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Old 09-14-2018, 09:30 AM
Kearsen Kearsen is offline
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Commonality of the Political Spectrum?

I am very curious about what is or isn't a common ground cause (Centrist), politically, that may result in a greater population of people joining together to actually make this country better?

Are there too many polarizing opposites that divide us that there really aren't all that many centrist ideals? It certainly seems that way these days but it wasn't always thus.

So, the question for debate would be this:

If you were starting a political party and wanted to be centrist and gather as much of the population that you could, what would the platform be?
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Last edited by Kearsen; 09-14-2018 at 09:30 AM. Reason: thus/this
  #2  
Old 09-14-2018, 09:48 AM
senoy senoy is offline
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Tribes are increasingly non-ideological, so there is very little common ground. Trumpists aren't conservative and Democrats aren't liberal. Witness Obamacare, that was a very conservative approach to healthcare, but because it was advocated by someone with a D by their name, Rs thought it was bad. Tariffs are another example. Even five years ago, liberals espoused tariffs as a way to deal with human rights violators and labor abuse and free trade was seen as predominantly benefiting large corporations at the expense of the working classes. Now though, you'd think that tariffs were arch-conservative positions that must be fought to the death.

We have divided into 'groups like me' as opposed to groups with strong ideological stances. There are still a few issues that you won't see people flip on even for the sake of their tribe, but they are increasingly fewer. Politics at this point is about beating the other guy and not really about advancing a true agenda. A good thought experiment is to look at George W. Bush and look at Trump from a blind policy point of view and they basically stand opposite on everything except abortion and taxes, but the same people either opposed both of them or supported both of them.
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:04 AM
JB99 JB99 is offline
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Originally Posted by Kearsen View Post
Are there too many polarizing opposites that divide us that there really aren't all that many centrist ideals? It certainly seems that way these days but it wasn't thus.
Yes, it was. From the very start, the states were divided by matters over federal power, representation, taxes, and slavery. Some states threatened to secede from the very beginning, and it took less than a hundred years for the nation to fall into a bloody civil war. Then the losers spent the next 150-ish years being butt-hurt about it. Even today, you see people picking fights over their so-called “heritage” and it’s symbols, despite the fact that they are many generations removed from anyone who actually fought in the conflict. For fuck’s sake, we live in a country where people used the actual no-shit Army National Guard to keep black children out of their schools.

Senoy has it right. The actual policy positions might be the LEAST important thing about American politics, because most Americans are dumb mother fuckers whose only concern is whether the idea belongs to “their” side.
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Old 09-14-2018, 11:26 AM
FlikTheBlue FlikTheBlue is offline
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Originally Posted by senoy View Post
Tribes are increasingly non-ideological, so there is very little common ground. Trumpists aren't conservative and Democrats aren't liberal. Witness Obamacare, that was a very conservative approach to healthcare, but because it was advocated by someone with a D by their name, Rs thought it was bad. Tariffs are another example. Even five years ago, liberals espoused tariffs as a way to deal with human rights violators and labor abuse and free trade was seen as predominantly benefiting large corporations at the expense of the working classes. Now though, you'd think that tariffs were arch-conservative positions that must be fought to the death.

We have divided into 'groups like me' as opposed to groups with strong ideological stances. There are still a few issues that you won't see people flip on even for the sake of their tribe, but they are increasingly fewer. Politics at this point is about beating the other guy and not really about advancing a true agenda. A good thought experiment is to look at George W. Bush and look at Trump from a blind policy point of view and they basically stand opposite on everything except abortion and taxes, but the same people either opposed both of them or supported both of them.
I don’t think Bush and Trump were anywhere close to being exact opposites in everything except abortion and taxes.

Both support(ed) big oil and are/were against environmentalists that want to stop global warming.

Both support(ed) letting the big insurance and big pharma companies run the US medical system as opposed to moving towards universal health care. Don’t give me the same tired line about Obamacare starting off as Romneycare. The only reason we didn’t get a universal healthcare plan from Obama was because there weren’t enough Democratic senators in 2009 to overcome Republican filibusters.

Both support(ed) higher military spending at the expense of programs to help the poor.

