Wanted: A New Party Of Progressive Conservatives
A great blues lyric goes: “He was a good old wagon but he done broke down.” That’s a pretty good description of both the Democrats and Republicans today — two good old political parties that have both broken down to such an extent that neither any longer is configured to meet our country’s strained and painful domestic realities, or the challenges of our fast eroding position in the world.
We have a weak and vacillating Democratic President. We’ve had weak presidents before, however. The problem today is not one highly malleable chief executive, but a Democratic president whose behavior is a fair reflection of his party’s present state — a party devoid of coherent solutions much less a viable future vision. A fractured party divided between ‘liberals’ who haven’t had a fresh idea since the 1930s, and ‘moderates’ whose own one fresh idea was to fuse with Wall Street interests in the 1990s.
The Republican Party is even more broken and lost. It’s a party that once had a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, but now taps its heels, eyes tightly shut, and hopes to pay the country’s debts by reducing taxes. A party that once fought against intrusions into individual rights that now panders to religious groups that want to take away rights that offend their own beliefs. A party that once had a restrained approach to foreign policy that now plays footsie with an ‘exceptonalist’ fringe that sees aggressive aberrations abroad as expressions of God’s will.
Thankfully, there are many within both of these outmoded, ideologically skewed parties that understand a need for real change, along with an even greater number of Americans who no longer have a Democratic or Republican party affiliation who feel the same way. Thus, while the pundit class is busily dissecting Democratic and Republican entrails in search of solutions to the nation’s problems, the times appear perfect for a new party that might actually provide them. A new party whose platform might be summed up in a name such as ‘Progressive Conservatives.’
There actually was a party of that name in Canada until 2003, but it isn’t the model for this new grouping. The U.S. newcomer would more closely resemble (though differ in some important respects) the current coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the U.K., two previously opposed parties that came together to advance real change.
The basic goals of a future Progressive Conservative Party on these shores are easy to state: To bring about needed deficit reduction through an austerity shared by all income groups; to invest in the young and the future (through education and alternative energy infrastructure) even though it brings some pain to past generations (entitlement program caps and cutbacks); to generate the potential for economy-animating spending via tax changes that spread income more reasonably and fairly; to revamp Wall Street so it refocuses on its traditional role of allocating capital to growing the economy, not using OPM (other people’s money, our money) to puff up its own compensation; to reorient our international policies in ways that recognize our economic limitations.
New third parties in this country are supposed to be short-lived, and have a worth that’s only related to how they change the priorities of the two major existing parties. That’s usually true. But not always. On rare occasions crises bring about more dramatic party re-arrangements.
The Whigs couldn’t address the issue of slavery in the 1850s. The new Republican Party came forward to do so. The Whigs broke up and disappeared. The Republicans became the party that would confront the Democrats for the next 150 years.
America is ready for real change today. Neither major political party can bring it about. Both are too focused on satisfying their own internal cliques and supporting interests. That’s very clear. So another entity must come into being to do the job.
Watch for some variant of an American Progressive Conservatives Party. It will be coming to a local voting station near your home very soon.
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