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December 06, 2010 05:45 PM UTC

Alienated from both political parties

  • 73 Comments
  • by: Ellie

(Ellie’s attracting a lot of interest with her Hamlet-like essay: “To Be or Not to Be [affiliated with either of the existing two major parties.]”  Let’s bring it up front so everyone can join in.     – promoted by Voyageur)

Over the course of the last few years I have largely found myself in no mans land politically.  It’s not a comfortable place to be after all these years. The Republican leadership from the top down has become a negative force in the democratic process and the Democrats are increasingly spineless to withstand the onslaught. Even our President that took office with such high hopes on the part of the electorate seems ready to capitulate at every turn.  

Last week I received the following link with the question:  What do you think?

Put the Labels Aside. Do What’s Best for America.

We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are united in the belief that we do not have to give up our labels, merely put them aside to do what’s best for America.

http://nolabels.org/

Personally I’m ready to join.  What do you think?

Comments

73 thoughts on “Alienated from both political parties

  1. What exactly does that entail? It’s easy to say that people should put their partisan differences aside and work together. That idealism changes drastically once we start to define what that work should be.

    I’m with it in spirit, but in practice, glittering generalities like that fall perilously short of solving our problems.

    1. What is best for America?

      Can we agree on a no-brainer which nonetheless appears to be too hefty for Republican Senators?  Pass the new START Treaty.  Instant credibility, long-term security benefits, and dirt cheap at any cost.

      Then can we agree that our economy is still sputtering along and needs more help?  And can we agree that a UI extension is the single most effective way of putting money in to the economy for now?  We can work on the details of further stimulus, but UI is immediate, effective, and needs to be passed this week.

      Next we can gore some political oxen and take on some unbalanced bits about our government.  Ditch some subsidies, perhaps – oil and gas companies are consistently profitable and don’t need our help; same with most agriculture subsidies, which are increasingly going to the pockets of Big Agriculture.  Oh – and let’s talk about unnecessary Defense contracts: there are too many of them, and they’re sucking up huge portions of our budget.  First it’s unnecessary weapons programs; next it’s the exorbitant rates we pay contractors to do work the military itself used to do much cheaper.

      We haven’t even gotten to taxes yet, or healthcare.  Those are tougher for some of us to agree on, but I bet we could do it.

      But the problem is, we (the people who might sign up for “no labels”) are unfortunately not the people making the decisions.  We still have to put up with the unreasonable Republicans and spineless Democrats in office, and we still have to let them dance their stupid dances while they remain our Representatives.

      1. Instant credibility, long-term security benefits, and dirt cheap at any cost.

        Which will make Obama look great, what Republican Senator wouldn’t want to sign on for that?

  2. with you in spirit, Ellie, but I can’t get much further than rsb does.

    It might be more effective if the moderates in both parties stopped being bullied by the extremists.

    The definition of the problem is the performance specification of the solution.

    The problem…we don’t agree on what’s best for America. We need a national mediator. I think that is what Obama is trying to do, and you can see what is happening to him. He is being steamrolled by the Repubs and back-bitten by the Dems.

    A pity.

    1. The part about steamrolling and backbiting, yes, but he’s not proving to be as strong I thought he’d be when I was a state delegate for him in 2008. The rhetoric from this group isn’t all that different from Obama’s campaign rhetoric in that campaign–it’s one of the reasons I supported him–but I’ve watched the Republican idea of bipartisanship over the last two years, and I don’t think it can exist in the current makeup.

      Do you ever hear Republicans talk about bipartisanship? Even in Colorado, where the state legislature is just now getting its first taste of Republican leadership for the first time in half a decade, the Republicans have the same kind of attitude toward bipartisan solutions. The only difference is there’s no filibuster in the GA.

      Bipartisanship only works if both parties are participants.

        1. The murmurings about the tax “negotiations” are sounding increasingly like the Republican position or bust.

          Republicans refuse to decouple tax cuts for the wealthy from the rest of the tax cuts, refuse to endorse a UI extension, refuse to consider a $1m tax bracket, and appear likely to be pushing for either a permanent extension of all cuts or a timeframe that turns tax cuts into a political football (2 years).

          That’s not bi-partisanship, unless you define it as duke has…

        2. When Rs are in the majority it means you Dems are welcome to be bipartisan and vote for whatever we want. An example of majority R bipartisanship: they generously decided to forgo the nuclear option when the Dems in the gang of 14 promised not to use the filibuster against their court picks. Pretty much the same as Dems just promising not to filibuster with Rs proceeding as they would have without the “bi-partisan compromise”  

          Now, when they’re in the minority it means we Rs won’t filibuster if you Dems give us whatever we want. That’s works pretty well for them, too.

