Category Archives: UnParty

The best thing I’ve ever read in a newspaper advice column (and the best political commentary I’ve read in a long time)

Bryan Caskey brings this to my attention as being “right in your wheelhouse of looking past partisan politics and seeing people as people,” and I very much appreciate it.

Sorry, Miss Manners, but this easily qualifies as the best thing I have ever read in a newspaper advice column. No contest.

It starts with a letter from a young man who describes himself as “ more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values,” who “just can’t deal with my father anymore” because “He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics.”

Right off, you want to give this kid a slap upside the head. Or I do. Figuratively speaking, anyway. But Andrew W.K. (born Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier) does something much, much better, and along the way gently makes me feel guilty for wanting to slap anyone upside the head, even figuratively. He begins:

Andrew W.K.

Andrew W.K.

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen….

But you should just go ahead and read the whole thing. It’s amazing. It runs the gamut of things that ought to be said again and again with fierce conviction, from the UnParty view of politics to a theology of Love.

Who is this sage, Andrew W.K.? Well, Wikipedia describes him this way:

Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier (born May 9, 1979), better known by his stagenameAndrew W.K., is an American singer-songwritermulti-instrumentalistentertainer,motivational speaker, and music producer. He was the host of the television seriesDestroy Build Destroy. As a musician, he is known for his singles “Party Hard” and “We Want Fun“.

Apparently, on the side, he also dabbles in wisdom. And at least in this case, does so better than anyone I’ve read recently…

The passing of Howard Baker

baker

This came in a little while ago from The Washington Post:

Former senator Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee, who framed the central question of the Watergate scandal when he asked “what did the president know and when did he know it?” and framed portraits of history with his ever-present camera while Senate majority leader and White House chief of staff, died June 26 at his home in Huntsville, Tenn. He was 88.

The cause was complications from a stroke, said longtime aide Tom Griscom….

That’s me with Baker in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1980. I had just arrived to cover him as he campaigned for the presidential nomination. It’s a shame that he didn’t do better than he did.

And it’s a greater shame that there are so few pragmatic centrists like Baker left — a fair-minded conservative who did not hesitate to grill the Nixon administration to discover the truth.

We still have Lamar Alexander, who comes out of that same commonsense Tennessee Republican tradition — people who gained high office before the Reagan revolution, and before the hardening of ideological positions on both ends of the spectrum. Our own Lindsey Graham is made from a similar mold — although, being of a later generation, he is more marked by the partisan wars than Baker ever was.

But the Howard Bakers, the Sam Nunns, the Scoop Jacksons… they’re all gone. And we’re worse off for it…

I think Ainsley may become my favorite ‘West Wing’ character

I never saw “The West Wing” when it was on the air, for a number of reasons, not the least of which the fact that I wasn’t watching all that much television in those days. I basically had a TV for watching movies, and didn’t get into watching actual TV programming regularly until AMC started its string of must-watch shows (“Mad Men,” the first few episodes of “Rubicon,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead”…).

There was one reason, though, that I particularly avoided “The West Wing.” I had heard, I suppose from a Republican, that it was a fantasy show for liberal Democrats, a picture of the way they would want the world to be. I was finding Democrats particularly tiresome — that is to say, more tiresome than usual — when the show went on the air in 1999. Most of the angry readers I was dealing with in that period were Democrats, between admirers of Bill Clinton (we were tied, I think, for being the first newspaper in the country to urge him to resign) and of Jim Hodges (the show premiered at a moment right in between his election, which we opposed, and our all-out fight against his signature issue, the lottery).

I just didn’t need to hear any more about how members of that party thought the world ought to be.

But I started watching it on Netlflix during my nightly workouts on the elliptical trainer (they’re almost the perfect length for a 40-minute workout), and the first thing I have to tell you is that what I had heard was a most unfair description of the show. Sure, there will occasionally be an instance in which the liberal position is treated briefly as the only one that’s right and true. For instance, as I mentioned the other day, I was pretty irritated when all the main characters acted like a potential judicial nominee who said there is no blanket right to privacy in the Constitution (there is none, whatever the Supremes may say) had said the Earth was flat.

But you’re just as likely to hear characters ably represent other points of view — such as the early episode in which several staffers point out why “hate-crime” laws are inconsistent with liberal democracy. For every red-meat moment such as the one in which President Bartlet humiliates a thinly disguised Dr. Laura using a rather trite liberal device (asking whether she was for literally applying everything in Leviticus), there’s one in which a conservative view wins out, or is at least fairly considered.

The best example of that so far was the episode I watched last night, the fourth in the second season, titled “In This White House.”

It started with an obnoxiously overconfident Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) going on a political talk show to push an education bill. He is demolished on the air by a little blonde girl with a deferential Southern manner who looks to be about 16.

This causes a sensation in the White House. A delighted Josh runs to tell Toby, “Sam’s getting his ass kicked by a girl!” Toby — the Eeyore of the executive branch, a guy who is thrilled by nothing — comes running, saying breathlessly, “Ginger, get the popcorn!” (The good part of the above clip starts at about 2:20.)

But things really get interesting when the president — and Jed Bartlet really is everyone’s idea of a perfect president: wise, fatherly, kind, thoughtful, fair, idealistic, practical and always human — decides to hire Ainsley Hayes.

Enjoying Sam discomfiture at being humiliated by Ms. Hayes is one thing. Bringing the conservative Republican on board is another, and the idea causes much consternation on the staff.

But I think she’s going to be a great addition. As she goes through the throes of deciding whether to take the job, she becomes, if not exactly the voice of the UnParty, a lens for focusing on everything that is wrong in modern partisanship. She reprimands both sides for their destructive habit of demonizing their opponents. When Sam (his ego still bruised from his first encounter with her — he keeps thinking women on the staff are mocking him when they’re not) says defenders of the Second Amendment aren’t about freedom and protection; they’re just people who like guns… she settles his hash yet again by saying:

Yes, they do. But you know what’s more insidious than that? Your gun control position doesn’t have anything to do with public safety, and it’s certainly not about personal freedom. It’s about you don’t like people who do like guns. You don’t like the people. Think about that, the next time you make a joke about the South.

