Reminder: New York Reasonistas! Come See Matt Welch Debate Whether We Can "Find Middle Ground" in America With Peter Beinart and No Labels' John Avlon Tonight at 6:30 pm!

Tonight, starting at 6:30 p.m., I will be participating in a New America Foundation debate/discussion at the CORE: Club on 66 East 55th Street. Here's the invite language:

Can We Find Middle Ground in Left vs. Right America?

As the election season approaches, we take a look at the current political climate. How might bipartisanship find opportunities to blossom? And where do the extremes of both Democrats and Republicans fit?

Participants

John Avlon
Founding member of No Labels, CNN contributor  
Senior Political Columnist, The Daily Beast

Matt Welch
Editor-in-Chief, Reason magazine
Co-author, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America

Peter Beinart  
Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Senior Political Writer, The Daily Beast
Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science, The City University of New York

moderated by
Emma Gilbey Keller
Author, The Comeback: Seven Stories of Women Who Went from Career to Family and Back Again and Lady: The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela

RSVP to Victoria Collins at (202) 986-2700 or via email at collinsv@newamerica.net. Event is free. Alcohol will be served.

Some relevant links: the Amazon page and website for The Declaration of Independents (which comes out in two weeks!). Me last year, on "No Labels, and the Ideology of Post-Ideology." And Nick Gillespie last month, on why Peter Beinart's post OBL-killing column is a perfect example of "Why Americans Hate Politics, Politicians, & The Media."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Name Nomad||

    Will this be recorded and posted on YouTube for those of us who have enough sense to not live in or near NYC?

  • ||

    Your loss.

  • Alex||

    Sorry, your response must be in the form of a question.

  • Pip||

    Your loss?

  • Pip||

    BTW, I'm not heller.

  • ||

    You sure about that?

  • LarryA||

    Can We Find Middle Ground in Left vs. Right America?

    Absolutely. There are lots of areas where liberals and conservatives agree that more government is necessary to solve all sorts of problems. There are others where Red and Blue are willing to compromise; you vote to expand my program and I'll vote to expand yours.

    We are so screwed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The middle ground tends to be some rather inflated real estate.

  • ||

    it's my own private cul de sac

  • ||

    I propose a scorched earth policy to the middle ground.

  • SIV||

    Why'd they invite a wingnut like Welch?

  • the arc of sooth||

    To add respectability and intellectual heft.

  • SIV||

    It's that damn Jackalope thing, right?
    Do they think it's still 2008?
    Didn't they hear about the "purge"?

  • SIV||

    War-mongering communitarian statist convention: I assume Brooks and Frum weren't available.

  • sevo||

    Historically, the "middle ground" seems to be 'we'll raise taxes and promise to cut expenses sometime in the future'. Which promise never quite happens.
    So I'll propose a new "middle ground":
    1) Cut S/S, Medicare and Obamacare *completely*, cut defense until the Euros pay for their own damn defense.
    As opposed to:
    2) Some not-quite-complete cancellation of all three boondoggles, but still make the Euros pay.
    Somewhere in between should be a "middle ground".

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Why are there no people of color represented at this discussion? The Core Club is that kind of club, isn't it?

  • rather||

    Why are there no people of color represented at this discussion?

    Because they have women taking the token presence jobs

  • rather retarded||

    I'm jealous.

  • Binky||

    Can We Find Middle Ground in Left vs. Right America?

    Does the Mississippi River count as "ground"?

    Seriously, my short answer is "No".

  • Pip||

    As someone who live just a few blocks from Old Man River I can assure you it has many islands.

  • Robert||

    This topic is interesting to me, too bad I have some other important political business that night.

    Sometimes the middle between "left" & "right" seems to come out rather authoritarian, other times very noticeably libertarian. About a decade and a half ago in "Ballot Access News", Richard Winger took the unusual step of publishing the 10 or so principles that were agreed to by some conclave of avowedly independent and minor-party activists, and it was IIRC about 85% libertarian and 0% authoritarian, which he told me is why he decided to print them. Supposedly they had gotten together only as part of the Independence-Reform-etc. movement that was about process and democracy rather than policy, so that was a surprise. Richard said he thought that showed the natural tendency now for the great majority of those who weren't tied to a major party in the USA was libertarian.

