You may or may not have heard of the California Moderate Party. If you have, there’s a good chance you don’t take it seriously.
Here’s the idea: there’s currently no political base for independents, moderate liberals, and moderate conservatives. We’re trying to get these folks to get behind this effort because politics – if anything – is about organization. To be sure, increasingly sophisticated organization on the left and right over the past ten years is what has led us to our current state of gridlock.
Have you ever thought about the degree to which our our political system is pathological from the voters’ perspective? If you work in the industry or have ever studied game theory, it all makes sense. That is, what’s often in the best interests of everyone is not in the the self-interest of anyone.
Moderates aren’t Pollyannas, nor are we googoos. We’re realists who believe that compromise is the only way we can move forward. There are leaders out there who want to see change, but are afraid to take a risk. And it’s not that they lack political courage; it’s that they lack a constituency.
That’s why this movement – were it ever to get off the ground – would be so disruptive to the status quo. I launched this effort because I became burned out from what seemed like an unnecessarily tedious task to make government more innovative. The upshot is that if it doesn’t work out, I likely won’t ever be able to work again in politics which is no sweat off my back. If I’m ever feeling sadistic, there are plenty of other options available.
Of course, it was just this week that I attended Tim Hodson’s memorial service and I can’t help but be reminded of the values he tried to instill in all of his students; namely, the importance of public service and moral character. While I can’t remember the exact context, he once said to me, “Ash, you’re a reformer.” I really don’t know what he meant by that at the time, but I suppose it’s an apropos description of someone attempting to start a new political party.
Moderate means different things to different people, but for most it means some central point on a single axis political spectrum. That’s certainly not our interpretation. Our view is better desribed as an attempt to temper the magnitude of ideology on political decision-making. Moderates can, in fact, have a point of view. But the corollary entails a willingness to find options for mutual gain with those who come from a different perspective.
Everyone wants to believe that their worldview is correct; that they have all the answers. Before you go and accuse me of being a hypocrite, keep reading. There are some information sources that are more credible than others. For example, if you were in search of concrete facts, would you rather turn to Mac Taylor or Jean Ross? John Myers or Jon Coupal? I think you get my point.
It’s not that Ross or Coupal don’t provide value to policy debates, but rather the fact that they’re advocates with biased perspectives. That might make for good politics, but sometimes it’s more important to solve problems than argue about what ought to be the proper size and scope of government.
Here’s the conundrum I’ve been trying to overcome over the past few months: those individuals who are the most receptive to the idea of a moderate political party are those who are least inclined to help make it happen. But think about it for a second, once a political party obtains ballot access, the only thing a voter needs to do is check a box on their voter registration form (and hopefully turnout to vote for moderates).
Let me be clear: we will need defectors. Not necessarily right now, but after we qualify in 2014. I’m just facilitating a process to connect courageous leaders with the constituency they need. If you’re a skeptic, stay skeptical. But if the idea of incentivizing problem solving appeals to you, then let’s talk. I can’t do this by myself.
Think different. Be moderate.