(I remembered what she said when I saw this predictable Tweet from Slate today saying “This is what gun ownership looks like in America.” Be sure to check the picture.)

Then, in the episode’s penultimate scene, Ainsley meets two of her GOP friends in a restaurant. They think she has turned the job down, and they can’t wait to hear about the look on Chief of Staff Leo McGarry’s face. As she sits there looking thoughtful, her friends engage in the sort of rant that we hear too often from both sides.

“I hate these people,” says her friend Harriet.

“Did you meet anyone there who isn’t worthless?” adds Bruce.

“Don’t say that,” Ainsley says softly.

Bruce continues, “Did you meet anyone there who has any-?”

Ainsley lights into him:

I said don’t say that. Say they’re smug and superior, say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don’t call them worthless. At least don’t do it in front of me.

Her friends look stunned. She chokes up as she continues:

The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good.
Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots.

And I’m their lawyer.

And she walks out.

Wow. If she didn’t look so extremely young, I’d be in love at this point. I think I’m really going to enjoy this character….

Finding fault, reluctantly, with the new American Party

American

On Friday, I said I’d post something from the new American Party’s big announcement at the State House, and I meant to; I really did. But it didn’t happen. Not that I didn’t try. While rabbiting away at my day job, I tried twice to upload the video I had shot at their presser, only to see my internet connection (and presumably, that of others at ADCO) slow way down, so I aborted each time. HD video is great, but 14:15 of it can really be a drag on bandwidth. At least, I assume that’s what was happening.

That night, I took a look at the video, only to find that it had no sound. I’ve had that happen a couple of times lately. I think my iPhone 4 is wearing out. So I had been wasting time as well as bandwidth.

None of that should have stopped me from posting about it, but the opportunity for a timely post just got away from me. And there was another reason… I didn’t have much that was constructive to say.

I have a great appreciation of both Oscar Lovelace and Jim Rex, and what they are trying to do, in terms of breaking the death grip that the two parties have on our politics. I think they are operating from the purest of motives, and that they have been sensible and pragmatic in going about it, according to their own understanding of things. And before I get into my fault-finding, here’s some normal coverage of their thing on Friday.

I want to be a cheerleader for them. Hey, I’d even like to get involved, or even (gasp!) run for office, if I could honestly embrace the alternative that they’re offering.

I think I expected too much.

That Jim Rex in particular would start a party that would appropriate the ever-popular trope of term limits is in keeping with a pattern. As state superintendent of education, he played upon the popularity (in certain circles) of “school choice” to  push public school choice. And now again, he’s trying to pair something that might poll well among portions of the electorate to push something that he thinks would be good for the state and nation.

But all I could do, listening to them make their announcement, was find fault. Worse, when Oscar and Jim each came up to me afterwards, rather than play reporter and ask questions, I told them what I didn’t like about what they were doing. Which was obnoxious of me, I know. And I could sense, after each had come up to me and initiated a conversation, that they both were ready to talk to someone else almost immediately. They had come to launch a party, not listen to criticism. I didn’t blame them a bit.

But I couldn’t help it. Because to me, we so badly need a good alternative to the two parties that when I finally see the only sustained effort to establish one that I’ve seen in my 26 years of observing SC politics, I hate to see it going wrong.

And here’s how I see it going wrong. There are two main problems:

  1. The term limits thing. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that one item is likely to define this party. I suspect that most people walking away from their pitch are likely to think of it as “the term limits party.” That’s because most of the rest of the things they call for – honesty, ethical behavior, etc. – are things that everyone says they want. And if you’re going to hang your identity on something, the term limits gimmick is a poor vehicle. It is popular to believe that “career politicians” are what’s wrong in politics today. Therefore, term limits as a popular silver bullet. But that’s not what’s wrong. In fact, inexperienced politicians are at least as much of an expression of the real problem as are those who’ve been in office forever. More about that real problem in a moment. But the fact is, one can cause a lot of mischief in the 12 years the American Party is talking about allowing politicos. And you get a lot of ignorant blundering about to boot, with legislative bodies full of people who lack basic knowledge of how things work. Calling for term limits – particularly limits as loose as 12 years – is a way of seeming to do something measurable without accomplishing anything at all.
  2. The second problem is something I hadn’t noticed in my interactions with this new party: On Friday, I heard a lot of talk, particularly from Dr. Lovelace, about “career politicians beholden to corporate interests” At times, I felt I was at a séance that was conjuring up the ghost of Occupy Wall Street. And folks, it might have a certain populist appeal, but the problem with our politics is NOT that there are a bunch of wicked rich men pulling strings behind the scenes. If that were happening, I think, frankly, you’d see more pragmatic policymaking. Big business types, for instance, would in a skinny minute increase our gasoline tax so as to maintain our roads, because good roads are good for business. But that doesn’t happen because of the populist games both parties play with the gas tax – Republicans playing on reflexive resistance to any tax increase, and Democrats opposing anything that would place a burden on the poor.

And that gets us to the real problem with our system, and that is the parties themselves. The American Party correctly diagnoses the problem when it says what we need is “elected officials who place the common good and problem-solving above party loyalty and partisanship.” The parties are about themselves. They are about perpetuating themselves, and that means constantly stoking the fires of resentment among their respective constituencies toward the OTHER side. Everything is framed in terms that make it difficult for any office-seeker to stray from the party line, lest he or she be judged one of THEM.

Every vote, every statement, is geared toward helping the party gain a majority, or expand a majority, or if the party in question is stuck hopelessly in the minority, make things hard for the majority party.

Assembling consensus on policies so as to pass legislation that all or most could support is not only discouraged, it’s rendered practically impossible.

The point of a third party – one that addresses our real needs – should be to break that stranglehold that the existing parties have, with their never-ending quest to achieve a majority plus one. To go on about career politicians and rich, powerful folk behind the scenes is to misdiagnose the problem, and to create distractions. Which is what the parties do.