  • Robert||

    BTW, I hear John Avlon frequently on John Bachelor's program -- minutes ago for instance.

  • np||

    Why do we need to find a middle ground? Why not let everyone find their own ground? The so-called middle ground is riddled with compromise and always incorporates the worst of both sides where a some number of people are always oppressed to some degree in some manner (less choice, less freedom).

    The issue is that we've set up society to be like a tug-of-war where every side is pulling on their end of the rope to force others to conform to their views. Here's an idea: why not remove that rope? Let everyone come together *voluntarily*

    Almost everything can be accommodated for this way. Even something shared like the highway: can't agree on a speed limit? Then divide the highway into 2 or 3 speed sections and set up a faster-on-left, slower-on-right rule

    This is how it works on the high speed sections of the Autobahn where folks regularly go 120+ mph and where the accident rate is also significantly less than the US. Slower cars *must* stay on the right and faster cars *must* stay on the left. People request to pass by flashing their headlights and you *must* allow them to pass by moving over to the right (this is the first thing you may notice if you spend any time on the autobahn). You must then move back over to the left if you are traveling faster than your current lane.

    Everything else is sooo much simpler. If it doesn't force you or harm you *involuntarily* then you have no say in what someone else does. This can simple be tested via a "blackbox" method similar to blind and double-blind scientific tests. What effects are there? what loss of property or tangible injury is incurred *without be aware* of what the other person is doing?

    Even environmental can be approached this way: feel free to pollute your own property. But when I detect toxins on my property (or equivalently contamination without consent outside of your property)--and only then--it becomes a problem.

    The same approach and blackbox test can be applied to just about everything else: like freedom of expression, thus removing the absolutely irrational and illogical notion of criminalizing "obscene" speech. (e.g. unless someone is harassing you--forcing you to listen--then you have no say in others' expressions or speech)

  • ||

    Cool story bro. Never heard anything like it before.

  • Zuo||

    Never hurts to reiterate it. Don't be a jerk.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    umad bro?

  • Mike E||

  • hazeeran||

  • Zuo||

    There is no "middle ground". The fools who would have us believe there is are outright liars attempting to make the American children feel good. The country MUST be split. I propose the following sectors: North (socialist nanny state central planners); South (socon nanny state Christian traditionalists); and West (libertarian).

    Anybody who claims there IS a common middle ground is full of crap.

  • SIV||

    Why would CA,OR,and WA trend anymore "libertarian" than say SC or AL?

  • ||

    Yeah I don't think the socon bible-thumping christian is a relevant stereotype of 'the south' these days. Way more right-wing loonies elsewhere.

  • Zuo||

    Say what? In the West we really don't give a shit about all that social con BS that the republicans always pander to, for the sake of southern votes. People might remember that CA and WA once had quite deregulated and free systems, only a couple decades ago. WA retains unnaturally low taxes for a team blue state to this day.

    Why have they been driven into the arms of socialists, and Colorado and Nevada more recently? SOCIAL CONS. They alienate the shit out of "MYOFB" Western types. Bible thumpers dominate the midwest and the south. The midwestern ones are comfortable with communism to achieve their ideals of social justice. The southerners, not so much. Which is why a simple East-West partition wouldn't work out.

    And southerners will bitch to hear this, but I don't really trust groups that supported state-sanctioned discrimination, a mere 4 decades ago. Democrats and Southerners are guilty of this. The South is still full dry counties, and have ass backwards drug policies as well. There's really nothing libertarian about the south, apart from wanting to own guns.

  • the arc of sooth||

    Everybody is parochial and Zuo flashes his regional biases in blinding fashion.

    Have you ever lived anywhere but North Hollywood, Zuo? Social conservatives are driving people into the arms of socialism? Really? The people who advocate maintaining and celebrating a traditional family unit are driving people to want a government nanny state? Clueless douche.

