Why can’t we do this here?

I find this to be pretty exciting news, because of the possibilities it suggests. Basically, Ariel Sharon is quitting the Likud Party he helped found in order to form a new, centrist party that turns away from the extremes of both Likud and Labor.

This, coming on the heels of Sen. John McCain’s visit here over the weekend, prompts me to ask the following questions of my readers (and if you give me some good answers, maybe I can get a columnSharon_1 out of it, and maybe even get a movement started; who knows?):

  • Why can’t we do this over here, giving those of us in the sensible middle an actual alternative to the mutually exclusive, mutually loathing Democrats and Republicans?
  • What would be the precepts of such a party? (I have some ideas of my own on this score, but I’d like to know what you think.)
  • Who would be some good candidates we could run under our banner?
  • What should be the name of our party?
  • What animal, if any, should be our party symbol?
  • Do you think such a party would, given time to grow, actually have a chance to make a difference and help us find a way to move forward as one country, leaving the destructive bitterness of the two dominant parties behind?
  • If you believe it does, what’s stopping us?

I guess that’s enough conversation starters to go on for now. I look forward to your feedback.

56 thoughts on “Why can’t we do this here?

  1. Dave

    Brad, While a party full of moderate centrists sounds great in theory, in reality it would be the party that would not have the principles, passion, and intensity needed to achieve goals. Perhaps a silly example, but imagine if the founders of this nation were centrists. Or at least outnumbered by centrists. Instead of the Declaration of Independence, we would have gotten a politely worded Request for Fairness and Tolerance. When George Washington stepped forward to command a ragtag army of liberation, the centrists would have stopped that immediately, much too radical, after all, as centrists believe that everything can be achieved through intelligent compromise. The net result would be a United States UK territory. I am sure some here would like that idea, even today.

    I think we all tire of the endless bitter rhetoric from right and left, but if we all became centrists, how would anything ever get changed? Change, by its nature, affects some people positively and some negatively, hopefully for the greater good.

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  2. Lee

    Ariel Sharon has been a radical his entire life, beginning with his early career as an assassin of Palestinian politicians, including moderates who sought to negotiate with the Israelis.
    Most politicians who label themselves “moderate” are just trying to set themselves apart from the pack, disassociate themselves from radicals who have hijacked the main party, or are actually radicals in sheep’s clothing.
    Real progress is achieved when purists break away from groups which have become corrupt or cowardly do-nothings (as most “moderates” are). A good example is Roger McBride leaving the GOP to help expand the Libertarian Party, found the Cato Institute, etc. Many of those people came back to the GOP with Reagan and helped end the inflation “malaise” and foreign policy retreat of Jimmy Carter, along with tax reform and deregulation of business.

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  3. Don

    Brad;
    It appears that having a political (or philosophical) position on an issue requires one to take at least a mild shot at those who have differing values. While you deplore the name calling of either side and their extreme positions, in your first bullet point you align yourself with the “sensible middle”. By deduction, I can only assume you find those us who are passionate about our beliefs outside the realm of sensibiity.
    Having read your blog since its inception, a portrait has begun to emerge. An erudite columnist is allowed to vent a little, and shows himself to be the product of his culture, i.e. Catholic, military and Southern. While most of us are affected by our heritage, most deep thinkers try to overcome in born prejudices and make their points with logic and precedent. While I’m sure you try to do that, your pro military stance and “centrist” leanings show you have been molded by your upbringing far more than you are likely willing to admit.
    Yes, I am one of those fringe “lefties” and I believe deeply in a better world and a better South Carolina from where I stand. I do deplore needless name calling by the leadership of each party and I wonder why intelligent journalists immediately rush to call Messrs. Dawson and McMaster to get the quote they know is coming.Take no offense at the gentle jab, because we see the same thing each week on the national news shows. We know what these people are going to say about every issue, so why is what they saw news?
    To answer your question about the value of centrists, those people do exist. Somehow, they manage to believe that having no deeply held ideology is a good thing and they are the only ones who can get things done. They may be right, but without those of us who believe fervently about important issues such as separation of church and state, women’s and minority rights, capital punishment, humane treatment of prisoners, et al, the status quo remains entrenched and change never occurs.
    I appreciate your thoughts on a variety of subjects and thouroughly enjoy your columns. I do hope for greater introspection as you examine why you feel the way you do and what it’s practical effect has on all humankind.

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  4. Brad Warthen

    Lee, actually, the Founders were centrists. At least, the Federalists were (I can’t speak for all of the Republicans). Basically, they were people who wanted to preserve the natural rights to which they had assumed themselves to be entitled as British subjects, and they were willing to take up arms against those who would deny them. The “radicals” were the sort who launched the Whiskey Rebellion, which George Washington — solid Establishment type that he was — was perfectly willing to put down.

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  5. Lee

    If might make the modern moderates feel better about themselves to claim that the American revolutionaries were “centrists”, but it is just another symptom of the self-deception which characterizes modern moderates.
    The ideas of Sam Adams, Adam Smith, and others that era are as radical today to most people as they were then. That is why only about 10% of the colonials supported rebellion, and why modern centrists today reject the concepts of an armed population espoused by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as just one example.