          That’s the trouble with general ideas like bi-partisanship. Sounds good but it isn’t going to happen unless you have two sides willing to be participants.  What we have now are Rs who take no prisoners and Ds who have surrendered message hegemony to Rs so they pretty much have no leverage when in the minority and little when in the majority.

          Oh and moderates have been redefined so that conservatives are now moderates, moderates are liberals, liberals are America hating socialist radicals.  So much for the real middle.  The R spin machine terminology, unchallenged by Dems who tend to react to it by assuming a defensive posture, would position Eisenhower, not as a moderate but as a lefty.  After all, they have defined Obama as an extreme liberal and if he’s on either side of dead center he has demonstrated over and over that side would be a little to the right.

          All the let’s-join-hands-and-sing-songs-of-bipartisanship groups in the world will not change this dynamic.  As long as the far right wing of the Republican party has unopposed hegemony in defining the terms of the debate and controlling the message that becomes the common wisdom (like death panels or that jobs have been net lost and taxes raised since Obama took office)  including what center means, they have no earthly reason to give an inch. They have the power whether in the majority or the minority without any stinking bipartisanship.

          The only way to change the dynamic is for Dems to have enough guts, will and courage of their convictions to challenge Rs message hegemony with a steamrolling message machine of their own.  

    2. I feel the same way most of the time these days. I’m not progressive enough to fit into the Democratic Party and continue to feel increasingly isolated.

      I’m reading through the link and I like the ideas that are expanded on. It’s a start. And we have to start somewhere. If it means finding common ground on one issue out of every ten, then this is going in the right direction. I don’t know that No Labels is calling for us to agree on what’s best for America. It’s calling for people to find something you do agree with and work together to get it accomplished by giving as well as getting a little.

      And your point is a great one–the extremists in both parties have hijacked not only the Party but the agenda and the rest of us are suffering for it. Maybe it’s time to stand up and stop being ashamed of the labels, “moderate conservative” or “Blue Dog Democrat.”  

        1. Or read PR’s comment to further understand why moderates such as myself feel so out of place in our own party. Apparently, we are “handicapping” our party’s efforts and deserve to be relegated to the status of spineless spoilers.

          And, I love you, too. 🙂

          1. Maybe it’s because the tea party has so successfully entwined itself into the GOP’s ranks, but it seems like there’s more room for moderates in the Democratic Party. Especially among elected officials. The blogosphere definitely has a more left-wing slant.

            1. more on a state and county level, than at the federal level. But again, I see it more often than I used to and particularly in this last election cycle. By most Republican standards, I’d be considered a liberal. But within my own party, I’m a spoiler who handicaps my party.  

          2. I think you’re mistaking my views on issues with my views on political negotiations.

            If Democrats start at the moderate, Middle of the Road point of view, and Republicans start in some sort of punitive never-neverland, where do we wind up?

            I think the moderates in our party have a healthy understanding of a number of items, and they are also the ones looking to bridge the gap between the Left and the Right.  But every time they start, they start just a bit further to the Right, and every time they wind up, they wind up that much further to the Right.

            I don’t see a moderate POV in getting rid of the DADT repeal; the military has fired too many of its best and brightest just because some boneheaded bigot figured out they were gay.

            I don’t see a moderate POV in giving the Republicans their millionaire benefit plan (aka tax cut extension) while not giving Democrats a single thing in return.

            I don’t see someone with a moderate POV looking at our current economy and thinking “now’s the time to cut back on our social safety net indiscriminately”.

            But that’s exactly what a lot of our moderate Democrats are doing as a starting point in negotiating with a soon-to-be-majority Republican House.

            It’s like watching a haggling session where only one side ever changes its offer.

            1. I’m not a moderate on either DADT or ending the temporary tax extensions. I do think that social security, the 3rd rail of politics, needs a major overhaul. Frankly, I see Obama caving on ending the temp tax extension issue far more than I do my federal representatives so what “moderate POV” are you referring to within the Democratic Party?

              Do Democrats suck at haggling? Sometimes. Do they suck at the bargaining table? Somrtimes. Yet, did they manage to pass a major health care reform bill? Yes.

              Did most of us recognize many of our representatives were going to lose their jobs as a result of it? Yes, at least those of us that are grounded in reality (so that leaves David Sirota and Daily Kos out of this discussion.) Did they lose 63 seats in the House because they were too far right or because they moved too far to the left? We lost more “Blue Dogs” than any other group of Democrats so I would suggest that the reason why is that they moved farther to the left than their district was comfortable with. Am I glad they did? You are damned right I am. But to demonize so many good Dems that lost their jobs because they voted more liberally and then claim they lost their jobs because they just weren’t progressive enough boggles the mind.

