Left of center: is there a Texas political “center” and how’s it doing?


Tribfest 2014 panel Kay Bailey event crowdshot

Can the Center Hold?

To be (in the center) or not to be? Thus is the question today discussed with Evan Smith (Tribfest) with those listed above. Quotable quotes:

The system is dominated by money.

We don’t have any idea where we are headed. Republicans are talking nonsensical garbage.

Hutchinson – redistributing and gerrymandering. The primary system. If we are going to have the current primary system as it is in Texas, you have to appeal to a narrow section of the voters, the ones who vote in the primaries. Voters should turn out and vote in the primaries instead of waiting for the main election. She compared the Texas system to the system in Louisiana, where primaries are open to all voters, regardless of political party affiliation.

Various quotes and ideas to think about

Because of social media, you now hear every insult cast by opposing candidates. Everything that used to happen behind the curtain is now out in the open. This gives more strength to [those looking for all the facts). But when the conflict plays out in public, the more anger you “perform” in public, the more likely you are to win. (Update: this was the beginning of the great polarization between parties, fed by social media bubbles.)

But the bottom line is that you must vote. If you care, vote.

Tribfest 2014 panel pol to the right

Bill Bradley  Jon M. Huntsman Jr.  Kay Bailey Hutchison  Ron Kirk 
Kasim Reed  Evan Smith (mod.)

Things are bad. Hilary Clinton: “The subheading for the US Constitution ought to be ‘Let’s Make a Deal.'” It used to be that you could make a deal and agree upon a decision, so that progress could be made. Compromise is not a four-letter word. Without the ability to compromise, America is in danger of not being considered an effective country in the eyes of others in the world.

Now, there are no more battles: there are wars. An example is the passage of the debt ceiling and congressional authority. In the past, these types of things did not blow up as they do now. Conflict is escalated.

This might be caused by the constant money chase. Reelection is always on the minds of the elected officials, polluting their minds. There is an “opportunity cost” to this, politically.

Consider what did the country responded to debts related to the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson did not want to “bail out” the “spendthrifts.” Hamilton resolved the conflict with Washington by offering to move the capital of the United States. The deal was cut and the federal government assumed the states’ debt. This is an example of compromise at a very high level and an excellent example.

Another example: Louisiana was sold, based on a deal that was struck. Now, no one can make any kind of deal, however small, these days. Compromise and “deals” are unpopular and some would claim, a betrayal of American ideals.

We’ve lost the balance of powers. The 2/3 rule, the 60% or 75 rule forced a compromise. The reduction of the voting threshold in the US Congress, and the proposed threshold reduction for Texas Lege, is a negative for compromise.

When you are in government there is no place to run or hide. If you make an error you are bounced out of your office. In every organization, you have to cut deals and make compromises. But in the U.S. Congress, there is no longer a willingness to sit down and solve problems.

So, how do you change from a culture of animosity to a culture that seeks compromise? You have to give the people who want to solve the problems something to do, instead of making them sit on the sidelines watching gridlock.

There is never an acceptable reason for not solving problems. If you fail to solve problems, you will be voted out of the Senate or the House. If there was a viable third party, everyone on this stage would be in it. This group is the center: in theory, the most liberal of the conservatives and the most conservative of the liberals.

Let there be no labels. In America, there is this belief that everything can fit into the label of Democratic or Republican.

Duck, lie, and dodge: these are not options as a mayor, because the voters see you in the streets and in a grocery store. You have to stand and deliver, be willing and able to defend your words and actions to the voters you meet.

We are a country of disruptors. None of the existing labels work to realistically cover the immediate situation we are in right now in this country. We have to throw out the labels if we want to see discussions occur and compromises made that allow forward movement.

Ross Perot’s notion of a “third party” is doomed to fail. The other parties will smash any attempts of Perot to provide an alternative to Democrats or Republicans. You can never defeat power except through power itself. There could be a third congressional party that stands for three or four key things, such as election finance reform. This group could run in selected districts and present the problem to the country: the problem is in congress. The solution would be to bring in a candidate from this third party. This could work as a six-year strategy, funded by interested parties. (I am left wondering just who these third-party candidates would exist if campaign finance reform were to take place — but of course it has not — and a third party has yet to gain traction.)

We need to have actions taken by people who are not the current “Gang of Six.”

During a spirited discussion, Kay finally interrupts one speaker to say, “May I say…may I interject and say…because I was ….there…” Yes, being there does have some weight, I hope, in this discussion about “what happened” in a political struggle.

Discussion of the Tea Party versus the President. What if we woke up tomorrow and the Tea Party was gone? Or, what if the current President was gone? Is this what it would take to get things moving again in congress?

Extremists who will not cut deals reveal themselves in voting situations when they block major infrastructure deals to move forward in congress and in similar situations. We could not come together during this very difficult, challenging time for America and this shows how serious the problem is.

The power of no – harness it for progress and not for stalemate. No, no, no, does not get it done.

Interesting that most of those on the stage are not going to run again for a political position; this might be a factor in their candor.

“I smile when I fight.” Let’s organize the angels in our fight to win for the good of the country. I love the fight, I love campaigns, as long as we do it in such a way that it leads society forward.

I’m excited about helping the next generation of leaders. Every great revolution was started by someone in their twenties. The stock market is higher than its ever been. Our economy is growing. Our unemployment rate has been cut in half. We have millions of people with health insurance who did not have it before.

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