Yeah, I know how silly it can seem for me to be holding out for the purity of my UnParty – which offers no silver bullets, which demonizes no scapegoats, but simply attacks the real problems created by the two parties, working together to ensure that nothing gets done.

And I know that a pragmatic person looks for gimmicks that sound good to rally people around a banner, such as term limits and blaming those wicked “corporate” interests (I keep wondering – what is it about incorporation that makes an entity evil?).

After all, no group of people has ever stood up behind ME at a press conference to express support for the UnParty.

But I still believe that something is needed to explode the two-party system, and the American Party, as currently presented, isn’t it.

New party ready for State House debut

Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace

Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace

Remember that new political party that Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace have been planning to launch? Well, it’s having its State House debut tomorrow:

American Party Supporters!

Finally, we are ready for our press conference on Friday January 31st at 11:00 A.M. at the State House.

Please disregard an old message that was sent by mistake that may confuse you as to the time.

The press conference is at 11:00 A.M. tomorrow on the 1st floor lobby of the State House.

If you are able to come, try to be there at least 20 minutes before to get through security.

If you are on Gervais looking at the State House, the entrance is on the far left.  There are metered parking spots around the State House on Sumter Street.  There is also a parking garage on Assembly.

We look forward to seeing you if possible.  Your support has meant so much to the success of the new American Party.

Jim and Oscar

I’ll try to drop by if I can get away at that time. But even if I can’t maybe you can…

This is not, mind you, to be confused with the UnParty. This new party has taken the name of George Wallace’s old party (although there the resemblance ends), and has tenets that, by existing, violate the very first fundamental, inviolable tenet of the UnParty — which is “unwavering opposition to fundamental, nonnegotiable tenets.”

The passing of Ariel Sharon, who inspired the UnParty

Well, he sorta, kinda inspired it.

It was his decision, in 2005, to leave the Likud behind and form another, more centrist party that started my mind on the way toward dreaming up the UnParty, as I disclosed in the original column announcing the formation of the UnParty.

So one day, when the UnParty dominates American politics, and the planets are aligned, and the lion lies down with the lamb, our party’s flame-keepers will honor the warrior known alternately as “the Bulldozer” and “the Lion of God” for his unintentional role in our formation.

For now, President Obama has offered his condolences to the Sharon family and Israel for “the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the state of Israel and reaffirmed “our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.”

Lindsey Graham said, “With the passing of Ariel Sharon, America has lost one of her best friends and the Israeli people have lost one of their greatest champions.  He was a fierce fighter for the State of Israel who boldly embraced peace.  His life’s work has made him an Israeli icon.  May he rest in peace.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians celebrated. Which isn’t cool, but you know how things are over there.

 

 

Clowney charged with going 110 mph. In an unrelated development, Bauer considers running again

First, we hear that Andre Bauer is thinking again about running for governor, this time as a third-party candidate (this is not what the UnParty had in mind!).

Now, we see USC’s football star is making like the ex-lt.gov. (except that, unlike Mr. Bauer, he was charged):

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was cited by the South Carolina Highway Patrol for speeding Saturday for driving 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit,according to WIS-TV.

Clowney, according to the report, was going 110 miles per hour in a Chrysler 300 when he was pulled over on Interstate 77 Saturday night around 7:30 p.m. The highway’s listed speed limit is 70 miles per hour.

Officials say he was immediately ticketed and that no other citations were issued in the incident….

Nor, apparently, was he arrested at the scene.

Thoughts?

When all politics was indeed personal

Tammany Hall, decorated for a national convention in 1868.

Tammany Hall, decorated for a national convention in 1868.

In my last post, I lauded the simple humanity of Sen. John Courson reaching out, in an entirely personal way, to his Democratic friends as well as his Republican friends, and I associated it with the very UnParty (or maybe AllParty) makeup of his district.

I love this anecdote about a similar human touch in a hyperpartisan back in the days of Tammany Hall. It’s from a reminiscence by Elliot Rosenberg about his Uncle Lewis. The piece is headlined “When All Politics Was Personal,” and here’s my favorite part:

For much of that era, spanning Presidents Wilson through Eisenhower and Mayors John F. Hylan through Robert F. Wagner Jr. , Uncle Louis earned the title Banner Captain of the Democratic Party’s Banner District. That meant the party’s old Fourth Assembly District clubhouse swept more votes into the Democratic column than any other, and Uncle Louis wielded the best broom of all, 99% of votes cast, give or take a percentage point.

“The Republican captain in my precinct was a good friend. So I’d tell a few of my people to slip him their votes,” Uncle Louis said. “After all, the fellow was a family man. His wife and kids had to eat, too.”…

What this guy did — make sure everyone pulled the Democratic lever, regardless of the candidate — is anathema to me. And with those kinds of margins, it cost him nothing to throw his GOP friend a bone. And in saying he could do that, he was boasting of his own power. But still — in these days when Democratic operatives may have no Republican friends, and vice versa, it’s sort of hard to imagine the gesture.

“His wife and kids had to eat, too.” I love that.

Courson reaching out to his Democratic (and GOP) friends, before it’s too late

I happened to be driving through Shandon just after 8 this morning, and there was John Courson, walking his dog on Wheat St.

I rolled down my window and stopped in the middle of the street to chat. No one was coming.

He said something about the shock of having lost four friends this past week, three of them younger than he is. I assume three of them were Lee Bandy, Steve Morrison and Ike McLeese. I didn’t ask him who the fourth was (I sort of hated to say, “Who was the fourth?,” because that would seem to diminish that person’s death by the fact that I had to ask), but my first guess would be Will McCain.

Will McCain

Will McCain

McCain, who had been then-Gov. David Beasley’s chief of staff, died before any of the other three, and it was a real shock to me. I didn’t think I was at the age at which I would start to peruse obits daily to see if my friends are there, but seeing Will McCain’s picture there as I was flipping by the page — looking just as he did during the Beasley years — made me think, “Maybe I am at that age.” Because he was born the same year I was.

We weren’t really friends; I don’t remember when I had seen him last. In my mind, he actually still looked that way — which added to the shock of seeing him on the obit page.

