Politics & Other Mistakes: Third-party pitfalls

advertisementSmiley face

I have nothing against third parties. For decades, I’ve been a card-carrying member of the Keg Party, which advocates, well, not much of anything, except having a whoop-ass good time. No speeches. No platform. No candidates.

The Keg Party motto: “We’re too dunk to numinate ennybuddy.”

While critics could claim the KP hasn’t accomplished anything significant (as if a raging hangover is insignificant), this same lack of progress in confronting the major issues facing this country could be laid at the doorsteps of both the Democratic and Republican parties. And they don’t even have inebriation for an excuse.

Confronted with the ineffectiveness of the current two-party system, earnest activists have repeatedly attempted to develop alternatives. But Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, Reformers and a variety of attempts to create a middle-of-the-road amalgamation espousing a little of this from the right and a little of that from the left have failed to excite – or even interest – the vast majority of voters.

By comparison with most third parties, Quibi was an enormous success. And the chances are you have no idea what Quibi was (smartphone programming for people with the attention spans of hyper-excited golden retrievers).

There’s no vaccine for idealism, so the impressionable and impractical continue to attempt to form viable third parties. In Maine, this movement’s latest manifestation is something called the People’s Party. According to its website, the PP supports “a new social contract” that includes lots of ideas that aren’t the least bit new, including Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, a guaranteed basic income, free college education, and abolishing mass incarceration.

In other words, it’s the same platform as the Socialists and Greens.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), the organizers don’t see it that way. According to their website, “The People’s Party speaks to the nature of America’s struggle today: not left against right, but the billionaire class against everyone else.”

Keep in mind that the billionaire class is the folks who came up with Quibi. Defeating them may not be all that difficult.

On a practical level, before the little PP can enact sweeping changes in our social and political systems, it first must become an officially recognized party in Maine. To do that, it needs at least 5,000 disaffected voters to enroll. To find those potential members, party leaders, during an online meeting in December, called for organizing the group in what it calls “circles” (an unfortunate word choice, since the GOP and the Dems have been going in circles for years) of three or four supporters.

According to an observer of that meeting, multiple circles would be included in “working groups,” after which they’d hold “regenerative culture events,” win over “thought leaders” and nurture “a beautiful, compassionate and resilient movement.”

If none of that works, maybe they should take a tip from the president and try street violence.

It’s hardly a surprise that New Age guru and unsuccessful presidential candidate Marianne Williamson was one of the featured speakers at a conference last August called Movement for a People’s Party. Also on the agenda: Jesse Ventura, Cornel West, and Danny Glover.

That’s the guest lineup for a second-rate late-night talk show. Still, it beats the celebrity list at the last Keg Party convention (Johnny Depp and Mel Gibson were invited, but no one can remember if they showed up).

Maine is the first state where the PP has managed to do any organizing, but there’s more to come. “The People’s Party will register in all 50 states,” says its website, “and intends to win the presidency in 2024,” while remaining “free of corporate money and influence.”

That last part seems likely.

The founders of the People’s Party should be commended for attempting to do something about America’s dysfunctional political system. On the other hand, accomplishing that requires more than spacey blather. If the PP had some original ideas and a practical roadmap for implementing them, it might be worth taking seriously.

But they don’t, so they won’t.

If it’s any consolation, they can still join the Keggers. We’ve got plenty of beer left.

Comments from drunks, idealists, and even billionaires accepted at [email protected].

Smiley face