I thought Atrios had the right take on Tom Friedman's latest, "Tom Friedman wants a third party with no constituency to enact his preferred agenda. [I] have only seen that column written 3 trillion times before:"
There is a revolution brewing in the country, and it is not just on the right wing but in the radical center. I know of at least two serious groups, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, developing “third parties” to challenge our stagnating two-party duopoly that has been presiding over our nation’s steady incremental decline. [...]
We have to rip open this two-party duopoly and have it challenged by a serious third party that will talk about education reform, without worrying about offending unions; financial reform, without worrying about losing donations from Wall Street; corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left; energy and climate reform, without worrying about offending the far right and coal-state Democrats; and proper health care reform, without worrying about offending insurers and drug companies.
That Friedman believes the "far left" has a meaningful influence in American politics is enough; I could end this post now, and you would get that this is a very, very stupid column. But I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I didn't tackle a little more of the dumb in Friedman's op-ed. For instance, before launching into his plea for "centrist" sanity, Friedman lists the Obama administration's accomplishments but then laments their inadequacy, which becomes the basis of his argument. However, as Steve Benen points out, that doesn't make any sense; if what Friedman wants is more liberal Democratic policies, then the correct solution is Senate reform and a concerted effort to elect "better" Democrats, not a third party. But for Friedman to write that would require a level of faith in democracy he doesn't seem to have."
To go back to a point I made a few months ago, Friedman's pining for a third party -- like David Broder's frequent pining for anti-political "independents" -- is strikingly undemocratic. It's not just that he wants to enact his preferred agenda though an elite-driven party with no constituency, no activists, and no ties to local communities but that he is clearly uncomfortable living in the world as it is, where voters matter, interests are heard, and political disagreement is important. Friedman's ideas are True, and if voters would just step aside, he and his could fix the country without having to persuade anyone.
I can understand why Friedman would think that America wants his ideas -- Americans are mostly nonideological, which makes it easy for pundits to project their views on the country at large -- but the jump from that to "me and my friends should govern the country" is a little disturbing.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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