  • Zuo||

    No, I've actually met people outside the echo chamber. Have YOU? Let me guess, you've never even been to the west. Here's a clue: more than 25% of ppl in OR, WA, and CO have NO RELIGION. NONE. And we don't want you and your "traditional family" bullshit. At all. To the point that we vote for economy destroying socialists instead. That's how much people hate socons. They don't want a nanny state, but they want a theo-state even less. Get out more.

  • Zuo||

    Oh, and I would bet money I've lived in more parts of the country than you have, you backwater "we needs ter celerbrate traditional families hurrrrr" yokel.

  • ||

    Liberal douche troll is a douche.

  • Zuo||

    Liberal huh. I've never voted for "D"-BAG. Have YOU? Hint: insults only work if theres a kernel of truth. I'm the farthest you can get from a nanny statist bleeding heart liberal. Don't like the fact that I think you and your "traditional family values" are shit? Deal with it, because we're political allies. And libertarians need everyone they can get.

  • the arc of sooth||

    What makes you think that I am a promoter of the traditional family? I just think your blaming family values advocates for socialists getting elected is profoundly ignorant and likely a result of blind hatred on your part. Douche.

  • Zuo||

    Instead of name calling, try talking to some people about WHY they vote "D" instead of "R". Hint, its not because they love having taxes jacked up and regulations shoved down their throat. You should worry about your own irrational hatred, instead of worrying about mine.

  • the arc of sooth||

    Instead of name calling, try talking to some people about WHY they vote "D" instead of "R". Hint, its not because they love having taxes jacked up and regulations shoved down their throat.

    Your analysis is myopic, simplistic and dead wrong. Most people who vote D do so because they want government handouts, not because they want drugs legalized or are worried about gay issues or obsess about abortion.

    You should worry about your own irrational hatred, instead of worrying about mine.

    I worry more about your ignorance. Douche.

  • the arc of sooth||

    Let me guess, you've never even been to the west.

    I used to live in Berkeley, CA. Does that count?

  • ||

    "In the West we really don't give a shit about all that social con BS that the republicans always pander to"
    Like in Orange County, CA that went republican in 2008?
    I've been to Colorado, lived in SoCal for 5 years and traveled all over the country, and by far, the most fucked up laws and bible-thumping I've seen has been outside of the south.

    "The midwestern ones are comfortable with communism to achieve their ideals of social justice."

    Can you point to the 'midwest' on the map?

    "And southerners will bitch to hear this, but I don't really trust groups that supported state-sanctioned discrimination, a mere 4 decades ago."

    You mean the segregation laws passed starting during The reconstruction period during which the Northern armies controlled everything involving southern politics?
    Or, Oh, you mean, like, people in the South should be held responsible for what their parents, grand parents, and great grand parents did?

    "The South is still full dry counties, and have ass backwards drug policies as well. "

    Yes, because CA, OR, WA, and CO are pot-smokers and growers paradises.. what with the few remaining legitimate licensed MM growers not having their crops seized by the feds.

    "There's really nothing libertarian about the south, apart from wanting to own guns."

    There's nothing remotely libertarian about the west coast, unless it involves the freedom to choose..wait nevermind.

  • Zuo||

    ROFL. There are more MMJ dispenseries in my town than bars! And more open all the time.

    And yes, I VERY VERY much doubt the libertarian credentials, of a group that DEMANDED that their state governments treat blacks like crap. No libertarian would EVER do that.

    Midwest = that belt of blue states who drooled over the community organizer, stretching from IA and MN in the west, to OH and WV in the east. (does not include the Great Plains states)

  • ||

    retarded tribalism is retarded

  • Zuo||

    See her's what I don't get. Why do midwesterners and southerners so desperately want to have any influence over the West? WE don't care about YOU, so leave US the hell alone instead of trying to stuff your bullshit down our throats. Bunch of fakeass 'libertarians'. Seriously, this summer come on a vacation to the West, make sure we drink a few beers to drop the facade, and see what most of us think of your Eastern shitholes and the people from them. *outside CA, we hate Californians just as much.

