The Purple Party
April 19, 2006 2:29 PM   Subscribe

The Purple Party
Why can’t we have a serious, innovative, truth-telling, pragmatic party without any of the baggage of the Democrats and Republicans?

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.
posted by frogan (36 comments total)

'Scuse me...

Building the Frankencandidate
posted by frogan at 2:34 PM on April 19, 2006

What's their stance on allowing Sikhs to carry religious daggers in school?
posted by Operation Afterglow at 2:39 PM on April 19, 2006

The Naked Simple Truth Why This Won't Work (imho):

Moderates are too easy-going to start a political party. We have no zealots, thus no serious drive. The people who froth at the mouth about these issues (on both sides) are the ones who get things going.

That being said, I'd vote for anyone, anywhere who said they were purple party. GO TEAM!
posted by Parannoyed at 2:40 PM on April 19, 2006

I'm Purple Party.

No, not really.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:41 PM on April 19, 2006

Good article.

And I like the idea.

That's why I voted for the Purple Party when it was called the DLC.

Bill Clinton's Third Way.
posted by dios at 2:42 PM on April 19, 2006

Isn't this what Republicans always accuse the Democrats of being, inconsistent panderers with no core values, flip-flopping their positions with every new poll result? Say what you will about the tenets of Christian fundamentalism, at least it's an ethos.

I don't know that a public reminder to honor YHWH above all other gods is a matter of common sense, or "fine."
posted by BackwardsCity at 2:46 PM on April 19, 2006

Well, you could try it, but I think you'll be seriously dissapointed when you find out what passes for "common sense."
posted by Jatayu das at 2:52 PM on April 19, 2006

The "baggage" of the Republicans and Democrats includes the hard cash you need to run a state-wide campaign unless you're independently wealthy. Actually, beyond wealthy--if you have about $10 mil to burn.

Which isn't to poo-poo the idea in itself--a viable third party would be healthy for the country. But there's a reason there hasn't been one in America that's lasted more than two election cycles for a long while.

And with the disappearance of the economically conservative wing of the Republican party, things are worse than ever.
posted by bardic at 2:54 PM on April 19, 2006

BackwardsCity wins the award for hippest obscure Godwinization of a thread.
posted by adamrice at 2:56 PM on April 19, 2006

America has a non-parlimentary, winner-take-all electoral system. Any talk of a third party that does not address that fact is naive, simplistic rambling meant to assuage the egos of those who are "fed up" and want to justify tuning out or throwing their votes away on vanity candidates.
posted by teece at 2:58 PM on April 19, 2006

The problem with starting any new party, no matter what it claims to stand for, is Duverger's Law.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:03 PM on April 19, 2006

What teece and Steven C. Den Beste said is correct, but it ignores the fact that a strong showing by a third party will encorage one of the main parties to adopt some of the new party's positions. So while a third party would almost certainly sabotage it's goals in it's first presidential election (by spliting the vote with the main party closest to it's ideology), in the long run it may well influence the debate even if it doesn't survive.
posted by thrako at 3:11 PM on April 19, 2006

How many men will vote for a Purple Party?
posted by Postroad at 3:21 PM on April 19, 2006

I used to agree with you, thrako, but after 2000, I just can't see ever, ever risking splitting the vote again. I don't want to get into the argument about whether or not Nader caused Gore to lose but how can you risk letting more right-wing nut jobs into office just because you wanted to prove a point?
posted by octothorpe at 3:23 PM on April 19, 2006

What teece and Steven C. Den Beste said is correct, but it ignores the fact that a strong showing by a third party will encorage one of the main parties to adopt some of the new party's positions. So while a third party would almost certainly sabotage it's goals in it's first presidential election (by spliting the vote with the main party closest to it's ideology), in the long run it may well influence the debate even if it doesn't survive.

Did Perot or Wallace (I believe these are the most successful recent third-party Presidential candidates in America) encourage any of the main parties to adopt aspects of their ideologies?

Did Nader?

These aren't rhetorical questions. Maybe they did. I however, can't really think of how.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 3:28 PM on April 19, 2006

How many men will vote for a Purple Party?

If the purple was deep enough, they might do ok.

Of course, then we'd have to deal with the inevitable government handouts to the space truckin' industry...
posted by pinespree at 3:42 PM on April 19, 2006

Moderates are too easy-going to start a political party.

"Whadda we want?"

"Informed rational debate on the topic at hand, with multiple opinions represented!"

"When do we want it?"

"At your earliest possible convenience!"
posted by tzikeh at 3:46 PM on April 19, 2006

I'd like the moderates to have a place to go so the Democrats can lose the voices that urge them toward purple-tinged moderate, wishy-washy waffling. I'd prefer my Dems more ultra blue, and with spines and sharp tongues. The only catch is that the lefty candidate has to learn to throw his/her votes at the last moment to the more moderate candidate if that's what's pragmatic. No Nadar pricks.
posted by tula at 4:07 PM on April 19, 2006

Should I run?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:18 PM on April 19, 2006

How many men will vote for a Purple Party?

