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The Third Party Stump Speech We Need

In 2011 and 2012 I devoted a number of columns and speeches to the idea of an independent presidential candidacy to shake up the system. We're in another political cycle, I argued, in which both Democrats and Republicans were failing to offer ideas equal to the magnitude of our challenges when it comes to jobs, schools, health care, the deficit, the global economy and more. The reason? Both parties remain prisoner to interest groups and ideological litmus tests that prevent them from blending the best of liberal and market-friendly ideas. And neither party trusts us enough to lay out the facts and explain the steps we need to take to truly fix things. Our best hope to change the debate, I felt, was a movement that exposed the hoaxes both parties are peddling while pointing the way toward common sense answers in the progressive center.

To help nudge the process along, I wrote a policy-heavy version of "The Third Party Stump Speech We Need" for The Washington Post, along with this column on why we need it. David Brooks praised the speech's "big ideas" in this New York Times column; Mara Liasson of NPR's "Morning Edition" featured some of it on this segment on third party prospects. I also gave a keynote address on "The Third Party Education Agenda We Need," with concrete ideas to improve our schools that neither party will offer.

You can find columns I wrote with different angles on how a third voice could shake things up here, here, here and here. Another on how a third party might target Congress, not the White House, is here.

While we didn't get a serious independent candidate in the presidential race in 2012, that doesn't mean the effort to move the debate beyond the boundaries set by the two parties today isn't desperately needed if we're to renew the country. I wish the Democrats would think more ambitiously and creatively about where we need to go; I'm afraid the Republicans in their current, quasi-nihilistic state have little chance of getting us there. Whatever party you identify with today, one thing is clear—if we can't find a way for a new, bolder and more "ideologically androgynous" agenda to find expression and build a constituency, we'll never renew the country.