Purple Party?

Bapopik at AOL.COM 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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