As others have already pointed out, Matt Miller’s latest column will be the worst argument in favor of a third party until whichever of he or Tom Freidman submits the same column next week. What’s striking about this one, as Matt says, is that the radical centrist policies he deems impossible under the current system are the ones actually favored by the Democratic leadership.
This always reminds me of Man of the Year, irrefutable evidence of Barry Levinson’s artistic decline that was shown about 30 times a week on HBO a couple years ago. I watched the first half several times because it was such a fascinating trainwreck. The premise is that an extremely unfunny comedian, played by a perfectly (if inadvertently so) cast washed-up Robin Williams, shakes up the presidential race and then is elected via voter fraud. The movie is a trainwreck, first of all, in that it’s unfunny in a particularly grating, trying-too-hard way (what one might call Malcolm in the Middle syndrome.) But it’s also interesting in that it’s a perfect embodiment of a particular kind of third party dreaming. The vacuous platitudes that totally shake up the race are, to the very limited extent they have any content at all, the kind of stuff that basically all moderate Democrats say. Except that liking Democrats is uncool, so these bog-standard centrist bumper stickers have to be expressed by a proactive dude who’s in your face, because it would be a totally new paradigm.
Daydream believing about a third party from the left is at least understandable. Indeed, Naderite critiques of the content of policies favored by moderate Democrats are largely correct, although I think they underestimate the structural roadblocks to progressive policy in the United States, and they’re completely wrong about believing that third parties have any chance of solving the problem. But at least the critique is coherent in its own way. The Miller/Friedman dream for moderate Democratic policies to be advanced by a billionaire dreamboat who would be able to get his policies enacted in every last detail through sheer force of centrist wisdom, by contrast, it just pathetic.