Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A new third party!


Can you blame me that I have a lot of politics on my mind until this election is over? Back to history the like when it is over if I seem obsessed for a while. Following is a preview of my national address at the first presidential debate tonight.
Ahem!

First, whoever it was that was responsible for my addressing a national audience preceding this first presidential debate, will perhaps forever remain a mystery. But, thank you. It probably would be more appropriate if Gary Johnson, who I suppose I support for president, was allowed to speak instead of me, so that everyone would have some perspective from someone who is actually running -- or at least so we are told - and not only from the two parties whose sole goal seems to be beating the other side so they can obtain as much power as possible, rather than addressing our problems. But I suspect that as casual, freedom loving and unconventional as Mr. Johnson can be, the fleeting fantasy that he will catch fire and actually become president might overcome him and he would engage in describing that netherworld of libertarianism that often simply frightens people who aren't familiar with it, and it would make of him merely a news cycle novelty act for the media.  
And thanks for seating the president and former governor right in front of me, because I have something to say to them.  You fellas are not going to like this a bit, but you should relax. Your faces are so tight you could bounce dimes off of them. I intend to be civil.  But I am not intending on letting the ridiculous peacock strutting cloak we drape our leaders in, particularly our presidents, stop me from saying the hard truths. Because if we don't start to not just know what is going to happen, but free people up to build something else, we can kiss our future away. Never mind the kids and grandkids stuff. I mean in a few years. And every single person who has been paying attention knows that. It's like that giant icicle that is hanging from your eaves.  It is going to come down at some point. We just don't know when.

Are there any reasons for these debates anyway except for us to see how boring, deceptive, ill spoken and small these candidates can be? Nothing personal. That is number 3 on my list of political institutions that once had a purpose and have been made irrelevant, holding no substance or value anymore-

1. Congressional speeches.
2. Political party conventions.

3. Presidential debates.

4. State of the Union addresses. "The state of the union is . . . strong!" As long as you are selling that snake oil, then we will be weak in the things that matter.
5. Political platforms.

I realize at some point they are going to pull the plug on me, so I'm going to get to my point right away.
We desperately need a third party. Not just any third party, of course. There are plenty of those. But of what value is the Conservative Party or the Green Party except to torture the major party they are closest to in ideology by taking votes? Ironically, if one of those small parties is at all successful, they then end up with president they least want.  The conservatives are tied to a vision of a "Golden Age" that never existed and the Greens to a "Utopia" that never will.  When I say we need a third party I mean one that is going to recognize that most of America is not being represented because the two parties make sure that either the candidate who is put up is from the extreme end of the party's spectrum or, the last two elections on the right, is a moderate so handcuffed by the extreme end of his party that he might as well let them control him like a marionette.

 We desperately need a genuine third party because the two party system is hopelessly institutionalized so that the two big parties can keep their power throughout the three branches, the 50 states, our territories, municipalities  our schools and increasingly over every part of our lives including what we feed our kids and how we discipline them.  Not that having a deeply divided and hostile parties opposed to each other to the point of would be bad if some sort of deadlock would keep them from mischief.  Sure, hypothetically, that sounds great and I always used to prefer deadlock to the supposedly helpful, if actually disastrous, ideas you folks would come up with. But so much damage has already been done!  It's becomes institutionalized and needs to be undone. We are living on fumes. And you all know it. You know it but do nothing to actually change it because you are trained to think that your own ambitions and party power are identical with the country's interest. And the way to continue to do it is to get those who are tied to you to vote for you because then they will continue to get stuff from, like better tax deals or waivers or less oversight, and so on, so that they can be the last men and women floating when the big swirl takes us down the drain. And, if push comes to shove we all know you will abandon your country for your own good in the "jiffiest of jiffies," as a certain character said in one of my favorite movies.
How does it feel, Mr. President, Governor, to know that most everyone who is watching this debate is already aware that you are both going to lie between your teeth, or at best, exaggerate the other guy's weaknesses and maximize your own strengths as if we were idiots and couldn't tell?   Neither of you is actually going to discuss real solutions because if you did, you would be cut to pieces by the media and the other side. Real solutions take sacrifice, and, time and time again, we see that the public doesn't like to hear it outside some doomsday situation, like during WWII or after 9-11. And, let's face it, if that was your intent, to tell the truth, you never would have gotten nominated in the first place.  Sure, the folks on your side are going to pretend you are great and he isn't, but, they know too what this is.  If they didn't know, they wouldn't have to spin so mightily when it is over later.  And people watching - many of them partisans themselves who will believe or repeat anything negative about the other guy, will rush to their favorite media outlet where they can be sure to hear that their guy won.  The independents and moderates, well, they will shake their heads and say, I don't really want to vote for him, but he is not quite as bad as the other side and we have no choice if we don't want to waste our vote.

