The idea of a broad but untapped “center” in American politics is mostly mythic…
…at least when termed as the silent majority of Americans yearning for “moderate” governance, but held hostage by the evil extremes of two-party politics. If there is a main reason why third parties generally fail it is this: that whether they set their sights on the two-party system generally, the ideological spread reflected in the two main parties, or that either party does not go far enough in their goals, they choose the wrong dragon to slay. You see, rooted in the pluralism and federalism that comprises the foundations of our limited government and our free society, there is a proper place for all of these supposed “evils” that many third parties have chosen to resist. The two-party system is a natural evolution of the founder’s desire to have a winner-take-all system that ensures we are governed and legislated, generally, by those who have received majority consent of the governed and not simply by whichever mob builds the least weak plurality. The enemy here is not the two-party system, it’s the general unwillingness of the American people to ensure the system is operated in their favor.
What was originally expected, and indeed encouraged, was for individuals of all stripes to bring their impassioned beliefs and ideologies into the national conversation of politics. No set of principles was to be disallowed from this conversation, so long as they did not trample on the rights of others nor sought to maliciously silence opposing viewpoints.
It seems apparent that if a third party could accurately identify and effectively organize around the actual problem in American politics they could definitely find success. I am of the opinion that the real problem in our politics is the death of inclusiveness, empathy, and compromise. In other words, pluralism. The US Constitution was not the product of a stronger viewpoint silencing another. It was the product of the art of compromise finding a way towards an equitable solution for all parties involved. It is possible, by no stretch of the imagination, that Democrats might find their goals of ensuring equality in our nation far more achievable if they would be willing to recognize and address the Republican’s concerns of tradition, and vice-a-versa. Especially if they both were to choose to anchor themselves to the cause of liberty. A failure by either major party to do so is where the true opening for a third party lies, in establishing broad-based and opened minded coalition where other parties refuse to do so.
I return to the premise of this piece. The “center” is not something to be found in people, per say, but is something to be found in bringing people of different beliefs and viewpoints together to rediscover the art of compromise where true freedom exists. Do not expect to find success by shouting “I’m a true centrist”, or “I’m a true moderate”. People will not flock to you, because they value their beliefs and ideals regardless of where along the political spectrum they might be. But if you can demonstrate empathy, if you promise a seat at the table for all, if you can learn to value different viewpoints simply for the value of unique perspective…you just might get somewhere.
Most third parties fail because they unwittingly emulate the approaches of the two major political parties they claim to oppose. They approach their politics with narrow-minded goals and are surprised to find they only gain traction within the framework of such goals. The two major political parties got to where they are today because they were originally coalitions of similar concerns, and they remain entrenched because no one has yet come forward willing to be coalitions themselves.
-The Millennial Federalist
Categories: Politics and Philosophy