politics | July 29, 2013

A Centrist Party Could End Political Gridlock: Charles Wheelan

In today's hyper polarized political climate, dual-party gridlock is a problem in government. The left and the right are often thrust into a stalemate and compromise can be difficult to achieve. Public policy speaker Charles Wheelan thinks a new, centrist party could act as a middle man and enact "pragmatic problem-solving." He first presented the idea in his book, The Centrist Manifesto. The idea has gained some traction, recently being discussed on the political blog RollCall.com. While the idea is still evolving, RollCall says: "Wheelan’s diagnosis of the country’s political woes is right on, his centrist agenda is utterly sensible, and it would appeal without a doubt to a plurality of voters."

Morton Kondracke, the author of the blog and a longtime political commentator and journalist, thinks the idea is worth a shot. "The country’s serious problems aren’t being addressed because 'our two political parties are increasingly dominated by their most vocal and extreme members,'" he says, quoting Wheelan's book, "and the clash between them has moved the political system '"from gridlock to paralysis.'" Further, as Wheelan points to in the book, there is a large proportion of voters who identify as independent—and those people need a party to represent their needs. "We moderate independents can’t just keep grousing," Kondracke concludes, "We have to plant a flag someplace, sometime. This may be it."

Charles Wheelan has had his fair share of experience in politics: A former speechwriter for a Republican governor and a political writer for The Economist, he has even run for office himself as a Democrat in Chicago. He's also the senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy at Dartmouth. His keynotes are fastpaced and always entertaining. Drawing from two decades of public policy experience, Wheelan shows audiences where the powers that be have gone wrong, and, how we can realistically achieve healthy policy initatives.

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