              I don’t think it’s a particularly “progressive” POV among us Democrats that wish to see DADT end, that wish to see the temporary tax cuts for the uber wealthy end while striving to maintain them for 98% of taxpayers, ie., the rest of us. Pretty much every single Democrat and even a few Republicans I know would like to see both of these changed. So, since when do progressives have a corner on that market? Oh, they don’t. So stop behaving as if they do–it’s both divisive and disingenuous.

              The whole point of the site Ellie linked is that Republicans that are getting involved with Democrats at No Label are asking their party not to start their bargaining position at punitive never-neverland

              .

              Oh and for the record and 900th fucking time, Middle of the Road, my user name here, has absolutely nothing to do with my political bent…as I have explained ad nauseum over the last 5 years I have been blogging here. So maybe give that well worn chestnut a rest.  

              1. Personally, I don’t think we lost a lot of Blue Dogs either because they voted too Left for their district or because their base was too far Left for their moderate positions.  Most Blue Dogs that lost were elected in swing districts, a number of them Republican-leaning.  This was an off-year election in a down economy with Democrats in charge and looking particularly ineffective (for various reasons).  Of course we lost seats.  Of course we lost big.

                Did we lose a couple of seats because of health care reform?  Gotta say “yes”.  Did we lose some seats due to financial reform?  Doubtful.  Did we lose a couple of seats because the base wanted stronger reforms and didn’t show up to vote?  Almost certainly.  But all of those losses were dwarfed by those caused by the perception that we did too little with too much money – true or not.

                And, per the title of my previous response to you, it’s not that moderates don’t support repealing DADT or ending upper-class tax cuts that I’m complaining about, or ascribing to Progressives only – in fact, I note that moderates almost certainly should be in support of those issues.  It’s that the moderate (and, as I note below, theoretically pragmatic) Democrats in office (Congress and President) are giving away the farm in negotiations to a Republican opposition that is in no way interested in compromise.

                Re-read what I said above.  I’m not arguing against you.

                PS – you were the one who just called yourself a moderate.  

                1. because I’ve been by enough “good” Dems that I’m not progressive enough to be considered “progressive.” So, I’ll happily go with that label since I don’t seem to meet the criteria of a proper progressive.

                  As to the rest of your reply, thanks. Good discussion. Appreciate your reply, PR.  

              2. I didn’t really read in to the website that No Labels would be working with current party leadership to de-politicize the current hyper-partisan atmosphere.

                Rather, I read it as yet another attempt to get people regardless of affiliation to join and work together outside of the current leadership.  In theory I’m all for this kind of movement – we’ve spent too long in this hyper-partisan limbo.  But in reality, this movement will only succeed in time to help our country if it can take the current party elite along for the ride.

                How we get this to happen, I don’t know.  I think Obama is trying the best he knows how to do this, but as the head of the Democratic Party, it’s against the interests of the GOP to go along and get along.  What more pressure we can bring than the bully pulpit, I am at a loss to say.  There will be a lot of people reluctant to join something like No Labels so long as it’s associated with a potential Presidential contender.

                1. That’s news to me.

                  I know Markey did. I know Salazar did. And they are both gone. Patrick Murphy voted for it and he’s gone. So there’s 3 Blue Dogs that voted for it.

                  Alan Grayson voted for it and he’s gone.  Oh wait, he’s a “progressive.” Well, that doesn’t feed your meme so we’ll pretend I didn’t mention him, okey dokey?

                  That leaves 59 House seats. Three Blue Dog Dems voting for it; 3 voted out of office.

                  Could you provide a link to the list of names of Bluedog Dems’s seats that Republicans picked up that didn’t vote for HCR? I’m curious to see out of the remaining 59 seats how this breaks down.

                  Thanks so much.  

