Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York and a liberal on most issues, has a column in Huffington Post (read) that claims this is the moment for a third party. The impetus, claims Koch, is the lackluster Obama presidency. Koch’s money quote: “The centrists of this country — liberals with sanity like myself and so-called compassionate conservatives — together constitute a huge majority of voters. If we join together, if only for this upcoming presidential election, we could make a difference. We could elect a president concerned about us and we could throw out a majority of the incumbents in Congress and elect people who will truly represent and promote our interests. Let’s at least try.”
Koch is welcome to try, and he’ll have a lot of help from groups such as The Coffee Party and No Labels, organizations that profess to moderates free from the taint of tea or whiff of progressivism, although they spare far more criticism for conservatives than liberals. (Ask a No Labelist for their opinion about Sarah Palin and then President Obama and you’ll see what I mean).
I like Koch; he’s a good, earnest public servant, and I’m not maligning my liberal and moderate friends, but there is already a third force that has risen in this nation and effected a major change in this nation’s thinking. It is the Tea Party. And like any organization that shakes up the established order of action and thinking it is being hit back at hard — and with incredible anger — by the status quo.
Example is the debt limit debate. So-called moderates are furious that the automatic raising of the debt limit — which the administration wanted months ago — turned into a long debate that resulted in the debt limit deal that brings automatic cuts if Congress can’t agree to reduce spending or add revenue in a few months. But that was the type of action accomplished by a third force that will bring real change.
It was not reckless to bring the debt limit debate to the last minute. Fighting the status quo, which the Tea Party initiated, was a significant change that roiled many in politics and commentary to anger.
The Tea Party is far from perfect; it needs to acknowledge that we need more tax revenue, for example. But it is the third force for change that Koch seeks, and it will, ironically, probably be resisted fiercely for a long time by establishmentarians masquerading as third-option reformers.