Maybe the senator had someone else in mind. (And Kathryn and Phillip give good reason below to think so.) In any case, my purpose in writing is to relate something else he said.

Sen. Courson said those deaths reminded him that he should get together with his friends and enjoy their company before they suddenly leave this vale. So he said he’s arranged a lunch with “some of my Democratic friends,” because his baseball buddy Ike was a Democrat. And then, he’s going to have lunch with some of his Republican friends.

Because that’s the way John Courson is. Cynics will say that’s the way he has to be, being a Republican (one of the most ardent admirers of both Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond I know) who lives in a largely Democratic district. Just as they might say Nikki Setzler, a Democrat in a largely Republican district, has friends and deals fairly with people on both sides of the aisle because he has to.

Maybe so. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe swing districts, which aren’t too strongly either way, attract people who already are the kinds of people who reach across the aisle and try to represent all their constituents, not just the ones of their party. Or maybe it takes people who are just as partisan as most lawmakers and makes them into statesmen who rise, out of political necessity, above narrow considerations.

Either way, we need more districts like that. We have far too few of them, because lawmakers make it their business to make as many districts as possible either super-Democratic or super-Republican. And it’s tearing our country apart.

Small example of how the parties distort our politics

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this come-on I received from the DCCC:

838,936 of you signed our petition standing with President Obama to end Boehner’s shutdown. That’s great!

BUT — Brad…your name is missing.

Stand with us against the Republican government shutdown, and call out Ted Cruz and John Boehner for their radical obstructionism.

Click here to automatically add your name >>

Thanks,

DCCC Rapid Response

But I thought I’d use it to illustrate how routinely, casually and systematically the major parties distort reality in their bids to keep the money flowing in.

“Boehner’s shutdown”? No, it’s the House radicals’ shutdown. Boehner is pretty much helpless in all this.

“call out Ted Cruz and John Boehner for their radical obstructionism?” Seriously? You expect me to see Cruz, who is actually, majorly culpable in all this, with that poor Tea Party piñata Boehner?

Yes, they do expect that. Because in their worldview, all Democrats are equally good, and all Republicans are equally bad, and equally to blame for all the world’s evils. And the Republicans’ worldview is this one’s mirror-image.

It is staggering to me that even one person would be sucker enough to buy into this claptrap. And yet, they claim, 838,936 people have done so. (By the way, my name is going to continue to be “missing.” But you knew that, right? I hope so…)

There is no way we are going to be able to engage real-world challenges effectively in this country as long as political discourse, and the perception of reality itself, are warped by these parties.

Vote UnParty.

More to the point, Yours Truly would be disenfranchised

My attention was just now drawn to this website devoted to saving the SC GOP presidential preference primary:

Are you a South Carolina Republican? If so, there’s an effort underway to take away your right to vote.

A small group of fringe activists, backed by special interest groups, are working to end our Republican primaries and replace them with nominations by convention. Thousands of us would be disenfranchised, allowing a select few power brokers to pick our Republican candidates.

We cannot let this happen. The only way to stop them is for you to take part in the South Carolina Republican Party re-organization process.

We are counting on YOU to help us Save Our Primary. There are only four simple steps:

  1. SIGN THE PLEDGE to show your support for our South Carolina Republican Primaries.
  2. WATCH THE VIDEO to see how the Republican Party Reorganization process works [view video].
  3. KNOW THE INFO that will allow you to take part in the process, including the dates and locations for your Precinct Meeting and County Convention.
  4. SPREAD THE WORD by sharing this page with other Republican voters in South Carolina.

Get started below…

Maybe the folks behind this site are worried about Republicans being disenfranchised, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that those of us who would rather watch Reality TV, or suffer some other terrible torture, than be identified with either party, would be disenfranchised.

Republicans would at least be free to seek slots as delegates to the convention. The rest of us wouldn’t have that option. And we would lose our chance to have a say in a decision that is our one chance to affect the outcome of presidential elections, since it is always a foregone conclusion which candidate will get out state’s electoral voted in the general.

All of that said, I’m only going to start worrying about this when I hear more from the supposed perpetrators of this outrage. I really have no idea of the extent to which this is an actual threat.

The new party’s principles and platform

Lovelace

Lovelace addresses the meeting.

First, some news I found particularly welcome: The name that Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace have proposed for their new political party, which had its initial public meeting today in the Tapps building downtown, is negotiable, or as one of them said, a “first draft.”

Good, thing, too. Not only does “Free Citizens Party” sound like it could have been one of the contenders for the Tea Party’s name, it doesn’t represent at all what they’re trying to accomplish. But they rejected a far more descriptive name — Common Ground — because they couldn’t get ownership of it. Ditto with another name they liked (and for the best of reasons, because it expressed what we all have in common, rather than what divides us), “American Party.” What they didn’t mention was that that would have been a bad idea because of the unfortunate association with George Wallace.

But more than that, the name puts them on the wrong side — from their own perspective — of the constant strain between rights and responsibilities. As I’ve written so many times in the past, one of the things contributing to the destructive polarization of our politics is that we couch far too many issues in terms of “rights,” which, being absolutes, are non-negotiable. Take the right to life vs. the right to autonomy/privacy. The right to health care vs. the right to be left alone. What we need more than anything is to stop demanding more and more personal rights — stop acting like a bunch of two-year-olds crying gimme-gimme — and think a bit more of our responsibilities as citizens.

And indeed, Rex and Lovelace spoke repeatedly of the lack of responsibility in our politics. First, there is the abdication of responsibility of disengaged citizens who are turned off by politics and leave our public life in the hands of the squabbling ideologues (which this new party is intended to address by providing a new challenge to involvement for the disaffected). Then, there is the lack of responsibility of the parties, which concern themselves only with winning, and stick by the very worst of their members. Then, there is the lack of responsibility to the people on the part of elected representatives, who grow complacent in their “safe” seats (at least, that’s how Rex and Lovelace see it).

