Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Purple Party

Professor Bainbridge Kurt Andersen wants a purple party:

Let the present, long-running duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats end. Let the invigorating and truly democratic partisan flux of the American republic’s first century return. Let there be a more or less pacifist, anti-business, protectionist Democratic Party on the left, and an anti-science, Christianist, unapologetically greedy Republican Party on the right—and a robust new independent party of passionately practical progressives in the middle.
There are so many problems with Andersen's analysis it's hard to know where to start, but here's two that jump out at me:

1. Andersen wants a center-left third party (see the reference to "passionately practical progressives"), while the center of political gravity in this country is clearly center-right:
The Professor is right, but that is why I like Andersen's suggestion, because he proposes splitting the left into far left and center left, and the center right Republicans would win all the time.
The Harris Poll® also found that conservatives continue to outnumber liberals by 36 to 18 percent but that the largest number of people think of themselves as moderates (41%). The remarkable thing about these numbers is how little they have changed over the past 30 to 40 years. Harris Interactive data over four decades show that the average numbers of moderates have remained at 40 or 41 percent, and that conservatives have only varied between 32 and 38 percent, while liberals have remained at a steady 18 percent since the 1970s.

Interestingly, Andersen also says:
I worked as a volunteer for George McGovern’s presidential primary campaign, then voted for him in the November election, then for Carter (twice), then Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton (twice), Gore, and Kerry. I’m nine for nine; I’ve never voted for a Republican for president, like most people I know—and, I expect, like most New Yorkers.
Um. Ronald Reagan won NY in both 1980 and 1984, while Nixon won it in 1972, so at least a few New Yorkers have voted Republican in his lifetime.

2. Setting aside the Presidency, the US electoral system is a first past the post, single member constituency structure. Both game theory and empirical evidence tells us that such a system significantly disadvantages third parties. (Just ask the Liberal Democrats in the UK.) As for the Presidency, John Anderson's and Ross Perot's failed campaigns tend to confirm the claim of "Duverger's Law" that "Some representation systems - such as those involving a single elected president or a mayor dominating the government - may encourage two-party systems, since ultimately the contest will pit the two most popular candidates against each other."


Purple Party said...

Claiming Democrats are "Left" and Republicans are "Right", and all variations upon this theme, misses the real problem, which is that both parties are lost and bogged in the same swamp of 20th century mindsets largely based on 18th and 19th century political and social philosophies. Time to wake up, wash off the past and start afresh.

Purple Party said...

Major political parties around the world have lost their way. They have little meaning or relevance as they seem blind to the potential for basing societies on the simple ideals of love and kindness instead of selfishness and hatred. They have such narrow focuses and can't see beyond the battlefields on which they struggle for power and squabble over irrelevant, outdated ideological allegiances such as Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Labor.
The Purple Party seeks a return to basic human values and aspirations. Peace. Love. Understanding. Kindness. A generosity of spirit. A desire for all beings everywhere to be happy. Read more at