Let’s Get This Party Started

The voters

Out from one side of the centrifuge pours a mixture of conservatives and progressives, moderates and many who don’t pay much attention to politics at all.

GOP, acquired

By 2020, Trump and the GOP had fused, and ownership of the party of Lincoln was officially transferred to Trump at the Republican National Convention. The Republican platform committee meeting was abandoned (likely the only GOP gathering all year that was actually canceled, under the pretext of safety). The actual adopted platform was that the committee “would have undoubtedly unanimously agreed to reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration.” Translated: “Our platform is anything Trump wants.” The rest of the platform yelled at Democrats and the press.

What is a political party for?

Political parties are valuable in our democracy, for organizing, and for putting out a worldview for debate. Those disagreements used to focus primarily on scale: how much to spend to address the climate crisis, the appropriate level for a minimum wage, how stringent the gun laws should be, the extent of needed subsidies for health care, farmers, or entrepreneurs.

What people can do

We can begin where we agree on goals. Then we can discuss means. To prepare for that, some New Year’s resolutions might help.

  • Let’s discern the difference between news and political talk. News describes events that happen, without editing to create a narrative. Political talk comprises valuable analysis, unfounded predictions, gossip, and snark. Most of the content on all-news channels is not actual news. Healthy adults know how to allocate nutrition versus dessert. Figure it out.
  • Let’s stop assuming we know the motivations of good-faith political opponents. That crosses the line between news and snark. When we agree about America, the rest is negotiation.
  • We can work together with people with whom we disagree and make progress on some cooler policies before we delve into the hot wedge issues. Let’s support that and focus less on whatever we’re not getting.
  • Let’s try to move the center a few degrees leftward of where it is now.

What parties can do

In a better political environment, the party should act as a sponsor, not a servant. Parties shouldn’t decide among nominees, but they could create some rules before candidates are printed on their primary ballots. Like home buyers who can walk away from their offers after inspections, political parties should not be forced to accept all candidates. Time will tell if the GOP wonders whether it should have created a rule or two in 2015.

What voters can do

Blue advocates should be happy to offer our hospitality to principled conservatives until a constructive opposition party is built or repaired. Democrats and Republicans can be grateful that the guardrails of our democracy withstood the tsunami this time, because we were lucky. It couldn’t be clearer that we need better guardrails.

What to do right away

So, Georgia, it’s time for you to speak up. The legendary Georgia bark is healing. We need your bark and your bite. Vote by January 5 for Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. If you’re not a Georgia voter, you can donate or help the two campaigns in other ways.

Permanent change comes from down the ballot

Presidential elections get a lot of deserved attention, but other contests create fundamental, long-lasting changes. The House of Representatives and Senate write the laws, and they don’t even need a president to sign a good one. The Senate confirms federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. These judges decide whether the congressional laws are constitutional, so their appointments matter nearly as much as the legislators who write the bills.

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