And so the defiant uprising of House Republicans has come to its whimpering end, as I predicted in my previous post. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell played a big part in this turnabout, publically decrying the House stance. President Obama would allude to the senator in his plea yesterday afternoon for House Republicans to accept compromise with the Senate version. A repentant Boehner now admits recalcitrance wasn’t the wisest thing for House Republicans. I will put it more bluntly: setting up a Rubicon was just plain dumb, ironically casting Republicans into a pro-tax increase faction while making Democrats look like the party of the 99 percent.
I think the fallout likely to linger, with Republicans generally perceived as a special interest constituency catering to Wall Street, this despite overwhelming Republican support in the Senate for a two month extension. The average Joe Citizen is governed more by impressions than specifics.
What we really need is a viable political alternative. For years, it used to be that the two major parties simply functioned as mirror images, until a robust Conservative versus Progressive alternative began to emerge in the late 60s. Now the choice is again diluted, this time by ideological purists who make it folly for most of us to vote for them.
I think it’s high time for a potent third party to give Americans a true option. This third party could be parented by disaffected moderate Republicans. Yes, they really do exist. The history of third parties is that they can’t win. Still, they often serve their purpose in influencing the major parties. They can also be spoilers, venting their dismay, and denying incumbency, as happened in 1992 with the defeat of Bush senior, not because of reneging on his “read my lips” pledge not to raise taxes, but because of Ross Perot’s entry into the race, siphoning off 18% of the vote. This made possible the election of Bill Clinton, with less than 50% of the vote. History would repeat itself in 1996, with Perot again entering the race.
In 2012, a viable mainstream candidate could actually win as opinion polls continue to show widespread disaffection with the Washington entrenched of both parties, including our President. Here the going gets rough. Just who would lead that third party? I’m open to our putting our heads together. There’s still time.
I know one thing: America needs a hero. Hey, where’s Josiah Bartlet when you need him?