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  6. Mary Rosh

    As for the animal that would represent your “centrist” party, that’s simple. A genetically engineered cross between a chicken and a hawk.
    It’s astonishing that you refer to yourself as a “centrist,” and this sort of thinking highlights your laziness yet again. Truth is not found in “balance.” Every position doesn’t have equal moral value.
    Republicans support torture; Democrats oppose it. Taking a middle ground between those two positions isn’t “centrist.”
    Republicans support imprisoning people without trial; Democrats oppose it. Taking a middle ground between those two positions isn’t “centrist.”
    Democrats support going to war only to protect the vital interests of the United States. Republicans support going to war (the country that is, not them personally) any time they think it can promote a chickenhawk fantasy to spread democracy and give them an opportunity to funnel government money to their campaign contributors. Taking a middle ground between those positions isn’t “centrist.”
    The White Citizens Councils (a group whose basic philosophy you share) received criticism both from the Ku Klux Klan and from the NAACP. Receiving criticism from both “sides” of the issue of racial oppression and segregation didn’t make them “centrist.”

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  7. Tom Turnipseed

    Beyond and above our exalted two party system in the United States are the corporations and big monied interests who are the puppeteers effectively controlling both parties.
    Incumbents in both major parties have been re-elected to the U.S. Congress and Senate at about a 95% rate in the past few years. The Democrats pay lip service to the social safety net, remember, Clinton ended “welfare as we know it”. Democrats are a bit more progressive on “cultural” issues such as abortion, gay rights, prayer in the schools and other issues delineated by Don in his post, but they seem to also finally fall in line with the war, oil and health care industry profiteers who pick the pockets of everyday people. Even though the Dems. get relatively smaller amounts of campaign contributions from the defense, energy and healthcare industries they are always hustling to get more under the auspices big corporate fronts like the Democratic Leadership Council. There is a trans-party campaign industry fed by money that is welcomed by whomever recieves it, whether or not it comes from Exxon/Mobil, Halliburton or bamboozled Indian tribes.
    It is true that the Republicans have now tilted further toward the market/big money boys with more gusto than anytime since the Gilded Age. This tilt and the trumped-up imperialistic mis-adventure in Iraq could remove them from power in 2006. When the war profits directly benefit our Vice-President in a big way it becomes an excellent issue. Here is an essay I recently wrote that was published on Common Dreams titled Dick Cheney: War Profiteer that details the extent of the benefits. I hope this link works: http://tinyurl.com/9mbvg
    We truly need more independence from the narrow partisanship of the Demo/Repubs.
    As my ol’ boss, George Wallace liked to say, “They are like tweedle-dee-dee and tweedle-dee-dum”. Ross Perot was correct in warning us about the secrecy in our national security system, when he said we need to know how and why they are spending so much of our money in the most lethal part of our government. I realize that Brad idealizes Tom Friedman and economic globalization, but ol’ Ross wasn’t that far off base when he warned us of that “giant sucking sound”. Look at what is left of our textile industy and General Motors today.
    For a long, long time the left warned of facism and the right has raised the spectre of communism. Nowadays, it appears the scale has tilted a bit toward a money over people government in the U.S. Maybe we should move back to the middle and put people in the forefront of our public policy.
    Establishing new parties in this country is not easy. I was Director of George Wallace’s National Third Party campaign for President and we were leading in the polls in about 12 Southern and border States when the Republicans put Ol’ Strom on tv across the South. Strom cautioned Wallace-leaning folks to not waste their votes on Wallace. He said even though “Wallace is a good man”, Nixon was also a good man and was against bussing, so don’t waste your vote. Wallace knew he couldn’t win a majority of the electoral votes, but he was seeking leverage in Congress for his issues and Congress elects the President if there is no electoral college majority.
    Lee Atwater relied on the riddle of race in following up and organizing the newly found Republicanism of Strom Thurmond throughout the South and the country. Lee further exploited the dark side to turn the party of Abraham Lincoln into the party of David Duke and the once solid South for the Democrats became the solid South for the Republicans.
    Will the 2006 elections find more independently oriented Democrats being elected in the South?
    Tom T.

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  8. Lee

    The stereotype slogans of “Mary Rosh” above are contradicted by:
    * Democrats hiring KGB torture specialists to assist in seige of Branch Davidians.
    * Democrats voting for invasion of Haiti, bombing of Serbia, Bosnian Christians, and arming of Albanian Muslims.
    * Democrats sponsoring legislation, signed by Clinton, to detain and deport immigrants without trial or attorneys.

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  9. Mary Rosh

    “Democrats hiring KGB torture specialists to assist in seige of Branch Davidians.”
    Events that occurred only in your paranoid delusional fantasies don’t count.
    This is another example highlighting why making “balance” the apotheosis of journalism is a mistake. Lee is crazy. He says all kinds of crazy things. The proper response to a crazy person like Lee is to ignore what he says. Instead, in the interests of “balance,” crazy people like Lee are consulted, interviewed and put on television to achieve a “balanced” presentation.
    Balance isn’t a worthy goal of journalism. Every viewpoint isn’t entitled to equal weight. Crazy people like Lee aren’t entitled to have their views presented as a way to balance the views of non-crazy people.
    In addition to being crazy, Lee (during his infrequent moments of partial lucidity) is dishonest. In response to my point that Republicans believe in imprisoning people without trial, he dishonestly points to a (wrong, in my view) abbreviation of the process to which immigrants are entitled in challenging deportation. Instead of a full court trial, they are entitled only to an INS hearing, without court review. The consequences of an adverse ruling are deportation, not indefinite imprisonment.
    Lee proves that he is dishonest in bringing up this issue as a sort of “counterbalance” to Republican efforts to imprison people indefinitely without trial.
    But in the sad state of journalism today, we often find the views of crazy liars like Lee sought out and soberly discussed in efforts to achieve “balanced” coverage.

