Saturday, July 07, 2007

Harry Potter and the Enormous Pile of Political Cash

At the railway station of national politics there appear to be just two trains one can catch---the Republican Zephyr and the Democrat Local.
But unknown to the regular muggle passengers (many of whom seem to pick the wrong train, no matter what) there is another, invisible platform where sits a train waiting patiently to transport those with the gift to see it, to a place of mystery and wonder.

I am of course talking about the Hogwash Express which leaves Platform 9-3/4 % every four years, destination: The Third-Party School Of Magical Politics.
Every four years the school spontaneously burns to the ground and then, Phoenix-like rises from the ashes, re-invigorated, and sets out to challenge political reality with spells and incantations and promises of a new broomstick that will sweep away the cobwebs and dust-bunnies of complacency and banish the soul-stealing status quo to some prison tower, never to be released again.

But rather than increase enrollment with the usual parlor tricks, this semester The Third-Party School Of Magical Politics has created a muggle version of the Mirror of Erised with a new website mysteriously named Unity08 (I’m pretty sure if you jumble the letters and numbers you get to see a unicorn or something).

At this mystic portal ordinary muggles can “vote” for a presidential “ticket” compromising one Democrat and one Republican that will form their desired “dream team” for unity, one destined to confound the traditional party system and usher in a new era where for once politics won’t give you a pounding headache.

As Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post reports, the founders of Unity08 don’t want to create a “Third Party” but instead want to “force Democrats and Republicans to revamp themselves by becoming more issue-focused, responsive and candid.”

"What we are trying to do is to create a forum for people who are in the middle who have been left out of politics."

To accomplish these goals Untity08 is inviting disaffected ‘centrist’ voters, especially the “young”, to bypass the traditional party structures and selection process and choose their own Presidential and Vice-Presidential ticket via an internet ‘ballot’ with the only nod to reality being that one should be a Democrat and one a Republican.
Their theory is that most Americans are fed up with both parties, a belief backed by recent polling data, and are eager to shake up the political process if they can find an outlet.

Noting that about 85 percent of Americans use the Internet, Rafshoon [a Unity08 founder] said that "they can't all be extremists. There has got to be room out there for us."
These old political consultants running Unity08 can’t be this stupid and clueless about how presidential elections actually work.
I think they are just cynically trying to siphon- off cash from what will be a record season for public discontent and political spending. They only need to persuade 2-3% of the electorate to donate to score a few million dollars for themselves.
The Harry Potter fantasy is an original work of entertainment that has provided an unexpected and broad benefit.
The fantasy these Unity08 jokers are offering appears to me to be an unoriginal exploitation of reality with absolutely no benefit to anyone except its founders.

Check out their site here and judge for yourselves.


teaghan's mom said...

i've been told that the multi party system in america is supposed to guarantee freedom from tyranny. please note that i said "in america," because the multi party system works in other countries, but here it seems to just derail the process. the 2000 election is the perfect example of this. now, of course i'm simplifying the argument here because this isn't exactly a forum for a treatise on the subject, but suffice it to say that the "3rd party" in america does not do what it is supposed to do which is educate the common voter and give them a better variety of choices. no, it fails to do that because instead of educating the public, the 3rd party simply mudslings and postulates and clouds the real issues, just like the "1st" and "2nd" parties do. if the 3rd party wants to accomplish anything to improve political discourse and the welfare of americans, then it must actually go out and EDUCATE the PUBLIC and not pander to the lowest common denominator, as this Unity08 party is doing. the "can't we all just get along?" mentality is not going to fix a system that's been broken since about 10 years after it was created.

