Dec 16 2010


Bipartisanship vs. Democracy: The President and the Third Way Fallacy

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Huffington Post

Posted: December 15, 2010 11:49 AM

Today the country’s real center — the commonly-held set of goals and aspirations shared by Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike — has never been farther from the narrow right-leaning viewpoint that’s still being peddled as a “centrism.” If the White House and other Democrats buy into that illusion, as they seem to be doing, they’ll lose the country.

I feel safe in predicting that “No Labels” will revolutionize American politics every bit as much as Unity08 did. That is, it’s going to be announced with great fanfare — fanfare that’s generated by the highly-paid efforts of Washington publicists. It will then be received enthusiastically by the David Broder crowd, and nobody else. Within six months it will have been forgotten by the few people who had ever even heard of it in the first place.

“No Labels” is the latest reflection of a deep-seated yearning among Washington insiders: the yearning to fuse the leadership of both parties into a unitary political order, one that can dispense with bothersome chores like justifying your actions to the public. Washington “centrists” are the One Worlders of American politics, dreaming of a Utopia governed by a Council of Elders.

There’s a real bipartisan consensus in the nation — to protect Social Security, tax the wealthy, preserve Medicare, improve banking regulations, and ban big bonuses at banks which were rescued by the taxpayers. The ersatz ‘centrism’ being peddled in Washington is on the wrong side of every single issue. It would turn the leadership of the country over to people on the red, rightmost side of the chart, restricting the debate to the best way of implementing these unpopular positions.

No wonder 70% of people surveyed are “somewhat” or “deeply dissatisfied” with the way Washington works. The political consensus doesn’t represent them, and these “solutions” would merely institutionalize that lack of representiation.

We saw the electoral fruits of the Third Way fallacy in November’s election. Democrats who embraced it were seen as representing nothing in particular, so they were judged by the status quo — a status quo that was made worse by “centrist” policies. Now we’re seeing an ever-widening gap between the public’s wishes and a Republican/Democratic/media elite that refuses to accept or acknowledge them. That’s a recipe for bad policy, and politically it’s a one way ticket for the Democratic Party to receive the Mother of All Shellackin’s in 2012.

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