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We Need To Unbundle the Interests of the Non-Affluent From Any Party, You Mean



We’re getting close to the time of year when Matt Miller and Tom Friedman will start writing a column every couple of weeks arguing that there needs to be a third party and/or independent candidate that agrees with him about everything. But in case you can’t wait, Taegan Goddard has decided to fill the void:

This unbundling trend gives consumers more choices at lower cost. And it raises an intriguing question: What if our politics could also be unbundled?

The start of the piece seems particularly appropriate. The column is not merely appropriating Tom Friedman’s ends, but his hilariously illogical argumentative means. “There’s a stock market bubble. There’s bad corporate governance, which is not really a bubble. Then there’s terrorism, which is nothing like a financial bubble at all. In conclusion, let’s blow a lot of stuff up, which I believe is how the Dutch stopped the tulip bubble.”

Similarly, this “unbundling” stuff is irrelevant to anything. Parties are coalitions. Even a PR system wouldn’t guarantee that you could vote for a viable party that agreed with you about everything, and they would still need to form alliances with parties you don’t agree with about other things to exercise power. And since we don’t have a PR system, the fact that you can now stream baseball games over the intarwebs does not mean that you’re going to be able to vote for a viable “What a Special Snowflake You Are” party.

What constituency, precisely, does Goddard think needs to be represented by another party? Culturally traditionalist economic populists? Haha no:

After all, most Americans don’t want the complete package of candidates and public policies offered by the two major political parties. They might like to pick and choose — a more liberal position on gay marriage, a more libertarian stance on drones, a rather conservative take on taxes, and so on…


If a voter agrees with Democrats on social issues but with Republicans on tax and budgetary issues, it’s unlikely there will be a good choice on Election Day. The two major political parties are putting forth precious few candidates who fit that profile.

As is almost always the case, when mainstream pundits call for a third party, they want a party that reflects a combination of views that is massively overrepresented among elite journalists but have little public constituency. The fact is, there just aren’t that many people who strongly support same-sex marriage and reproductive rights and believe that spending for the poor should be massively slashed to pay for upper-class tax cuts. If you want one of the parties to reflect these views, then you need more adherents.

So what’s the mechanism by which Goddard wants to use to establish a “let them eat same-sex marriage” party? Electoral reform?

So how could we unbundle American politics? Interestingly, it’s super PACs — those secretive, big-money groups widely accused of ruining our politics — that could help with the Great Unbundling.

We’re already seeing super PACs beginning to erode the power of the political parties. Some super PACs are taking over major functions of campaigns. And it may soon be possible that a super PAC could run the entire campaign with the candidate not needing a party at all. It’s not outlandish to imagine a super PAC whose interests aligned with a millennial-friendly, libertarian-lite candidate who was liberal on social issues, dovish on foreign policy, and conservative on economics.

1)Rich people swamping politics with money — what could possib-lie go wrong? 2)Parties are pretty much stronger than ever.

Now, admittedly, the near-end of campaign finance regulation in America will have the net effect of pushing politics in the more libertarian direction that Goddard prefers, but this has nothing to do with “unbundling” or offering voters more choice. It reflects the fact that when rich people can spend as much money to influence politics as they want political outcomes will be more consonant with the preferences of rich people. But Chromecast amirite?

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