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Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Apr 23 05:45:19 UTC 2006
>From the latest NEW YORK magazine.
Introducing the Purple Party
Depressed about the Democrats? Revolted by the Republicans? You’re not
alone. Here in New York (with its Republican mayor and Democratic voters), a third
way is being plotted. Follow the purple-brick road.
* By _Kurt Andersen _
And New York, as it happens, is the ideal place to give birth to such a
movement. This city’s spirit—clear-sighted, tough-minded, cosmopolitan,
hardworking, good-humored, financially acute, tolerant, romantic—should infuse the
party. Despite our lefty reputation, for a generation now this city’s
governance has tended to be strikingly moderate, highly flexible rather than
ideological or doctrinaire. While we have a consistent and overwhelming preference for
Democratic presidential candidates, for 24 of the past 28 years the mayors
we have elected—Koch, Giuliani, Bloomberg—have been emphatically
independent-minded moderates whose official party labels have been flags of convenience.
(And before them, there was John Lindsay—elected as a Republican and
reelected as an independent before becoming an official Democrat in order to run for
president.) Moreover, New York’s stealth-independent-party regime has worked:
bankruptcy avoided, the subways air-conditioned and graffiti-free, crime
miraculously down, the schools reorganized and beginning to improve.
We’re certainly not part of red-state America, but when push comes to shove
we are really not blue in the D.C.–Cambridge–Berkeley–Santa Monica sense. We
are, instead, like so much of the country, vividly purple. And so—for now—we’
ll call our hypothetical new entity the Purple Party.
“Centrist” is a bit of a misnomer for the paradigm we envision, since that
suggests an uninspired, uninspiring, have-it-both-ways,
always-split-the-difference approach born entirely of political calculation. And that’s because
one of the core values will be honesty. Not a preachy, goody-goody, I’
ll-never-lie-to-you honesty of the Jimmy Carter type, but a worldly, full-throated and
bracing candor. The moderation will often be immoderate in style and
substance, rather than tediously middle-of-the-road. Pragmatism will be an animating
party value—even when the most pragmatic approach to a given problem is
Take health care. The U.S. system requires a complete overhaul, so that every
American is covered, from birth to death, whether he is employed or
self-employed or unemployed. What?!? Socialized medicine? Whatever. Half of our
medical costs are already paid by government, and the per capita U.S. expenditure
($6,280 per year) is nearly twice what the Canadians and Europeans and
Japanese pay—suggesting that we could afford to buy our way out of the
customer-service problems that afflict other national health systems. Beyond the
reformist virtues of justice and sanity, our party would make the true
opportunity-society argument for government-guaranteed universal health coverage: Devoted
as the Purple Party is to labor flexibility and entrepreneurialism, we want
to make it as easy as possible for people to change jobs or quit to start
their own businesses, and to do that we must break the weirdly neo-feudal,
only-in-America link between one’s job and one’s medical care.
But the Purple Party wouldn’t use its populist, progressive positions on
domestic issues like health to avoid talking about military policy, the way
Democrats tend to do. We would declare straight out that, alas, the fight against
Islamic jihadism must be a top-priority, long-term, and ruthless military,
diplomatic, and cultural struggle.
We would be unapologetic in our support of a well-funded military and
(depoliticized) intelligence apparatus, and the credible threat of force as a
foreign policy tool. We would seldom accuse Democrats of being dupes and wimps or
Republicans of being fearmongers and warmongers—but we would have the guts
and the standing to do both.
And as we defend our country and civilization against apocalyptic religious
fanatics for whom politics and religious belief are one and who consider
America irredeemably heathen, we will be especially keen about adhering to the
Founders’ (and, for that matter, Christ’s) ideal concerning the separation of
religion and politics—to render to government the things that are its and to
God the things that are his. Our party will enthusiastically embrace people of
all religious beliefs, but we will never claim special divine virtue for our
policies—we’ll leave that to the Pat Robertsons and Osama bin Ladens. Where
to draw the line is mostly a matter of common sense. Public reminders to
honor one’s parents and love one’s neighbor, and not to lie, steal, or commit
adultery or murder? Fine. Genesis taught as science in public schools, and
government cosmologists forced by their PR handlers to give a shout-out to
creationism? No way. Kids who want to wear crucifixes or yarmulkes or head scarves
to those same schools? Sure, why not? And so on.
Our new party will be highly moral (but never moralistic) as well as
laissez-faire. In other words, the Purple Party will be both liberal and American in
the old-fashioned senses.
So: Are you in?
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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