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  10. Lee

    Mary,
    Your prerequisite to discussing history is to first keep up with the news. If are unable to find those stories you missed as they happened, I guess some of us will have to supply links to the events. Let us know if you give up.
    507 U.S. 292. RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL.,v … of being deportable, and then detained pending deportation hearings pursuant to a regulation, promulgated in 1988 and …
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=507&invol=292
    I am sorry it caused you to fly off the handle and go into insult mode, but that seems to be the only tool of today’s Democrats. Try to remember your manners.

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  11. Mary Rosh

    “If are unable to find those stories you missed as they happened,”
    That’s right. As they *happened.* That means happened in reality, not in your fantasies. And news is real news, not films by people who claim that their film shows a flame shooting out of a flamethrower, when what it really shows is a shirt that got caught on a battering ram.
    As for your citation, I don’t deny, and never denied, that potential deportees are sometimes detained pending deportation. That is not the same thing as indefinite imprisonment. Even if I don’t agree with the curtailment of the review process, such a curtailment is not the same thing as indefinite imprisonment.
    Bush claims the right to imprison anyone indefinitely. Republicans support that. Democrats don’t. Painting those positions as “extreme” and claiming to stake out a “middle ground” between them isn’t “centrist.”
    Your claim that detaining people pending deportation is equivalant to indefinite imprisonment proves your dishonesty (as if the matter were in ever in doubt).

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  12. Nathan

    The problem with your idea Brad, is that the idea of being a centrist as we currently know it is something in the middle of Republican and Democrats. So, because John McCain often votes with the Democrats, and disagrees with the man he challenged for the Presidency years ago, he is a centrist. In the same way, based on “Gang of 14” standards, Robert Byrd is a centrist. They are not similar politically, but both could be defined as centrists.
    You see, once the new centrist party began to take positions on one issue or another, the radicalization would begin. After all, it isn’t like the current political parties are tied to a coherent set of beliefs that build on one another.
    For instance:
    Liberals say save the whales, kill the unborn babies.
    Pro-life conservatives fight for the right to kill felons (I’ll never be comfortable with the idea that people like Scott Peterson can be put to death with nothing more than circumstantial evidence that he killed his wife).
    There can’t really be a centrist party because it would lack an identity.
    What we need are politicians that aren’t beholden to a party. I don’t mind people who are principled and stick to thier ideas and beliefs, but I hate to see people switch thier stands on issues just to fit in with the party faithful.
    Vote for people, instead of the party, and we will get the politicians that we deserve. But if you think that Massachusetts, Texas, California, and Alabama are going to send centrists to Washington, you have lost your mind. There are states that are mostly populated by radicals.
    Your idea sounds good in theory, but the fact is that it is unworkable, and more importantly, not really needed. After all, sometimes we get Linsey Graham or John McCain from the Republican party.

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  13. Lee

    Mary, try to get back on the topic.
    I am sure Brad will create one for you in the future, where you can spew your hate for Bush and America, and we can correct you with the facts.

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  14. Mark Whittington

    Brad,

    Unfortunately, I have only a few minutes to reply to you on this subject. You just don’t get it-you’re the extremist. You consistently advocate both neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. You’re not a liberal in the modern sense (maybe in some medieval tradition you’re a liberal). You’re not a conservative either. You’re damned sure not a social democrat. One may hardly believe that the editor of a major newspaper has the gall to promote such an idea as a one party state. That’s right, a “centrist” party alone that is designed to cripple the current major parties inevitably will lead to a one party state. Left-wingers who promote a one party state are communists. Right-wingers who do the same are fascists. You’re against the concept of political parties altogether, as you have said many times, yet your centrist party will be the way to enlightenment in your view. We’re already a de-facto plutocracy with a 98% congressional re-election rate in gerrymandered districts, and you want to make the problem even worse by eliminating the political parties in favor of your centrist party. Evidently, you’ve taken The Prince to heart.

    Believe me, if someone on the left makes such a suggestion, they’ll get an earful from me. I’ll never support a totalitarian state of any kind. We need multiple political parties that are equitably funded in some manner in conjunction with proportional representation. I may disagree with people in the opposition, but I’ll certainly never try to eliminate them from the political process, and I realize that democracy can only work when coalitions are formed among the various parties.

    The winner take all system is the problem-not the concept of multiple political parties. What you are suggesting will lead to disaster.

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  15. Dave

    Brad, Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or….”, is a centrist to you. Amazing how the American educational system has gradually rewritten history for the convenience of a liberal agenda. The founding fathers risked everything, homes, businesses, land, families, when they attended secret meetings to begin the foundational work of this country.

    And to Mary, when FDR “imprisoned” all of the Japanese Americans during WW2, virtually removing ALL of their constitutional rights, I guess this Democrat was giving these Japs a free government paid vacation. Let’s all agree to remove that episode from history so we can all FEEL better about ourselves.

    The perfect mascot for the Centrist party would be Push Me Pull Ya from Dr. Zeus. An artificial creation that can never figure out where it stands.

