How popular are those Tea Parties you’ve been hearing about? So popular that now
. The phenomenally wealthy New York Times columnist, fresh from “a week in Silicon Valley, talking with technologists from Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco and SRI,” has had it with our two-party system. What America needs, Friedman writes, is a third party of the “radical center,” one that will “challenge our stagnating two-party duopoly.”
According to Friedman, “at least two serious groups”—presumably within his usual plutocrat/technocrat circles—are planning third-party challenges, because it is time for a “superconsensus to do the superhard stuff we must do now.” What might this Party of Everyone, and its agenda, look like?
[A] serious third party that will talk about education reform, without worrying about offending unions; financial reform, without worrying about losing donations from Wall Street; corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left; energy and climate reform, without worrying about offending the far right and coal-state Democrats; and proper health care reform, without worrying about offending insurers and drug companies.
In other words, what America desires, by happy coincidence, is a Party of Stuff That Is Important to Thomas Friedman. If only your existing government would get out of the way, this party could move forward, building on the success of the Friedman policy aims that have already been implemented, such as unrestricted global trade and the
. What else could this broke, dispirited, and war-weary nation ask for?
The beauty of all the listed prescriptions is that they are, by Friedman’s definition, both obviously necessary and obviously popular. The banner of Reform waves back and forth, in all its question-begging glory. Education must be made better! The financial system must be made better! The climate must be made better!
Do you disagree with Thomas Friedman? You would prefer bad education, a defective financial system, and a worse climate. No wonder all of America is against you.
Why are our two parties so bad? Why can’t they agree with the American public that corporate taxes must be cut, and also that we need tougher environmental laws? Among Friedman’s case studies in the inadequacy of our system is the new health-care law. It is, he writes:
a suboptimal amalgam of tortured compromises that no one is certain will work or that we can afford (and doesn’t deal with the cost or quality problems)
How did we get stuck with a suboptimal product like this? Clearly, it was because our corrupt duopoly refused to honor the desires of the radical center. If only the people who wanted a weaker health-care bill and the people who wanted a stronger health-care bill could be allowed to come together, in their mutual dissatisfaction. Then America would see some real reform.