on a tangential thought and imho, money is the root of all evil and the cause of war, poverty, crime and religion. yes, i said religion. wasn't it part of the teachings of jesus to turn away from the money changers? and yet, all the major religions do is hoist themselves up and beg for money. the pope is the wealthiest man on earth, but does he sell off any of the gold or valuables in his palace to bring third world countries up to a first world standard of living? what about providing all his wealth to the starving or to the disease stricken? he has the power to do all of this but does he? no! has any pope in the last century done that? no! because they are just as greedy as the rest of us. the pope and his bishops, priests, etc etc, are supposed to - as far as i know - take a vow of poverty and to serve humanity for the greater good. the catholic church is supposed to help all people in need, not just catholics. but he and his subordinates live in gilded homes with the best food and the best medical care money can buy. exactly how is that abiding to a vow of poverty?

and on a similar track - how come an inordinantly wealthy man like george bush (and his father before him) needs to take a $400,000 salary? and his vp darth cheney? he's worth millions and still he takes the vp salary every year? JFK was wealthy like the bush's and yet he donated every cent of his presidential salary to charity. how "christian" is that? i'm sickened by how this country has turned into a "not in my backyard" and "he who dies with the most toys wins" country. just plain common sense would tell any sane and halfway educated person that this is not the way that "god" or whatever you call your higher power wants us to live. it's also simply just plain inhumane to treat each other the way we do.

ok, apologies for the reply that turned into a quasi-treatise. i'm just a little verklempt. talk amongst yourselves. i'll give you a topic. the progressive era was neither progressive nor an era. discuss!

unitybroth said...

Recent third party attempts to win the presidency, but which ultimately acted as spoilers, are not a good model for comparison. Buchanan, Nader, Thurmond, and Wallace all ran with a fringe platform, seeking to disrupt and divide. Perot polled 19% while running on a single issue, even after temporarily dropping out of the race. But, the country, at those times, was not in the state of disrepair that it is in now. Nor were there so many crucial issues needing to be addressed simultaneously.

Most voters consider 2008 the most important election in their lifetime -- and perhaps in the lifetime of their children as well. A May 2007 Newsweek poll determined that 71% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time. Unity08 will appeal to the 40% of voters who call themselves independent, Republicans and Democrats who are open to new ideas and leadership, and the millions who have stopped voting out of disgust.

Finally, one correction... The Unity Ticket, which consists of a presidential and vice presidential candidate, must come from two different political parties. For example, it must be made up of one Democrat and one Republican, or a major party candidate and one independent, or with committee approval, even two independents. The point is to allow the candidates to team up in the manner they think will best suit the country.

Thank you for posting about Unity08.

5th Estate said...

The disaffected Republican voters don't think the system is broken, just their Party.
The majority Dems don't think the system is broken either. They have their complaints about their own party but the know damn well how important 2008 is and they aren't going to act impetuously, despite their complaints about their own party.

Because this election IS so important no-one in their right mind is going to take a chance on some bi-partisan "dream ticket". Who could they get? And who the hell would support them from the respective Parties? Why the hell would the electoral colleges want to shake up the system?

Like I said, I can't believe the people running this thing could be so naive, so I can only conclude they see a business opportunity to rake in some donations which they get to keep when this enterprise fails.

The only way to "fix" the system is to legislate a fix from inside the system--and that means winning congressional majoritis AND the Presidency first.

Carl said...

*polite applause*

Well played sir. The fallacy that a third party could win an election in the United States is about as likely as, well, rearranging the letters "U N I T Y 0 8" and seeing a unicorn.

It's called "Duverger's Law"

Truth-Pain said...

A wonderful topic, and dear to my heart. I am in the middle of recalibrating what I feel about my own ideology,... my own political compass if you will. I've heard about this Unity 08 party; and although I know very little of it, it smacks of grass roots in the richest of ways, regardless of the real agenda behind its inception. The labels we apply to our parties, to our politics, is part of the problem,... labels may help us identify certain things, but the other side of that blade is that is pre-disposes others to judge simply by a noun,... before they know what the politics are in the first place. I say drop the conservative or progressive monikers, ... make the person, or the cult of personality be the central focus of the party. Every man and woman is different, and reads the Constitution as differently as cops read a fingerprint,...

As always, well put and nicely written.

unitybroth said...

Carl said, "The fallacy that a third party could win an election in the United States is about as likely as..."