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  16. David

    I am always intrigued by this argument that moderates aren’t passionate about anything.
    I have very adamant positions on issues that are now considered conservative and liberal.
    I am no easy vote for any political party or candidate. I take every issue on its own merits and when I make up my mind, I am as passionate and diehard about that position as any conservative or liberal could ever be.

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  17. Preston

    A little off topic here, but where are the W/Sanford/GOP apologists to rewrite the article from todays paper stating that we have the 3rd worst unemployment rate in the US? The only states worse are those that were destroyed by Katrina.
    Maybe Time was on to something about good old Gov. Sanford.

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  18. Lee

    I’m waiting for an apologists for illegal immigrants to explain how they expect the South and West to not have more citizens unemployed as hordes of criminal workers stream into their states.

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  19. Lee

    So a toothless INS and do-nothing politicians have no responsibility for illegal immigrants taking jobs from citizens?
    All we have to do is stop shopping at Wal-Mart, and all the Mexicans will walk home, and the illegal software developers will fly back to India and Eastern Europe.

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  20. Preston

    Who are the illegal software developers that you say are living here? I understand the concept of outsourcing, but was unaware of all of the Indians and Eastern Europeans that are in SC.
    I agree with a lot of your anger, but we must begin by making changes at home. By making conscious decisions to patronize local merchants, and doing research about what we buy, we can make a difference.

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  21. Mary Rosh

    Lee, how is pointing out your dishonesty “hatred of Bush”? And how on earth is it “hating America”? Are you Bush? Are you America? No, you’re just a dishonest lunatic, and I pointed out your dishonesty.
    You are just trying to shield your own viewpoint from opposition, by labeling opposing viewpoints as unacceptable.
    And how is opposition to Bush “hating America”? 57% of Americans believe that Bush manipulated intelligence to sell the Iraq war? Are you saying that 57% of Americans hate America? If so, that adds further support to the idea that you’re crazy.

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  22. Mary Rosh

    Dave, the placing of Japanese and Japanese Americans in concentration camps happened 60 years ago, and is universally acknowledged by Democrats to be a disgrace and a source of shame to America. The only people who defend it are Republicans.
    Bush and his apologists claim the right to imprison people indefinitely and without trial NOW.
    I also note that you misspelled Dr. Seuss’s name, and you misattributed the Pushmi-Pullyu to him. Of course, if ignorance of a subject stopped you from talking about it, you would be silent.

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  23. Lee

    40% of all illegal aliens came to the U.S. legally, then hid out and failed to return home.
    For those who understand nothing about the immigration issue, “outsourcing” is the practice of subcontracting work out from the firm’s staff, to another firm, which may be across the street, across the country or across the ocean.
    Now tell me again how not shopping at Wal-Mart will end all the illegal immigration.

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  24. Lee

    Mary, claiming that one is “pointing out dishonesty” without actually doing so is…well, dishonest.
    Just as continually calling Bush and others “liars” without refuting what they say is…a lie.

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  25. Preston

    Lee- I understand outsourcing, but the people that do the software work in Sri Lanka are not illegal aliens as you suggested in an earlier post.
    If noone shoped at Walmart, they would go out of business. Then every illegal that cleans the toilets for $1 an hour would not have a job, etc.
    By supporting those who exploit illegal labor, you contribute to the problem. It is not a complicated concept.

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  26. Lee

    Oh, I see.
    Some people think that all illegal Latino immigrants work at evil Wal-Mart and nowhere else, not even Exxon or Big Tobacco.
    And every other immigrant from India, Africa, China or Europe is here legally, and did not lie about their status to obtain work or study permits.
    That’s quite a fantasy.
    Expert estimates of the illegal population in the U.S. are 20,000,000, with 10,000,000 identified by the Census, and 4,000,000 who came here legally and then disappeared, and not into Wal-Mart.

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  27. Preston

    Lee- Walmart has a reputation and has paid fines for knowingly employing illegals. I have heard nothing of Exxon or Big Tobacco. I speak of what I know and try not to make assumptions. If avoiding Walmart helps me avoid being a hypocrite, then I can rest easy.
    I think that you are missing my point. If you know of documented cases of companies that use illegal labor, you should avoid them at all costs. I by no means believe that Walmart is the sole culprit, they just happen to be the best publicized.
    Please enlighten me with a list of companies that you know of that knowingly using illegals so that I may refrain from patronizing them, but please don’t sit their blasting me, and providing me with loose claims and statistics.

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  28. Lee

    My numbers came from the U.S. Census Bureau and from a study by the Rand Corporation. I think there are many causes of unemployment in the state of South Carolina, but Mark Sanford is not the primary cause. Nor is Wal-Mart. Illegal workers to take menial jobs from our most menial workers, and from ambitious, educated young people who want to get their first jobs.

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  29. Richard

    I think it would be more difficult for us to establish a centrist party because our system of government is different. Parliamentary systems always have multiple parties. We have always had two real, legitimate parties. I think our republican government lends itself to that two-party system.
    Also, members of a party typically agree on a few core issues. I think that would be difficult for centrists. Centrists are not the folks – as some people apparently believe – who are in the middle on every issue. Rather, we agree with some Republican positions and some Democratic positions; overall, we tend to balance somewhere in the, well, center. However, people get to that center in many different ways. Granted, Republicans disagree with Republicans and Democrats disagree with Democrats; but centrists are all over the board. We would need a rallying point or issue, and I’m not sure what that would be.
    Along the same lines, both of our major parties have bases on each side. They’re not the base because they’re extreme on issues, though they do tend to be extreme. They’re the base because they’re always involved and adamant about their issues. Basically, they always show up. Decisions are made by the people who show up. Let’s face it, a LARGE number of people in the center just don’t show up a good bit of the time. It would be difficult to maintain a party with that type (lack) of participation.

