Guy W. Farmer: We’re stuck with two minority parties
For the Nevada Appeal
Last Sunday I wrote about the kind of divisive rhetoric that leads to political gridlock in Washington, D.C., and around the country. I call this a “my way or the highway” approach to politics in which extreme ideology trumps constructive political compromise, a bad word on the far left and the far right.
Last week I quoted our new Northern Nevada congressman, Carson City Republican Mark Amodei, on what he’s discovered since arriving in our nation’s capital a couple of months ago. In an interview with the Appeal, Amodei said he has encountered much more partisanship in Washington than he did in Carson, where he served in the state Legislature for 14 years.
“It seems like it’s politics first, facts and issues second,” Amodei told the Appeal. “When it’s to the exclusion of what the facts are, how do you move the ball down the field?” Good question, Mark. Let’s try to answer it.
Not long ago the New York Times’ token conservative, David Brooks, wrote a column titled “The Two Moons” in which he resurrected an obscure theory about our “political solar system.” At any moment, he wrote, there is a Sun Party (the majority party, which drives the political agenda) and a Moon Party (the minority), which shines by reflecting solar rays. But today, he continued, “both parties have become minority parties simultaneously (and) we’re living in the era of two moons and no sun,” an interesting theory, to say the least. I think he’s on to something important.
According to recent Allstate/National Heartland polls, up to 40 percent of Americans have consistently supported the view that government is more of a problem than a solution to the nation’s challenges; another 30 percent have backed the Democrats’ view that government must take an active role in the economy; and the remaining 30 percent of American voters are “agnostic,” open to government intervention but skeptical about its results. That’s where I am on the political spectrum these days, and I think we agnostics – you could also call us moderates – will determine the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.
Those on the far left (MoveOn.org, for example) and the far right (the Tea Party, for example) “fear that they’ll lose their identity and cohesion if their members compromise with the larger world,” Brooks wrote. “They erect clear and rigid boundaries separating themselves from their enemies.” Well, if that’s what the Republicans decide to do by nominating an extreme right-wing presidential candidate, they’ll hand a second term to President Barack Obama, the most unpopular president in recent memory.
As I write, Republicans seem to be committing political suicide by backing a shopworn Washington insider, Newt Gingrich, for president. The ego-centric Gingrich, who thinks he’s much smarter than everyone else, carries so much political baggage that he turns off the independent voters who will decide the 2012 election.
So I hope the GOP will nominate someone I can vote for. Is that too much to hope for? Maybe so. Stay tuned.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is the Nevada Appeal’s senior political columnist.