Tuesday, April 11, 2006

An Open Letter to George Soros

Dear George,


I hope I can take the liberty of a first-name salutation. You've got a few bucks and it's well known that you take an interest in politics. I put it to you that it’s possible America would benefit from another 3rd-party alternative to Republicans and Democrats. Hard to make the case for your involvement while stumbling over formalities. Although we’ve never met, feel free to call me Jim.


SorosThis third-party thing isn’t a new idea and hasn’t been all that successful in the past. This seems to be a two-party country. We’ve had our Ralph Naders and Ross Perots from time to time, with even a Steve Forbes thrown in for comic relief, but they all had a fatal flaw. They all put themselves up as a third-party candidate for President.


Bad thinking. In your case, it's impossible thinking because you were born in Hungary and we require our candidates to be native-born. Doesn’t mean you can’t financially back the candidate of your choice and I assume you will, but I hope to impress upon you the need for an additional campaign.


We don’t need just a different party in power. Republicans and Democrats have failed us, each according to the moment. We need a change in the way politics is done in Washington and it wouldn’t take all that much to make it happen.


The Republicans, who have wandered so far from their original and well-founded beliefs in a conservatism that actually conserves something, share an almost even split in public support with the Democrats, who haven’t had a really  new and inspiring thought in forty years. But they are each enormously large, lumbering and deeply entrenched political organizations.


The intimidating organizational structure, political will and financial means it would take to offset the weight of a full-grown Democratic mule or Republican elephant consistently defeats third parties. Yet overcoming those supposedly impossible hindrances becomes no more than a finger-touch to the scale, once they are close to balance, near to cancelling one another out.


As they are now, among a disinchanted electorate.


Third-party presidential candidates are merely spoilers, a fact proven often enough we need no longer press the issue. But every sampling of voters reinforces the reality that large proportions of Republicans as well as Democrats are discouraged by their own, as well as the opposition party.


An opportunity not often stumbled upon in American politics.


It’s obviously far too late for your effective personal involvement in the November mid-terms. But 2008 is an entirely different matter. There's time between now and then to help this frustrated and divided nation, whose citizenship you have chosen to accept and whose principles you admire. What I propose is neither Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative in nature. It’s non-partisan, doesn’t require a majority in either house of the Congress and doesn’t even espouse a political doctrine.


That's why it has a real chance to shake off the encumbrances both parties have taken upon themselves. That's why, appealing to both liberal and conservative, this proposal has a chance to bring us truly representative government again. I don't think either a Democrat or a Republican could argue against that. In the words of Jefferson, it robs no man's pocket, breaks no man's leg.


What it does propose to do is return a sense of public empowerment into a political system that’s been radicalized beyond recognition. Here’s the basic outline, George, feel free to pencil in the margins.


  • Do some market research and come up with a party name, something with broad appeal and enough legs to become permanent. Your guys are good at that, it's what you pay them for.

  • Find, inspire and financially back candidates of a like-mind in House and Senate 2008 races in all fifty states. Like mind being those committed to independent thought and issues-based representation. No litmus test. Trust me on that, but I'll explain later.

  • Concentrate only on races where independent candidates have a reasonable chance of winning.

  • Sponsor a National Convention to hammer out a platform, dedicated not to narrow principle, but to independent, rational, bipartisan governance.

  • Devote your major financial commitment to that convention and the national advertising required to support candidacies based on its platform.

  • Win perhaps 10 Senate races and 50 House seats. Possibly more, but ten and fifty would be a smashing success.

You’re the guy with the money, so I guess you make the rules, but I would hope this 3rd party wouldn’t waste itself on get out of Iraq or balance the budget or stop lobbyist influence issues. There’s are more worthwhile flags out there under which to march.


My thought is that ‘Soros’ candidates (as an example) might be pro-life or pro-choice, but they would be dedicated to dialog on how best to bring the two sides of this issue together, rather than split even further. Candidates might be socially more liberal or conservative, depending on their constituency, but would be bound by no major party line enforcing their legislative vote.


That's the magic.


Think of the power that 10 Senators and 50 Representatives, voting conscience instead of party-line, could bring back to our eroded confidence in government. Such a power, waxing and waning depending on the political times and argument, might end the destructive and repetitive cycles of party dominance in Washington.


SenjimjeffordsConsider the impact of Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, when he changed his Republican affiliation to Independent in the U.S. Senate. Jeffords suddenly spoke with a much more powerful voice. He pioneered a single independence that made a singular difference. Suddenly, a party that steamrollered its Senators became aware of the need to address them individually.


Jeffords does not represent total independence from party within the Senate, but he points the way.


Congress hasn’t the courage to leave its feeding-tube payment by special interest, nor to back away from the terrible polarization of its party whips. But set free from the crushing grip of partisan politics, a small and independent membership could make the critical difference, might pull us back within the intended framework of representative government.


You could do it, George. What a far greater service to your country than mere support of a presidential candidate. 
____________________________________________


For more comments on Washington at work, see my personal web site.