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  30. Preston

    Jobs are jobs. If they go away, unemployment rises. Unemployment generally effects the lower classes much harder than the upper income folks. You also have failed to address the points that I am trying to raise with you.
    I believe Walmart is the largest single employer in the US, employing 1.7MM according to the website. If they knowingly employ illegals to cut costs, then you better believe they are a primary cause.
    Mark Sanford may not be the primary cause, but ultimately he/his office needs to be the solution. I am not seeing a great turnaround in this state economically. If the governor cannot effectively recruit business, then he is ineffective and should be relieved of duty by the citizens, but in this state I doubt that will happen.

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  31. Lee

    Do you understand the difference between “jobs going away”, like to Mexico, and jobs being taken away by illegal Mexicans who come here to work for illegal wages?
    Blame our US Senators and Congressmen for federal failure to seal the borders, not the governors. That is why the federal government reimburses the states (partially) for the crime costs of illegal immigration.

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  32. Preston

    Again, you make no comment about Gov. Sanford and his inability to help make things happen in SC. You consistently shift the argument by just making statements and offering no solutions. I told you my personal solution (I don’t shop at Walmart, and several other mega-shops out of principle) which you laugh at. It may be funny to you, or you may be concerned about exposing yourself as a hypocrite (Walmart shopper, e.g.).
    My point being, what are your solutions/ideas? Regurgitating numbers does not help me see what your viewpoint is, it merely shows me that you know how to use Google.

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  33. Paul DeMarco

    Brad,
    Doesn’t sound like your trial balloon about a centrist party is floating too high with this group. However, I think it is an idea with some merit. A centrist party might work to guard those values most central to American democracy-life, liberty and the pusuit of happiness would be a good place to start. Obviously, guardians of liberty could disagree on many issues: ie the wisdom of our intervention in Iraq. Some might say that it was esential to preserve our nation’s liberty and protect us from the terrorists, others would argue that it is actually threatening our liberty by emboldening terrrorists and giving them a training ground for another attack on the US. But if you started with several issues that you felt where truly central to our country’s success-the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, the welfare of children, the primacy of education, the irreplacable value of our natural resources, the encouragement of hard work and individual achievement. The devil would of course be in the details of our new party’s platform. But it am not deterred by those who claim this party would lack passion. For me there is no more pressing issue than our responsibility as parents to provide provide a safe, stable and enlightened upbringing for our children-there are no lengths to which I would not go to protect my own children or to promte policies that support this nation’s families.
    As another example, let’s say the centrist party took on Medicare drug coverage as a plank in the platform. Surely we could do better than the Republicans/drug companies on this one. And then how about we take on universal health care?
    And on the other side, surely we can do better than the Democrats/entertainment industry’s permissive attitudes on media violence/sex available to our kids. How about some simple restrictions like requiring a credit card number to access any pornographic material on the net?
    I think there are many people in the vital center of American politics who would be attracted to a third option. We could be a tech-based party, relying on the web as our primary mode of communication (and eschewing useless conclaves like party conventions for local and state meetings-or actually using our national conventions to make substantive decsions) As for a mascot-how about an owl? Quiet, wise, but no- nosense and a swift and skillful predator when the need arises.

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  34. Lee

    Brad and his fellow editors propose:
    * One party, of centrists. No ideology allowed.
    * Lt Gov and Gov from same party, of course
    * Sec of education appointed by governor
    * Sec of agriculture appointed
    * Adjucant General appointed
    * most lower offices appointed
    See the pattern? They don’t trust democratic processes.

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  35. Paul DeMarco

    Lee,
    I think your concerns about the third party centrists are misplaced. A centrist party would have a definite ideology but it would avoid extremes (like Republican deficit spending or Democratic moral relativism).
    The centrists’ problem would be developing a coherent ideology around which to gather a following. I’ve identified two possibilities above (ie balanced budgets and recognition of moral authority (meaning God)) as well as a number of others in my previous post. The centrists would draw their members from conservative Democrats/moderate Republicans but would be unlikely to pose a significant threat to the two major parties for a long while.
    I don’t agree that centrists don’t trust the democratic process. A third party would enlarge our national debate, not restrain it. I don’t follow the logic that centrists want to stifle debate and impose a totalitarian government.
    Currently our democracy is dominated by well paid corporate and special interest lobbyists. A grass roots third party would help pull us out of the swamp of entrenched partisan politics and back into the main stream. A boat make more headway in the center of the river than near the bank.
    This is the equation that drives centrist politics.

