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"We're People Without A Party"
We're not red-staters, or blue-staters, we're more...purple. Kurt Anderson writes in New York Magazine about people like me (and him) who are neither Democrats nor Republicans:

We are people without a party. We open-minded, openhearted moderates are alienated from the two big parties because backward-looking ideologues and p.c. hypocrites are effectively in charge of both. Both are under the sway of old-school clods who consistently default to government intrusion where it doesn’t belong—who want to demonize video-game makers and criminalize abortion and hate speech and flag-burning, who are committed to maintaining the status quos of the public schools and health-care system, and who decline to make the hard choices necessary (such as enacting a high gasoline tax or encouraging nuclear energy) to move the country onto a sustainable energy track. Both line up to reject sensible, carefully negotiated international treaties when there’s too much sacrifice involved and their special-interest sugar daddies object—the Kyoto Protocol for the Republicans, the Central American Free Trade Agreement for the Democrats.

...“Centrist” is a bit of a misnomer for the paradigm we envision, since that suggests an uninspired, uninspiring, have-it-both-ways, always-split-the-difference approach born entirely of political calculation. And that’s because one of the core values will be honesty. Not a preachy, goody-goody, I’ll-never-lie-to-you honesty of the Jimmy Carter type, but a worldly, full-throated and bracing candor. The moderation will often be immoderate in style and substance, rather than tediously middle-of-the-road. Pragmatism will be an animating party value—even when the most pragmatic approach to a given problem is radical.

Take health care. The U.S. system requires a complete overhaul, so that every American is covered, from birth to death, whether he is employed or self-employed or unemployed. What?!? Socialized medicine? Whatever. Half of our medical costs are already paid by government, and the per capita U.S. expenditure ($6,280 per year) is nearly twice what the Canadians and Europeans and Japanese pay—suggesting that we could afford to buy our way out of the customer-service problems that afflict other national health systems. Beyond the reformist virtues of justice and sanity, our party would make the true opportunity-society argument for government-guaranteed universal health coverage: Devoted as the Purple Party is to labor flexibility and entrepreneurialism, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to change jobs or quit to start their own businesses, and to do that we must break the weirdly neo-feudal, only-in-America link between one’s job and one’s medical care.

But the Purple Party wouldn’t use its populist, progressive positions on domestic issues like health to avoid talking about military policy, the way Democrats tend to do. We would declare straight out that, alas, the fight against Islamic jihadism must be a top-priority, long-term, and ruthless military, diplomatic, and cultural struggle.

We would be unapologetic in our support of a well-funded military and (depoliticized) intelligence apparatus, and the credible threat of force as a foreign policy tool. We would seldom accuse Democrats of being dupes and wimps or Republicans of being fearmongers and warmongers—but we would have the guts and the standing to do both.

And as we defend our country and civilization against apocalyptic religious fanatics for whom politics and religious belief are one and who consider America irredeemably heathen, we will be especially keen about adhering to the Founders’ (and, for that matter, Christ’s) ideal concerning the separation of religion and politics—to render to government the things that are its and to God the things that are his. Our party will enthusiastically embrace people of all religious beliefs, but we will never claim special divine virtue for our policies—we’ll leave that to the Pat Robertsons and Osama bin Ladens. Where to draw the line is mostly a matter of common sense. Public reminders to honor one’s parents and love one’s neighbor, and not to lie, steal, or commit adultery or murder? Fine. Genesis taught as science in public schools, and government cosmologists forced by their PR handlers to give a shout-out to creationism? No way. Kids who want to wear crucifixes or yarmulkes or head scarves to those same schools? Sure, why not? And so on.

Our new party will be highly moral (but never moralistic) as well as laissez-faire. In other words, the Purple Party will be both liberal and American in the old-fashioned senses.

So: Are you in?

Posted by aalkon at May 5, 2006 10:35 AM

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This is your blog. What is your response to the last line?

Posted by: Oligonicella at May 5, 2006 6:24 AM

It sounds a lot like the Libertarian Party to me. Except for the government health care part, the ideals are pretty much the same. Unfortunately the LP's very sound limited-government philosophy is overshadowed by its reputation for being full of weirdos wearing tinfoil hats.

