Third Way Perspectives

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Archive for November, 2011

Poll: It’s still the economy, stupid

November 30th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted in Politico.

Politics is now the enemy of problem solving. Want proof? Just look at the current gridlock in Washington.

The country is facing two big problems — the economy and the deficit. Those two issues demand conflicting solutions. Policies that could reduce the deficit are likely to make the economy worse. Policies that could jump-start the economy are likely to make the deficit worse.

The answer is to treat the economy as the more urgent problem in the short run and the deficit as a long-term problem. Why can’t we do that? Because of politics.

For the past year, Congress has been obsessed with the wrong problem. To voters, the real urgency is the economy. The deficit, not so much. Read the rest of this entry »

The False Promise of a Third-Party Candidacy

November 21st, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

You can’t win a horse race without a horse. That’s something people planning a third party campaign in 2012 need to keep in mind.

Look at what’s happening to the Tea Party movement. It doesn’t have a horse. Tea Party conservatives have been trying out a different horse every few weeks — first Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, now Newt Gingrich. Each of them has stumbled.

Is there a market for a third party candidate in 2012? Absolutely. Self-described Independent voters are a growing category, more numerous than either Democrats or Republicans according to Gallup. Most voters say the country needs a third political party. Read the rest of this entry »

Conservatives, Media Missing the Boat on Clean Energy

November 18th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

Demand for energy resources in the rest of the world, and especially developing nations, is growing rapidly. Like Willie Sutton robbing banks because “that’s where the money is,” emerging economic powers like China and India are racing to secure the oil, coal, and natural gas they use because that’s where the economic growth is. But as this competition for limited fossil fuel resources heats up, the media and conservative politicians are increasingly questioning federal investments in clean energy. Using selective facts and a very narrow definition of national interest, they argue that public incentives for clean energy are a bad bet.

The criticisms of investing in clean energy ignore that our nation is on an unsustainable energy path and that for our economy, national security, public health and, yes, environmental interests, we must diversify our energy portfolio. Our nation’s energy infrastructure today is essentially reliant on coal, oil and natural gas — three natural resources that are in dramatically increasing demand around the world. This has nothing to do with peak oil. The world is racing headlong into a bidding war for energy. The only entity both able and empowered to halt the march is the federal government. Read the rest of this entry »

And the GOP Nominee is… Mr. 1%

November 14th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

What will the 2012 presidential election look like? Extremely close. And extremely frustrating. Voters will be forced to choose between fear of the unknown and fear of the known. The known? President Obama’s inability to turn the economy around. The unknown? The scary prospect of giving Republicans control of the White House and Congress.

Right now, the polls show President Obama leading every Republican candidate except one. The latest poll averages from Real Clear Politics have Obama leading Michele Bachmann by 14 points, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum by 11, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman by 9, Herman Cain by 8, Ron Paul by 6 and Mitt Romney by 2. The only candidate who matches Obama is the generic Republican: “Would you vote for Barack Obama or the Republican candidate for President?” Against an unnamed Republican, the race is a tie.

Which means that if the election is a referendum on President Obama, he may well lose. But it’s not simply a referendum on Obama. It’s a choice. As much as they are trying not to make up their minds, sooner or later Republicans will have to settle on a candidate. And that candidate is likely to be flawed. Read the rest of this entry »

We Should Make Marriage About Commitment

November 9th, 2011

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This piece was originally published by The Advocate.

Next April, as the cherry blossoms are flowering across the city, I will stand in front of my family and friends and make a public promise of lifetime fidelity and commitment to my partner of five years. We want to take part in the tradition of marriage because we take its vows seriously and hope that the closest people in our lives will both hold us accountable to those words and support us in our relationship as life doles out the “for better or worse.”

But if you ask people who are still struggling with whether they support allowing gay couples to marry, they are just as likely to believe that I want to marry in order to get “rights and benefits like tax advantages, hospital visitation, or sharing a spouse’s pension,” rather than to publicly acknowledge lifetime commitment. Why? Because that’s what many in the movement have been telling them for so many years—and they listened.

After conducting extensive research on Americans in the middle, Third Way believes that correcting this misperception is the number one thing we can do to solidify support for marriage across the country. And a vital part of that effort must come in shifting our own advocacy from the language of rights to the language of commitment. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Cain isn’t Sunk Among GOP

November 7th, 2011

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This piece was originally published by Politico.

The Herman Cain spectacle demonstrates one thing: What this country needs is a good smoke-filled room.

Maybe his party could find out how serious the sexual harassment charges against Cain were. “People need to know what the facts are,” former Republican Party Chairman Haley Barbour said on Sunday.

In what seems like the distant past, according to legend, candidates were vetted by party leaders who took them aside and asked, “Is there anything about your moral or medical or legal or financial history we ought to know about?” Warren Harding is said to have replied, “I’m as pure as the driven snow.” Read the rest of this entry »