I like A Declaration of Independents very much. Here are a few thoughts about it.
On the liberal establishment’s apoplexy over Trump:
“Don’t blame the voters. Blame the two political parties. This is not a moment of time that appeared out of nowhere. It’s a byproduct of decades of neglect, the social result of a pampered political class that ignores festering national problems while putting its own interests ahead of the nation’s. Americans are desperate for something different.”
I would add: In electing Trump, the voters have laid their hands on the only tool available to them for fighting back against the political establishment. Since this voter rebellion is not going away, those who think Trump is not up to the job of building a new American consensus should get busy and help break the tyranny of the duopoly that keeps us from having more and better choices.
On the question of “competition” between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party:
“Although they create the illusion of competition, duopolies compete against one another while working together to suppress outside competition. The define the parameters of the game – and then rig the rules of that game to keep others out.”
This is what Katherine Ghel and Keith Porter have called “oligopolistic competition” in their Harvard Business School paper “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America”.
“Most people say that in modern politics, winning is everything. But my view is that how you win is important, too.”
Yes, how is at least important as what. The winning-is-everything view (like the view that independent candidates are “spoilers”) puts the interests of the political parties and the duopoly ahead of the interests of America.
There are also a few points on which, respectfully, I tend to disagree with Greg.
He seems to suggest that polarization of voters is a one of the causes of gridlock. I’m more inclined to think that polarization is partly an illusion fostered by the duopoly and its supporters in the media, and partly a result (rather than a cause) of the duopoly’s corruption of our political process.
It’s an illusion in that it disregards the 42% or more of voters who don’t identify with either party. It thus implicitly upholds the have-you-quit-beating-your-wife logic of pro-duopoly political “scientists” who assert, with a straight face, that there are no independents!
It’s result (rather than a cause) of gridlock, because when voters have been disempowered by the duopoly, they are vulnerable to being manipulated by it. When people are powerless, they can be ruled easily by fear. As Greg notes (quoting Ezra Klein): “What parties need to do to keep you loyal isn’t make you inspired. Rather, they need to make you scared.”
I also think that Greg tends to conflate independents with moderates. This is perhaps natural, because formation of consensus (as Greg otherwise makes very clear) is the very essence of a healthy democratic process, and this is precisely what the duopoly is unable to do. However, the idea of “moderate” appeals to a notion of a political center, and a left/right paradigm which is itself defined by bipartisan collusion.
So, for example, I think there is a good chance that single-payer health insurance would be supported by a majority of Americans. In the left/right paradigm that is defined by the duopoly, that would be left-of-center. But that distorts the situation, because the possibility of single-payer, like many other possible solutions to important problems, has been ruled out of the conversation by the duopoly.
In the last chapter, Greg says:
“While millions of Independents find the Republican Party too far to the right and the Democratic Party too far to the left, being an Independent doesn’t necessarily mean being a centrist. Yes, millions of political moderates yearn for a third option. What truly sets us Independents apart, however, is not ideological. What sets us apart is that we don’t let the duopoly do our thinking for us.”
Greg’s proposals for reforming congress are great (“An Independent Agenda” Chapter 12). But congress can’t be reformed without first empowering America’s independents! In his independent run for Governor I urge him to make this empowerment itself the cornerstone of his campaign.
Lou Hinman lives in New York City and is an activist with IndependentVoting.org and the New York City Independence Clubs.
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A Declaration of Independents
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One thought on “Reader’s Forum–Lou Hinman”
While I’m not convinced individual states should attempt to adopt a single-payer healthcare system, it would be the “conservative” solution nationwide. Too bad Greg did not make it to the U.S. Senate.
If Congress ever embarks on a rational healthcare debate, I suspect they will settle on a plan that delivers care to all in the most efficient manner. Of course, that assumes we do not revert to a pre-1986 environment where care is blatantly denied to those unable to pay.
The plan may not maximize profits for providers, but the profit motive need not disappear. The two goals can coexist.