  • the arc of sooth||

    Zuo, who has lived in a bunch places, hates midwesterners, southerners, easterners. Does he also hate southeasterners, foreigners and people from the great plains? He also seems to think that only religious people are socially conservative. Insight depth, he has. Douche.

  • Zuo||

    arc of sooth: "Durrrr durrrr durrrr hurrrr. douche" Thanks for playing, you can go back to your sunday school playground now, dipshit.

  • Zuo||

    I appreciate Florida, and I have a much higher opinion of foreigners than I do of people east of the plains.

    And yeah, all those passionate agnostics and atheists protesting gays and abortion every which way, they sure are a nuisance. And when will they stop trying to force prayer in schools???

    Durrrr.

  • the arc of sooth||

    "I have a much higher opinion of foreigners than I do of people east of the plains."

    Would that be those same foreigners who come from traditional societies which despise gays? Douche.

  • ||

    retarded tribalism is still retarded. And drink.

  • the arc of sooth||

    "retarded tribalism is still retarded"

    I think you're being a little uncharitable, heller. Clearly, Zuo Douche's tribalism arises from long years of deep, soul searching examination of the many and varied experiences in his full, rich life.

  • robc||

    In the West we really don't give a shit about all that social con BS that the republicans always pander to

    Utah says Hi. They would insult you instead, but Mormons are much too nice.

  • Zuo||

    Yes, we all know Utah and mormons are the overwhelming majority of the population of the West. I mean, its not like they are a small cult of only a few million people, in a region that has nearly a third of the country's population, or anything. Clearly, Utah's size and influence blows AZ and CO and WA out of the water, not to mention CA.

    Perspective, get some.

  • Zuo||

    And this "mormons are nice" shit... have you lived with them? They are extremely nepotistic, and their behavior of popping out dozens of kids, and then demanding property taxes be raised so their schools can accomodate more kids and hire more teachers pisses me off.

    And what kind of "nice people" doctrinally believe mexicans and blacks are degraded races? Not to mention their anti-gay crusades. Mormons are well-loathed in the West, and they even cry about it as such all the time - their alleged persecution. Not unlike scientologists (who at least have affinities for learning how to fly an airplane, rather than going on foreign crusades to stop teh gheys).

    "Nice", my balls. More like "loves to act fake, deceitful, and whine about being opressed by non-cultists every chance they get". Fortunately, they are a tiny % of the West population.

  • the arc of sooth||

    what kind of "nice people" doctrinally believe mexicans and blacks are degraded races?

    That would be "progressives". You know, the people who promote abortion to keep the "lesser" races from breeding so much. Douche.

  • Zuo||

    Yeah and I think progressive liberals are pieces of shit. Your point? If its okay for liberals, its okay for "nice" mormons? I'm consistent. Are you?

  • Pip||

    Zuo, I'm sorry your father raped you year after year after year.

  • the arc of sooth||

    COLORADO AMENDMENT 2

    No Protected Status Based on Homosexual,
    Lesbian or Bisexual Orientation

    Neither the State of Colorado, through any of its branches or departments, nor any of its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities, or school districts, shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of, or entitle any persons or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination. This Section of the Constitution shall be in all respects self-executing.

  • Pip||

    Ever been to New Oreleans? Atlanta?

    Didn't think so.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "There's really nothing libertarian about the south, apart from wanting to own guns."

    Not so.

    Most southern states are right to work states - unlike the northeast.

  • Zuo||

    Touche. But most southern states also feverishly supported "right to slavery" with a passion. Southerners still look to those times and those people as a golden age. They have no credibility when it comes to libertarianism. The south has fucking baggage. They can whine about it all they want, but they have a HISTORY of anti-freedom. And actions count louder than words. They can lip service libertarianism all they want, their own history and actions tell a VERY different story. Too bad I'm not easily suckered by cheap rhetoric, like so many of the tools here.

  • ||

    Yeah, it's a little more complicated then that, but you clearly aren't interested in hearing challenges to your declaration of "teh West is teh best! Go TEAM WEST!"

    I mean, honestly, if you think the South is in imminent danger of reverting to segregation, then I'd say you have a skewed view of reality in general. If you think church ladies are more of a threat to freedom then the State, then there really isn't any talking to you.

