Friday, May 13, 2005


The New York Times has an article today on the odd alliance between two political foes, Senator Hillary Clinton and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich:
Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, has been working alongside the former first lady on a number of issues, and even appeared with her at a press conference on Wednesday to promote - of all things - health-care legislation.

But more puzzling than that, Mr. Gingrich has been talking up Mrs. Clinton's presidential prospects in 2008, to the chagrin of conservative loyalists who once regarded him as a heroic figure. Last month, he even suggested she might capture the presidency, saying "any Republican who thinks she's going to be easy to beat has a total amnesia about the history of the Clintons."

Since it's the end of the week, I'd like to throw into the ring a crazy idea.

There are things that make we wretch when I go to the polls: having to vote either Republican or Democrat. I punch the chads with one eye shut. If I vote Republican, a little voice in my head mentally slaps me around for promoting a party that has a weak spot for Pat Robertson and people like Creationists. And when I vote Democrat, the little voice's doppelganger punches my cranium for supporting the relativist, cave-in, self-defeating politics of the Left.

I can't think of two better firebrands for this country's two ideological bases -- Gingrich and Clinton. Their adversarial history is legendary. I love the idea of them swapping political spit in public.

So what's my crazy idea? That Hillary and Newt both quit their parties and start something new. By 2008, each party will have gone to such ideological extremes that perhaps they'll be liabilities, not assets for a presidential candidate. I have grave doubts that Bush's current trajectory is necessarily going to take the Republicans to still-yet higher places in the next election.

I disowned the Democratic party because all the discontent I had for liberals finally crystallized before me in the aftermath of 9/11. But I didn't join the Republican party, either. I'm registered as an independent -- I think of that as my political purgatory until something truly practicable emerges on the political landscape. Perhaps a new party is in order. Even as I write that, it sounds heretical to our binary democracy.

And yet, the first Republican president -- Lincoln -- ran and won when his party was only six years old. It's true that Republicans back in 1860 were inspired by the Whigs, but it was a new party nonetheless. Is that so unthinkable under today's circumstances?

I like the pairing of Hillary and Newt because they're each symbols of hatred by their opposition. If they could work something out between them, I might be persuaded to overlook their past ideological overindulgences and send them a chad of approval. They would, as a presidential team, be formidable to the Bush-like and Kerry-like candidates I expect to see paraded before us in 2008. Lunatic-ideological cream pies would be thrown at Hillary and Newt from the extremists on both sides of the political divide, with equal vigor. And perhaps then, finally, the extremists would be exposed and laughed out of the halls of power, where serious matters need tending.

OK, well -- it'll never happen. Go ahead and tell me why it won't. But if not Hillary and Newt, I would like to hear something that is viable for 2008. Republicans and Democrats are in the thickening mud of their own past ideologies. This fast-changing world challenges us to do more than slog through our ideological past. I'd love to hear some crazy ideas that might be saner than America's current national politics. Throw your best pies and see what happens.