By Crispin Sartwell
What America needs is Kadima.
The new political party founded by Ariel Sharon
instantly and permanently transformed the politics of Israel. To say that the
United States could profit by a similar shakeup is an understatement.
Here are three figures that might make a new
political landscape: John McCain, Russell Feingold, and Colin Powell. These are
smart people, people of integrity, and people with tremendous leadership
ability. Any would make a fine president.
And I think the case can be made that they -
along with perhaps a few others, such as Wesley Clark, Chuck Hagel, and Olympia
Snowe - owe it to their country to destroy the two-party system.
First of all, I think it is unlikely that McCain
can get the Republican nomination in 2008. Barring an even more dramatic
political meltdown of the Bush administration, the party establishment will
anoint an heir (Condoleezza Rice or Jeb Bush, perhaps), and bring them through
the primaries with a devastating combination of infinite cash and vicious Karl
What McCain needs to ask himself now is
this: is he willing after his defeat to hold up the hand of Jeb or whomever and
lend his wholehearted support to secret torture facilities? It's a long way
from torture victim to torture enthusiast, but as a Republican McCain is making
that journey, whatever he may say or whatever he may want.
McCain surely in his heart understands the
extent to which the Republican establishment has negated basic moral principles
and fundamental American liberties. If he does not want to endorse this
debasement, he needs to leave now.
Russ Feingold is the brightest and most
principled man in the Senate: the only Senator with the guts to vote against
the Patriot Act.
The establishment of the Democratic Party
in 2004 nominated a man who stood for absolutely nothing, who endorsed
virtually all the policies of the Bush administration when they were polling well,
and has jumped ship only because the poll numbers have waned.
At least George Bush thought that invading
Iraq and compromising fundamental American liberties were the right policies to
pursue. John Kerry knew they were the wrong policies and endorsed them anyway.
And when the Democrats nominate someone in 2008, it will be someone without
guts or even opinions: a Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.
So I'd ask Feingold: do you think there
ought to be a principled opposition to the administration's aconstitutional
abuse of power? Then you need to provide that opposition.
Colin Powell surely understands that he
was abused by the Bush administration: they stood him up there like a
marionette and worked his mouth. They made him a chump and ended up in a deeply
futile war. So I'd ask him: Are you satisfied to leave it at that and withdraw
into a seemly retirement?
I'm sure all three of these men feel a
certain loyalty to their parties and a reluctance to make radical changes in
the political system that has nurtured their careers. And they might, as well,
fear being marginalized, as third-party candidates - Perot, for example, or
Buchanan, or Nader - in recent American elections have been.
But such fears, I think, would be
groundless: a party led by McCain, Feingold, and Powell would instantly be
central to American political opinion. These figures have far more credibility
than the Democratic and Republican leadership, and are far less polarizing to
Of course, they disagree in various
ways among themselves, and their respective roles would have to be defined. But
I think these matters are within the range that can be negotiated in the
context of a political party.
Otherwise, we're going to again face a
choice between Republican evil and Democratic emptiness. So Russ, John, Colin:
don't you hear the call of duty?