I like this purple party idea, although I wish they would at least give a truly free-market, non-government approach to health care some consideration. Many of the problems with the current system are BECAUSE of government meddling, not with a lack thereof. For example, a company with 100 employees on a group policy can rate that group as a single entity, but an insurance company has to rate individual policies on an individual basis - even if there are 20,000 that could be made into a group. It's also against the law, as another example, for me to buy health insurance that doesn't cover pregnancy and childbirth expenses, although it could certainly save me a bundle.

I haven't seen the government run ANYTHING in a way that even remotely resembled competence, and I imagine they'd screw up health care just as much as they do everything else. The free market, on the other hand, (when it's allowed to exist) has worked better than any other system to satisfy people. If a government-run healthcare system could actually be proven to work better, then fine - whatever works. But while I agree with everyone having health insurance, I cringe every time people suggest that a government program is the way to accomplish that. I mean, everyone now has a TV set without a government mandate ...

Anyway, I would certainly vote for the Purple Party over the current system of Republocrats, even if I disagree with it on one or two points. It would at least take us in the right direction in most other areas.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at May 5, 2006 7:25 AM

Of course, I'm in. But, where's the candidate? It made me ill to choose between Bush and Kerry. This is a big country. That detritus was the best we had to offer?

By the way, I think we should have government-paid health care for the very poor, but that everybody else should pay their own damn way, and that it should not be tied to employment. Once again, people who aren't married (with five kids) get screwed with that format -- because that worker is bleeding much more from the system. Single-payer, get your own damn health insurance like I do, is what I advocate.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2006 8:16 AM

I completely agree about keeping health insurance separate from employment. It should work just like your auto insurance or homeowners insurance. The situation we have now is left over from yet another example of inappropriate meddling on the part of the government - wage caps set during the Depression. Employers had to find some way to attract employees when they couldn't pay them as much as they wanted, so they started offering health insurance as a benefit. Now we have a sanctified class of people who get group coverage through their employers and who get all kinds of protection that people like you don't get.

Corporate drones with access to 401K benefits have another advantage over self-employed people - they can tax defer a lot more of their income. And then there's the issue with having to pay all your own Social Security taxes when you report to your own customers instead of to a pointy-haired manager.

Even our government school system conditions kids to work for the man in a cube farm!

For a country that became great because of its inventors, thinkers, and entrepreneurs, our system certainly does put those kinds of people at a disadvantage.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at May 5, 2006 8:52 AM

I resent the tax and benefits punishments for being self-employed. Is that how we foster entrepreneurialism in this country?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2006 9:08 AM

Purple, pagan and proud.

Posted by: dano at May 7, 2006 9:40 PM

Re: Kerry in 2004 - Kerry was the guy who single-handedly took down the BCCI despite the Republicans and old guard Dems not going along with his program. Kerry volunteered to go to VN despite being fully capable of escaping it. Kerry was a leader of the anti-VN movement later despite the obvious effect that he knew it would have on his career. I haven't forgotten that he voted for the Iraq war but I understand why he did it and further understand that if he had voted against it the national hysteria would have turned on him. I think he was and is a better choice than Hillary Clinton, but not as good a choice as Albert Gore. (Though it doesn't look like Gore will run again.) He seems to realize the bind that we the middle and working classes are in. He has the stature and the intellectual resources to deal with foreign leaders. (Compare Bush...) I disagree with Molly Ivins on this point - I'd like to see Kerry run again. Please not Hillary - look at her current positions - it's triangulation all over again.

Posted by: dano at May 7, 2006 9:54 PM

Sorry, but you lost me at the Kyoto Protocol. It should more accurately be called "The Kyoto Protocol to transfer funds from the the US taxpayer to various UN bureaucracies." Accepting that bogus treaty - signed by Al Gore and pre-emptively rejected by the Senate 95-0 - is to be considered the middle ground between Repubs and Demos? I sincerely hope not.

I'll pass.

Posted by: Conscious of the Senate at May 8, 2006 10:19 AM

Whether you're opposed to a point here or there, we're still overdue for another party actively participating in politics in this country.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 8, 2006 10:53 AM

Don't be silly, be a smarty, come and join the Purple Party! (With apologies to Mel Brooks)

Peace, love & purple

Posted by: Purple Party at May 30, 2006 2:34 AM

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