After rereading my recent post, I found myself disagreeing with it. The article implies that a third party can be constructed to attract the middle and overwhelm or at least compete with the other two. While I grant it is possible for something new to emerge, that it not really what I am thinking.
I am very comfortable with there being two different camps of opinions about what should be done. I have no problem identifying with one or the other side.
There is however a third party that is currently absent in the discussion. This is not another faction.
The model I have in mind is a debate. Two sides may argue their cases. To best argue, each side emphasizes the strongest of their points and the weakest of their opponents. This is great. Fight it out as thoroughly as you can.
What is missing is the acknowledgement of an audience, in particular that audience’s need for a decision.
One conclusion of the debate is that one of the sides delivers a knock-out argument where the opponent drops his argument and joins the other.
We always hope for such a solution because it makes decision easy. It is like a boxing match that is decided by a knockout. No question the winner is the one left standing.
Many boxing matches end with both contestants still standing. At some point the bell is rung an a decision has to be made when both sides are still standing. The decision is made by a third party: the judges although the audience may have their own opinions.
In government, the third party is obligations on the government to pass legislation on the nation’s priorities. One of these obligations on the government is the passing of a budget each year following a debate. The debate needs to happen, but at some point a bell must be rung and a budget passed.
In recent years this decision-making part has been neglected. The government found a ways to avoid making a decision by extending previous decisions such as budget continuing resolutions. While this meets the need for having some budget, it completely neglects the need to come to a new conclusion based on new arguments or facts.
This is like deciding the boxing match by declaring the winner as the fighter who last knocked out his opponent. The more recent fight was a complete waste of time. While such a decision may work once, it is likely to draw a smaller paying audience for the next fight.
Perhaps part of the reason there is decreasing interest in politics by the political middle is that the process has become as much a waste of time as the hypothetical fighting match decided by the most recent historical fight that resulted in a knockout.
The business of government is to conclude the fight between competing interests with a solution that satisfies a working majority. It should be crime when the government refuses to come to a decision when the time comes to make that decision based on the current arguments presented, attacked, and defended.
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