Okay, generalizations over. Time to focus on the two of you. First, let me address the president, and tell you why you and your party have failed our country in so many ways. Then I will turn to you, governor, and explain why only your party faithful seem to want you to take the helm - and, here's the funniest part - even they don't really like you.  At the end, I'm going to say out loud the open secret . We'll call it for short, the emperor's new clothes.
Mr. President, you are a domestic disaster working hard to match it on foreign affairs. No, not because you are a secret Muslim in league with the Muslim Brotherhood to make us a caliphate, as I've heard so many say.  Not because you were born in Kenya, because that isn't true either. Not because you hate Israel or are a Communist or secretly want the country to fail.  That's all hornswoggle. Ironically, conservatives who want nothing more than to have you retired early have actually harmed their own interests by thinking that if they repeat these things enough more people would start to believe it. I have no doubt it irritated more independents who might have otherwise voted for you than it converted some to your view. But, I don't want to try to ride two horses with one ass as a certain character said in one of my favorite Westerns.  So, don't worry conservatives, I'm still working on the president.

Here's why you are a disaster. You believed in the myth of the New Deal. It is a myth that the way you get out of a depression or a recession is by dramatically increasing spending. We know this from the words of FDR's own treasury secretary after they had tried and tried for years. If there is any truth to it, then it is so only if spending is targeted to objects that actually create relatively permanent private sector jobs - but no one can know for sure what that would be. And, Mr. President, you buy into what Friedrich Hayek called the "fatal conceit," that somehow our leaders or academics are smart enough to plan an economy, something so complex that it is impossible for any of them singly or in concert to do.  I know you believe this because you scared the hell out of me early in your term when you said that we needn't worry because the "pointy heads" are on it. As if economists, gamblers, financers, bankers and all around Ivy League executives can somehow predict the future or determine how to make the economy better.  Maybe you know better, but then you know many people don't and you are aware they don't follow closely enough to figure it out. I'm even going to give you that the Republicans seem to believe these same things when they are in office. They do, but, less than you do. I also think (hope?) that they have learned a lesson.
Government is very big on making business put warnings on products, even when it is known they don't work or have any impact at all. How about you and congress have to put a warning on all spending bills explaining that every single dollar that is spent has to be paid for by additional tax on Americans at more than a dollar taxed for a dollar spent due to long term interest payments? Because that I don't think most people realize this.  Yes, it may be really cheap for the U.S. to borrow money, but when it is so deeply in debt, a zero interest payment would crush us anyway because we can't pay any of it back. I know you really know this, because you have said so in the past before you were president.
Don't you find it amazing, Mr. President, that Russia and China have made a recovery after the debacle of Communism by becoming more capitalistic. Yet, the legislation and rules coming out of your administration have been to lessen capitalism in the name of regulation.  No, neither most Republicans nor I am are against regulations that are neutral - that is, those which are general in nature, don't pick winners or losers, and don't restrict competition or so burden industries that people and business are leaving fields.  

