When politicized times become frenetic - when large uncoordinated, disconnected groups gather in the streets - when significant numbers of people feel frustrated and ignored by their government - when passions speak louder than reason - things can get dangerous. We are living in such times.
Several examples in that long list of conditions have gotten my attention in recent days. As more and more people, usually previously non-political - become involved, they try to seek major changes in our national governing structure. Bad decisions are usually made under those conditions and worse outcomes often guaranteed.
Here are the some that stick in my mind, listed in no particular order.
First: an oft-repeated desire to form a third political party. You hear it every day as the media interviews various opponents of the current President, his minions and a Congress filled with eunuchs. It runs something like this: “Democrats are wrong. Republican are wrong. We need new blood and a new party that can take charge and get things back to normal.”
No, we don’t need a third party. What we need are two political parties that are strong, healthy and which represent people - not lobbyists, corporations or incumbents concerned only with their continued employment. At the moment, neither party can fulfill those conditions. Nor could a third by the next decade.
Nearly all voices I hear pushing a third party are those who’ve absolutely no idea how to structure one, build one or run one. They have no concept of the time, money and organization necessary to get a new party on ballots in all 50 states. And, if successful, it would take years to reach a significant number of voters to make it a viable contender against two parties whose names are immediately recognizable to nearly all Americans. Throw in staffing, recruiting bonafide candidates and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to mount meaningful campaigns. No. No third party before 2018. Or 2020. Or..........................
Second: Loud voices want to run Elizabeth Warren for President. No! She lacks any significant experience for the job. But, her strong, excellent stands on a few issues - mostly financial/consumer - have made her a formidable force. In the Senate. On those issues, she’s a leader and a winner. Put her in the White House and you clip her wings. Keep her in the Senate where she can argue those issues and be either a significant voice or a tenacious and successful opponent.
Third: Run Bernie for President. No! Many of the same arguments for Warren also apply to Sanders. He, too, has good, important issues. Most of them in different areas from Warren, i.e. veterans affairs, Social Security, Medicare and health care in general. Keep Sanders and Warren on important Senate committees where they can originate - and lobby for - significant political needs. If the Dems get a majority in that body in 2018, each can be a powerhouse for some of the most important programs that directly affect the most lives.
Fourth: While both major parties are in significant disarray, Democrats are in worse shape. Republicans control all but 13 statehouses and a majority of legislatures. Those are breeding grounds for most future national candidates. They’re the “farm teams” developing legislative talent. Dems need to work in the states - all states - to train future talent for major races. Then win some.
A second matter the Donkeys should be targeting now is seeking out disaffected Republicans. There’s got to be millions of ‘em. With a dead-in-the-water Republican Congress, an out-of-control GOP, and a President endangering our national survival, find ’em, talk to ‘em and get ‘em interested in returning sanity, honesty and effectiveness to our national affairs. They’re out there. Go get ‘em!
But, instead of getting to work, raising money and developing a new and stronger organizational structure, most Dems are silent or just bitching. Candidate recruitment, fund raising, rebuilding state offices and staff - all issues just sitting there. Republicans dominate statehouses and legislatures because they did that work years ago. And they keep doing it.
The string that runs through all these topics is the third party issue. That talk has got to stop. Take the well-known parties you have - either one or both - rebuild it with the right people doing the right jobs, get serious about candidate recruitment in the states, tap your big fund-raisers to get the mother’s milk flowing and get cracking. Now! Not next year.
One more thing. Republican or Democrat. Take a large axe and lop off the extremes of your political spectrums. Stop catering to far right and/or far left. Develop your message in the middle - where most of us are. Stop letting voices of extremism set your tone which encourages an ineffective minority while undermining and chasing away the voters you need most. Moderates. Independents.
There’s plenty to be mad about out there. There’s plenty to be outright scared about. But, check the polls. If Congress is supported by only 18% of voters, that means more than 80% want something more - something different - something effective - something new!
First Party there with the best candidates with the best message will win. And that could last for a decade. Or two! Or more!