About half of the state of Kansas.
posted by ozomatli at 4:27 PM on April 19, 2006

Why can’t we have a serious, innovative, truth-telling, pragmatic party without any of the baggage of the Democrats and Republicans?

Because we have what we want.
posted by larry_darrell at 4:37 PM on April 19, 2006

The problem with a "moderate" party is that most everyone's moderate, whatever that means, on different issues. To pick a few, it's possible to subscribe to "centrist" views on the economy and crime – that is, basically pro-market, pro-death penalty, three-strikes laws, vague suspicion of environmentalists – while both supporting all measures taken by the Bush admin in the War on Terror and being an iron-clad pro-choicer. It's what they weigh as most important that determines where they'll vote. And that can lead to surprising results. For example, I'm pretty far left on many issues, and I'm aware that McCain is staunchly right-wing, but if I actually believed he would usefully reform the machinery of government (save it, guys, I don't), then I would vote for him and eat four years of other policies I don't like just to get that done. People have different priorities. This guy too. You can read it in the third page of this guy's article. He's cherry-picking. Hate to say it but you can't just blow off Americans' reflexive aversion to the word "socialism" and remain purple.
posted by furiousthought at 4:51 PM on April 19, 2006

I identify as a strong moderate. Do you know how many friends that has won me over the years? Zero. It's impossible to get people excited about compromise. I feel like a constant party pooper- in any given situation, I'm the guy saying, "Sorry, you can't have it ALL your way." Nobody likes that guy. At best, they'll grudgingly agree with him, but they'll never love him for it.

People like to get excited and passionate and worked up over things. They like to see the world in philosophically pure terms, even though the real world is built on dirty compromises.

All that aside, I like what Anderson has to say. The only flaw in his logic is the very nature of moderates - we're pragmatic. If we see a third party candidate who promises to give us what we want, we'll still probably vote for a major party since that is the choice most likely to yield a positive result.

The only way I could see his Purple Party succeeding would be if a really strong candidate rose to great popularity in a short span of time, kind of like a replay of Howard Dean's 2003 victories minus his 2004 humiliation.

Who knows? With the internet, anything's possible.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:50 PM on April 19, 2006

What I'm surprised no one's mentioned here is that a great many political adherents think that the honest, common sense, middle ground party that takes only inherently obvious positions already exists. And, lucky day, it's their party! Hooray!

Most radicals are pretty sure that you're a radical.
posted by Simon! at 7:24 PM on April 19, 2006

This article is incoherent---one party is hateful and bad, and the other is wimpy, so let's go elsewhere? Then furthermore assuming that people will leave both those parties--and their couches, for the millions of nonvoters--to go to a party that falls somewhere vaguely in the middle? That's supposed to be appealing and motivating? (and he repeats every single GOP talking point on Democrats, and ignores every single proposal and bill and amendment killed by the GOP Congress, on every single possible issue, these past few years)
posted by amberglow at 7:33 PM on April 19, 2006

he'd really be better off ending the 2-party/winner-take-all/electoral college-dominated/corrupt voting systems/etc first, and then starting a 3rd party, or building on independent parties and existing 3rd parties--our 3rd-party candidates with any strength have always just been individuals and not parties at all--it's been entirely personality-(and disgust)driven.

The real 3rd party already exists and it's called non-voters--It's the largest in the country.
posted by amberglow at 7:41 PM on April 19, 2006

I'm an anarchist, but I (generally) vote Libertarian. And yes, the LP supports runoff voting (or was it Condorcet?).
posted by Eideteker at 8:26 PM on April 19, 2006

The US does not have two (major) parties. It has one party with two faces and the hoi polloi laps up the false dichotomy: Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative, blue/red, Coke/Pepsi.

To propose a party of "moderates" is to embrace the absurd notion that all political attitudes can be situated on a one-dimensional line. The US does not need another political party. It needs a new metaphor for political identity.
posted by oncogenesis at 11:06 PM on April 19, 2006

There are a few problems with the idea of a "purple party." The first, and most obvious, is simple -- the notion that a center between the two US parties is a viable ground. On an actual (non-American) political scale, the "far left" Democrats rarely if ever fall to the left of center (most are to its right), while the Republicans are solidly on the right. Cluttering it up with a new center-right party is wholly redundant, because both parties today adequately serve their corporate funders. These don't want or need a new political party; they prefer to get everything they can out of the existing two.

Second, "common sense" is neither. Most of what passes for it is a complex of assumptions based on one's experiences and ideology. These assumptions are not universal, so there is no reason to think that political parties will be based upon it.

