Jared Bernstein recently asked how we can move forward with economic change in this country. Mine was one of many fine answers:
The political solution to your question is even more politics. Two parties that espouse different social value views, but the same basic economic principles, now also decide in favor of the class that sustains them – the wealthy. Other nations have third and fourth parties that concentrate almost solely on things like minimum wage, paid leave, universal healthcare. When you vote for them, you vote for your pocketbook, not whether or not the Easter bunny should be included in public school books.
Both of our major parties have tremendous baggage if they try to attract votes from the other party’s social issue spectrum. Why would a very religious, pro-life person vote for a liberal, who may agree with a hike in the minimum wage, but also vigorously supports abortion or extreme secularism.
The Democratic Party will never attract the working class vote, because it has too many litmus tests. Do you agree that guns should be nearly banned? Do you approve of in-state tuition for folks who are not even American citizens? And on the other side, do you believe that we should have prayer in school and the world was created less than 4,000 years ago?
An economic party with candidates that only stood for fairness in income distribution and all the common sense worker protections, might elect ten or fifteen Senators, a couple dozen Representatives – not enough to select the Senate Majority leader or Speaker of the House, but enough to create a swing vote that represented the people’s financial interests, a block that would need to be consulted for its support.
A small third party would also be immune to the usual Washington advancement pressures. A minority party would be doomed to never electing a President on its own, but it would also permit its members to be their own man or woman.