Actually, in 1860 Abraham Lincoln ran as a candidate from a newly formed party, called the Republican party, and ousted the Whigs.

5th Estate said...

Unitybroth... The Whigs collapsed in 1856. The Republicans replaced them, they were not meaningfully concurrent in the political scene.

I think there's an inherent prejudice or obstacle to a relevant third party in the US republican system as opposed to a parlimentary system.
As I said before the system IMHO needs to be radically changed to allow a Third Party and only elected power can change that (or a revolution of course).
If that is indeed the case, then it would make sense for those who desire a Third party alternative to align themselves with the party most disposed to changing the system who actually might gain the power to change the system---that would be the Democrats.
Of course the Democratic Party is not, or wouldn't be that interested if they gain significant political power within the current system; whatever changes they might make would ultimately be made to serve their primacy rather than outright encourage a Third party that might hold a balance of power.

Untiy08 might consider itself reasonably "centrist" and thus entitled to a natural majority which might ordinarily be true, but the current pol;itical problem is that the Republicans have become so extreme, and the Democrats remain "centrist".
Right now Democrats hold the majority in the Huose, the Senate is evenly split and the Republicans have the White House. During Clintons terms the Republicsns soon dominated the House AND the Senate. There is an equivalence there that doesn;t require a Third Party. The major difference is that Clinton wasn;t an ideological idiot, whilst Bush is, and the Repubs back then hadn't reached the depths of ideoligical idiocy they have now.

The national consensus is that the Dems reflect tha majority view. Even if the collegiate system "allowed" a Third party it is needed or desired because the Dems have that role, by design and by default.

SO Unity08 has no current place in current politics--and they aren;'t even proposing a "third party" anyway.

I;m afraid your short reaction to Carl's comment is prima facie misguided,incorrect and irrelevant.

I'll take a wild guess that you are at least a subscriber to Unity08, if not an "operative". I base that on your oroginal thanks for my writing about Unity08 even though I'm highly critical--all publicity is good and any link means traffic, right?

That's fine; I have my own complaints with the current system and my favored political party. But I don't see Unity08 as being in any way realistic, especially as it ignores the relevant contraints of the US poltical system regardless of parties.
Perhaps in 2008 the "third-party" contingent won't have the same disastrous effect it had in 2000 ( not that that was all Nader's fault, but it reduced the margins such that the Republicans could maintain a challenge over the votes).

I maintain that Unity08's founders are either willfully clueless about politics ( hard to beleive given that's been their area of employment) or they are willfully cynical (as I explained in my original post).

So if you are still committed to the Unity08 come 2009 please let me know how your actions contributed to the new political situation.

If there is a Democrat in the White House and a working majority in Congress you will he able to hold out some hope that national politics will bear a greater resemblance to your ideals, or at least provide beneficial policies within the current system.

Or you can let me know how you stuck to your principles and maintained your integrity ( and lost a few hundred much needed dollars ti Unity 08) as we all cower under martial law and scrabble for scraps because we've all been identified as "disloyal" whilst the water dries up and the sun beats down and the Republican elite reigns supreme whilst the one political party that might have made a difference you deemed to impure to meet your standards of moral and poltical responsibility.

unitybroth said...

I stand corrected in the way I phrased my comment in reference to 1860. The Republicans were formed in 1854 (6 years prior to the election) primarily over the split that occurred in the Whig Party over the KS-NE Act. Over the next 6 years, the Whigs basically left for various other parties by 1856 and the Democrats fractured as well, some of them joining the Republicans.

Point being, a third party has been important historically when the country needed leadership.

Correct. Unity08 is not attempting to create a third party. Our approach is to present bipartisan leadership strong enough to bring key politicians to the table that will get past the stalemate that currently exists over the crucial issues facing the country. Our history that shows that finding common ground among the parties is essential to significant and sustainable change in either foreign or domestic policy.