Both support(ed) stronger immigration law enforcement against the immigrants but not on those who employ them.

Both appoint(ed) SCOTUS justices that almost always rule in favor of big busines interests and against the little guy.

As far as the differences go, Trump has staked out some new positions that neither side supported back in the Bush days. But these are things that were fringe positions back then, not mainstream Democratic positions. Examples include believing that the press is the enemy of the people and that white nationalists are equivalent to the people fighting against them.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 09-14-2018 at 11:28 AM.
  #5  
Old 09-14-2018, 11:28 AM
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The widespread disillusion with politics on both side of the ideological spectrum leads me to believe that goo-gooism would be an effective way to attract voters.
  #6  
Old 09-14-2018, 12:20 PM
senoy senoy is offline
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Originally Posted by FlikTheBlue View Post
I don’t think Bush and Trump were anywhere close to being exact opposites in everything except abortion and taxes.
Opposites might be an exaggeration, but Bush was much more of a centrist.

Quote:
Both support(ed) big oil and are/were against environmentalists that want to stop global warming.
Sort of. Bush was a carbon skeptic, but not a pollution one. He did cut down on sulfur dioxide emissions. He also put in plans to reduce gasoline usage by 20% over ten years. He largely felt that alternative energy should be achieved through renewable hydrocarbons which wasn't the greatest idea, but it was hardly in the pocket of big oil. He also wanted to increase nuclear power as a clean alternative and did invest in renewables. He was specifically anti-SUV and wanted to actually raise energy prices. He certainly wasn't an environmentalist, but his positions were far more nuanced than anti-environment.
Quote:
Both support(ed) letting the big insurance and big pharma companies run the US medical system as opposed to moving towards universal health care. Don’t give me the same tired line about Obamacare starting off as Romneycare. The only reason we didn’t get a universal healthcare plan from Obama was because there weren’t enough Democratic senators in 2009 to overcome Republican filibusters.
I"m not sure that anyone was moving toward universal healthcare after Hillary's debacle and there aren't a whole lot of people moving there now. Nonetheless, Bush proposed major tax credits for people with health insurance that echoed the individual mandate from the ACA. It essentially used tax code to punish those who had money but didn't have health insurance. He also proposed a 'Family Health Credit' that would provide 90% of the cost of a health insurance plan for families making 30thousand or less - basically a bridge between Medicaid and the slightly wealthier. When governor of Texas, he used tobacco settlement money to provide health insurance to any child in a household making under 200% of the poverty line.
Quote:
Both support(ed) higher military spending at the expense of programs to help the poor.
This is true, but it was for very different reasons. Bush saw the military as a means to advance democracy and punish terrorrism. He was very adventurous in its use. Trump wants to back down from military obligations and pull troops out of anywhere that doesn't pay for them. It's a very, very different philosophy.
Quote:
Both support(ed) stronger immigration law enforcement against the immigrants but not on those who employ them.
Yes, but Bush did so in combination with lots of rewards. Bush supported creating guest worker visas for illegals in the US. He supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which invented the DREAM Act and provided a path to citizenship for all illegals in the country at the time. He also increased H1B Visas. He definitely was big on border enforcement and was opposed to illegal immigration and he ended 'catch and release.' but he also supported immigration as a whole.
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Both appoint(ed) SCOTUS justices that almost always rule in favor of big busines interests and against the little guy.
Alito has always been controversial, but Roberts wasn't nearly as controversial back then. He passed the Senate 77-22. Half of Democrats voted for him. Neither of Bush's picks are even close to the rancor of Trump's, but some of that is the climate we live in.
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Old 09-14-2018, 02:00 PM
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I think a true libertarian approach would actually attract a lot of people from both sides and create a workable political center. (You'd need a different name, though, to counter negative connotations of the Libertarian party.) There are plenty of areas where (broadly speaking) either liberals or conservatives would like to see less (or no) government involvement. A few simplistic examples:
  • Reproductive issues
  • Recreational drugs
  • Gun ownership
  • Business and environmental regulations
The first tricky part would be getting people to recognize that "reducing government involvement" has to apply to things you oppose, as well as things with which you agree. The second tricky part would be building consensus about where government simply has to be involved -- there are tasks only government can handle, and freedoms which can't be absolute.