                2. Just put an x by those that voted against health care reform.

                  BLUE DOGS WHO LOST (22)

                  Mike Arcuri (NY)

                  Allen Boyd (FL)

                  Bobby Bright (AL)

                  Christopher Carney (PA)

                  Travis Childers (MS)

                  Kathy Dahlkemper (PA)

                  Lincoln Davis (TN)

                  Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD)

                  Baron Hill (IN)

                  Frank Kratovil (MD)

                  Betsy Markey (CO)

                  Jim Marshall (GA)

                  Walt Minnick (ID)

                  Harry Mitchell (AZ)

                  Patrick Murphy (PA)

                  Scott Murphy (NY)

                  Glenn Nye (VA)

                  Earl Pomeroy (ND)

                  John Salazar (CO)

                  Zack Space (OH)

                  Gene Taylor (MS)

                  Charles Wilson (OH)

                  1. So I’ll do the rest:

                    BLUE DOGS WHO LOST (22)/Votes on final health care bill (bold means NO)

                    Mike Arcuri (NY)

                    Allen Boyd (FL)

                    Bobby Bright (AL)

                    Christopher Carney (PA)

                    Travis Childers (MS)

                    Kathy Dahlkemper (PA)

                    Lincoln Davis (TN)

                    Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD)

                    Baron Hill (IN)

                    Frank Kratovil (MD)

                    Betsy Markey (CO)

                    Jim Marshall (GA)

                    Walt Minnick (ID)


                    Harry Mitchell (AZ)

                    Patrick Murphy (PA)

                    Scott Murphy (NY)

                    Glenn Nye (VA)

                    Earl Pomeroy (ND)

                    John Salazar (CO)

                    Zack Space (OH)

                    Gene Taylor (MS)

                    Charles Wilson (OH)

                    11 voted for the final health care bill; 11 voted against.

                3. You’re wrong. The vote of Blue Dogs was 12 against and 10 for Health Care Reform Bill. A 50/50 split hardly measures up to your breathless assertion that

                    Most of the Blue Dogs who lost voted against the health care bill.

                  Next time, do your homework before you shoot your mouth off.

                  Mike Arcuri (NY) No

                  Allen Boyd (FL) No

                  Bobby Bright (AL) No

                  Christopher Carney (PA) Yes

                  Travis Childers (MS) No

                  Kathy Dahlkemper (PA) Yes

                  Lincoln Davis (TN) No

                  Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD) No

                  Baron Hill (IN) Yes

                  Frank Kratovil (MD) No

                  Betsy Markey (CO) Yes

                  Jim Marshall (GA) No

                  Walt Minnick (ID) No

                  Harry Mitchell (AZ) Yes

                  Patrick Murphy (PA) Yes

                  Scott Murphy (NY) Yes

                  Glenn Nye (VA) No

                  Earl Pomeroy (ND) Yes

                  John Salazar (CO) Yes

                  Zack Space (OH) No

                  Gene Taylor (MS) No

                  Charles Wilson (OH) Yes

                  12 No

                  10 Yes

                  1. I got my info from http://www.washingtonpost.com/… which showed Boyd as a “yes” vote.

                    But the larger point is the same.  Health care didn’t drive blue dog losses.  I think most of the blue dogs were from districts that either were traditionally red but went blue in the ’08 wave, or were from split districts that went red in the ’10 wave.

                  2. You are right that I should have checked the numbers before posting, rather than relying on my memory.  Although “breathless assertion” and “shoot off your mouth” may be a bit extreme characterization of the difference between 11/11  and 12/10 (“most”), I was in error. My focus was really on the second sentence–that a No vote did not save those who voted that way.

                    The larger point is that a large percent of the Blue Dogs lost and a large percent of Progressive Dems won. As PERA and others have pointed out, that had little or nothing to do with the vote on Health Care, but rather the make up of their districts and the larger forces in this elections compared to 2010. So voting No did not save Blue Dogs their seats. For those who voted that way on principle, OK (for them, not for those without health care). For those who voted that way to play the political game, I am glad to see them gone.

          3. Obama? Bennet? Udall? Democratic US Senators as a group? Polis? Perlmutter? DeGette? Markey? Salazar? Hickenlooper? Ritter?

            Henry Reid? And the fact that some can consider Nancy Polosi extreme for finding a way to a modest Affordable Health Care Act shows how twisted our rhetoric has become.

            What is the “extreme” agenda being advocated by the “hijackers”?

    3. As I (someone who definitely falls in to the “liberal, but libertarian” camp) see it isn’t so much the Democrats being bullied by their extremists, but rather their being handicapped by their moderates.

      I think compromise is a Good Thing, and I think we need to do a lot more of it.  But right now, as Ellie notes, we have a core of spineless moderate Democrats, including, it increasingly seems, the President, who believe in their hearts that compromise starts at home.  And so they give ground to Republicans who aren’t interested in giving an inch.  Then they give some more ground.  And some more…

      If the core of Democratic Senators got together and decided to start with the Progressive/Liberal position and work toward the center step-by-step with Republicans, perhaps we’d wind up with some centrist solutions.  But we don’t see that.  We see moderate Democrats taking Republican positions “just to get things done” – but that’s not compromise, it’s giving in to an increasingly extremist party that still isn’t well-liked by the American public despite their (predictable) wins in this off-year election.