At one point, Rex even invoked one of my alternative names for the UnParty — the Grownup Party. And that leads directly to the problem with naming the kind of party we really need in this state and country (which, I believe, is what Rex and Lovelace are trying to create) — if you call it the “Responsibility Party,” or the “Grownup Party,” it’s not exactly going to set a focus group on fire. Too much like “Eat Your Vegetables.” And yet that is exactly what we need — an “Eat Your Vegetables” party.

As for the “Citizens” part: Again, this is not about “I’m a citizen and therefore I’m entitled,” the way I hear the word used by some nativists. In fact, in explaining the name, the two principals invoked “the Greatest Generation” — people who paid a price for our freedom, who fully embraced the responsibility inherent in citizenship.

Anyway, just to get the ball rolling, Lovelace and Rex are calling this the Free Citizens Party, and they’ve put some ideas into writing, which invites us all to shoot at them. So, with a minimum of commentary, I’ll pass on what they’ve sent up the flagpole.

First, there are their four party principles:

  1. Legislate and govern from the middle.
  2. Increase economic competitiveness.
  3. Term limits — public vs. self-service (their words, of course, not mine at all, as I see this as their most problematic proposal)
  4. Increase responsibility/accountability. (There’s that word.)

Then, they presented their Eight Platform Priorities:

  1. Decrease national debt through balanced approach.
  2. Strong, choice-driven public school system/early education. (Public school choice, you’ll recall, was a priority of Rex’s as superintendent.)
  3. Efficient, effective healthcare. (To bring in Dr. Lovelace’s particular area of concern.)
  4. Reform campaign funding/transparency.
  5. Ethics reform legislation — state and federal.
  6. Support 2nd Amendment w/ reasonable regulations. (Rex stressed that, being a hunter, he has “a lot of guns.”)
  7. Simplify tax code — promote work, saving, investment.
  8. Comprehensive immigration policy reform. (They brought up an argument for strong borders that I don’t recall hearing advanced before — their concern for public health, wanting to prevent the spread of pandemics.)

After presenting all that, the two masters of ceremony entertained questions and comments from the audience for quite some time.

About that audience — I’m thinking fewer than 100, but not a bad turnout for something that had so little publicity. It was mostly middle-aged (in other words, Grownups), although there were a few who didn’t fit into that category. Based on the questions and comments, a serious, thoughtful bunch who are frustrated with the status quo. (And guess who came up and introduced himself afterwards? Our own “tired old man!”)

Lovelace pointed out that no one should be discouraged about the turnout. He said this group was bigger than any county GOP gathering he ever spoke to during his run for governor in 2006. And Rex chimed in that he had the same experience as a Democrat. Their point being that if the existing parties are so formidable, their county gatherings should be bigger than this fledgling meeting.

Before I close this report, a word about their embrace of term limits, which I believe is based in a misdiagnosis of what is wrong. Rex at one point spoke of how offensive the term “safe district” is, and he’s right. But he misses what is most offensive about it. The main problem is not that a district is safe for the incumbent (although the courts allowing incumbent protection as a basis for reapportionment is a problem). The problem is that it is drawn to be safe for a party. And the more extreme the two parties get in their polarizing ideologies, the worse the representation will be from that district.

Rex

Rex walks through the eight platform priorities.

Rex speaks of the complacency of incumbents in “safe” districts. I don’t see them as complacent at all. I see them running like scared rabbits, constantly building their “war” chests to protect themselves, and against what? Not a challenger from the opposite party, or from some moderate independent. They’re protecting themselves against a challenge from someone in their own party who is more extreme than they are. They do two things to protect themselves from this — they raise money, and they become more extreme themselves, in their words and in their actions.

And how do they raise money? They do it by constant appeals to their own partisans, making wild charges against the opposition, stirring fear and loathing in their bases. And that is the problem — that the current system rewards polarization and gridlock for their own sakes. They are good for the business of politics. And johnny-come-latelies are just as guilty of taking advantage of this dynamic as are incumbents. That is the cycle that must be broken by a party that appeals to reason, to moderation, to the interests that we all have in common rather than what divides us.

If incumbents are replaced, who replaces them? Not some Mr. Smith goes to Washington, but a partisan who convinces the primary voters that he’s more extreme than the incumbent. Think what happened to Bob Inglis. Or any of those incumbents either taken out by, or seriously threatened by (which in turn affects their behavior and makes them more extreme), Tea Partiers in recent years.

Anyway, enough about that. For now. These guys are trying to do a good thing, and they have enough of an uphill climb without me carping about the details. They’re shooting for the 10,000 signatures to get their party on the ballot by the 2014 election — really 12,000, given that many signatures get successfully challenged.

And they know that’s not easy. Dr. Lovelace ended the meeting with a quotation from Machiavelli:

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new…

Obviously, they have not hired a political consultant, or they wouldn’t go around quoting Machiavelli. But the point is dead-on. I know, from the unsolicited feedback I’ve gotten over the years from all sorts of thoughtful, rational people across this state — like the strangers who come up and tell me how much they agree with what I write — but they’re seldom the ones who stand up to be counted. It’s defenders of the status quo, and at least as bad, the advocates of terrible ideas for change, who have all the passion. The people who simply want rational, responsible government don’t storm barricades, or make demands. They make for lukewarm advocates.

As it happened “tired old man” had brought with him a printout of a Yeats poem that I think makes the point better than Machiavelli did (not least because it doesn’t have Machiavelli’s name attached). I quoted it not long ago here on the blog. The relevant passage:

… Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

That’s my experience. What we need is for the best to embrace conviction, and advocate for rational government with passionate intensity. Good for Rex and Lovelace for trying to get that going.

crowd

A portion of the modest crowd that attended.

New political party has its first meeting today in Columbia

Can’t believe I forgot to post this earlier; I had meant to give everyone advanced notice.

Oh well.

About a year ago, I was at an event at the convention center — a luncheon or banquet; I forget the occasion — and Oscar Lovelace, leaving early, paused by my table to tell me that he and Jim Rex were planning to start a new political party, and he would have more to tell me later.

Oscar Lovelace is the country doctor who ran a quixotic campaign against Mark Sanford for the Republican nomination for governor in 2006. Jim Rex is the former university administrator who served as our state superintendent of education, and ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010.

