullivan has joined David Brooks in calling for a new centrist party. It came as a bit of a surprise when David Brooks called for the McCain-Lieberman Party last week. After all, Brooks has never been one to call for moderation of the policies of the Republican Party.Some of his positions were unexpected. He wrote, “On fiscal policy, the McCain-Lieberman Party sees a Republican Party that will not raise taxes and a Democratic Party that will not cut benefits, and understands that to avoid bankruptcy the country must do both.” I may have missed it, so could someone please point out to me the column in which David Brooks bucked the GOP and called for raising taxes?

It is less surprising to see Andrew Sullivan call for a new party since he doesn’t fit in well with either established party. He even sees a scenario in which this may be possible:

But Lieberman’s loss last week and potential success as an independent this November could also lead to a different and more interesting scenario. What if the Democratic left rejects Lieberman and, in the Republican primaries, the religious right rejects McCain? Both are too centrist for their party’s base. Both can reach out to the disenchanted in both parties and maybe form a new movement of the centre: a Ross Perot-style movement without Perot’s lunacy.

A couple of months ago I fantasised about a dream ticket that could both unite the US and rejoin the battle against Islamist terror with new vigour and integrity. An independent McCain-Lieberman ticket for 2008? Stranger things have happened. And, given the bizarre history of the past six years, stranger things no doubt will.

There certainly is dissatisfaction with the polarization of the two parties, but this does not mean that a McCain-Lieberman Party would be the solution. John McCain is strongly conservative, not a moderate. He only seems moderate due to opposition for some of the extremists of the religious right. He otherwise fits in very well with the Bush Administration despite being more reasonable on a handful of issues such as torture.

Why are two supporters of the war taken as leaders of such a centrist party? Not only was the war a tremendous mistake which has undermined our national security, it is no longer even the centrist position. A majority now feel that the war was a mistake and we should get out of Iraq.

I suspect far more people will support a centrist party in principle than will support any specific party. It is easier to get people to agree in principle to support the moderate course than to agree what the proper moderate course is. The center position is defined by the other parties. Taking the positions of each party and trying to find a middle position on each issue will not necessarily result in the best solutions. Compromising principles is not necessarily the reasonable or best centrist course.

While Brooks and Sullivan turn to a fairly conservative model for their centrist party, this is not the ideal which many would have. There are increasingly people turning away from the Republicans due to their social polices. There is increased call for a party which advocates a liberal social party, fiscal conservativism, as well as getting out of Iraq. This includes the Starbucks Republicans and Republicans who are angry with the party over issues such as their restrictions on stem cell research. This also happens to be the direction in which many are pushing the Democratic Party, which may be why Republicans place such a high priority on distorting the positions of Democrats. They sure can’t have those looking for a moderate party realize that the Democrats may be what they have really been looking for as opposed to the extremism of the GOP.

This nation was founded upon support for principles of liberty and separation of church and state. The founding fathers also compromised, and full liberties were not initially extended to women or blacks. Our history has been one of extending these principles to all. Now that we are faced with one political party being in the hands of extremists who desire to increase the degree of government intrusion in the lives of individuals, this is no time to search out a middle course which only calls for a moderate violation of principles.

Related stories under the fold.

Starbucks Republicans

Posted by Ron Chusid
May 14th, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

Newspaper writers continue to want to over-simplify politics by pretending that one group they have written about determines the next election. We’ve had soccer moms, security moms, NASCAR dads, and other such groups. Now we have Starbucks Republicans:

This year, it’s “Starbucks Republicans” — mostly young suburbanites who are fiscally conservative and socially moderate and won’t hesitate to pay $4 for a triple grande iced caramel macchiato. And, with a midterm election looming that could change the balance of power in Congress, polls show they have become increasingly disenchanted with President Bush and Republicans.

I’ve written here many times that social issues (along with foreign policy) have replaced economics as the more significant division between the two parties. Democrats have dropped old leftist economic ideas for pragmatism, while Republicans have become the party of big government, deficit spending, and redistribution of wealth (except that their redistribution of wealth is from the middle class to the wealthy).

Those who desire a socially moderate and fiscally conservative course may be incorrectly named “Starbucks Republicans.” As one Democratic candidate puts it, “They call themselves Demo-crats now.”

Whether Democrats will benefit from the dissatisfaction with Republicans will depend upon how well they get out their message this fall. One Democrat pollster warns, “They may be disappointed in Republicans, but they are not convinced yet that Democrats will do better. They view what is happening in Washington, D.C., as a childish food fight.”

Suburbs Grow in Significance

Posted by Ron Chusid
June 16th, 2006 @ 7:06 am

In 2004 John Kerry met his goals in the battleground states but George Bush still won a narrow victory largely due to bringing in more votes in the exburbs–votes that were missed by the pollsters. While apparently only the GOP understood the significance of the exburbs in 2004, this will not be missed by either party, or the media, in upcoming election. The New York Times reppports that the ‘06 Race Focuses on the Suburbs, Inner and Outer. This time both Democrats and Republicans see prospects for votes:

After years in which Republicans capitalized on rapid growth in outlying areas, Democrats now see an opportunity to make gains in close-in suburbs where changes in the composition of the population are working in their favor. In a dozen or so Congressional districts that are leading battlegrounds in the midterm elections, older, more densely packed suburbs are trending Democratic, helping to offset Republican dominance on the sprawling exurban frontier.

