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Consider a third party that's based on plans, not political ideology

October 11, 2008|By ROBERT GARY

Since Ross Perot, we haven't seen a viable third party effort in a presidential election, but one is coming in 2012 and here's why.

Both Democrats and Republicans are playing too much to their bases in the primary process. Obama would never have emerged as the Democratic nominee if traditionally blue states had been given more weight, especially those with many electoral votes.

Obama got his early and insurmountable lead in tiny states that have almost always been red states in the general election. The Democratic voters in those states got way too much power in deciding the nominee of their party because the DNC was asleep at the switch, or just didn't care what it was doing in setting up the rules for the primaries and the convention.

For the GOP, the issue is Palin, who is laughably unqualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. She was placed on the ticket as a concession to the radical religious right who have, in every recent election, increased their power over the Republican base. As a religious movement, they have too much power, because it causes the GOP to put people at the top of their ticket who are not palatable to the average American. Bob Dole was an early example, and then this year Mike Huckabee, who sought the nomination. Finally, there was Sarah Palin, who was given the No. 2 spot. Palin is professionally competent as the governor of Alaska, but not as the prospective president of the U.S.

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The third party will be composed of Whole New Roaders, not Middle of the Roaders (Lieberman, Bloomberg), and not fringes of the Roaders (like LaRouche and Nader).

It will be something completely different. It might be called the Practical Policy Party or the National Excellence Party. In any case, the old spectrum of left and right, socialism vs. laissez-faire capitalism, welfare state vs. corporate pig state, nanny state vs. wild wild West - this stuff is all going in the dustbin of history.

The Policy Excellence Party, if that's what they call it, will not just be beyond what you imagine, it will be beyond-what you-can-imagine-based politics now. It will be a total break with all that has gone before and proven so inept, vacuous and useless. A party that runs on a platform of precisely described actions really does give power to the people - if it sticks to its plan and delivers.

The voters judge what they want, the party does what it has chosen to do. It seems simple. But it's nothing like "political promises."

The new third party will realize fully from the outset that not delivering is not an option if it wants to stay in business four years later. So it's more like transfiguration than just "change."

The ideology-driven shibboleths of the past will be containerized and confined to the Dems and the GOP in 2012. The real action will be in the National Policy Party, if that's what it's named.

These people will have no ideology apart from prosperity and success. They want peace, education, health, justice and growth, but they have no set of principles that they carry as baggage.

They have plans and they show them up front. The plans become the vote-getters - not personalities, not debates, not mud-slinging, not unfair ads on TV, not radio talk shows, not ditto-heads, not trade unions, not teachers' unions - the specific action plans - just those. This gets votes because, for the first time, the electorate sees detailed plans backed by sincerity.

Kung Fu Tze (Confucius) said that sincerity is the source of a man's power. In 2012, it will become the engine driving a new political party dedicated to vanquishing over the entropy that has dragged this glorious nation into the most dismal condition of mortal affairs: Poverty plus drift plus helplessness. The traditional parties have drifted off the ends of the political spectrum - the left moving toward Professor Bill Ayers, the right moving toward Dr. James Dobson.

We know we can do better. Not by going back to LBJ's welfare state War on Poverty. Not by going on to bigger, longer, wider, more numerous wars with lots of "victories," whatever that might mean when fighting an abstract noun like "terrorists."

Getting to 2012 - OK, good question. Here's my answer. Vote a split ticket. You can't not vote. You can't vote "None of the Above." You can't vote "Present." A split ticket is the next best thing. The Nixon presidency was the most devastating one in modern times before that of G.W. Bush. We picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and started all over again - and Gerald Ford was the man who let us do that. He gave us a self-sacrificing caretaker presidency during which we were able to reconstitute our creative spirits and get our feet under us again. That sort of thing is what's needed for the next four years.

You can't put nobody in the Oval Office. But you can put somebody in there who has been made into "nobody" by having the entire Congress on the other side of the aisle.

Obama can't give us any socialism or McCain can't give us any wars, if both chambers of the Congress are on the other side. The wars against abstract nouns won't happen. No "war on poverty," no "war on terrorism." All the glory, all the victory and all of the fixing up of the whole world - leave it off for a bit. The best way to get us to 2012 intact as a functional nation, is split ticket voting this time around. Take a break ... let's get back on our feet, ready to rock 'n' roll when the time is right. There will be a grace note to usher in the new key.

Robert Gary is a retired attorney who lives in Hagerstown and writes for The Herald-Mail.

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