For example:
• Democrat LBJ reached out to Republican Everett Dirksen for common ground on the civil rights bill
• President Carter and Senator Baker found common ground on the Panama Canal Treaty
• Newt Gingrich and President Clinton found common ground on welfare reform
• During the Cold War, politics stopped at the water's edge. Politicians agreed that it was more important to find solutions than to uselessly bicker about the Soviet Union without resolution.

Part of the definition of “bipartisan” in Wikipedia seems to hit home dramatically, “Failure to attain bipartisan support in such a system can easily lead to gridlock, often angering each other and their constituencies.”

Isn’t this where we are at right now? Wouldn’t some bipartisanship help us out with immigration, terrorism, health care, the environment, senior entitlements, and education?

Unity08 is trying to end the gridlock by presenting another option to voters in 2008; an option that has bipartisan a president/vice president combination, plus a bipartisan cabinet.

Sorry to have not properly identified myself earlier. I am a delegate of the movement and the VP of Online Marketing at Unity08.

Teaghan's mom said...

Wouldn’t some bipartisanship help us out with immigration, terrorism, health care, the environment, senior entitlements, and education?

Sure, but the reality is that the Dems and the 'pugs have opposing viewpoints on each of these issues - as well as political agendas to further their careers. The examples you cite are few and far between - I'd be more apt to agree with you if you could cite one case where the entirety of an administration agreed to bipartisanship, not just when it was a profitable match-up, such is the case with your examples.

Also - which party would sit in the President's seat, and which would have to take the back seat? Because that is how the average person will see it - if you have a Dem as the presidential contender and a 'pug as a VP candidate, then you will alienate the moderate GOP'ers, and if you do the opposite, then you alienate the fence sitting Dems.

Also, look at how divided the parties are on issues that one would expect to be no-brainers: education, health care, the welfare of our soldiers and veterans, taxes. If you watch CSPAN, you will see that neither side is willing to concede to the other and one side is even more adament about the fact that they believe their positions are right than ever before.

The "Can't We All Just Get Along?" sentiment is admirable, even desirable to a certain extent, but the true reality remains the same - it will not happen any time soon. The rifts and disparities between the Dems and the 'pugs are far too great to overcome with one duo. It's like trying to pair oil and water - eventually they will separate because they can never be permanently fused together.

I am sorry, but in today's political atmosphere, your attempt at Unity will fail. Ultimately, what you are searching for is not possible yet - we are still too naive and at the same time too arrogant a country to relent.

unitybroth said...

Teaghan's Mom, good banter. Thank you, I enjoyed it. We shall see how the candidates seeking the Unity08 nomination choose to pair up and, in fact, propose some of their potential bipartisan cabinet members. And, I'm sure you'll be paying close attention to how things progress. Again, thank you for the debate. Feel free to reach me at comments AT

teaghan's mom said...


You have yet to answer ANY of my questions. The "banter" you have so enjoyed was one sided - you speaking in party platforms and I actually attempting to gleen some tangile information from you. What do you have to hide? Why don't you answer my legitimate and straightforward questions? Who would be in the "driver's seat?" When else in history have cooperative efforts been successful at bettering the country as a whole? When in history has bipartisanship actually been the antidote to the political ills you so desire to cure?

If you cannot answer these simple questions, then your efforts will most surely fail because you are nothing more than a political hack, wonking their way through the election process to make a name for yourself. That is plainly contrary to your alleged unity goals. Such a course of action is merely mimicking the behaviors already expressed and does nothng but confuse, complicate and overburden an already facocta system. Unless - that is your intent - then you are nothing more than a rabid wolf in sheep's clothing.

5th Estate said...


As implied by all the skepticims expressed thus far about Unicorn-08 the product you are trying to sell doesn't fit a market need.
The product won't work as advertised. The political consumer today is better informed than in 2000.
If pretending to debate political issues on political blogs (even tiny ones like mine) is your idea of a clever marketing strategy you'd better think again because you are obviously out of your depth. You can't even argue your case properly :

"Part of the definition of “bipartisan” in Wikipedia seems to hit home dramatically, “Failure to attain bipartisan support in such a system can easily lead to gridlock, often angering each other and their constituencies.”

