The Third Way's bad karma

By Joyce Mucci
web posted July 26, 1999

Bill Clinton found it.

Tony Blair found it.

Germany's Gerhard Schroeder found it too.

Lest you think these middle-aged leaders have found the Jesus of the Bible - you haven't found "It".

It is the Third Way.

Chiefly, supporters of the Third Way are mainly liberal Democrats of the American variety, the Labor Party of the British ilk, Social Democrats of Germany, the Communist Party of Italy and the French. The Third Way is a free-market, entrepreneurial, capitalistic approach to social and environmental programs. The Democrats in America are not unlike their counterparts in Europe in that they share the same problem - trying to advance social and environmental programs with no money. So they embrace capitalism, not because they buy into the philosophy of freedom, but they exploit the benefits of capitalism to further their agenda.

This is not a new idea.

The fascists used it in the 1930's. A Czech economist by the name of Ota Sik in the 1960's tried blending market economics into a communists-dominated, planned economy. It failed Socialism, as it has been practiced in Europe, has been an abysmal failure. Hence Blair's new version of Socialism is giving it a go. Vernon Bogdanor, Professor at Oxford University notes that Blair "seeks to build on Fabianism, an ethical, communitarian socialism, a Third Way." The Democrats in America came up short in their moral underpinnings, and shorter still in their ability to finance more government, when they suffered defeat in 1995 with the Republican takeover of Congress. So Clinton redefined the Democratic Party again into a party of personal responsibility.

Their smooth talking, picture painting, of the future for real opportunity, civic responsibility and social justice is a blanket to hide the one important ingredient that made Conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher great - it was backbone. You can co-opt ideas, philosophies, plans, and heck you can call it whatever you want, but you can't co-op backbone. You either have it or you don't. Reagan and Thatcher inherited an economy, a culture, and challenges that tested their metal. Without straying from the basic principles of limited government and personal freedom, they succeeded in bringing down the Berlin Wall, and creating an economy that the Third Wayer's are cashing in on.

The evidence of their lack of backbone is the pronouncement of The Progressive Foundation, a liberal think tank of the Democratic Party. They opined in 1996 that we are in the throes of global confusion, and that "the end of the Cold War has weakened the domestic consensus behind vigorous U.S. global leadership, leaving us uncertain of our role in the world." Those of us who lived during the Reagan/Thatcher/Bush years find it amusing, if not a confirmation, of a president and a party that embraces a new age euphemism, and is pathologically obsessed with everyone making nice, at the expense of leadership.

The expectations of the Third Way boomers are merely a mishmash of global peace at the expense of national sovereignty. Social justice at the expense of The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. World environmental policing on the backs of the American taxpayer. They claim that they embrace family values but what they are saying is that they are tolerant traditionalist - an acknowledgment of those values without forcing them on anyone.

However, there has been a cosmic, global, comeuppance. The first to suffer the bad karma was Bill Clinton. His Third Way may have convinced voters in 1992 that he was a New Democrat, but the Republican takeover of Congress, was the two-by-four that hit the Democrats on the side of the head. Today Clinton's counterparts in Europe have suffered their own unpleasant karma. After winning control of most of the European government's top spots in the last year, Blair and Schroder's Third Way has suffered a stunning defeat by the Conservatives. For the first time in 20 years the Conservatives have taken over the European Parliament. In Britain, the Conservative's won on the "Save our British Pound" campaign, despite Blair's lobbying for their inclusion to participate in a single currency.

It is very apparent now that the sloppy, dripping rhetoric of a Third Way into the 21st century does not play well with the voters on either side of the Atlantic. Does that mean that The Third way is dead in Europe? No. They will go back to drawing board, lick their wounds, and reincarnate themselves again as the liberal Democrats did 1995.

The Third Way, whether identified as Democrat, Labor Party, Social Democrat or Communist is nothing more than far flung fantasies espoused by middle aged dreamers and stuffy academics. To keep fresh, and make sure that everyone is paying close attention, they must keep changing. Chiefly, because they lack the moral underpinnings of individual freedom and limited government.

Not to mention - backbone.

Joyce Mucci has been published in the Kansas City Star, MetroVoice and in e-zines such as The New Australian, EtherZone and Rightgrrl where she is an Advisory Board Member. This is her first piece for Enter Stage Right.

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