      1. Let’s take the tax cut extension issue.

        If Republicans were interested in compromise, they’d agree to split the tax cuts for the wealthy from those that apply to everyone.  Perhaps just an extension for both, but a longer one for the middle-class who will need the cuts for a longer period of time during the recovery.

        Or, alternatively, Democrats could agree to a 3-year extension for all of the cuts if unemployment insurance was also extended for some reasonably long period of time.  That gives Republicans their unified tax cut regime (and I think even most Republicans would agree in their hearts that tax cuts for the rich are a strictly ideological thing), while taking the tax cut issue off of the political table for the Presidential election (where it should have no place) and giving Democrats their UI extension.

        That’s a compromise.  But it’s not what we’re likely to get.  At this point, if we’re lucky, the tax cuts will all expire; that to me is the best remaining outcome.

        1. of the old cartoons where one character would cut a slice of a cake, and the other character would take the whole cake, leaving just the slice that had already been cut.

          That’s what ultimately irks me about the Rally to Restore Sanity, and groups like this. The political status quo is so entrenched in Washington that their arguments fall on extremely deaf ears. I bet it polls great though.

  3. As you know, I used to be one of you, but about ten years ago, I realized that the Republican Party was hopeless.  When they did the Terry Schaivo stuff, I did what I should have done five years earlier, I left the party and began my small war on the new Republican Party.  I am not a Democrat.  They are just a bunch of panty-waists as they are showing now.  But this new Republican Party is not for me either.  The only thing to do is to marginalize the current Republican Party to a southern party and then hope for a new third party.

    Unfortunately, what you will not want to hear is the following.  The only way to do this is to speak honestly and bluntly about the new Republican Party.  To call these people nuts, crazy, idealogues who don’t care about people, suckers of the corporate teet, liars, creators of 1984, pariahs, dumb, out-of-touch, extermists, anti-American, bigots, without independent thought, pretty-boys with no brains, out to intentionally destroy this country, religious facists and theocrats.  You know it’s all true Ellie.  Look what happened when one Democrat stood up to them.  Bennet won in a sea of red.  How did he do it? He called them out.  Bennet is a terrible candidate and is a terrible Senator.  He’s not likeable.  He won’t be effective.  But he won.  He won by calling it like it is, and you know it.

    We have to call it like it is.  And only those of us who were inside the Republican Party and saw what happened can do so.  We have to be radical.  And we can’t vote for them.  The problem is that the few good Republicans who remain (Collins and Snowe for example and even your buddy Scott McInnis) vote for the leadership of DeMint, Cornyn, Coburn, of the list just goes on and on and on.

    We also have to vote for the most liberal democrats.  Only when both parties have purged will we succeed in some rational governance.

    I don’t think this thing will happen in my lifetime.  (I’m 55 and in good health.)  Remember those who completely control the Republican party and much of the media in this country started in 1973.  This is for the long term.  So, for the short term, throw bombs (ask Tim Leonard about the bombs that I threw at him), think small, be as radical as they are don’t give up.  And finally, don’t let your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews join the military.  The people governing us these days are idiots.  Don’t let your relatives be swallowed up as just another number in a botched overseas expedition that’s done just to soothe some general’s or President’s ego.

    Been where you are.  Am where I am now.  Am frustrated that reasonable thinking people can’t see what has happened to our party (my brothers being the prime examples – though their wives and children all have open eyes).  This movement must be a radical movement.  It means years of horrible policies, no matter which way it goes.  Hope you live to see my dream.

    Chris O’Dell, former Jeffco GOP Chair

    1. Ten or fifteen years ago I was in a position to fight through the caucus, primary process in the R-party.  While I didn’t throw bombs, you would have thought I had when my candidates won. I was not what you would call a favorite with the ultra conservatives, moral majority crowd.  When Owens was elected a number of these moderate R’s recommended me for a particular job in the administration. My education and experience would have been a good fit.  When one legislator asked Owens why I hadn’t been considered he was told I wasn’t conservative enough. That it would cause a problem among some of his supporters. (I have never hidden the fact that I’m pro choice but this job had absolutely nothing to do with that issue.)  So be it.  

      The sad thing is a number of my former clients have said they couldn’t get elected today.  I agree. That’s why frankly ‘No Labels’ has a great deal of appeal.  What if anything I could contribute should I decide to join remains to be seen.

      1. But, with me and Owens the slight was personal.  Lucky for me that I met and made friends with a few Democrats over the years.  I’ve been appointed to both the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Judicial Performance Commission by Democrats.