  • Zuo||

    Here's where you fell down: church ladies DEMAND that the state intervene to carry out their personal religious biases. Its just what they do. And its in the South, mainly, where the state actually listens to and abides by the fucktarded requests of these "harmless" church whores.

  • the arc of sooth||

    Where was Mathew Shepherd killed again? Douche.

  • ||

    I always point to that Texas case from 1998. The worst part of Jim Crow, IMO, was the way whites could get away with committing heinous acts against blacks. But when those three dragged that man to death they were caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced. Two got the death penalty, and one got life in prison, which is about the way Texas treats all murderers.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "The country MUST be split. I propose the following sectors: North (socialist nanny state central planners); South (socon nanny state Christian traditionalists); and West (libertarian)."

    If the west is going to BECOME libertarions (since it isn't any more so than anywhere else now), then you westerners will have to come up with a lot of cash to buy all that land the federal government owns out there. It owns more of the land in the west than it does anywhere else.

  • ((*.*))||

    Is that Peter Beinart??! Hawt! And my mouth is just his size!

  • MWG||

    "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."

    -Galt

    Of course both the traditional left and right could be considered evil in their own statist loving ways.

  • ||

    Ned Stark just got his head chopped off.

    That is all.

  • Brett L||

    Spoiler Alert: Get used to it.

  • byrd||

    Hasn't "No Labels" changed their name to the more descriptive "Please Don't Call Us What We Are" yet?

  • ||

    I thought they were going to rename themselves "Really, Really, Really, not Leftists"

  • Brett L||

    "No Principles" wasn't marketing well.

  • PeterPatrick||

    That's really great news. Hope to see u there.

  • 35N4P2BYY||

    You had me at, "Alcohol will be served." What would make this even more entertaining would be if one of the panelist made a good point the other panelist would have to do a shot.

  •  ||

    Mr. Welch, do you ever read the comments and get really embarrassed?

  • Brett L||

    I don't know about embarrassed, but when SF goes full politcal slashfic, I feel ill.

  • ||

    lol, is this being billed as a comedy?

    www.complete-privacy.no.tc

  • ||

    What about for a conservative Gregoooo? Don't you hate conservatives?

  • ||

    Fucking squirrels.

  • ||

    Telling that the a debate on "Can We Find Middle Ground in Left vs. Right America?" has no one on the panel that is actually on the right. Telling but not surprising.

    Performance art. Please be sure to notify the right what to think and do as usual.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    This "middle ground" stuff pisses me off.

    There are not two equally valid positions being pushed with the "correct" path somewhere in the middle.

    Liberals are the one's who want to stick their nose into everybody else's business, tell them what to do about just about every aspect of existence and use force to take other people's money to spend on whatever they want.

    That is not an equally balanced position compared to the view that government should enforce contracts and private property rights and otherwise leave us alone.

    If someone advocates that they should have the authority to take $100 of my money and I advocate they have the authority to take none of it, the "middle ground" of them taking $50 of is just as invalid as taking $100 of it.

  • ||

    Yes those are the liberal and conservative positions now, when we have a liberal president. Wait until we have a conservative president and those positions will switch.

  • ||

    Any type of middle ground would be great to find, but another ship tonight to rescue us might be even better.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TitanicRoute.svg

  • Federal Dog||

    CUNY has *ahem* forgiving standards.

  • TheSporadical||

    If you missed it, Peter Beinart TOTALLY suggested that every citizen upon turning 18 should be isolated in remote areas of Alaska and forced to read books rather than use social media.OK, he didn't say that exactly, but he did stress the value of such experiences, institutionally.

    Also, the whole night led up to John Avlon introducing the "No Labels" initiative which might be a fuzzy idea, but at least it seems well-intentioned and they even have a subgroup just for women.

    I myself, joined the libertarian bloc of "No Labels" for a glass of wine and conversation.

    And yes...I am aware of the awesome irony of the last two statements.

    Necessary jokes aside, a nice event at a swank joint with decent participants.

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