Third, running as a third party is not a useful method of changing American politics. This is because the major parties have several orders of magnitude more money, media sway, and a far better infrastructure, including the fact that they've both been major parties for at least a hundred and fifty years. The voter recognition alone makes dreams of just voting away the two big parties utopian without a complete change in mindset. (n.b.: I do not rule this out, but under the comfortable assumptions of the "Purple Party" thesis, this is absurd. The forces that finally rid us of the Democrats and the Republicans will be nothing short of tremendous.) Whenever the most limited success seems possible, these parties use their stranglehold on local government to marginalize other parties.

That said, I do vote for third parties -- usually ones that use the "s" word (I am, after all, a socialist). Though I'd vote for the Labor Party in a second if they ran candidates in my area.
posted by graymouser at 3:59 AM on April 20, 2006

yeah, that article was depressingly simplistic, and basically just kept saying, these guys we like are authentic (basically, moderate liberals plus john mccain). The big problem is what people perceive as 'authentic' or 'middle ground'. Some people did think gwbush was those things. Some people think being moderate is good while others think it's a sign of "having no principles" or being "wishy-washy" or a flip-flopper. It's pretty dumb to imagine all we have to do is set up a new moderate candidate and everyone will be happy. people on the left will think it's too right wing and people on the right will think it's too left wing, and plenty of people in the middle will think the candidate is moderate on the wrong issues! Is giving up roe v wade in deference to state rights being "moderate" or "caving to fundamentalism"? etc. Remember that in the 2000 election the problem was not that there was no one in the "middle", it was that too many people thought the candidates were too similar.

basically, this guy seems to think that if only his perfect candidate would run, the majority would see the wisdom of his politics. but it's not that simple. Our differences in this country are real, and for some people, very important. I don't have a solution, but I do know this is just avoiding the problem.
posted by mdn at 5:07 AM on April 20, 2006

How many men will vote for a Purple Party?

posted by kirkaracha at 6:08 AM on April 20, 2006

Start Wearing Purple
posted by mike3k at 7:47 AM on April 20, 2006

In the late 90s, it looked like Minnesota had sprouted a viable moderate third party when Ventura became Governor; there was a brief moment where there was talk of mass defections to the Reform/Independence party within the state legislature, and even an election cycle where most races included a 3rd party candidate.

It just didn't work. There's too much structural inertia for the 2-party system. After Ventura left office, the 2002 Gubernatorial election was sort of a mess, with essentially 3 different options on the left (DFL, Independence, and Green) and one on the right. I believe there's exactly one Independence party member of the state legislature, and she's a former Republican who ditched the party because of personal conflicts with the state party leadership.

There was a similar blip of apparent Green Party viability around the same time in Minneapolis (yeah, not a moderate 3rd party, but still a 3rd party), when a chunk of the city council went Green; that's also receding into the distance as the DFL asserts control.

Third parties are a lovely idea, but they just don't seem to work, even here in a place that's unusually receptive to weird political experiments.
posted by COBRA! at 8:13 AM on April 20, 2006

Third parties are a lovely idea, but they just don't seem to work, even here in a place that's unusually receptive to weird political experiments.

The truly ironic thing is that if a "third party" actually succeeded in American politics, the result would be the elimination of one of the other two parties. We'd go right back to a two-party system, with a new face in the game and some tricky realignment.

None of the third parties actually understand American political dynamics like this, so I can't take them seriously.
posted by teece at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2006

I’m with teece ( on the mechanics.
(Populist Party, Anti-Masonic Party,Dixiecrats, Patriot Party, Voter Rights Party, Reform Party, etc. etc.)

“blunt and plainspoken, allergic to cant, averse to obfuscation...He assails the hypocrites and hypocrisies rife on both the right and left...he’s recognizably human. His résumé is flawed, his family life imperfect; he’s made mistakes and keeps on making to admit his errors and explain how he’s learned from them...question to which he doesn’t have an answer, he utters a phrase—“I don’t know”

Crap, that sounds like me. I make mistakes all the time. There’s tons of things I don’t know. (like why would you use the term ‘averse to obfuscation’ in explaining candor and clarity - unless you were a wiseass?)

We don’t seem to treat the political system as a solid apparatus. People keep changing the constants to jiggle the measurements in their favor. We should treat it more as a science. Keep all the variables down to a minimum then experiment with policy ‘X’. Changes would be slow, but you’d keep your gains.
Of course no one lives long enough to maintain that as a status quo. Some schmuck always comes in with a new order and changes everything.

But hell, the U.S. is an experiment anyway.

I suppose the thing to do would be to get in office in a traditional way and then pull a switcheroo.

I don’t know how we’d change the mechanics of the system tho without a serious movement or a revolution.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:58 PM on April 20, 2006

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