        Don’t worry, you’ll become a bomb thrower someday.  It took me a while but now I thoroughly enjoy it.

    2. What we really need isn’t necessarily more centrists.  (As you note, the current Democrats in office – many of them centrists – can’t seem to do anything right.)

      What we need are more principled office holders, left right and center, who are actually more interested in running the country than in gaining political power for themselves and their party – people, in other words, who are willing to compromise for the betterment of the country.  Unfortunately, those terms are almost mutually exclusive to what someone needs to succeed in today’s political landscape.  There are a few out there, and I’m sure there are plenty waiting to be found among the political rubble that is the wreckage of our current discordant political landscape.  Somehow we have to empower them, and get them through the political system intact with their integrity and know-how.

      Even up until this past year I had hope that the Republican Party would figure this out, but it appears they’re completely lost.  They win because their opponents are ineffective, or because they represent districts that are far gone into the Limbaughsphere (or perhaps Dobsonland).

      The Democratic Party has individual districts that are salvageable, but some others are lost causes in the short to mid term.  A Howard Dean style activist resurgence might reclaim some of this lost territory; I think it did wonders to the state of the CDP, though I don’t know about continued momentum here.  Dean was seen as an ultra-liberal, but his policies as governor of a somewhat conservative Northeast state were moderate, well reasoned, and effective; his idea of regrowing the party from the grassroots I think has been co-opted in part by OFA, which fails to invigorate party structure with the grassroots.  Regardless, activist Democrats can still rejuvenate the party piece by piece, and we can still get good representatives in to power.

      Absent the ability to promote someone into an elected office that the major parties have, our theoretical principled and practical legislators will have a hard time gaining office given the current election landscape.

  4. We have 2 very broad parties in this country.  Other countries have 4, 5 or even 6 national parties all with a stake in the government.  To me, one of the advantages of having 2 large, broad parties is that it necessitates some overlap between the parties.  There should be liberal and conservative wings of both parties.  

    What has bothered me is the rise in pure party-line votes over the last 20 years.  Rather than having 535 independent thinkers in the Congress (House and Senate combined), we have two parties demanding loyalty on every single issue.  

    I would rather always see 10%-15% of the members of each party voting with the other party on various issues. That is what you should get from 2 broad parties.  In a parliament with 5 parties, I would expect a high degree of party discipline, in our system of government; I would expect to see the opposite.

    One of the more interesting theories I have heard for the increased partisanship in Washington is a change in transportation technology.  It used to be we sent our representatives to Washington, and due to the cost or unavailability of travel back home, they stayed in Washington more often.  This meant they had to spend more time together.  Tip O’Neil used to play poker with Richard Nixon on a regular basis until he became President.  Cross-party and cross-regional friendships were common.

    Today, Congressman fly in and fly out a few days later.  Elected officials hardly ever weekend in Washington.  Therefore, personal bonds are not formed.  

    Anyway, that is the theory I once read.

     

    1. The Democrats have their Blue Dogs.  The Republicans have their own thin ranks of moderates.  Those moderates have been the swing votes in Congress for most of my life.

      The system you dream of is the one that we have.

      Where there is a big divide, a good share of that is genuine.  We are not a nation with homogeneous political beliefs.  We don’t have common values, and don’t have much of a shared set of what sound like good solutions.

  5. REemember “Common Cause”?

      As soon as no labels opts for something more specific than “What’s best for America” — such as deporting Glenn Beck back to Mars — then it just joins the teeming masses of Nth parties and special interest groups.

        1. You can’t and don’t want to.  Neither Ellie nor I could ever support either party in their current forms.  Those like me came close to destroying the Republican Party in 06 and 08, but of course, then we got the Democrats in power and they totally screwed it up.  They are simply incapable of governing.  Unfortunately, the Republican Party today, as much as I dislike it, is capable of governing and doing a lot of damage.

          1. I also disagree.  Ellie asked what the solution to an imperfect system is, I said the answer is to work within that system.  As the lawyers say, Asked and Answered.  

              That’s not the same as having everybody be happy with the answer.

          2. by what measure do you think you can make that outlandish claim? and the “panty-waists” comment too? If you’re just looking to come off like an ass-hole, then crawl back under whatever rock you came out of.

            It’s obvious you have no real dilemma here. You’re a through and through Republican and will always be so. Just don’t try to bull-shit the rest of us ok?

        2. in either party and to gain feedback on No Label’s as a movement(?).  Appreciate the feedback but going with either party is not for me. I have to have faith that my efforts (such as they are)are not in vein.  