Everything wrong with the economy is not your fault, but the last four years are for the most part. You continued the worst of President Bush's policies, like TARP and bailouts. And you doubled down with the stimulus package and the health care bill which is the most disputed, poorly drafted and badly legislated bill in history. You've also issued waiver after waiver to that same health care bill, letting some companies off the hook. Not just companies, but whole states. We already know your plan will cost a multiple of what you promised.  We must thank our media and politicians that everyone didn't know it when it was enacted because this type of thing happens time and time again.
I will add something though that the conservatives have right about you, though they cry wolf so earnestly few pay attention to their criticisms anymore outside of their own base.  I have defended you to a large extent on foreign policy while disagreeing with what is sometimes called your apology tour, your weird little bow to the Saudi King, and your Cairo speech.  I think the right has you totally wrong when it comes to Israel.  Netanyahu in particular needs tough love. But, your handling of the Benghazi uprising, your diplomacy during the whole post "Arab Spring" period and the outrage across the Middle East supposedly due to a video that the government has nothing to do with - that no one has anything to do with except one single person - that was horrible. While giving our free speech lip service, you managed to trivialize it in your U.N. speech and the pronouncements of many of your people.  You made it sound like a free society can take free speech or leave it.  And that is just wrong.  If there is any point to our exporting democracy, in our trying to lead by example, be a "story and a city on a hill," then we must at least set forward as an inalienable right, freedom to speak and believe as you will freely without government interference. Indeed, with the protection of government. Yes, we too have time, place and manner restrictions - but always that respect that there must be a way for the content to be made public.  I won't pretend there can't be other limitations the courts have carved out, but they themselves are so restricted they virtually never happen - like a true imminent national security situation. You can still make this right, but if you don't, it is as big a mistake as when Ronald Reagan moved the marines off shore in Lebanon. At least he knew it. Do you?

If you are re-elected I see more running down of our ability to dig ourselves out of this hole. If you get a chance you will add more so-called stimulus, when we all know it is not stimulate anything, but continuing to debase the currency and drown us deeper in debt. Even if you try to make it only for things like education and investment in critical industries or infrastructure, we all know what would happen by the time it got out of congress. 
I could sit here and drill holes in you for all the things you were against that you are now for - raising the debt limit, undeclared wars and so on, but I'll leave that to Governor Romney.  I know that is the kind of stuff you guys are trained to do. Attack each other's characters and beat each other up over flip flops, past mistakes, gaffes and things that just came out wrong. No, I want to beat up your philosophy and our system.

Okay, Governor Romney, stop smiling. Your turn.
I can't believe I hope you win. Even as I sit here calling for a third party, I know it is not going to happen this election, if in my lifetime. You are what I got.  In 2008, I was not very fond of you.  From what I can tell from those I talk to who want you to win, that was not unusual. But, you learned a lot about what worked and didn't and came across more likeable and moderate this time. But that is not why you won the nomination. You won because you have a party that is split between the fiscal and cultural conservatives. Already many are fretting about what next.  Real moderates who I think most Republicans and some independents would have preferred, such as Chris Christie and my personal favorite, Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels, would not even run for the most part and they were smart to avoid it,  because the fire-eaters and religious right would have either ignored them or burned them alive. And, perhaps that is the fate of your party. To eat your own young and promote the least palatable among you.

Worse, the whole libertarian ideal that your party claims to stand upon has proven to be a pretense almost every time. When you take the reins, if you do, it is very unlikely that even if you get the Senate to go along - the House being a given -- you are going to make very few changes. Want to know how I know? Four reasons. First, experience. Very few reasonable changes have been made in the past when your party does get in power. Case in point. George W. Bush. But even if you go back to Ronald Reagan when the post Great Society expansion of spending really took off, you can see that he backed away from any real dramatic changes, such as to social security.  Second, Republicans picked you instead of Ron Paul.  If they had been for real change they would have picked him, not you.  In fact, mainstream Republicans find his ideas of actually balancing the budget and weaning people off entitlements, staying out of foreign wars, as dangerous. Third, you have seen on television what is happening in Greece, and you are all afraid of reliving the 60s, only worse, with a deadly combination of furious unions and angry unemployed who would be getting less than they want.  Fourth, and this is probably the most crushing part, we have all gotten so used to the government taking care of people who actually do need help, from handicapped children to the wounded warriors,  that most people like it, and they - we - probably will not allow an untested and unstated program of charity  or hybrid insurance to take its place even if everything else is going to hell very quickly.
But, there's another reason your party just can't seem to get on top. It's the gay thing. It's the anger about gays as if they are in a secret plot to undermine society and must be forced to admit that they have chosen a sexual inclination for the sole purpose of being different and offending you. Sure, that's why people go through the trauma of coming out. It's so much fun to have people demonize and hate you people can't wait to sign up.  Honestly, and this is just my personal opinion, I don't think you really feel that way anymore than Obama did or I think McCain did. You just have no choice with your party but to give it credence. If Dick Cheney and Theodore Olsen can see the light here, why can't you? 
 

