I’ve had a lot of arguments with wingers over the years, and while I’ll admit some are brownshirts and/or racists, I’ve also spoken to a lot of people who seemed nice and well-meaning and reasonably informed but who I just didn’t agree with. Maybe they’re right about some things, maybe in 200 years everyone will agree that a flat tax was the way to go. Stranger things have happened. I wouldn’t bet my life against it.
Aside from underestimating the attachment of Americans to the two major parties, and the structural barriers to successful third parties that exist throughout our political system, the most common problem with third-party fantasies is that they stipulate some sort of common ground for widely disparate people with various grievances against the major parties. Most recently and notoriously, this has led many writers to imagine a third-party coalition focused on a deficit hawkish agenda of tax increases and entitlement “reforms” that is even more unpopular than the existing parties. And for reasons that elude me, a lot of folks impressed with the GOP’s unpopularity don’t seem to notice that about half of rank-and-file Republicans consistently think the party’s not conservative enough, a view that isn’t exactly consistent with some “centrist” third party drawing from both parties.
Indeed, I can’t get through the high-brow stuff about how third parties can’t exist in a “first past the post” system (mostly because the phrase “first past the post” annoys me so much), but I just don’t see how anyone other than Ron Fournier is going to get a real hard-on for eat-your-vegetables proposals. And even if they did — as Kilgore points out — how would you get all these narcissists to agree on exactly what counterintuitive/”tough minded” wanker policies they supported?
The not-so-sad truth is that no one loves a triangutard. That’s part of the reason libertarianism is so unsuccessful. “Freedom fuck yeah” might be a winner but no one outside Brookings and the Atlantic is interested in hearing why Megan McArdle does support national health care even though she wrote a piece called “Why I Am Against National Health Care”.
Not many people want to think that hard, and those that do usually have the sense to think hard about something less inherently nonsensical.
I’m disheartened to read that Ron Brownstein and James Fallows have been on the third-party bandwagon, but all in all the list of idiots here will amuse you.