Trust, Politics and Third Parties

Well, I figured I would be sitting here this early Monday a.m. opining about some kind of framework to hike the debt limit and control federal government spending. Nope. Yet the clock keeps ticking to what the Sunday talk show pundits say will be financial ruin unless a deal is reached this week.

Yawn.

This strikes me as business as usual Inside the Beltway: meet, talk, posture, spin — and accomplish little or nothing.

Here’s an interesting perspective from Dan Balz in WaPo, “Debt talks show breakdown in governing“:

What the country is watching is a breakdown in governing that could be as corrosive to the political system as the possible financial default looming could be to the economy.

Even before Friday’s collapse in the debt talks, public dissatisfaction with Washington was on the rise. The impasse threatens a further deterioration in public confidence.

There is great disagreement in Washington over the meaning of last year’s midterm elections, but it’s almost certain that most Americans did not vote for the kind of paralysis that surrounds the negotiations over the terms of raising the debt ceiling.

Americans voted for, or got, divided government because the public doesn’t fully trust either party with the reins of power. That means the only way out of this problem is through compromise, or what one administration official called “bipartisanship by necessity,” not by choice.

Up until now, enough lawmakers haven’t been ready to accept that in order for a deal to be struck. So the clock ticks.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Wonder how much this has to do with trust? It doesn’t appear that there is any level of trust between the Prez and the administration and members of Congress from both parties. A lot of us voted for Obama with the hope that this would change. It hasn’t. It’s gotten worse, more partisan and defined by gridlock where Congress and the administration don’t appear able to accomplish anything.

Sigh.

And I’m sure that before the clock strikes 12 (or whatever) there will be an agreement: long term or short term, with or without revenue increases, and something that will send people on Medicare and Social Security reaching for the barf bags — or not.

Who know? After seven months of dithering, there are plenty of words but almost no specific details. And sorry. I don’t trust either party or the Prez to get this right at this point.

Would a third, fourth or fifth political party help? Probably not. But something tells me that the idea of additional parties, platforms and candidates starts to get plenty of attention — and perhaps some action.

Here’s from Chris Cillizza in WaPo, “Voters’ renewed anger at Washington spurs formation of third-party advocate groups“:

The numbers are startling.

Eighty percent of people in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll described themselves as either “angry” or “dissatisfied” with the way Washington works — the highest that number has been in nearly two decades.

Additionally, 63 percent said they would prefer to vote for someone other than their current member of Congress in the 2012 election, a historic high in Post-ABC data on that question.

The poll was taken before the “grand bargain” on debt reduction being crafted by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) collapsed late last week amid the sort of acrimony and public name-calling sure to further sour voters on the ability of the two political parties to get nearly anything done.

Given all of the above, advocates of a third party — or at the very least another viable option in the 2012 presidential race — seem to be sprouting up all over.

The two most prominent are Americans Elect, a group aimed at winning ballot access for an eventual third-party candidate, and No Labels, an organization filled with high-profile names — including former George W. Bush media consultant Mark McKinnon and former Kentucky state treasurer Jonathan Miller — designed as an online home for the politically disaffected. “If you build it (ballot access), they (candidates and voters) will come,” McKinnon said in an e-mail.

No Labels says it advocates for bipartisan solutions to problems and not a third-party presidential candidate.

There are others. Votocracy allows virtually anyone to run for president. Ruck.us, a site developed by two former Democratic operatives, sorts people by common interests rather than political leanings. The Centrist Alliance, the newest entrant into the field, formed officially on July 4.

Those who closely monitor these third-party efforts say that not only is there an array of groups with similar goals but there also is money flowing to them from wealthy individuals trying to change the two-party dynamic.

“Politics has lagged our social and business evolution,” said Scott Ehredt of the Centrist Alliance. “There are 30 brands of Pringles in our local grocery store. How is it that Americans have so much selection for potato chips and only two brands — and not very good ones — for political parties?”

The Potato Chip Party.

Now that’s something we could sink our teeth into.

C’mon.

It’s early.

And we’re teetering on the brink of financial ruin.

Or not.

 
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