Both are reasonable, moderate men. I can easily see either of them reaching the conclusion that I reached so many years ago, that our two-party system ill serves our state and nation.

Anyway, after that initial mention, I heard nothing more until this past week, when Dr. Lovelace sent out an email that the new party was forming, and that its first meeting would be today:

Dear TEDx Friends,

I hope everyone has recovered from an incredibly stimulating event.  Thanks to each of you I have marked at least one more experience off my bucket list!

If you found my remarks about health care in our state and nation concerning please consider joining me and former Superintendent of Education, Dr. Jim Rex in doing something about our problems – instead of just talking about them.

I first met Jim Rex when I was running against then Governor Sanford in the Republican primary and Dr. Rex was running for Superintendent of Education in 2006.  He won as a Democrat and currently is the only Democrat elected to state-wide office in the past decade. Dr. Rex later ran for governor in 2010 as a Democrat.

Since our experience as gubernatorial candidates, Jim and I, have become resolute in our conviction that the current two party system is broken beyond repair and owned by the corporate interests which fund and control them.  As a result we have a dysfunctional, polarized and paralyzed government.  We need systemic change to renew our democracy and our nation. Months ago we recruited about 12 others to assist us in starting a new political party.

The Free Citizens Party was named to honor the freedom we enjoy as Americans and for which many have sacrificed greatly.  We have the freedom to be apathetic but a higher call as citizens to make our government work for the betterment of society.  Our first organizational meeting is:

Sunday Feb 10, 2013
3pm to 5pm
Tapp Art’s Center
1644 Main St.
Columbia, SC

We are encouraging everyone who plans to attend to bring others who are similarly interested in this effort. One of our first tasks will be to gather 10,000 signatures on a petition to start the new party,  Of course we will need to raise money and develop the structure and function of the party.

Please share the appeal below with others you may know who are willing to work for a brighter future for our state and nation.

If you plan to attend or bring others let me know.  If we have the names of others who plan to come we can more easily prepare.  It would also be helpful to have the email, snail mail address and cell phone number of those who are interested or plan to attend in the event of any last minute details and for future correspondence. .

I hope to see you on Sunday afternoon, February 10 in Columbia,

Sincerely,
Oscar

Oscar F. Lovelace, Jr., MD
Lovelace Family Medicine, PA

Yeah, I know. I’m not crazy about the name they chose for the party. It sounds like a name the Tea Party might have toyed with before coming up with “Tea Party.” It suggests snake flags and the like.

Not that I have a better name in mind. I call the UnParty that in part because once you call something this, you’re saying it’s not that. You’re limiting it. Also, I wanted it not to be a party at all, but an anti-party.

But we’ll see how this one defines itself. I plan to go to the meeting. Perhaps I’ll see you there, despite the last-minute notice.

What SC needs is a good UnParty think tank

Speaking of “conservative, conservative, conservative,” repeated as a mind-numbing mantra…

This came in today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Weaver – 803-708-0673press@palmettopolicy.org


JIM DEMINT ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF NEW S C THINK TANK
Palmetto Policy Forum to serve a vital role in policy research, innovation and collaboration

Columbia, SC – Today, former U.S. Senator and Heritage Foundation President-elect Jim DeMint announced the launch of the Palmetto Policy Forum, an independent, South Carolina-based think tank.

DeMint, who is investing a portion of his remaining campaign funds to help establish the group, will also serve as its Founding Chairman.

Joining him on the Founding Board is a roster of prominent South Carolina leaders including C. Dan Adams, President and CEO of The Capital Corporation; J. Gresham Barrett, Stewardship Director of NewSpring Church; Michael R. Brenan, Group/State President of BB&T; Michael H. McBride, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HMR Veterans Services, Inc.; and Stu Rodman, Founder and Vice-Chairman of the Board.

The organization will be led by newly-appointed President & CEO, Ellen Weaver, a seasoned veteran of policy, communications and politics.  Weaver has worked with DeMint in both Washington, DC and South Carolina, most recently serving as his State Director.  She will assume full-time duties with Palmetto Policy Forum on March 4, to allow for the completion of an orderly transition between the former DeMint office and that of newly-appointed U.S. Senator Tim Scott.

 

Dr. Oran Smith, a trusted advocate for conservative policy during his many years of service in South Carolina, will join the staff as Senior Fellow, applying sharp analytical skills to legislative research and policy innovation.

Kate Middleton Maroney, who worked on Capitol Hill in the office of U.S. Representative Trent Franks, will join the staff as Executive Assistant and oversee management of new media outreach.

“While Washington is stuck in an endless cycle of debt, “cliffs” and crisis, a growing number of states are seizing the initiative to implement bold policy innovation that will expand opportunity and economic prosperity for all of their citizens. Conservative success at the state level will be the catalyst that saves our country,” said DeMint.

He continued, “I am pleased to have this opportunity to invest in Palmetto Policy Forum and the future success of the state I love.  I believe South Carolina can lead the nation with the most principled, powerful and effective conservative advocates in America. The Forum will play a key role in cultivating the bold and visionary ideas that we know form the ladder of opportunity for every American.  In my new role at The Heritage Foundation, I look forward to working with Palmetto Policy Forum and like-minded groups all around the country to lead an opportunity renaissance that speaks to the dreams and aspirations of every American.”

“South Carolina needs an organization that will develop a broad spectrum of well-researched policies, rooted in conservative principles and promoted in a positive, coalition-building way.  There is no reason why South Carolina cannot lead the nation in passing market-based policies that we know form the foundation of long-term economic and social success.  On behalf of the Board, we look forward to the work ahead,” said Founding Board Member, Mike Brenan.

 

Forum Senior Fellow, Dr. Oran Smith said, “An opportunity like Palmetto Policy comes along once in a lifetime. I am honored to add a portfolio at The Forum to my duties as President of Palmetto Family. Positive, conservative but winsome policy entrepreneurship is what South Carolina needs, and that is what Jim DeMint and The Forum represent.”