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  36. David

    Paul, good comments. I agree.
    Lee amused me a little. He takes on Brad for proposing those appointed positions by the Governor and takes him to task for not trusting the democratic process.
    yet any President picks his VP, picks the Secretary of Defense (adjutant general), the Sec of Education, Sec of Agriculture, and many many other offices. Yet I rarely hear tha stated as “not trusting Democratic processes.”
    Yet South Carolina citizens electing a military commander (when some polls in the past have shown most voters don’t even know what the position even means) is somehow ripe with democratic ideals.
    Maybe Lee will suggest that we elect our Secretary of Defense. Maybe, we will get someone equally qualified (like in South Carolina having an adjutant General with almost no military experience) to run the Defense Department. I would recommend someone like Joe Montana. Sure he has no experience but that isn’t the point after all.
    LOL

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  37. Paul DeMarco

    All,
    Happy Thanksgiving! One of the blessings for which I’m most thankful today (beside the pie my wife’s mother is putting the final touches on as I write this) is the freedom we have to converse without restraint in living rooms, council meetings, barbershops and increasingly in the electronic public square provided by the web.
    Brad, I would be intereested in your platform for our new centrist party. Do they match any of those I’ve enumerated in my previous two posts? I think a willingness to tackle the chronic unsolved (but potentially soluble) problems facing out country would attract a some interest:
    1) universal health care
    2) A balanced budget (or one that takes us in that direction)
    3) A coherent policy for the environment/energy that recognizes the reality of global warming
    4) Public education that prepares students for life/work in the 21st century
    5) A recognition that children raised in stable two parent families are the key to any nation’s success and the development of policies that support this assertion.
    As for candidates for the party:
    1) In SC, Joe Riley’s consensus building style seems to fit the mold
    2) Nationally, Joe Lieberman and other conservative Democrats. Lieberman is trapped by his inability to win a Democratic presidential primary. However, with his crossover appeal, he might have beaten W in the general election. John McCain (and other moderate Republicans)find themselves in a similar quandary. McCain was unable to win enough primaries vs. W in 2004 but would likely have beaten him in a general election. McCain may face the same obstacle in 2008.
    As for a name for our party how about the Common Ground Party or the Common Sense Party (a nod to Thomas Paine)? As the Common Ground Party we would already know one of our opponents-the Constitution Party of Texas-read their evangelical take on Common Graound vs Holy Ground at their website. With the owl as our mascot however, I don’t think it would be long before we were branded with the nickname the “Hooters!”

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  38. Laurin

    I’ll run on the “owl” ticket, Brad. But if the party is going to bear the unfortunate nickname of “hooters,” can we at least embrace the situation and claim orange as the party color? :-)

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  39. Brad Warthen

    Paul, thanks for your thoughtful contributions. My Sunday column sets out some of the positions that I personally would bring to the table, and while the particular approaches are definitely my own, they address some of the same general issues that you brought up. I wrote the column Wednesday, so I wasn’t copying your homework (as you will be able to tell by the veering approach I take). But I went into the column this morning and mentioned your name as someone who had set out a "similar" set of issues.

    I like Common Ground as a starting point for discussion, but I’m not sure about "Common Sense." I’d hesitate to link my party to closely to a disreputable (albeit revered) character such as Mr. Paine (who played an active role in the French Revolution, as well as our own). As I said in a previous comment, much to "Lee’s" consternation, the Founders I admire are the reasonable centrists, such as John Adams. His cousin Samuel was not the sort that I look up to.

    And you know, Laurin, I was concerned about the "Hooters" thing, too — as I noted in this related post. We could run from it, but people would no doubt bring it up to make fun of us. As for Orange — as a Catholic of largely Irish ancestry, I’m sort of allergic to that color.

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  40. Richard Sauders

    I like Paul’s suggestions about energy and public education being plank issues. They seem like strong centrist issues to me. I also like the balanced budget idea, but every party is for that (or at least they say they are).
    Although I agree with Paul’s clearly strongly-held belief that children are best supported by stable, two-parent families, I would prefer that the centrists try to avoid the moral/social issues as much as possible. It’s not that those issues are unimportant; they certainly are important. However, those issues usually hit me as things that the government shouldn’t be dealing with. Also, they’re very divisive, which seems to lead us away from where we want this party to go. Let’s set good examples (imagine that from a political party!) and see where that takes us.
    I think we should make poverty an issue, though. Government should not be the only player (I, too, want a balanced budget), but we have to recognize that government can play a large role in organizing and leading the fight. I read just this week in this newspaper that SC has the third highest unemployment rate in the country and the third highest adult illiteracy rate in the country. That is insane! Five counties have at least 40% adult illiteracy. Forget college graduates or even high school graduates; 40% of adults in 5 of our counties can’t even read! We are better than that. SC is better than that. At some point, someone has to step up and say, “This isn’t working, and it’s going to take ALL of us to fix it.” I think it will take a centrist to do that. So, let’s add poverty prevention to the plank, as well.

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  41. Richard Sauders

    A brief comment about potential candidates. From what I’ve seen and heard, Tommy Moore is a good, consensus-building, centrist. Many senate insiders on both sides will tell you that Moore has a lot to do with the major compromises that body reaches. Both sides trust him. He may have a hard time with raising money, but he’s a good candidate. He may have difficulty, too, because he’s really not one for attacks. Take a look at him.

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  42. Lee

    Could some of you “centrists” and “moderates” point us to some great books on the philosophy behind the politics?
    The shopping list I see so far is all socialist. My bet is that most moderates, like most liberals, haven’t a clue as to the origins of the notions they have adopted as their creed.

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  43. Dave

    Lee, It is a sad fact that many Americans are indifferent or ignorant about the founding charter and principles that were used to establish this nation. From reading some of these posts, I gather that there are those who think if we just became “France” all of our ills would be resolved. A society where the citizenry looks to and expects the government to provide for nearly everything. France probably can be recognized as a centrist nation where moral issues are avoided because they are divisive. A place where any form of belief is tolerated except for Christianity. This concept is so far removed from the vision defined by the founding fathers it is amazing.

