Monday, November 21, 2005

Call of the Bull Moose?

Lowell Feld at Raising Kaine asks: 
Would a New Bull Moose Party ever have any chance of working in this country, especially given the entrenched nature of the Republicans and Democrats?
If that party sought to seize the middle ground and govern sensibly, Feld wonders if some well-known politicians would be comfortable becoming affiliated with such a party. Among them are: John McCain, Colin Powell, Jesse Ventura, Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lieberman (depicted to the left), Bill Clinton, Wesley Clark, Olympia Snowe, John Warner, and possibly even Mark Warner?

My answer is, maybe. 

Moreover, Feld is raising excellent questions and it's a good time to ask them. In my book, the effort to create a third party now, by shouldering into the largely abandoned middle ground, would be a righteous pursuit. While it would lack the usual passion of strident right- or left-wingers wearing blinders, it would have more potential to become a real player, if it ever really got underway.

By "underway" I mean this Neo-Bull Moose Party would have to field candidates and win elections on the local and statewide level before it tried to win a national election. It could have national leaders, such as a John McCain or Joe Lieberman, but the first efforts should be directed toward winning somewhere. Anywhere.

Face it: Without the focus of winning specific elections, third parties look too much like blustery flocks of poseurs to John Q. Public, who doesn’t follow politics avidly. But the third party that Feld wants to see would need to appeal to just such a guy, or it wouldn't work.

This new party might want to advocate letting in more sunlight on the dark role behind-closed-doors lobbyists play in directing zillions of government dollars to benefit mammoth corporations. It might call for slashing the budgets for defense and foreign aid. It could call for ending another war the USA lost -- the drug war.  It would probably have to champion campaign finance reform in a big way, calling for drastic measures to reduce the role that soul-sucking, big-budget advertising plays in so many elections. Maybe this imaginary party ought to incorporate some aspects of the thinking behind the Libertarians and the Greens.  

It probably wouldn’t take winning many elections for the buzz to make such a new political party the darling of the media, and quite attractive to many voters who are disgusted with how the two-party system has been working/not working for them.

If  the Bull Moose could win a handful of congressional races, mayoral races, state assembly, etc. in 2006, such a new political party would then have a genuine potential to grow. Hey, when you stop to think how hard the Republicans and Democrats would try to kill off such a thing and what extremes they’d likely stoop to, it already sounds like fun to me.

Illustration by F. T. Rea

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