          1. I don’t mean to sound negative about this, but in politics, backing any one movement or party is a gamble.  Your group might win, or they might lose, and it’s not just up to you or even strictly to those in your group – it’s a competition, and the other side doesn’t necessarily play fair.

            For example, if this is a Bloomberg inspired group, perhaps it’s a Good Thing from that point of view – he’s been a decent mayor for New York City, governing from the center as only a Republican in NYC (read: endangered species) can.  But the rumors are that he’s looking to Sean Hannity for a running mate, and that seems less than sane to me.  Is that kind of ticket going to inspire enough D’s, R’s, and U’s to overcome the immense election shortcomings of the system?  And will it hold past the election?  The major parties will probably try to tear it down as they did the Reform Party (Pat Buchannan’s run pretty much split the party and ended that, and now Pat’s back in the GOP fold most of the time…)

            You have your own skill and time, and you can only apply it in one direction if you want to be effective.  Can you find enough friends to drag your local Republican Party back from the brink?  Is your local Democratic Party something you can work with and build on?  Is No Labels a group that could help you change the dialog in your area, or perhaps could you apply your skills to help them elsewhere?

            It’s a tough choice, and I’m guessing there are a lot of us looking at similar choices this year, myself included.

      1. Any movement like this IMHO needs to start at the state level.

        Sure, you can make a go of it starting at the top, but under our current electoral system, the ultimate result is determined by which major party is less likely to give in to compromise.  Right now, the Republican Party fits that bill, and IMHO a third party effort will split the Democratic voters.  In 1992, Ross Perot appealed to the common senses of both parties; today, with a diminished and more radicalized Republican Party, a third party effort is much more likely to split moderate voters, and I think that means Democrats lose more votes, putting Republicans in charge.

        The solution is to really push election reform and some kind of ranked choice (IRV, FairVote, etc.) voting system that empowers voters to stray from the party fold without turning them into spoilers.  This is, IMHO, the only viable solution, absent the complete implosion of one of the major parties.

      2. Let them select their own candidates rather than forcing them to hold primaries, so that they can discipline candidates who don’t follow the party line.  

        Let political parties be the center of the process of raising and spending campaign money, without spending or contribution caps, and encourage them to serve as a coordinating force, instead of making their role in the process a peripheral one in which individual candidates have all the money and run the show.

        Use rules like the requirement that single district election winners have a majority of the voters cast or face a runoff, so there is less of a systemic bias against the development of coherent third parties (as we have in City of Denver elections).

        End the filibuster as a tool for stopping, as opposed to delaying legislation, using the nuclear option, if necessary.

        Give the President the power to propose a budget that will become law unless majorities in both Houses of Congress back an alternative, so that the risk of government shutdown doesn’t loom simply because there is a lack of consensus in Congress.

  6. appears to endorse things like Obama’s deficit commission, which involves Republicans strong-arming genuinely bad ideas (like even more tax cuts for the rich at a time of deficits) through weak Democratic opposition. To the extent “No Labels” actually stands for anything, it stands for letting the Republicans get whatever they want, since refusing to choose sides means the assholes win.

    Your complaint seems to be that Republicans are trying to hurt the country and Democrats are too weak to stop it, which results in Republican positions winning even when Republicans stop believing in them (e.g., in the health care debate). So why join an organization that says Democrats should compromise more?

    Your solution does not appear to fit your problem.

  7. Political parties are groups of people united by an agenda for change.  People without political parties are by definition people without a coherent agenda for change.

    The problem is not that we are too partisan, but that there are too many barriers in the way of groups of like minded people implementing an agenda for change.

    When it takes sixty votes in the Senate, and a majority in the House and the Presidency to do anything, in addition to approval of the U.S. Supreme Court, and political parties that have wide enough support to achieve that, as the Democrats did in 2008, aren’t unified enough to use it, then nothing gets done.

    The near consensus it takes to take political action means that a lot of good ideas with majority support from the people don’t happen.

    The alternative is tyranny of the minority, via gridlock, and that is the territory that we are in right now in this country.

    In Colorado, and in the federal government, the process is overconstrained, which leads to ineffectual government that isn’t what is best for America.

  8. Or, for the mathematically inclined, if one party proposes tax rates of 30% on incomes of over $1,000,000 and the other party proposes 90%, I suppose a compromise is around 60%. What if the Other Party proposes 0% (capital gains and all that, you know)? Is that a basis for compromise?

    Or take maps. In favor of invading Iraq versus against it. What’s the compromise? Basra? Anbar province? Gas up but don’t take off? Fire blanks?