    Perhaps the first plank of the Centrist party would be to establish a War On Poverty. Now that’s a war even Mary Rosh would be pro-war about. New government programs to make everyone literate, free health care for all (does that include gastric bypass surgery?), free housing, free transportation, free food. I am being sarcastic here but where does the nanny state stop with government welfare?

    Brad, it will be interesting to see your Sunday column but this Centrist party seems to have hijacked by socialists and statists. At least for now.

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  44. David

    I don’t think we need to waste time providing books to Lee or anyone else on the philosophy behind such an idea.
    I doubt many Conservatives could point to a book that states the current Republican led Senate, House and Presidency would spend us into the atmosphere, refuse to do anything about our open borders with Mexico and pass a huge Medicare drug benefit plan with phony math and no way for the program to pool beneficiaries to get drug prices lower within the program. If you can point out that book, I’d love to read it.
    I doubt many liberals could point to a book that states their philosophy of offering no consensus plan on how to get us out of Iraq (because that is what a lot of them are yelling about but don’t know how to do it), the failure to do anything about our open border with Mexico, and their seeminly unwillingness to let anyone that has a conservative liberal ideal to raise up through the ranks of their own party.
    Since both of those groups are already in power and neither is adhering to any sort of “book” or prinicple, I am not sure why a question that asks us to point to our own book on the subject is even relevant.

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  45. Paul DeMarco

    Lee,
    I’m glad you’re in on the converstaion. We need a skeptic to keep those of us open to a centrist party on our toes. Your question about a founding document is a good one and since I wasn’t a history major, I don’t have a good answer.
    Certainly, the Consitution, although in one way radical and bold does reflect the Founder’s moderate tendencies. For example, they chose a republican rather than a more extreme democratic form of representation (to reduce the chance of mob rule) and created checks and balances to keep us on an even keel. The Constitution also demonstrates an Achilles heel of moderation-“splitting the baby”-choosing a middle way between two extremes that only potspones rather than solves a problem. Valuing a slave as 3/5 a person falls into this category. The current Medicare drug plan also fits this bill.
    I’ll have to rely on others to come up with other published work part or present that we can use to support a centrist party.
    I do object to your attempts to prematurely label the party as socialist. I’ve already mentioned my desire to make the existence of God part of our platform. The founder’s acknowledged the existence of God but also made it clear that freedom to worship (or not to worship) was a central right of the citizens of the new republic.
    I’m also unsure how a balanced budget, coherent energy policy and support for public education make me a socialist.
    I’m a moderate and just like liberals and conservatives there is room and need for all of us in the national conversation. The moderates, however, have no party and because of the polarized, partisan national debate we are feeling a bit left out. Is a new centrist party a sensible way to go?-I’m not sure but am certainly willing to explore it.

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  46. Mary Rosh

    All this talk of “centrism” fails to comprehend the fact that not all pairs of points of view represent opposite extremes. For example, suppose that one group of people believes that black people should be exterminated. Another group of people believes that black people are entitled to the same rights of citizenship as everybody else. Warthen doesn’t hold to either of these views. He believes that black people shouldn’t be exterminated, but he believes that they aren’t entitled to the same voting rights as white people. That doesn’t make him centrist. The view that black people are entitled to the same rights of citizenship as everyone else is the centrist view. Warthen’s view is extremist, just not as extremist as the view that black people shoujld be exterminated.
    To take another example, Warthen believes that we (the United States, that is, not Warthen personally – far be it from him to undertake the risks or sacrifices he urges upon others) should continue occupying Iraq until his chickenhawk fantasies are achieved. Something like 63% of the U.S. population believes that the United States should withdraw from Iraq within a year. Which view is centrist, Warthen’s view, or the view held by 63% of Americans?
    To take another example, Warthen believes that Americans should refrain from expressing political views he opposes in order to avoid “demoralizing our troops”. Loyal Americans believe that Ameircans have a right and a duty to speak freely on the policies our soldiers are asked to carry out, because our soldiers do not make judgments about the wisdom of policies and it is the duty of American citizens to make and express their judgments. Which view is centrist, Warthen’s cowardly view that seeks to stifle criticisms of policies that he agrees with, or the view of loyal Americans that the right to disagree with government policy is sacred?
    And it’s rich for people like Dave to be talking about “nanny states” and “government welfare.” Where would South Carolina be without government welfare? South Carolinians get $1.35 in federal payments and subsidies for every $1.00 they pay in federal taxes. Most conservative states are heavily subsidized by federal taxes paid by liberal states? Here’s a centrist idea. Reallocate federal payments so that every state pulls its own weight.
    How about that? That way people like Dave could do more than just talk about self-reliance. They could live it.

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  47. Dave

    So Mary, I take it you are not nominating Brad to be the first leader of the Centrist party? You think he would be pushing for the return of poll taxes?. One really needs to ask why SC takes in more federal dollars than it pays. Some may think we must have more brilliant politicians than other states who are very adept at getting more of the pork pie, but I think we have a disproportionate number of welfare recipients. Welfare kings and queens who have schemed to get themselves on permanent disability, Medicaid, food stamps, and whatever else people can get for free. Actually these people havent had to scheme very much, since they had 40 years of democrat controlled Congressional policy to lead the gimme gimme gimme mine programs. And I include the SC farmers in that crowd. Let’s eliminate it all. All welfare except for the physically disabled should be removed. Very temporary welfare would be acceptable for those facing unexpected severe financial emergencies but other than that, gone. Then people would need to look back to their churches and local friends for help. Now that is a novel idea. Of course, your fellow local churchgoers arent going to pay to shelter, feed, clothe, and medicate some guy down the street who stays up all night smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo, now dont tell me, I’ve nothing to do. The government doesnt mind those who are parasites of society, but your next door neighbor would.

