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Perception and Politics. How the GOP and Democratic Party Have It AllWrong.

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Here are two statements.

1. Romney and Obama are in a very close race for the Presidency.

2. “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

The first of those statements paraphrases the current – early state – of the General Election campaign ahead. The second is from this article in the Washington Post.

The only way that both can be true, and they are both true, is to include a third statement – this one mine – to the mix.

3. Supporters of the Republican Party don’t know, or choose not to accept or be influenced by what the GOP has become and what it proposes for the country if it achieves the power to implement its policy platforms. They feel – quite simply – that they have nobody else to vote for because they perceive the other party is too “extreme”.

In other words, there is a profound disconnect between perception and politics.

Mainstream GOP supporters diverge from their party’s stated goals and yet continue to support them. And the proof? Courtesy of Frank Luntz, also in the Washington Post. To paraphrase, most conservatives are actually mainstream Republicans. Or to put it another way, the party may moved to the far right, but the body of its supporters – except on the fringes – have not.  The reason the GOP has moved to the right is that the fringe has hijacked the political center, courtesy of Grover Norquist and the Tea Party among others. The Whip is wagging the dog. The GOP has become its own mini police state, which enforces the new extreme positioning based on fear at the expense of the orthodoxy of old. Lugar’s orthodoxy, for want of a better phrase.

The mirror, however, does not apply in quite the same way to the Democratic Party.

The Progressive wing of the Democrats rails endlessly on social media and in Zaccotti Park, for changes that are unlikely to ever occur, but Obama and the Democrats in Congress far more closely match the centrist positioning of most Democratic leaning voters. But even though the Progressive fringe of the Democratic Party has had precious little success in altering wider party policy, it has been used, quite brutally, as a weapon to define the entire Democratic Party as “socialist”. And the mainstream of the Democrats, terrified of schism and divide and loss of support has not fought back to discredit the left.

The horrible truth for the politically driven is this. Most Democratic and GOP voters essentially believe versions of the same “American” thing. What prevents politics from moving into a post-partisan “American” haze is the GOP as a whole pushing rightwards, and the noisy Progressive wing of the Democratic Party pushing left, which prevents the mainstream of the Democratic Party from forging a more complete connection to voters beyond its base.

Or to put it another way, it’s the outliers in each party who are calling the shots and creating the ‘divide’, leaving the middle beholden to their perceptions of the other side. And those perceptions are forged by the fringes.

Now more than ever, America truly does need a third way, an “American Way”, and if it were able to overcome the cynical, entrenched, and legally supported power of the two party system, it could use the new power of the Internet to take control and free up our constitutionally gridlocked system.

Here is my humble contribution to The American Party platform. Feel free to chime in with yours.


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Written by coolrebel

April 28, 2012 at 12:59 am

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