    What’s the compromise between dealing with the reality of class warfare and feeling comfy like we did in the Good Old Days? Half a glass of milk and two Oreos instead of 8 oz. & four?

    1. How about invading with a half-assed occupying force that can’t keep Iraq from tumbling into chaos, then dismantle the army so it’ll take years (and billions in contracts) to rebuild a security force so Iraqis can protect and govern themselves, promise the war will pay for itself and compromise by spinning our own budget into the abyss (off books, of course), and rely on an Iranian plant for our “best” intelligence so what we’ve really done is finished the Iran-Iraq war in favor of the more destabilizing country. We could try it that way.

    2. Whether or not one party or another is willing to agree to that compromise, somewhere in there there is a rate that “more” people can theoretically agree upon.  If the filibuster weren’t holding it back, a majority would have already made that decision this year.

      To class warfare the same; we have agreed for some time that the upper class gets to keep accumulating wealth rather than taking virtually all of it.  And we ask that the lower and middle classes pay what they can toward government services.  But we have tried to hold against paupering our lower class and eliminating our middle class.  Lately it seems the pendulum has swung back toward the Gilded Age, though…

      Some things you cannot compromise on.  Iraq was a decision that should have been decided without manipulation, and Congress should have taken the steps to affirmatively authorize the military action (rather than saying “the President can do this if he meets these conditions”, which he never did…).  There’s nothing to be said about it except that Congress as an institution failed their duties, as did the President and his Executive branch.

    3. It’s the universal compromise that always works, which is why we always keep doing it. Someday maybe they’ll let us win one, if we give them so many victories they stop caring about any single one.

      1. Boehner: Whiiineeee!

        Pelosi: It’s a fair idea. Screaming about it can’t help you.

        Bennet: Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Republican.

        Pelosi: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a Democrat.

        Bennet: That’s ’cause Democrats don’t try to shut down the country when they lose. Republicans are known to do that.

        Boehner: Grrf.

        Pelose: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, Barak: let the Republicans win.  

  9. Because you know how I feel about the parties.

    I became unaffiliated for a reason: because, like you, I can’t support the agenda of either party.

    Being unaffiliated means I can support candidates who believe what I believe, without having to support a) bad candidates, or b) a bad party agenda.

    Lord knows that you and I have been asked to support our share of bad candidates over the years.

    I am not going to join “No Labels” or any other third party right now.  First, I know, based on experience, that third parties are merely a flash in the pan.  Name one in the last 50 years or more that has ever accomplished anything except helping to get a major party candidate elected.  Second, I don’t know what these people stand for. Chances are, neither do they.  Once they’re around for a couple of election cycles, maybe I’ll know.

    In short, stay unaffiliated, support good candidate no matter which party they belong to, and above all, KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY.

    As an independent voter, you have the ability to swing an election like no partisan does.

  10. If you don’t work within the party, you have very little impact in our system. But if you do work within the party you end up with wimps like Obama and Udall (Bennet occasionally does have some fight in him). So you’re left between two losing propositions.

    What makes it so hard is we were all so full of hope back in ’08. And most of us were not looking for a liberal response to everything. But we were expecting a thoughtful and effective administration.

    I’ve put my effort into growing my company because as we grow we hire more people. It’s a small improvement, but it’s more than most in Washington are doing.

      1. the unemployed can’t pay much of debt.  But if we don’t get the debt under control – ie, a more manageable and stable, which right now it is neither – we are in for big big trouble..  Painful as it is, we can live with lower than full employment as long as productivity continues to increase.

        1. When revenues are low the companies that reduce expenses and hope that they can keep making a dollar or two generally go out of business. The successful ones are the ones that invest in new products/approaches/whatever that substantially boost their revenues.

          Same goes for our country – our road out is to get the economy booming. It’s the only way we can pay off this debt.

  11. A large part of the problem here, folks, is the Fed. Where did Abraham Lincoln get the money for the Civil War? Did he have to borrow it from the Fed with interest? No.

    Which bank did the government borrow the money for TARP?

    This is a complicated issue, and the direction we’re going in is not going to make things better, either for our personal freedoms, or our standard of living.

    Anyone seen the award winning 2010 documentary “The Secret of Oz”? For awhile, Amazon blocked its sale (curious censurship there!)

    The man behind the curtain….the yellow brick road…Did you know that the ruby red shoes were originally silver in the book?

    Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Remember in 1940 when we stopped shipping oil to Japan? Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.

    Someone else has posted here recently, study history. Their point was that things take time. I think that’s the wrong point.

    Follow the money.

    It’s not altogether that we live in a world of finite resources, its the terrible mismanagement and waste of those resources that effects us all together.

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