Here's the little secret I promised to tell the two of you. You "Mr. We are going to save you all from the socialist melodrama" and you "Mr. The oceans are going to recede rhetoric President." Nobody believes either of you are going to change anything, no matter what you say. Most of us kind of believe that whoever is elected, things will likely get worse. So, people will pick their poison, knowing it just won't matter much. It won't matter because as long as the entire power of our governments (states too) are in the hands of party-men with so much contempt for each other that there is only one thing they have more contempt for - and, that, is anything that might wrench the power away from the two party system. 
And short of civil war or revolution, there is only one thing that we the people can do to change things - vote in a third party.

But, we know from experience that the two of you - and I am speaking to the parties now - will make sure that we'll that anyone with any connections to either of you will be ostracized and punished if they try this. You will warn the base that you will lose if they vote for this horrible person. You will attack the third party candidate on a personal level and complain that he or she ise the worst of all politicians. You will do everything in your power to make sure they will be cut off from power.
So, what is someone who wants to be a real third party to do? Well, the candidate probably has to be, initially, a person of completely independent means who can afford to throw away a billion dollars. Or, it has to be someone who has a national soapbox so that he can raise that kind of money. Don't worry, there will be consultants necessary to navigate the labyrinth of campaign fund raising laws, but I would stop there with the so-called experts except for specific technical problems you might have.  Policy experts will just screw you up and if you need them, you probably don't have what it takes to be a successful candidate.  I'd rather you just say, I don't know with respect to anything you just don't know.

You will need a name for your party, of course, not that matters much. I don't think anything with "independent" or "moderate" in it will work because people will assume that it means you don't stand for anything. I would stay away from anything that will help paint you as conservative (which the liberals will call you) or liberal (which the conservatives will call you).  Forget "National" anything(reminds some people of Nazis) too as well as "Whig" (just too old sounding). It needs at least a little panache and also some stateliness, has to be short enough, but also somehow suggest we are the party for most Americans.  I'm not going to be any good at this, but I'll suggest The Broadbase, without the word "party," but feel free to do better.
But, more important than the name, you need positions that can be easily identified. And you do have values, principles and positions.  But, it does not have to be for everything. Did Ross Perot? I am convinced he could have won as an independent in 1992 if he had stuck with it (I think that McCain could have in 2000 too). Perot even had a party - The Reform Party. That is the closest we will come to having a model to base ourselves on, but I am referring to that party before Pat Buchanan took it over and ruined it a few years later.

I know that people do not read platforms (except for your opponents to see if there is anything they can attack you on). We will have a platform though, and we hope it will actually means something, but it won't look much like the Democrat's or Republican's platforms.  We need just a few points that we are going to concentrate on.  Here they are:
The Deficit: We are going to reduce the deficit, primarily by spending cuts.  The people responsible for this will be department heads. They get their jobs by pledging that if they manage to reduce their department's budget by 10 percent per year for each of the next 3 years. This is refigured if we have a new war or some national crisis.  But, the department heads cannot do it by reducing any salaries or benefits other than proportionality within their department -- in other words, can't take it from the less highly paid employees.  At the end of the second year we will see how we are doing, but the goal is a balanced budget within a few years.  You can call this a "dumb cut,"  if you like.  Our candidate will own it. Dumb and equal is better than smart in this case, because no one is happy with cutting this or that.

Taxes: On the other hand, the goal is to reduce every tax where we can and not to double tax. Taxes should not be used to eradicate behavior we don't like. They are neither carrots or sticks however much they have been in the past. Direct taxes will be proportional and we do not restrict them to what direct taxes have been in the past.  The income tax will be completely redone.  A progressive tax is okay as long as marginal, proportionate after a certain minimum and capped at a reasonable point. There is no more estate tax. There is no more capital gains treatment as taxes will be low enough. There is no corporate tax. However, loopholes to hide money in corporations will be ended and all benefits are now taxable except, for the foreseeable future, healthcare benefits.  And, there will be no pledges never to raise taxes. That's crazy talk.
Cutting:  We are eradicating the Department of Education, the Department of Energy except for nuclear energy and any department or agency to the extent there is duplicative work.

