“Third” Parties and third party candidates have had an unremarkable recent run of futility in American electoral politics since the “good old days” of Ross Perot for President. From Americans Elect to Gary Johnson’s 2012 Libertarian presidential run where he only received 1% of the popular vote, recent third party efforts have overwhelmingly failed to launch, despite a toxic political climate with debt ceiling standoffs and record low Congressional approval ratings that would seem to provide the perfect environment for American voters looking for another electoral option.
Enter Charles Wheelan. A best selling author, public policy expert, and former congressional candidate, Wheelan has penned a manifesto not just for independent voters and centrists, but anyone who’s sick and tired with extremism (from both sides of the aisle) ruining the governing function of our American democratic system.
The crux of Wheelan’s plan revolves around striking while the iron is hot — now is the time for a pragmatic, solutions oriented Centrist party that will embrace the best of Democratic and Republican ideals and policies, while pushing aside the divisive issues and rhetoric (aptly generalized as “Guns & Sex”) that our two parties will never agree on, yet insist on using to invigorate their “bases” at the expense of the vast center of the American public.
How will this Centrist party gain power in Washington D.C. and the American political system? Easy. By exploiting a quirk in the system that has never been attempted — electing a handful (say, four or five) of Senators from swing states that would prevent either party from holding a 50 seat majority in the Senate, and prevent both Democrats and Republicans from doing anything without the cooperation of The Centrists.
Think this strategy is a pipe dream? Think again. Wheelan reminds us late in the book that:
“There is nothing naive about thinking a Centrist candidate can win 34% of the vote in a handful of states, particularly when the Republican and Democratic candidates are disadvantaged in the general election by the things they have to say and do to win their respective primaries”
What can independent voters do to get involved with the Centrist Party movement? Check out their website at www.thecentristmovement.org, visit their Facebook Page or Twitter feed, and if you’d like to read more about Wheelan’s thinking on the subject, you can pick up The Centrist Manifesto online or at your local bookstore.
From debt ceiling standoffs to single-digit Congress approval ratings, America’s political system has never been more polarized—or paralyzed—than it is today. As best-selling author and public policy expert Charles Wheelan writes, now is the time for a pragmatic Centrist party that will identify and embrace the best Democratic and Republican ideals, moving us forward on the most urgent issues for our nation.
Wheelan—who not only lectures on public policy but practices it as well (he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2009)—brings even more than his usual wit and clarity of vision to The Centrist Manifesto. He outlines a realistic ground game that could net at least five Centrist senators from New England, the Midwest, and elsewhere. With the power to deny a red or blue Senate majority, committed Centrists could take the first step toward giving voice and power to America’s largest, and most rational, voting bloc: the center.
That said, if the Centrists can get off the ground, I’m all in.
This version of centrism is what I wanted out of libertarianism, but tempered with a pragmatic realism that the Libertarian Party lacks. It’s definitely NOT a “split the difference” centrism that shoots for a midpoint between the GOP and the Democrats. The major thesis is that most of America is in general agreement on most issues, and that if we ignore the extremists on ALL sides, we can come together and move forward. Sometimes that means embracing the GOP’s position, sometimes it favors the Democrats, and once in a while it strikes a new path.
This is a short book, but it doesn’t need to be particularly long. It sketches out what’s good and bad about both major parties, weaves the good stuff into a coherent platform, and discards the ideological extremes as basically irrelevant fringes that only get in the way of finding solutions. While I don’t agree with everything here, it makes enough sense that I want to give it a shot.