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1.4.03

Kevin Drum has had a series of posts about not wanting to be associated with the extremism of the left. The consensus among Drum and those who have responded to him seems to be that, while the extremists of the right are more numerous and more powerful (they run the GOP in a way the Democrats' left wing can only dream of), moderate liberals get tarred with the sins of their neighbors to the left. (This may in fact be a result of the power of the right's extremists, who have the media apparatus to suggest that John Kerry and Joe Lieberman are only a step away from participating in the latest "vomit-in" or spiking some timber.) Drum's solution is for Democrats to repudiate the left wing and set themselves up as the representatives of the middle.

It seems to me that the Green Party could have a role in making this happen. Many people look at the Greens as a way of forcing the Democrats to listen to their left wing by threatening those votes -- exactly the opposite of the Clinton-DLC moderation Drum wants. But it's possible that a strong Green Party could help the Democrats slide to the center. The Dems would give up on the far left as a lost cause, and cease to pander to it. Meanwhile, it would make it easier to deflect accusations of extremism -- it's hard to call moderate liberals "communists" when there's an honest-to-goodness socialist party with national political clout. This disassociation with accusations of leftism would, I think, help to encourage moderate Republicans to jump ship, particularly those with a libertarian bent (assuming the reformed Democrats take up Dean-esque fiscal conservatism and Clintonian free trade).

The result would be a hard-left Green Party, a hard-right Republican Party, and a thoroughly centrist Democratic Party. This three-way split would probably necessitate using a sort of governing-coalition model in Congress (similar to the situation in most parliaments), in which the Democrats would ally with one of the wing parties to get the majority. This would provide the added benefit of ensuring project-continuity and moderation (because the Democrats would always be part of the leadership) while allowing voters to shake things up by shifting power alternately toward the Greens or Republicans.

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