Unions: All public unions will be decertified. There is no reason to have one.  Workers are free to join an association, but there is no coercive negotiations  and no right to strike against the public employer.  All retirement benefits have to be redone so that it will survive.  Private unions may carry on as before, except that coercive negotiations are ended and states are all encouraged to become right to work states.  
Congress:  Congress needs to be reformed more than any other area. The committee system especially needs to be reformed so that it can't keep legislation from being voted on.  Each member gets to suggest 3 amendments and they are voted on without debates.  Debates are worthless in congress. Read what everyone has to say online in a closed forum.  Chairs should be rotated and what is left of the seniority  system completely abolished.  No more shaking the tree (meaning no more amendments) by the majority leader.  No more one member holding up appointments.  Members submit their legislation and every member comments and then votes on it electronically. Any member can belong to whatever party they want, but parties no longer control congress. Speeches can be made and every member should get at least one chance of EQUAL time, not time controlled by party leaders, but all other communication can be done by the internet.  This can all be done very quickly and there really is no point to the speeches  either. There is also no purpose to holding up legislation for the schedules of these vote and contribution seeking legislatures.  It should be a 5 day week job like all other federal jobs, 46 weeks a year.  The filibuster must be abolished with respect to presidential appointments. There should be an up and down vote within 60 days of every nominee.  Electronic voting becomes the default and all votes are automatically recorded. No more voice voting, which is a sham. 

Campaign fundraising rules should be abolished except full sunshine rules.  These rules don't work anyway and are so easy to get around. Let's be done with the nonsense that makes people law breakers because they want to support someone.  I'm not sure there should be any campaign finance rules other than reporting (and I'm not 100% sure I like those either) and avoiding bribery.
Debates:  Questions should either be asked by lawyers from the other side or if they want to let the candidates go at each other, they should have their mikes cut off after 2 minutes each. Go back and forth as much as they want, with an assistant to help them put a document or a video clip on a screen.  What does it prove to have them do this alone?

Commerce Clause: There is not much can be done with the constitutional aspect now because the meaning of it has been stretched beyond recognition.  However, we also recognize that over time, the fact of what is intrastate or interstate has greatly changed and even more so with the advent of the internet.  The clause was put in the constitution to prevent one state from taking advantage of others, and that, and national issues that cannot be solved without federal intervention, which should be few, should be the general limits. Anything else that is simply the federal government deciding that wants to regulate local matters should be vetoed as if Gary Johnson really was president.  So much mischief is caused by this it just unbelievable. However, if there is any idea here that makes me feel I will have to eat my words, it is this one. What is covered under my definition? Even I don't know. But, that's one of the things I like about my party. We say I don't know a lot.
No more money for industries: I understand money for education. And I understand money for pure research that will be hard to define.  And I understand government contractors. But, enough with the Solyndras and the like. All money to businesses from the federal government means is that taxpayers are being  forced to invest. With that, of course, goes the whole crazy notion of too big to fail.

The social issues:  We support the end of DOMA. The federal government should have nothing to do with marriage and states constitutionally must respect each other's decrees and judgments. We will not repeal the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell if anyone actually thinks that makes sense anymore (what happened to all the problems that were supposed to happen when the repeal went into effect?) We will end the White House's office of faith based initiatives. The president lives at the White House and if he wants a Christmas Tree or Jewish Star or any other symbol, he can do it. But, generally speaking, I am against religious symbols on public buildings, papers, etc. More, while there is a long tradition of religious accomodation in this country, it cannot be that otherwise neutral laws do not have to be followed by someone who says he has a religious reason. Anyone can be as religious as they like, but they cannot have their own laws. I recognize that it is much easier to say than to implement, but let us try the best we can.

We can't promise much of this. There is such a thing as the congress and you are not electing a fuehrer.  But, this is what we will be asking congress to work with us on. None of this will happen unless great headway is made with getting the new party's members in congress and we only get that if people really want these changes.

Someone should float this stuff out there. I started the ball rolling, now someone pick it up.
Uh, the debate preliminaries are starting, so I want to publish. Hope there aren't too many mistakes.

 
 

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .