Manifesto for a new political party

We have a two-party system. Except that one is no longer a responsible legitimate party. After 53 years as a Republican, I became a Democrat as the only sane option. But I still hanker for a good second party, and I’ve thought about what it might stand for. I have no illusions that it could spring forth in today’s America. But, as an exercise in political imagination, here is the platform:

1. Truth and honesty. This even being on the list — let alone as #1 — is a sad commentary on today’s Republicans. Inhabiting an alternate reality of lies. Many Republicans know it. Bad faith pervades the party.

2. Civic virtues — democracy, decency, civility, tolerance, fairness, compassion. Sad too that this requires stating. We’d thought our democracy was secure. Now we know it needs defending. This includes the right to vote itself.

3. Science acceptance — this goes with #1. Science is not just another viewpoint, it’s how we know things. Republican rejection of science — on evolution, climate change, covid, you name it — makes it a party of fools.

4. Racial comity. Our history of slavery still afflicts us, its legacy a factor in Black Americans, on average, living less well than whites. Most fundamentally, many still feel they’re not accepted or treated as fully equal. Simply put, we must ensure such treatment. This certainly means no tolerance for racist or white supremacist views. Or police abuse. It’s not “law and order” (and not “freedom”) when police — armed government enforcers — overstep their authority.

5. Freedom of speech. Democrats are too tolerant of intolerance. True, some viewpoints can be deemed beyond the pale (See #4). But most such issues concern what should be matters of legitimate debate. We must end the McCarthyism of punishing people for their opinions. Republicans do it too, persecuting apostates from Trump worship.

6. Free market capitalism. It’s not some system thought up by ideologues, it’s how people interact economically absent interference. And businesses trying to make a buck by selling stuff gives us the goods and services underpinning our advanced living standard. Of course there must be laws and regulations to prevent abuse (we have laws against jaywalking) and there are some functions the market cannot fulfill. Otherwise, consumers and society reap the bulk of the wealth created, when markets are competitive. Anti-competitive government actions and regulatory capture are key problems.

Many Democrats romanticize government running everything. Such a concentration of power would be the antithesis of democracy.

7. A caring society. America is a very rich country. We can amply ensure every citizen has at least minimally decent health care, shelter, nutrition, etc. Don’t call it socialism or “social justice,” it’s simply recognition of our common humanity.

8. Equal education opportunity. Its lack is central to inequality. People born in disadvantaged circumstances are put further behind by rotten schools, that tend to go with the territory. Democrats have a poor record here. School choice would help. By failing to invest in all our children, we make adults who are burdens rather than productive citizens.

9. Global human rights. Remember George W. Bush’s second inaugural, casting America as the global promoter of democracy and human rights — widely mocked by cynics? But being seen as standing for what’s right, and for humanity’s highest aspirations, is key to America’s own global standing. And a more democratic and thus more peaceful and prosperous world benefits America.

10. Free trade. Both parties have lost their way, succumbing to narrow interests at cost to our national interest. Free trade does hurt some people, but makes us collectively richer. If other countries harm themselves with protectionism, we shouldn’t respond by doing likewise. It’s not a zero-sum world; freer trade globally makes all countries richer — again good for America.

11. Global engagement. In both the above respects, “America First” should not mean America alone, retreating behind walls. Since 1945, we led the way building a rules-based world order aided by a network of alliances with nations sharing our values and aspirations for human betterment. We have benefited hugely, yet again making a world in which America itself can best flourish.

12. Church-state separation. One of America’s greatest blessings. Freedom of religion shouldn’t mean government favoritism toward religion — a source of woe throughout history. Church-state separation has benefited religions, it’s a key reason why they remain so strong in America compared to Europe. Those trying to tear it down play with fire.

13. Gun control. All rights are subject to reasonable regulation to protect the public, and that includes gun rights.* America’s unique proliferation of guns is a major contributor to violent crime. We must act to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and ban military style assault weapons.

14. End the “War on Drugs.” Drug use should be a medical matter, not a criminal one. The drug war itself harms society vastly more than drug use ever could. While achieving almost nothing. (Psst Republicans: this is another “freedom” issue.)

15. A welcoming country. America, uniquely among nations, is blessed by the diversity of enterprising people who chose to live here. They enrich us, culturally, economically, and spiritually. As Ronald Reagan said, America is a shining city upon a hill — whose wall has a great big door.

This platform distills a lifetime of thinking and political engagement. Is it so radical? Radically reasonable and rational perhaps. Yet can we imagine an American political party with such a program — and winning elections?

*The Supreme Court seems headed for an insane contrary ruling.

10 Responses to “Manifesto for a new political party”

  1. Don Bronkema Says:

    These views were mainstream [mas o menos] in both parties, 1946-1980. Then von Mises, Ayn Rand, Friedman, Smiley Ron, the Shrubs, Laffer, Norquist, CATO, Heritage & AEI pulled off a supply-side coup, transmogrifying Keynes into an Enemy of the People [viz. Ibsen]. The 8 recent Nobelists + Piketty have exhumed demand-side in the unlikely person of Uncle Joe. We now face last-ditch caucasoidal revanche-trumpism. Meanwhile, Gerry & the Manders boast new gigs, riding high in the EC & among slavering intramontane Bible-pounders. Can thermageddon be stopped cold? Draco says: impose carbon-levy rising steeply to 190 per ton post-Glasgow. Delay risks degringolade so severe as to render Mars nugatory. Unthinkable!

  2. Lee Says:

    > Many Democrats romanticize government running everything. Such a concentration of power would be the antithesis of democracy.

    Among 330 million Americans, we have all sorts of opinions — and I am sure that there are some people who claim to be Democrats and also romanticize government running everything. But unless you are a Fox News reporter you know that most Democrats want government exactly as you specify, when “there are some functions the market cannot fulfill.”

  3. Lee Says:

    > Yet can we imagine an American political party with such a program — and winning elections?

    Conveniently enough, what you have described is pretty much the Democratic Party.

    (Well, there is still the disconnect over hate speech. Should someone who wants to give a speech on campus about how it would be good to gas Jews be surprised that there are large protests and forceful efforts to get the speech banned? Letting the speech go forward is like being a bystander during an active assault. So, the only questions is what is actually hate speech, and I suspect that you and the Democrats are more in agreement than you realize.)

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    I don’t think the Democratic party reflects these postulates; only some of them. As for government controlling everything, tell that to the Bernie bros.

  5. Don Bronkema Says:

    Colleague Bernie rejects Leninism; seeks Scandinavism as respondent has for 90+ years. If some churl wants to liquidate people like me, then–like my wives–he should be given a forum wherein to make his case. Others may rise to my defense or not, but the cicerone must be Socrates: death before dishonor.

  6. rationaloptimist Says:

    Bernie, and his fans, don’t know that the Scandinavian countries are more free market capitalist than America.

  7. Don Bronkema Says:

    Property in the Scandinavian social democracies remains c. 88% in private hands [here hardly less], but circumstances have cobbled a panoply of benisons. Nobody there is so brainless as to pursue a Bolshevik GOSPLAN, whose USSR-collapse aye foretold in 1955…Here 90K jurisdictions & N failed programs–a pudding w/o a theme, rancid w/waste, theo-racism, jingoism, righteous misology, rampant misogyny & suicidal fear of science. A reckoning is beckoning: epigony or parturition. Quelle, je vous prie? Kakoi, ya vas sprashu?

  8. Lee Says:

    When the debate is:

    C: This is a function the free market can take care of.

    P: There is a function that the market cannot fulfill.

    … then it is worthwhile to explore the details of the disagreement and find the right balance.

    When the debate is:

    C: You romanticize government running everything.

    P: You are just a shill for corporations.

    … then the participants aren’t actually interested in finding the right solution, they’re just wasting my time.

  9. Lee Says:

    “This is” not “There”

  10. Don Bronkema Says:

    Nobody but Dzhugashvili thot govt should run e/thing: shibboleth, red herring, macguffin. Gird loins, read my 158,410 pp on this & related matters [1948-2021]. GOP, as noted in 1996, is en route to self-immolation: tekno-cultural trends make Whiggery ineluctable. If H. semper unsapiens survives Thermo & colonizes Musk-Mars, he/she can proceed pari passu toward Kardashoff-III: 100 KY but a mere spacetime instant. Viz. MIT & colleague N. Bostrom [Oxford].

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