And poli-sci blogger Seth Masket punctured the sense of self-congratulation surrounding Americans Elect’s promise to empower “the community” over “entrenched parties”:
How exactly does a party go about nominating candidates and determining planks on a platform? It involves extensive, messy deliberation and coordination among political activists, major donors, some officeholders, party elders, interest group leaders, and others. In other words, it involves the community. That’s what a party is. A party is not an alien presence imposing its will on the democratic process. Quite the contrary: a party emerges organically from the democratic process.
Are some moderates left out of these communities? Sure. They have a choice. They can form their own new party, although the track record of those isn’t great. They can suck up their objections to the ideological extremists and work within one of the party communities, although that can be frustrating. Or they can stay at home. But they are not somehow more noble because they aren’t part of one of the “entrenched parties.”
Even Friedman’s Times colleague Michael Powell raised an eyebrow on Twitter:
A Hedge Fund backed party railing against ‘special interests’? With no evident irony, Tom Friedman endorses
All good stuff. Still, there’s a steep drop-off in the volume of responses from October; even Masket wrote that hesitated to comment on such “an easy target.”
Smart pundits of the world, don’t give up! The reluctance to repeat yourself is understandable, even admirable. But Tom Friedman is read by many, many people. And in his infatuation with the idea of the “radical center,” he is very, very mistaken. Do your part to improve public understanding of politics, defend American democracy, and grab some Internet bragging rights. The next time Friedman opines on the “radical center”—I’m guessing it won’t be later than the time Michele Bachmann wins the Iowa caucuses—take your best shot at proving him wrong.