 

In closing, Forum President Ellen Weaver stated, “Our challenge – and opportunity – is to develop principle-based policies and to promote them in a way that connects back to the shared values of people all over South Carolina.  By promoting best-practice conservative ideas from around our state and nation, we can show the way forward to increased opportunity for all. It has been an honor to serve in the DeMint office for the past 12 years and I am humbled to have now been asked to oversee this exciting new venture.  I look forward to the chance to work with our board, staff and South Carolina leaders to launch positive policy solutions for the future of our state and those willing to follow South Carolina’s lead.”

 

###

Really? Somebody looked at South Carolina, with its SC Policy Council and its SC Club for Growth, and its Nikki Haley and its GOP controlled Legislature, its two Republican senators, and its congressional delegation with one token Democrat, its ranks purged of anyone not pleasing to the Tea Party, and decided that what this state really needed was another entity to advocate for the currently fashionable definition of “conservatism?”

I’ll tell you what SC needs — a forum for ideas that aren’t handcuffed to ideologies, a force that advocates for practical policies that help move this state forward to where we’re no longer last where we want to be first, and first where we want to be last. Which, by the way, is what multiple generations of leaders who conformed to their day’s definition of “conservatism” got us. In antebellum times, we had the most conservative form of government in the nation (powerful legislature, weak executive). Our “conservatism,” our passionate defense of the status quo, led us to secede from the union. After that ended in disaster, forces of reaction in our state managed to restore the same form of government that had served the slaveholders before 1860, although now it served no one in SC. Generation after generation since then has worn its avowed “conservatism” like a glorious crown. And now we are afflicted by a generation that thinks it invented conservatism, and that all that went before it was rabid socialism.

As one who wants the best for my native state, this is discouraging in the extreme.

I’ll be glad to help run such an UnParty think tank, if somebody will put up the money. Ah, there’s the rub! For in South Carolina, there are always millions to be found for bumper-sticker ideology, but not a thin dime for reason and pragmatism.

The Gang of Eight offers a solution on immigration

“As far back as I can remember,” said Henry Hill in the opening to “Goodfellas,”  “I always wanted to be a gangster.”

The same might be said of John McCain and our own Lindsey Graham. And I honor them for it.

The gangs they tend to join are all about uniting to get around the partisan dysfunction of Congress. This time, despite having been so badly burned by the issue six years ago, they are once again ganging up to try to pass a version of comprehensive immigration reform.

This time, there are some new gangsters, such as that kid out of Florida, Marco Rubio. And Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Robert Menendez, Michael Bennet and Jeff Flake. The Washington Post is calling this “a bipartisan push that would have been unimaginable just months ago on one of the country’s most emotionally divisive issues.”

Here’s the memo they’ve put together. This is the introduction:

We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, we still don’t have a functioning immigration system.This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows. Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here. We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited.

The document has a tendency to redundancy — “tough but fair” is mentioned three times on the first page (OK, technically, the third time it was “a tough, fair and practical roadmap”) — but readable. I just think it could have used a tough, but fair, editor.

Amid all sorts of stuff about tightening border security, giving our border patrol the latest technology and making sure people who are supposed to leave by a certain date actually do leave, there is the path to citizenship part:

While these security measures are being put into place, we will simultaneously require those who came or remained in the United States without our permission to register with the
government. This will include passing a background check and settling their debt to society
by paying a fine and back taxes, in order to earn probationary legal status, which will allow
them to live and work legally in the United States. Individuals with a serious criminal
background or others who pose a threat to our national security will be ineligible for legal
status and subject to deportation. Illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes
face immediate deportation…

Once the enforcement measures have been completed, individuals with probationary legal
status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, pass an
additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of
work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements, in order to
earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. Those individuals who
successfully complete these requirements can eventually earn a green card.

Individuals who are present without lawful status – not including people within the two
categories identified below – will only receive a green card after every individual who is
already waiting in line for a green card, at the time this legislation is enacted, has received
their green card. Our purpose is to ensure that no one who has violated America’s
immigration laws will receive preferential treatment as they relate to those individuals who
have complied with the law….

There’s a lot more. I invite y’all to go read it, and react.

The Obama-Christie mutual admiration society

The kind words flowed both ways today between the governor of New Jersey and the POTUS:

President Obama stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, on Wednesday afternoon, providing reassurance after Hurricane Sandy — and a politically powerful picture of bipartisanship…

“He has worked incredibly closely with me since before the storm hit,” Mr. Christie said, with Mr. Obama standing just behind him. “It’s been a great working relationship.”…

Mr. Obama was equally effusive, saying that Mr. Christie, “throughout this process, has been responsive.”

“He’s been aggressive,” the president continued, “in making sure” that the state was prepared in advance of the storm.

“I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he’s put his heart and soul” into the recovery after the storm. “I just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and participation.”…

Only one thing marred the blossoming of this beautiful friendship: When they were flying together over Point Pleasant Beach, they saw someone had written “ROMNEY” in large letters in the sand…

Gov. Chris Christie’s effusive praise of Obama

Here’s something you don’t see every day:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey took an unscheduled break from partisan attacks on the President Obama on Tuesday to praise him, repeatedly and effusively, for leading the federal government’s response to the storm.

“Wonderful,” “excellent” and “outstanding” were among the adjectives Mr. Christie chose, a change-up from his remarks last week that Mr. Obama was “blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue.”

Some of Mr. Christie’s Republican brethren have already begun grumbling about his gusher of praise at such a crucial time in the election.

But the governor seemed unconcerned. When Fox News asked him about the possibility that Mitt Romney might take a disaster tour of New Jersey, Mr. Christie replied:

I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.

A governor who cares more about serving his (or her) state more than national partisan politics? Imagine that. If you live in South Carolina, you might find that difficult, but try…

Yes, a conservative party would be good to have

Vice President Thomas R. Marshall famously said, “What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar.” Which is debatable.

Less questionable is what Tom Friedman asserted in his latest column, in which he argued that what this country could really use is an actual conservative party. I agree. (In fact, it’s sort of what I’m getting at when I talk about my Grownup Party.)

