Thursday, June 01, 2006

Third Party Idea

Let's think it through again. Every time I read a conversation on the notion of a "center-leaning" third party (that's a difficult visual image, but let it pass), it gets about halfway to first base before it gets caught in the rundown: How do you build for permanence in reaction to temporary angers? How do you find a center by triangulation when triangulation is part of the current paradigm that voters are fed up with? How do you balance the range of specific, and conflicting, issues that have alienated voters from the current major parties?

Pitch all that out. Try it like this: We build a party for one election, the next one. We build it based on politicians who will work hard and be beholden to no one but their conscience and the people. Little things will mean a lot: Don't take special interest money, take a term-limits pledge, eschew perks. There are no litmus tests other than independence and a lack of clearly loony tendencies.

Because voters realize that in a two-party system, their valid option of casting pure anti-incumbent votes runs the risk of giving their vote to someone even worse than the incumbent. Give them the decent option, the dull but respectable option. I'm watching Santorum sink here, simply from the gravitational effect of a drab Democratic challenger who excites nobody on the fringes of his party. Bob Casey Jr. is a template for a winner in this season. Start with that model, think short-term, and quit bickering over details.