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Sanity Party 

Creating a "national issues only" party

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I really shouldn’t be writing this.

I’ve been helping Rocky Anderson compose copy for his presidential campaign under the banner of his newly formed Justice Party. I told him weeks ago that I’d draft a few position papers for his website, but I keep moving other priorities ahead of it and can’t mentally put myself in gear to crank out Anderson’s content.

So what’s the rub? Why can’t I get juiced about helping a guy I genuinely like (yeah, I know not everybody does) and with whom I agree 99.5 percent of the time?

I’m terribly sorry to inform Anderson that, even though I’ll still vote for him in November and have already chosen him in the, citizen-directed, online, nominating primary, I just can’t get excited about his White House bid. It isn’t personal, because I can’t get enthused about anybody’s chances in this election …anybody who would do this nation any real good, that is.

I worked my butt off for Obama in ’08, the first time in 36 years of voting I’d ever made a cash presidential-campaign contribution. I traveled twice to Colorado to canvass and register voters. I even teared up during the inauguration.

Then the appointments started. A few DINO retreads from the Clinton administration, who had spent their formative years on Wall Street, began showing up. Guys like former Clinton Treasury secretaries, Robert Rubin (a Goldman Sachs alum) and Larry Summers, were tapped as henhouse foxes … errrr … key advisers.

Obama demonstrated limited chops for leadership and started waffling whenever congressional Republicans threatened to take their ball and go home. Campaign promises vanished as if written in disappearing ink, wars escalated or “droned” on, civil liberties continued to erode in Bush-like fashion, and highly flawed compromises such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) were drafted—essentially by the very insurance industry it theoretically “reined in.” The National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the president the power to lock up any American and throw away the key without trial, broke my last Obama straw.

And Mitt Romney? As a former conservative, I’d voted Republican in every election since Nixon’s second to my first-ever non-GOP choice: Nader, in 2000. But I no longer work for Fortune 500 companies and, with my corporate whoring days behind me, I won’t carry water for those who’d make corporations (or “people,” in Romney-speak) the brokers of power.

But could Romney or Obama make substantive reforms even if they wanted to? Probably not. Both are pawns (well, rooks, perhaps) in a political system in which both major political parties have sold their souls for campaign cash. And the filthy-lucre troughs are now essentially bottomless, courtesy of the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United decision. Any attempt to kick out politics, big money and government from the bed they currently share won’t come from either major party. Their real owners simply won’t allow it.

But small-party candidates like Rocky Anderson, and Libertarians like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul—when he, too, acknowledges he’s not really a Republican—don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected.

And it’s not just for lack of funds. The “minors” paint themselves into corners over controversial and divisive wedge issues. They’re too blinded by their own brilliance or are such purists that they haven’t quite figured out how to set aside less-important matters in favor of working together on the big ones they agree on.

But imagine if some true liberals like Anderson, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and notables like Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren and Ralph Nader would lay aside the less-significant social issues that divide them from Libertarians like Johnson and Paul. Then invite to the table some centrists like former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Louisiana’s Buddy Roemer, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and our own former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. They might even find enough key common issues (and identify enough others to avoid) so someone like Michele Bachmann could join the club.

Such a coalition would have to commit to leaving to the states issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and birth control. Everyone would have to sacrifice at least one sacred cow for this “party” to work. They would need to muster the self-control to deal with critical, national matters, like cleaning up government through limiting the money in politics and taking control of the federal budget by making significant spending cuts and raising taxes, especially on the wealthy.

I can envision a group of recognizable individuals running together as a pre-fabbed cabinet. They could campaign as a team with a reasonable moderate— and again, Huntsman comes to mind—at the top of the ticket. And why not? Jon Jr. recently committed near-political-suicide by saying the GOP had poor presidential candidates. He could probably be turned from his recent tepid endorsement of Romney to run with powerful allies.

At least it’s refreshing that a broad spectrum of diverse individuals sees the need to de-monetize the system.

For more convincing, a Chris Hedges interview on Russia Today—ironically, one of today’s more clear and principled cable TV news outlets—is a highly lucid 14-minute discussion of our systemic problems and a possible fix.

Editor/writer Jim Catano aspires to help create a “national issues only” party.

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