Monday, June 25, 2007

"Waiting for Perot"

This past weekend, I spent a few hours at the Log Cabin Republicans booth at the Twin Cities Gay Pride festival. It's always interesting to do this. Sometimes you get the occasional grouch that thinks we are basically "Jews for Hitler," but more often than not, we also get a lot of folks that are thankful we are there. As has been the case for the past few years, we have had someone from the local congressional district party helping us out. This fellow African American (who is straight) is an unabashed moderate Republican that has stayed in the party. He decided to get people signed up to recieve information about the caucuses next March. His belief is that if you want to make the party more centrist, then you need to have more moderate folks going to things like caucus to start making those changes.

Another friend of mine, Jim agreed. Jim is gay and has gone to caucus, being brave enough to put forward a gay-positive proposal. It didn't pass, to go forward, but the margin of defeat was close. Despite the right-ward drift of the party, Jim is not planning on leaving the party. He is a life long Republican and its his home.

I've been thinking about this in light of the recent brouhaha over Michael Bloomberg's expected Independent run for the White House and Pete Abel's post about Third Parties. He cites another blogger from the blog Stubborn Facts who believes this about those who want a third party:

"To be frank, what I believe really lies behind the complaints about the two-party system - consciously or otherwise - is a desire to get one's own way. These folks' views aren't prevailing in the present system, and since they're such rational, reasonable, sensible people, with rational, reasonable, sensible policy views, obviously, if the system isn't producing winners who agree with their policy views, then the system must be broken. After all, any system that worked would produce rational, reasonable and sensible politicians espousing rational, reasonable, and sensible policies, like the ones that the 3d party boosters want. Since they aren't getting their way, and since that obviously means the system is broken, they want to change the system, believing that doing so will lead to them getting their way. "

To which Pete adds:

The irony here, of course, is that third-party boosters typically justify their boosterism on the basis of the extreme polarization and lack of compromise that plagues today's two-party system; and yet what they really want, per Simon, is not compromise, but their "own way."

I think both are correct. Those that whine about how the system is broken and that we need a third party to solve everything are just as bad as the partisans they criticize. I've heard and seen to many former Republicans leave the party because the party isn't perfect in every view. But the fact is, there is no perfect party. Both parties are fallible. In fact, this whole system of government is fallible. It's run by fallible beings.

Ten years ago, I was one of those who thought that a third party would solve everything. If we got into power, then things would get done. Well, in Minnesota, that did happen, when Jesse Ventura got into power as governor in 1998. Did it change things? Jesse got in, and somethings did change, but in the end, he was surprised to find that once in power, people didn't do things his way. He was shocked when the press assailed him. In 2002, he left the governorship angry and bitter, taking his toys with him.

What he didn't realize is that politics is a rough and tumble game and you don't always get your way. In the end, you have to fight for what you believe in. And that also means, that in the end you won't get everything you want.

Back in 2000-01, I decided to leave the Indendence Party and join the GOP. Was it a perfect fit? Heavens no. But it was close enough in many ways and I also wanted to have a place at the table, even if I had to fight for it. The problem with too many centrists is that they don't think politics should be about hard work. They expect some messianic leader to come down from the mountaintop and set all things right. Nevermind, that the messiah is flawed and that he or she won't get their way all the time.

My belief is that if you are a centrist and think that your views are not getting heard, don't waste your time on a third party that is going nowhere fast and only strokes the ego of whatever leader is in charge. If you are a frustrated moderate, then join one of the two major parties that fit you best. Go to a caucus meeting. Make your voice heard and know that you might not always get everything you want.

I say this especially to those former Republicans who are frustrated. Stop expecting the party to change on its own, because it won't. As long as moderates are silent and they only hear from the hard right, then they won't change. "But I don't like the Religious Right!" you say. Fine, I don't either, but that's not a reason to leave the party. Hell, there are people in my family I'm not crazy about, but I don't leave my family. "I don't like President Bush!" you say. Well, last I checked political parties are not susposed to fan clubs, but ways to get policy done. Stop whining, get organized and change things.

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