Nowadays, what was once a home for conservatives has been almost completely commandeering by radicals, he says, and he’s right. Conservatives, true Tories, don’t despise and tear at the basic fabric of civil society. On the contrary, they defend and maintain institutions (of which government is but one). They don’t attend rallies waving snake flags. That’s what revolutionaries do, which is where these latter-day folks got their flag, and the name of their movement. That’s fine if you want to be a revolutionary; it takes all kinds to make up a world. Just don’t call yourself a conservative. And don’t label actual conservatives as “in-name-only.”

Friedman suggests that a real conservative presence in our politics could help us deal meaningfully with the four great issues of the day, which he deems to be “the nexus of debt, taxes and entitlements…[;] how to generate growth and upgrade the skills of every American in an age when the merger of globalization and the information technology revolution means every good job requires more education; how to meet our energy and climate challenges; and how to create an immigration policy that will treat those who are here illegally humanely, while opening America to the world’s most talented immigrants, whom we need to remain the world’s most innovative economy.

He notes that there are real conservatives out there, with useful ideas to contribute with regard to these issues. Such as our own Bob Inglis, so recently ridden out of his party on a rail:

Imagine if the G.O.P. position on energy and climate was set by Bob Inglis, a former South Carolina Republican congressman (who was defeated by the Tea Party in 2010). He now runs George Mason University’s Energy and Enterprise Initiative, which is based on the notion that climate change is real, and that the best way to deal with it and our broader energy challenge is with conservative “market-based solutions” that say to the fossil fuel and wind, solar and nuclear industries: “Be accountable for all of your costs,” including the carbon and pollution you put in the air, and then we’ll “let the markets work” and see who wins.

I told Bob last time I saw him that a new party, a way of running effectively for office outside of the present ideological madness, is exactly what this country needs, so that we can elect more people like him. He listened politely enough, but I fear he’s had his fill of electoral politics for awhile.

Anyway, Friedman definitely is onto something here.

Guess I’m not running this year, either

Several months ago, E.J. Dionne about gave me a heart attack by telling a Columbia crowd that I was going to be running for Congress this year. Basically, he was having a little fun with a casual remark I’d made to him earlier that day, about an idea I’d toyed with.

Guess he got that one wrong. In fact, it’s now too late for me to run for anything (were I so inclined) — with the election still about four months away.

Did you read this this morning?

Dozens of petition candidates statewide have less than a week to collect the signatures that they need to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"You lie!" if you say I have opposition...

South Carolina usually has two or three petitions candidates a year for state House and Senate seats. The state Election Commission has heard from 30 would-be petition candidates this year — and that does not include a number of hopefuls for county seats.

Ballot drives mushroomed this summer after more than 250 candidates statewide were punted from the June primary ballot over a paperwork glitch.

“This is South Carolina politics at its finest,” Roxanne Wilson said with a hint of sarcasm to a pair of voters while collecting signatures Sunday for her twin sister at the Grecian Gardens restaurant in West Columbia.

Petition candidates have until noon next Monday to collect signatures from 5 percent of registered voters in the counties or districts they are running to represent. Thus some candidates have to attract more signatures from registered voters than others.

Election officials then have until Aug. 15 to settle on whether candidates relying on petitions have collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, although officials in Lexington and Richland counties hope to do it sooner…

Never mind me and my political ambivalence, what about all those people out there who are really, truly serious about running? This is not fair.

People don’t have to take action to get on the primary ballots until about two months out. Then, if they win the primary, they have from June until November to get their general election campaign up to ramming speed.

But if a person is unsatisfied with the results of said June primaries, and believes the voters should be offered an alternative, he or she has less than three weeks (after the primary runoffs) to get those thousands of signatures together?

That’s not even to mention those 250 or so people who had every reason, at one time, to believe they had qualified for the primary ballot, and are not having to scramble.

Sounds like another grotesquely obvious case of incumbent and political party protection to me. How about you?

Inglis on why the tribe turned against him

Kathryn brings my attention to this interview piece with Bob Inglis on Salon.

Bob Inglis is a guy for whom I’ve always had a lot of respect — ever since he got elected to Congress in the early 90s as a fiscal (and cultural) conservative, and then voted against highway money for his own district. This was back when nobody did this. “Conservatives” like Strom Thurmond had always talked a good game, but brought home the bacon. Inglis was a trailblazer.

To listen to Bob Inglis talk is to respect him, just as he respects others — something that sets him apart.

Inglis has always been deeply conservative, and deeply committed to his principles. But the know-nothings of his party unceremoniously dumped him in the last election, basically — as near as I can tell — for not being as angry as they were.

Anyway, this is an interesting passage:

Inglis remembers campaigning door-to-door and encountering hostility for the first time.

“I’m wondering, ‘Why is this happening?’” he said. “And what I came around to is that what happens is the tribe selects you to go to Washington. You believe with the tribe, you agree with them, and you go to Washington as their representative.

“Then you get there and you mingle with these other tribes, and you come to understand their point of view – not agree with it, but understand it. So when that view is presented, you don’t have the same sort of shocked reaction that some of the tribe members at home have to hearing that view.”

He recalled getting to know John Lewis, the civil rights icon and Democratic congressman from Georgia.

“He is an incredible American,” Inglis said. “I just disagree with him on this budget thing. But back at the tribe, at the tribal meeting, it’s like, ‘He’s some kind of Communist, that John Lewis. He’s not an American.’ No! He’s an incredible American. He’s one of our heroes.

“But the tribe doesn’t see that. The tribe sees you as sort of getting too cozy with John. And then they start to doubt you, because of this betrayal response. We are hard-wired to respond very violently – as I understand it, the brain really responds to betrayal. It’s one of the strongest human emotions.”…

Inglis, a conservative Republican to his core, speaks here to a very UnParty sensibility. You have your principles and you stand up for them. But that doesn’t mean you delegitimize those with whom you disagree. If you do that, the deliberative process upon which our system of government is built collapses.

Bob understands that. Too few who still hold office do.