A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The American Moderate Party

Let's chop up political parties, shall we?

The Far Right (the "rightmost" 1/3 of Republicans and The Constitution Party; think Bill Frist)

The Center-Right (the central 1/3 of Republicans, many Libertarians, and some Independents; think President Bush)

The Moderate Right (the "leftmost" 1/3 of Republicans, some Libertarians, and many Independents; think Rudy Giuliani)

The Moderate Left (the "rightmost" 1/3 of Democrats, a few Libertarians, and many Independents; think Joe Lieberman)

The Center-Left (the central 1/3 of Democrats, some Independents, and a few Greens; think Hillary Clinton)

The Far Left (the "leftmost" 1/3 of Democrats, most Greens, and The Socialist Party; think Howard Dean)

Several times in the past, reader Puppy Pincher and I discussed what it might be like if the US had a strong third party. A party made up of The Moderate Right, The Moderate Left, much of the Center-Right, and at least some of the Center-Left. I'd estimate that about 65% of American voters would belong to such a party (ideologically, at least). I wonder if we'd ever be able to bring something like that together ... and if people would actually have the wherewithal to cross party lines and vote for its candidates.

John Avlon writes an interesting article for FNC's Views section today about how Ariel Sharon is doing something very much like what I've described to Israeli politics. Money quote:

Despite the risks, Sharon’s political strategy seems solid: initial polls after the announcement show “Forward” winning a hypothetical 33 seats in the upcoming March elections, supported by 14 moderate members of Labor and Likud including former Jerusalem Mayor and current Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olhmert. Likud would unceremoniously drop from 40 seats to a paltry 15, indicating the relative balance of power even within Likud between its centrist and right-wing members.

Sharon’s insight is that while moderate Likud and Labor Party members may have been less organized and influential within their own parties, they constituted a majority within the electorate as a whole — especially if led by a popular national political leader.

But all this is happening a half a world away — what relevance does Sharon’s move have for U.S. politics? Plenty.

Current polls show centrists leading the 2008 presidential pack, most notably Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Between them, they possess more than 50 percent of the Republican primary voter support, despite the fact that these two men are strenuously opposed by certain factions on the far right.

I watch Israeli politics because, well, lets face it: It's the frickin' wild west over there and I want to see who they're going to pin the star on next. But this one looks like it might be different. Can Sharon really pull the carpet out from beneath the extreme left and the extreme right? If the voters give Kadima an actual mandate - something seldom seen in Israeli politics - what will that do the Likud and Labor hardliners? And given the growing frustration with professional partisans here in America, what might it mean for our own elections coming in 2008?

Stay tuned.