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Debates Forum

  1. 02 Apr '10 03:23
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/opinion/24friedman.html

    Although I object to the slanderous title of this article, I still felt compelled to share it with everyone. Even though the author is a centrist and abhors conservatism, he at least realizes the need for government to become more centrist than it is today. In short, he at least recognizes that the system is broken. As Larry Diamond, a Stanford University democracy expert, once wrote, "If you don't get governance right, it is very hard to get anything else right that government needs to deal with." No truer words have been spoken. The author goes on to say, "My definition of broken is simple. It is a system in which Republicans will be voted out for doing the right thing (raising taxes when needed) and Democrats will be voted out for doing the right thing (cutting services when needed). When your political system punishes lawmakers for doing the right thing, it is broken. That is why we need political innovation that takes America's disempowered radical center and enables it to act in proportion to its true size, unconstrained by the two parties, interest groups and orthodoxies that have tied our politics in knots."

    So how do we break the two party oligarchy? He suggests two innovations. First let every state emulate California's recent grass-roots initiative that took away the power to design state electorial districts from the state legislature and put it in the nads of an independent, politically neutral, Citizens Redistricting Commission. It will go to work after the 2010 census and reshape California's state legislature districts for the coming elections. Henceforth, districts in California will NOT be designed to be automatically Democratic or Repulican - so more of them will be competitive, so more candidates will only be electable if they appeal to the center, not just cater to one party. (There is a movement pressing for the same independent commission to be given the power to redraw Congressional districts) Second, get states to adopt "alternative voting". One reason independent, third party, centrist candidates can't get elected is because if, in a three-person race, a Democrat votes for an independent, and the independent loses, the Democrat fears his vote wil have actually helped the Republican win, or vise versa. Alternative voting allows you to rank the independent candidate your #1 choice, and the other Democratic or Repulibcan choice #2. Therefore, if the independent does not win, your vote is immediately transferred to your second choice. Nothing has held back the growth of independent, centrist candidates more, said Diamond, "than the fear that if you vote for one of them you will be wasting your vote." Alternative voting, which Australia has, can overcome that.
  2. 02 Apr '10 03:41 / 8 edits
    One of my main critiques on the article is the assumption that a centrist opinion is the majority. What data suggests this? I thought the date showed that American leans to the right? Secondly, what should be considered a centrist? Is it centrist someone who wants our taxes raised? My guess is that the majority of Americans do not want them raised which is why both Obama and "W" spend, spend, spend, without raising taxes. After all, we all like the free goodies, but don't want to actually pay for them, so lets pass the buck to future generations. In addition, does "the center" want government to cut services? It has been my observation that anytime cuts are mentioned, just like raising taxes, the majority of Americans get upset. So what we wind up with is what we have today. Today we have ever expanding deficits and ever increasing entitlements. In fact, Obama jokes about not knowing how to pay for "W"'s perscription drug entitlement for seniors, but then turns around and insures another 30 million Americans. In fact, very little of Obamacare is dedicated to keeping costs down, such as welfare reform and tort reform. The main focus of the bill is universal coverage with empty promises of keeping the costs down.

    I guess the game plan for both parties is to let Americans have their cake and eat it to. So we give them the benefits of a socialist system, but without the higher taxes of every socialist system in existence today. Brilliant!! So is the author of the article correct? Does the center want socialist programs cut as well as higher taxes? ONe thing is certain, the current road is not sustainable and Obama has even said as much. Perhaps they are just waiting for another crisis to enact unpopular higher taxes much like they did with TARP and other bail outs.

    Putting all that aside, I am in favor of the voting reforms that are desinged to rival the two party monopoly. How can anyone be against it?
  3. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    02 Apr '10 06:20
    I read this article a week or so ago - it makes very good points.

    The notion that a system is broken when people get voted out of office for doing the right thing is a powerful one. 'Centrist' actually seems to mean adopting a position that is not one of the planks owned by Your Side.

    We have an expectation fostered God-Knows-Where and reinforced by nameless politicos who try to keep out of the limelight that all the political positions have been divided up between the two parties. So to be considered a "Good Representative", Member of Party A is expected to vote for all of Party A's planks and can never agree with any of the planks of Party B.

    An actual centrist -- like Olympia Snowe from Maine -- is described as 'a Republican who often votes Democratic' -- reinforcing the notion that all planks are uniquely owned by one of the two sides.

    So why are there only two sides?
  4. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    02 Apr '10 06:40
    Originally posted by spruce112358
    So why are there only two sides?
    The large corporate entities (N.B. by which I do not only mean "corporations" like Time Warner, Unilever etc.) that are the shakers and movers behind "U.S.A." would not have it any other way
  5. 02 Apr '10 12:29 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by spruce112358
    [b]I read this article a week or so ago - it makes very good points.

    The notion that a system is broken when people get voted out of office for doing the right thing is a powerful one. 'Centrist' actually seems to mean adopting a position that is not one of the planks owned by Your Side.
    My point is, that suppose you wanted to do the right thing. Suppose the right thing was to raise taxes and slash entitlements? What platform is there to run to that will not incur the wrath of the populace no matter how you redraw voting districts or are able to allow people to vote for third parties without negative consequences? In fact, NEITHER party seems to want to cut entitlements or raise taxes. It is political suicide.

    If I were coming into office following the likes of "W" and Obama, I would probably feel the need to raise taxes. It is not that I favor that route, rather, it would be because the choice had been made for me by previous administrations who did not have the political COURAGE and were not fiscally responsible enough to raise taxes as they were raising spending. I would also begin to trim entitlements. As a result, I would have zero political future.
  6. 02 Apr '10 12:34
    Originally posted by FMF
    The large corporate entities (N.B. by which I do not only mean "corporations" like Time Warner, Unilever etc.) that are the shakers and movers behind "U.S.A." would not have it any other way
    Unilever seems to be doing a lousy job on home turf then...

    OT: proportional representation, problem solved.