To really be competitive in the suburbs means that Democrats also must new constituencies to replace the collapsed New Deal coalition. This includes groups which we’ve discussed before such as the Starbucks Republicans. While the name might not be totally appropriate, many suburbanites may be more receptive to the message of more libertarian Democrats.

Republicans Lose Support in Suburbs over Stem Cell Research

Posted by Ron Chusid
July 20th, 2006 @ 9:53 pm

The Wall Street Journal questions if the stem-cell issue will be the Republicans’ Undoing. Long term there are basically two reasons why people vote Republican. There is the religious right which supports Bush on issues such as restricting funding of stem cell research, and there are people such as suburbanites who vote Republican in the hopes of lower taxes. The Wall Street Journal finds Republicans might be facing problems among the suburban voters who disagree with the agenda of the religous right as many Republicans are forced to dodge issues such as stem cell research:

The Republican’s reticence is understandable. While Mr. Bush’s position cheers religious and social conservatives in the Republicans’ base, nationwide it has alienated many moderates and has some questioning their fealty to a party increasingly defined by its cultural conservatism in emphasizing its opposition to issues such as gay marriage and abortion. “I think the Republican Party is in the Dark Ages on this,” says Mrs. Doyle, a registered Republican who says she now “tends to vote Democratic.”

Moreover, as the party has grown more socially conservative over the past quarter-century, the suburbs where many Republicans live have become more diverse and politically independent, marked by a mix of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism that is testing Republicans’ dominance there. “Those districts aren’t as reliably Republican as they were,” says campaign expert Bernadette Budde of the business-backed political advocacy group BIPAC.

Some Republicans believe that they will keep the votes of those who still agree with them on other issues. The Wall Street Journal checked whether voters will stick with the Republicans:

Not Mae Pearson, a 77-year-old widow at the Duckworth coffee. “I was raised Republican — strong Republican — and I thought it was so wonderful to move to DuPage County after I got married” in 1950, she says. “But it’s just too hard to be a Republican anymore because it’s not the Republican Party I grew up in.”

“Embryos count, people don’t,” complains George Strejcek, 62. He and wife Elizabeth, 58, describe themselves as former Republicans. “Goldwater I could tolerate,” he says. “But with these Republicans, they forget we live in a democracy, not a theocracy.”

“They’re not fiscally responsible either,” his wife says.

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  1. 1
    beachmom says:

    Well said, Ron. I read Andrew a lot, and I can tell you that he really can’t stand the “Anti-war Left”, much exemplified on DU and HuffPost. I gotta say they’re a pretty annoying bunch (this does not include everyone opposed to the Iraq War, but the basically hate America, hate Israel crowd who were also opposed to Afghanistan and who probably love Chavez, too), but in my view they hold very little power or sway in the Democratic Party. It was only when the civil war started, and an emerging majority of Americans became opposed to the War, that the Democrats started listening more to the anti-war voices.

    Yet Andrew seems to equate the extremely powerful wing of the GOP Party — the religious right with the relatively weak and small anti-war left (anti-all wars, that is) of the Dem Party. What he continues to not get is that 50% of Conn. Dems turned out to vote for Lamont. A hell of lot more than the “Anti-war Left” voted for Lamont, and it’s not just Democrats who are for getting troops out of Iraq.

    McCain/Lieberman is dead on arrival — Iraq is an absolute disaster, and Lieberman is only the beginning of the housecleaning (of both parties) that will sweep through this country. Anyone associated with that war is in big trouble.

  2. 2 says:

    They already have a party for socially liberal fiscal conservative dufusses: The Libertarian party.

    I supported the Afghanistan war despite that George W Bush provoked the 9-11 attacks with his foreign policy he conducted with the Taliban in secret. Why do you believe that Cheney kept the energy task force meeetings secret? Those energy task force meetings had to do with Afghanistan and Iraq and oil pipelines and oil.

    I opposed the Iraq invasion because Bush wanted to use the war to gain political capital to destroy the new deal.

    I say increase income taxes on the wealthy. Remove the social security FICA maximum income taxation cap of 88,000 dollars a year. Repeal and replace that horrid 1996 welfare punishment law and bring back the great society.

    George W Bush appears Lyndon Johnson without the Great Society.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Libertarian Party isn’t the only party made up of people who are socially liberal fiscal conservative “dufusses” as dmocrats calls them.

    There is a tremendous range in people who can be characterized this way. While it could apply to Libertarians, it also applies to a large number of Democrats, including current Democratic leaders such as John Kerry and Howard Dean. Jimmy Carter also characterized himself in this manner.

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