I have no idea how anyone could make it happen in today's political climate, but I think if people could magically forget which side they're on and take a more objective look at where government should and should not play a role, many of them would find themselves in a political center they could live with.

Those who couldn't adopt this view might themselves on the fringes.

And now, I'll put the bong away and return to reality.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by senoy View Post
... Tariffs are another example. Even five years ago, liberals espoused tariffs as a way to deal with human rights violators and labor abuse and free trade was seen as predominantly benefiting large corporations at the expense of the working classes. Now though, you'd think that tariffs were arch-conservative positions that must be fought to the death.
This is misleading, I think. Both the Ds and Rs have generally supported free trade. Opposition to free trade was the issue that allowed the rise of Perot's strong 3rd party. Much of Trump's electoral success came, as did Perot's, from a populist trade position opposed to both D and R traditions.

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Originally Posted by JB99 View Post
... Senoy has it right. The actual policy positions might be the LEAST important thing about American politics, because most Americans are dumb mother fuckers whose only concern is whether the idea belongs to “their” side.
I'm afraid I must agree with this partly. To a horrifying extent the divide in America is no longer between left and right, but between smart and stupid. How in tarnation do you compromise between smart and stupid? If the "left" wants to teach children that H. sapiens evolved 200,000 years ago and the "right" says 6000 years, do you "compromise" and say 103,000 years ago? If one side says Obama was born in Hawaii, the other Kenya do you split the difference and agree on Borneo?

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Originally Posted by Akaj View Post
I think a true libertarian approach would actually attract a lot of people from both sides and create a workable political center. (You'd need a different name, though, to counter negative connotations of the Libertarian party.) There are plenty of areas where (broadly speaking) either liberals or conservatives would like to see less (or no) government involvement. A few simplistic examples:
  • ...
  • Business and environmental regulations
So. You think centrists and "liberals" want to reduce regulations for clean water, safe food etc.? You think centrists and "liberals" are happy the protections against consumer abuse are being rolled back by the GOP? I guess you can take the capitalization out of Libertarianism but you can't take the crazy out.
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  #9  
Old 09-14-2018, 04:16 PM
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  • ...
NETA: I abbreviated other "libertarian" goals with "..."

I find the libertarian appeals very misguided, insidious.
* "If you like to smoke to dope, you'll like to rollback consumer protection."
* "If you don't want government grabbing your guns, you don't want government keeping your water clean."
Proposing libertarianism as a "solution" to America's political schism would make me laugh if it weren't clear that many Americans are ignorant enough to fall for it.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:18 PM
senoy senoy is offline
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This is misleading, I think. Both the Ds and Rs have generally supported free trade. Opposition to free trade was the issue that allowed the rise of Perot's strong 3rd party. Much of Trump's electoral success came, as did Perot's, from a populist trade position opposed to both D and R traditions.
A simplification maybe. Democrats have always been divided. Trade unionists and the radical left have always opposed 'free trade' in the conservative and libertarian sense. Democratic centrists who pulled their coalition from wealthy white professionals were more in favor of them. The Clinton's were obviously pro-free trade. NAFTA was one of their babies. The progressive wing of the party never bought in.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:18 PM
etasyde etasyde is offline
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
NETA: I abbreviated other "libertarian" goals with "..."

I find the libertarian appeals very misguided, insidious.
* "If you like to smoke to dope, you'll like to rollback consumer protection."
* "If you don't want government grabbing your guns, you don't want government keeping your water clean."
Proposing libertarianism as a "solution" to America's political schism would make me laugh if it weren't clear that many Americans are ignorant enough to fall for it.
Damnit, this site needs a +1 button so I can smash that thing to oblivion. I know we're not reddit, but some posts deserve credit.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
So. You think centrists and "liberals" want to reduce regulations for clean water, safe food etc.? You think centrists and "liberals" are happy the protections against consumer abuse are being rolled back by the GOP? I guess you can take the capitalization out of Libertarianism but you can't take the crazy out.
Well, I'm a centrist liberal, and I certainly don't want to reduce protections for clean water and consumer abuse. (And FTR, I think the current administration is acting criminally on both counts.) But I also recognize that one person's consumer protection is another person's government overreach. And I (perhaps naively) believe reasonable people can agree that the line can be drawn somewhere.

