1527) [T]he most important forces at work in determining the future are not the professional politicians, nor jurists, nor even journalists. They are, first, the lobbyists who haunt the nations capital in ever increasing numbers, going about their fractious business with virtually no interference from (and often with the aid of) the supposed watchdogs of the public good; and, second, the new grass-roots organizations - most notably Ross Perot's United We Stand America - which have defied the wisdom of pundits and become a powerful independent voice. The two forces - the one through the cynical application of money, the other through the almost inexplicable enthusiasm of its various memberships - have together revealed that we are at a crossroads in terms of more than just the structure of our government and our Constitution: We may be on the verge of that supreme rarity, a basic change in the philosophy, demographics and perhaps even the number of political parties.
We sometimes forget that the division of American politics into Democratic and Republican camps was not a divine decree. When the United States was born there was no Party of the Democracy, nor would there be for well over a quarter of a century; and the meaning of the word "Republican" has been subject to an evolution that even Darwin could not have traced. (How could one political party possibly encompass Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan?) At the same time there have been parties that have played a powerful role in our nation's history and then entirely disappeared. The Federalists, for example, after forcing the American people to accept the machinery and at least some of the psychology of a true nation, were summarily dispatched. And how many non-historians can say just who the Whigs were and what they stood for? The extinction of these parties was based on one simple fact: They ceased to speak for an appreciable portion of the people, or, to use the parlance of today, they lost touch.
What is so intriguing about this moment is that not one but both major parties stand in real danger of repeating the mistake.
Caleb Carr "The Next American Revolution" in George (Oct/Nov 1995)
1528) The Democrats had a terrible history [about civil rights] and they overcame it. We [Republicans] had a great history, and we turned aside. We should have been there with Dr. King on the streets of Atlanta and Montgomery. We should have been there with John Lewis. We should have been there on the freedom marches and bus rides. We should have been there with Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama in December of 1955.
Jack Kemp quoted by Fredric Smoler in "We Had a Great History and We Turned Aside" in American Heritage (10/1993) quoted by Michael Lind in "The Myth of Barry Goldwater" in New York Review of Books (11/30/1995)
1529) A substantial number of Americans (as much as a third of the electorate, in some polls) are [...] alienated by a two-party system that tends to present only two options - conservative Republican or liberal Democrat. But the growing number of disaffected voters do not form a cohesive bloc with a shared viewpoint that might serve as a basis for a third party. On the contrary, alienated voters tend to divide into two distinct and incompatible camps: the moderate middle and the radical center.
[...] Members of the moderate middle tend to be old-fashioned Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans alienated by the supply-siders and religious right activists who, since the 1970's, have taken over the G.O.P. The moderate middle also includes the neo-liberal New Democrats based in the suburbs and successful in the private sector. The ranks of the moderate middle are heavy with managers and professionals with advanced degrees. They tend to combine liberal views on social issues like abortion and gay rights with concern about excess government spending on welfare and middle-class entitlements.
[...] The "radical center" (the names was coined in the 1970's by Donald Warren, a sociologist) consists largely of alienated Democrats, who broke away from the New Deal coalition to vote for Gorge Wallace in 1968, Nixon in 1972 and them in 1980, for Ronald Reagan. These former Wallace-Reagan Democrats tend to be white, blue-collar, high-school-educated and concentrated in the industrial Middle West, the South and the West. They are liberal, even radical, in matters of economics, but conservative in morals and mores.
[...] The moderate middle, by and large, is satisfied with the American private sector, to the extent of viewing its accounting procedures and organizational structures as a model for good governance in the public sector. The radical center hates big business (and big labor) as much as big government. Not infrequently, this hostility extends to the two big parties, between which, as George Wallace famously suggested, there isn't a dime's worth of difference.
[...] The political spectrum, like American society in general, is divided by class, so that the rationalistic meliorists of the moderate middle, in socioeconomic terms, are "above" the angry populists of the radical center. The difference is reminiscent of the class and cultural divide between upper-middle-class metropolitan Progressives and rural and small-town Populists at the turn of the century, who viewed each other with suspicion even though they shared many criticisms of the existing order.
[...] The angry center, on closer inspection, turns out to consist of two groups so unlike as to doom any project of uniting them in a single third-party movement. [...] A more logical alternative, then, to today's two-party system would not be a three-party system but a four-party system, with parties representing liberalism, conservatism, the moderate middle and the radical center. More likely, however, the two centers will transform American politics by influencing one of the existing parties, or perhaps both, to adopt the most important parts of their agenda.
[...] Which of the two rival centrist movements is more likely to success - either as an independent party, or (more likely) as a wing of one of the two established parties? The answer might be sought in the historical precedent of the Populists and the Progressives. Progressive politicians enacted many of the reforms of the Populist agenda, from government relief for farmers to child labor laws. The Progressives, however, rejected radical Populist economic ideas, like the nationalization of the railroads and the re-monetarization of silver. More concerned with good government than with popular government, Progressives also rejected the radical democratic ideal of the Populists; though they sometimes supported measures like referendums as tools to combat political machines, their favored alternative to government corruption tended to be the extension of government centralization by educated elites, not the extension of grassroots Jacksonian democracy. The Populists fizzled out at the turn of the century; the Progressives, and their heirs, the New Deal liberals, proved to be the dominant force in 20th-century American politics, reshaping state and society alike.
If this parallel holds up, then the moderate middle (today's Progressives) may adopt some of the reforms of the radical center (today's Populists) while rejecting the most extreme radical-centrists approaches to economic nationalism and direct democracy. Because the moderate middle tends to be composed of disaffected members of the political, economic and intellectual establishment, it has an enormous advantage over the less-educated and less-sophisticated radical center. The moderate middle has prestige, connections and access to institutional power and wealth; the radical center tends to have none of these.
[...] The long-term odds, then are stacked in favor of the moderate middle - particularly if its spokesmen adopt, and domesticate, a few ideas from the radical center [...] [but] the radical center might not be appeased. [...] [T]he accumulating resentments of the radical center could energize a destructive anti-system populism... The stability of the American political order may depend on its ability to assure angry populists - and yet the elitist bias of that very political order may insure that the interests of the working-class members of the radical center continue to be sacrificed to the ideals of the affluent and the suburban moderate middle. If so, a new [...] politics of outsiders versus insiders or of bottom versus top may replace the traditional American left-right spectrum - and, with it, the very notion of a "center" at all.
Michael Lind "The Radical Center or the Moderate Middle?" New York Times Magazine (12/3/1995)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 463 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.