R.U. Sirius has setup a site for a new project: the Open Source Political Party. It appears to be a relaunching of his old Revolution Party idea, but more… serious.
The Revolution Party was a huge influence on me. I’ve always had a sort of mix of libertarian and progressive ideals, and the Revolution Party platform was the first I saw that tried to reconcile both modes of thinking.
In college, I tried to start a Washington State Revolution Party. We had a couple meetings, but the interest just wasn’t there. I went on to spend some time working with the local Democratic Party and doing community work, and after the crushing defeat of the Dems in 2002, decided that the voting public was still pretty far from supporting progressive or libertarian policies.
It wasn’t long after that “Dean-mania” hit and suddenly the “netroots” was born. 2004 came and went, but people were looking to the successes of Democrats in the “libertarian” mountain-west (such as Brian Schweitzer in Montana and Dave Freudenthal in Wyoming) as the model for the future of the Democrats. Looking back it was an exciting time. Reid seemed to be whipping the remaining Dems into some sort of a cohesive opposition party, and Howard Dean become the DNC chairman, pushing “50 State Strategy.” In 2005 I started Rose Colored News, partially to track the successes of this “new progressivism.” The crowning achievement of the netroots movement came in 2006, with the Democrats taking back both the Senate and the House and of course wins by Jim Webb and Jon Tester.
But this year has been a big disappointment. Back in charge, the Dems seem to have accomplished precious little and have taken to playing it safe now that they’re in charge (Reid has been particularly infuriating). The netroots hasn’t really found a candidate in the Democratic presidential race, instead splintering support amongst pretty much everyone running. Meanwhile, Ron Paul has become the Republican Howard Dean, preventing a sort of libertarian/progressive coalition from forming around any Democratic presidential candidate (Richardson and Gravel seem like particularly choice candidates for something like this).
I guess maybe it’s because it’s more fun to root for the underdog that I’ve found myself drifting back over to the thought of 3rd parties, so I guess the timing of R.U.’s new party is apt. But I can’t really get that excited about the prospect of starting a whole new party from the ground up. Lately I’ve been more interested in stuff like Kevin Zeese’s run for senate in Maryland on a Libertarian-Green-Populist fusion ticket, and the libertarian Freedom Democrats.
I’ve actually been working on an Extreme Democracy inspired “open political platform” myself. The basic idea is not a platform for a party, but a collection of policies and solutions that can be modified and used by candidates running for different offices on different party tickets. So I’m sure I’ll participating in the Open Source Party, at least in the platform discussions. Maybe this will finally motivate me to get my stuff into some sort of presentable form.