January 2011 marks the start of the 112th Congress that has a political climate ripe for a third party. Consider the Republicans with their insurgent Tea Party arm and the Republican moderates they aim to oust if these RINOs don’t fall in line. The Democrats aren’t much different. Unless the Democratic moderates, some known as Blue Dogs, vote with the liberals, the party’s left has similar distain for their party’s moderates.
While some see the results of the recent Lame Duck session as hope for compromise, others see this as an opportunity for increased divisions. Will the Tea Party’s no compromise methodology lead to attacks of GOP Senators Brown (MA), Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), and Lugar (IN)? Will the GOP climate lead to more independents as Murkowski (AK)? Will these mavericks be able to survive?
Some Democrats openly wonder if these GOP moderates will bolt for the Democrats. After all, liberals will gladly welcome the disenfranchised as long as the newcomers vote their way.
The past 50 years has brought a shift in the political spectrum as a common overlap no longer exists between the two parties, thus leaving two distinct parties with distinct ideologies and distinct interests – thus leaving a chasm filled with moderate independents, many of whom who consider themselves as socially liberal but fiscally conservative.
In response, groups as No Labels attempt to fill the void – perhaps as a resistance to the pull from the extremely – even perhaps as a nostalgic effort for those of us who yearn for common ground days gone by. Yet respected columnist (and two-party purist) George Will tempered my hope by referring to No Labels as a political fantasyland filled with gaseous rhetoric. Although Mr. Will firmly believes that time brings a new equilibrium, today’s independent moderates feel disenfranchised by both parties.
I continue to maintain America is a politically centered country – perhaps even center right, thus the importance of political overlap. Groups as No Labels are interesting, but chances of them taking hold are slim because of their lack of exposure. The movement needs an infusion of defections from profile Republicans and Democrats, but that would require guts – Guts to leave the political and financial backing of a political party – Guts to abandon committee chairs – Guts to help fund a new movement – Guts to give up power– Guts to go against the flow.
Since I don’t believe the guts exist, perhaps I must wait for the new equilibrium while continuing to vote against a candidate rather than for one.