    At any rate Mary, I am self reliant, God willing, and would compare myself to nearly anyone in this state regarding self reliance.

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  48. Richard Sauders

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been called a socialist before. That’s interesting. The outrage seems to have sprung from my suggestion that the centrist party should make poverty prevention a primary goal. I guess I’m not sure how fighting poverty equals socialism.
    Of course, had I said government should provide handouts to the poor and meet all their financial needs, I could see the socialism critique. But I didn’t say that. In fact, I specifically said that government should not be the only player. I really don’t think government could solve the problem. If it could, LBJ would have done it. Also, if it could, it would cost way more money than I would be comfortable spending. I do, however, believe government could establish educational programs, encourage private assistance, and provide an overall coordination. I’m not talking about giving away money. I believe in and fully support a capitalistic system and thereby recognize there will always be a certain level of poverty as a result. However, we seem to have less education, fewer meaningful jobs, and more poverty than other states. Why shouldn’t we address that?
    On the moral issue front, I never said our state or country should avoid moral issues (although I do think politicians try to involve the government in some issues where it has no business). Actually, I think I’ve spent a good bit of time addressing a serious moral issue – poverty. I said I think THE CENTRIST PARTY should avoid the volatile moral issues as much as possible. Why? We’re trying to start a party here. Let’s pick some core things we can all agree on first. We’ll address the hard stuff; but we have to get started first.

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  49. Nathan

    Guys, the problem that all of you have is that you are putting out all of these populist ideals and calling them centrist ideas. Everyone wants healthcare for all. The question is how it gets to everyone. Everyone would like for nobody to be poor, but not everyone wants thier tax dollars used to support drug addicted drunks with no job (and no healthcare).
    When you start coming up with actual ideas to solve the problems, then you become a radical. If you think that everyone should have healthcare, and propose nationalized healthcare (i.e. Hillary-care), you are a left-wing radical. If you propose privatization of Medicaid, tort reform, and private savings accounts, you are a right-wing radical. But, if you just say you want it fixed, you are a centrist. Right?
    Dave, we are already in a “War on Poverty”. But, maybe Mary Rosh and her ilk could tell us what the exit strategy is for the War on Poverty. When will it be over and poverty defeated? When will Medicaid, food stamps, and all of that no longer be needed?
    Here is the problem with most of the “ideas” above. They replace the community, family, and church with government. People are taxed so much they can’t give to charity and then the government has to take care of everyone. (speaking of which, a recent study showed that of the 10 states that gave the least to charity, 9 were “blue” states, of the top ten, all were “red” states). Communities and families don’t have to take care of each other now because the government will force everyone to take care of everyone. That is not how our country was founded.
    Brad, I look forward to your column tomorrow.

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  50. Lee

    How does “the desire for a coherent energy policy” make one a socialist? The only way to have such a policy is for the government to create it and enforce it, as FDR, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin attempted to do, and all failed.
    Public education is socialism. Children are forced to attend government schools with almost no competition, forced to regurgitate goverment answers, to teachers paid for by funds extracted by threat of force from unhappy taxpayers who have little or no voice in how the schools are run.
    “Universal healthcare” is a slogan, which everyone knows that no one really wants. Even the most socialist countries don’t practice it – the leaders fly off to capitalist countries for treatment. In a mixed economy, where some people can accumulat a little more wealth, they can buy their way to the head of the line, while the ordinary workers die waiting for treatment.

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  51. David

    I would argue that if a “coherent” energy policy isn’t at least enforced by the federal government, private corporations (not all) won’t play by any sort of rules other than the ones that serve them best.
    It isn’t socialist to have the federal government involved in a policy that happens to affect all of us on some level.
    I don’t recall the “SOCIALIST” tag being applied to President Bush by Conservative talkers when he expanded Medicare to cover prescription drugs.
    Public education isn’t socialism either. My kids aren’t forced to go to public school. I can home school them – or have them home schooled – or choose a private school. Now some folks may be virtually forced to choose public education because they are in poverty or don’t have the ability to educate their own kids but that isn’t the government forcing them into public education.
    I don’t know what the answer is to health care. I do know that our present system – one that burdens businesses with having to offer health care as a benefit to attract good employees is too expensive and, at times, a royal mess.

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  52. Lee

    Any policy set by a government board and enforced by armed men is socialist at best.
    Socialism doesn’t require that the government seize all the means of production, conscript workers and pay the captives whatever they feel like. Some forms of socialism, like the New Deal production boards, or the European fascism of the 1930s, merely sets production, prices, and distribution for the hapless businesses and workers.

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  53. David

    Then maybe we need some socialism mixed in with our capitalism. ( we have that now anyway and I am fine with it). But I want to fight for more a more reponsibile socialism since it is mixed in with capitalism.
    For example, since President Bush wants prescription drugs for Mecicare beneficiaries, at least use the power of the government to pool those people into one big buying segment or groups of segments (just like private insurance companies do) to help hold down costs.

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