That's an OPINION, NOT "a part of the definition" and useful though Wikipedia is it is not a reliable primary source on which to predicate any argument.

Your 'debating skills' are appalling and your pretense is vomit-inducing. Your insincerity is abundantly clear. All you are interested in is making a sale.

It's not partisanship that is the problem, it's the fatuous commercialization of politics and the commoditization of policies by individuals like yourself help build the trough that you then greedily feed from, but without publoic accountability, that's a major part of the problem.

This is just a business opportunity for you, nothing more, There's no higher social or political purpose behind what you are doing--if there were you'd be able to argue your case coherently instead of redirecting attention the the many extra features of the fabulous Unicorn 2008 that can be ours for only three easy payments ( not available in any stores).

teaghan's mom said...

And STILL no further response from unitybroth. If he is an example of what Unity08 has to offer, then they are severely lacking in competence. I believe they are really the party of DisUnity.

unitybroth said...

Good day. I believe these are the questions that have been asked:

Which party would sit in the President's seat, and which would have to take the back seat?
This will be decided between the candidates that are seeking the Unity08 nomination. Bipartisan presidential and vice presidential nominees must define their relationship before they decide to run together. They will have to be open about their differences on the crucial issues. Ideally, the lead on each crucial issue will be the person whose experience and/or interest cater to the topic. Above all, the vice president will help to bring their party to the discussion. We also expect a Unity White House to bring a bipartisan cabinet to Washington, calling on the best and brightest from all parties, in and out of politics. A Unity White House, nominated and elected by the people, that owes nothing to special interests can end distraction from the crucial issues. The major parties will seek the locale of power, which will have been dictated by the people’s influence on the issues and election of a bipartisan White House. This will force Congressional leaders to work together and find common ground on the crucial issues.

When else in history have cooperative efforts been successful at bettering the country as a whole?
When in history has bipartisanship actually been the antidote to the political ills you so desire to cure?
These two questions are similar, and I answered both of them above.

It has been stated, “It's not partisanship that is the problem…,” yet I believe that partisanship is part of the problem. What piece of important legislation has been passed in the past few years that did not involve bipartisanship? Both political parties have realized that they simply need to keep their fringe constituents happy. Why? Because they are single-issue voters that will show up at the polls. 40% of voters are now registered as independents or are unaffiliated. That is a larger percentage than either major party. The 10-15% of the membership in each party that are more centrist do not feel that they are being represented. You could say that 60% of the country is not currently being represented in politics.

I also believe that we are at a unique time in the course of our country. History shows us examples of when third parties have been relevant and when bipartisanship was a must to enact vital legislation. But, we are also at a time when we have never had so many crucial issues where, without action, could be cataclysmic. Immigration, terrorism, health care, senior entitlements, the deficit, education, … these issues are complex and we must insert bipartisan leadership to start addressing them. The current government has been failing miserably to enact a course to resolve any of them.

So, Unity08 is attempting to give them the jolt they need to make progress.

teaghan's mom said...

The only jolt we need is a better educated and healthier public that can actually depend on their elected officials to represent the PEOPLE - since this government is of the people, by the people and for the people, the PEOPLE should come first - not the greed and lust for power of politicians.

Your answers are trite and fail to reference back to the question as they were asked. Instead, you chose to answer them as you misinterpreted them. I will repeat myself because that seems to be the only way you will hear every third word I 'speak.'

The examples you cite are few and far between - I'd be more apt to agree with you if you could cite one case where the entirety of an administration agreed to bipartisanship, not just when it was a profitable match-up, such is the case with your examples.

If you're an example of what Unity08 has to offer in the way of public education regarding the political process and an alternative to the current system, then I have absolutely no faith in your endeavors whatsoever. You lack even the slightest modicum of conviction. Your propaganda sounds like every other political wonk spewing jingoisms like they were greetings. Good day to you sir, I am done with you.