Thursday, April 20, 2006

All Hail the Purple Party!

The problem with Clinton, pace the right, isn’t that she’s a nuthouse sixties liberal. And, pace the left, it isn’t that she’s willing to betray her principles in order to get elected. The problem is that, even after watching her on the national stage for more than a decade, it’s impossible to ascertain if she has any principles at all that are independent of political calculation. Does she, in her heart of hearts, believe in the bill she co-sponsored to criminalize flag-burning? No one—including, I suspect, her closest confidants—really knows. Thus we have the template for the campaign that she will run: a campaign of perpetual triangulation, a maddening, wearisome game of hide-and-seek, executed with none of her husband’s finesse or his grander vision.

McCain, meanwhile, is playing a different game but one no less confounding. Where Clinton is triangulating to position herself for the general election, McCain is racing to the right to ensure his nomination—cozying up to Jerry Falwell (whom McCain denounced in 2000 as an “agent of intolerance”), cheerleading for Bush, endorsing the teaching of “intelligent design” in the public schools, supporting a constitutional amendment in Arizona to ban same-sex marriage. For the partisan androgynes who have long regarded McCain as a maverick, the genuine article, his maneuvers present a devil’s choice: Believe your eyes and accept that he’s actually a more conventional conservative than you thought—or believe your gut, assume that he doesn’t believe a word he’s saying, and accept that he’s a panderer, a standard-issue hack.

What of Rudy Giuliani? Certainly it’s true that our former mayor is polling as strongly as Clinton or McCain (and, in some surveys, more strongly than either). But Giuliani knows that once his stances on social issues (abortion, gay rights, gun control) are widely apprehended (and once the pictures of him dolled up in drag make their rounds on the Internet), his acclaim among GOP-primary voters may prove evanescent. So he travels the country, raising cash for raving rightists such as Senator Rick Santorum. In a speech to the Global Pastors Network—whose leaders believe that the apocalypse is just around the corner—he declares, “I appreciate what you are doing: saving people, telling them about Jesus Christ, and bringing them to God.”

Depressing? Sure—unless you happen to be fomenting a third party. Taken together, the machinations of Clinton, McCain, and Giuliani provide a vivid illustration of precisely why the Democratic and Republican duopoly has become so intolerable to so many: It has eaten away at the vital center, hindered new thinking, and made ever rarer the manifestation of conviction in politics. And it’s created a yawning vacuum to be filled by the candidate of our dreams.

So says An Article in New York Magazine. It's part of a series of articles on building a Centrist Third Party and it seems to be gathering some interest in the Centrist blogosphere. Check it out.

Maybe there's hope yet for this country.

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