(takes another metaphorical bong hit)

Imagine, if you will, a future where we no longer have screaming matches about gun control and abortion. Why? Because my imaginary Centrist Party got conservatives to agree to unrestricted first-trimester abortions in exchange for liberals agreeing to unrestricted ownership of firearms below certain caliber and capacity limits.

I know this will never happen. But the OP asked for a common ground that might come together to make the country better. This is my answer. I never said it was plausible.
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Old 09-14-2018, 05:18 PM
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OK, Akaj. I thought your post was OK ... until you decided to throw deregulation and rollback of environmental protection into the mix.
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Old 09-14-2018, 06:04 PM
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OK, Akaj. I thought your post was OK ... until you decided to throw deregulation and rollback of environmental protection into the mix.
In dreamland, everything's on the table.
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Old 09-14-2018, 07:03 PM
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In dreamland, everything's on the table.
Not if you're trying to claim your dreamland will "create a workable political center".
  #16  
Old 09-16-2018, 10:38 AM
Textual Innuendo Textual Innuendo is offline
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I am very curious about what is or isn't a common ground cause (Centrist), politically, that may result in a greater population of people joining together to actually make this country better?
Honestly, the only thing I think that would both A) be appealing to enough people on both sides, and B) have a tiny chance of changing things for the better, is running on a platform of complete and drastic change to our political system.

Something like:

1. All current federally elected politicians are kicked out and banned from ever being elected again

2. Drastic campaign finance reform and bans on any outside organization paying for advertising and bans on politicians moving to industries they regulated after office means no more money in politics

3. No more first past the post voting, so we're not locked into two parties


I think at least 1 and 2 may get a good chunk of support from both sides, and hopefully 3 can come along for the ride.

But overall, I'd only give this a 10% chance of changing things for the better. After all, like septimus points out, fully half of Americans are literally voting for stupidity and lies with 100% tribal-driven buy-in, and there's no reason to think their gullibility and proclivities would change even if our electoral systems changed for the better.

But really, I think that's where we're at. "Burn it all down and try again," and I think a good chunk of the electorate would agree.
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Old 09-16-2018, 01:30 PM
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...
2. Drastic campaign finance reform and bans on any outside organization paying for advertising and bans on politicians moving to industries they regulated after office means no more money in politics
...
I like Mr. Innuendo's entire post, but have highlighted an important key. Congress is dominated by campaign finance. It is said that even the honest Congresscritters need to spend way too much of their time soliciting donations throughout their term, not just in election season.

It may not be clear how best to reduce the influence of money, but many thought that the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act ("McCain–Feingold Act") was an intelligent approach that had some merit. Unfortunately this was struck down in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) by a 5-4 vote.

Perhaps the Democrats are trying to run on the issue of campaign finance reform:
Quote:
As the midterms approach, Democrats appear to be coalescing around an anti-corruption message.

Today, Democrats are promising a small-donor campaign finance matching system, as the third and most transformative plank of Democrats’ Better Deal for Democracy program, developed by Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes.
... In the proposal, Democrats are committing to a small-donor matching system that would transform how campaigns are financed, by creating a six-to-one public match for every dollar raised in small-dollar contributions. Rather than spending their time calling rich people and attending fundraisers on K Street, individual members would have a greater incentive to do fundraising events back in their districts. As a result, they’d get a very different sense of the most important problems facing the country.

Rep. Sarbanes is right that the Democrats can’t just casually message on this. They have to commit. As he put it, “This reform message is not something you just wear for the evening, this is something you own.”

The road to reform is challenging. But momentum is slowly building. There is now, for the first time in more than a decade, a real chance that good politics and good policy can actually come together in democracy reform. This is significant.
Too optimistic? Perhaps. But we must hope for something, lest we start thinking that solutions involving explosives are not entirely unreasonable.
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