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Oct 28, 2004


Shannon Clark


I think re a third party that while money is seemingly always the focus, as is usually a national campaign (president mostly), that this is not the approach that will succeed.

Rather, a successful third party will arise out of local elections - but with some national focus and agenda. With success at the local level will come a base of candidates, staff, volunteers, and yes eventually money and resources (mailing lists, physical spaces, web servers, donated jets, SMS message servers etc).

My personal choice for such a third party would be a "Centrist Progressive" party - one that embraced the role of the US in the world, but also understood the need for a government trampoline to get people back on their feet and a safety net to protect those who can't protect themselves.

I am very active in one non-partisan public policy group that is doing some of the public policy work that could lead to such a movement in the future - the group is Hope Street Group (http://www.hopestreetgroup.org). I encourage you to take a look at what they are working on, volunteers are quite welcome.

Importantly, however, HSG is not focused on foreign policy (except for a small amount of work around trade). A new party would have to take positions on national security and defence, though by focusing on local elections first, international issues could be explored more slowly and carefully.

My view of a progressive party would be one that starts by:

- challenging incombants, especially ones in Gerrymandered districts

- works to get a stake in local elected bodies (including cities and villages), especially those that could help simplify/ease election laws and/or vigorously enforce good election laws (see Florida for the importance of county commissioners)

- build up a large base by offering many ways to be and stay involved, once in office retain an active constituancy and use elected office in part as an opportunity to instruct the base on the details of government and governing.

- From this expand the base of candidates, while also providing political cover and protection for candidates with complex pasts and actual experience/expertise as well as character.

- Be deeply engaged in the details of government as well as the "big ideas" - find ways to work with other parties and get things accomplished - it is unlikely, especially while there are three main parties, that any one party will control all branches of government either at the local, state or federal level - so learn how to work across parties while achieving core progressive goals.

- Build up associated with the party not just volunteers but intellectual capital and resources. Some of these may already exist (The New Republic for example while generally right leaning may be centrist enough to be embrased by a Progressive part). This will serve as a counterpoint to the 527's, PACs and established think tanks/magazines/newspapers.

- If it doesn't already exist build it (find a way to fund it) and get it out there - i.e. newspapers, books, radio shows, websites, blogs, wikis, whatever.

We live in exciting times...

Great talking with you at PopTech btw.


shel israel


Thanks for this. We started to discuss your thoughts at PopTech and I wish we had continued. There's logic to what you argue here, and power in its potential.


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