Politically Homeless

In Blog, Politics by Will Luden27 Comments

Conservative. Liberal. Republican. Libertarian. Moderate. Democrat. Progressive. Independent. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal.

Those are the descriptors that people apply to themselves. Here’s what some people call and say about the others: “Libtard”, “Trumpist”, and, “You’re a Fascist,” “No, you’re a fascist.” These labels have lost all  ability to fairly identify, educate and inform; they are simply insults. And we often hurl these “labels” at each other.

We have weaponized labels.



I started my political life thinking that I was a Democrat. After all, they are the ones who want to help people. Right? Then I thought I was a Republican. They are the responsible ones. Right? I really thought that I knew who I was politically when I heard Jimmy Carter say that he was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Ah. Perfect.

For many years, I was happy with describing myself the way then candidate and President Carter described himself. But as the political landscape has become dysfunctionally more polarized, the original definitions of Mr. Carter’s terms have become obsolete. “Fiscal conservative” no longer means simply handling taxpayer money efficiently and having tax and regulatory policies that support robust, responsible economic growth. For many, it is coming to mean that you are at least somewhat suspicious of the Federal Reserve, support a return to the gold standard, and want a retreat to the original Federal Income Tax rate of 2%. Similarly, “social liberal” used to mean, at least to me, live and let live when it came to lifestyles. Now, it seems to be morphing into meaning “anything goes.” And not only simple tolerance for the anything that’s going; we have growing numbers of groups demanding elaborate accomodations for, well, just about anyone who declares themselves to be different. So now what do I do? How do I describe myself politically? Can I find a home? Create a home?

Common Goals. I describe myself as a man seeking common goals. (How’s that for a party name?) Don’t most of us share the same common, bedrock goals? I don’t mean desires that many share like wanting this party or this candidate to win (or the other party or person to lose), I mean the core, meaningful, underlying goals that most of us share. Find the common  ground (yes, it exists), add statistically-significant facts (facts that apply broadly to the issue, not to, say merely 1%, but you use them because they support one side or the other), then apply non agenda-based reasoning. It works. And if the discussion falls off track, go back to the common goals–the touchstone–to get back on track.

Let look at a few examples together:

  • Education Goal: Having the best pre-K thru 12 education with the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Note, this does not presuppose one and only one way to get there. None of these goals do. A good starting approach here might be to allow free access to fully funded traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools via vouchers. Allow parents to make the right decision for their children, and allow competition to deliver the best product for the kids, parents and society. K-12.
  • Poverty Goal: Getting people out of poverty and into comfort in a way that they can eventually stay there on their own. And providing lifetime support for those who can’t provide for themselves. (Can’t vs. won’t is another discussion.) Responsibility.
  • Race Goal: Achieving racial harmony and overall success. Not by using race to support any particular ideology, and not by being afraid of being politically incorrect. We can get there–together–only recognizing the strengths, and, yes, and weaknesses, of each ethnicity. It will take great courage in today’s political climate to speak this necessary truth.
  • Gender harmony and overall success Goal: Pause for the truth. Men and women are not the same. And races are different. And herein lies enormous power. We can lean on and benefit greatly from the various strengths of the races and genders, using those positives to shore up the accompanying weaknesses. Learn from each other. Depend on each other’s strengths. In this way, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. 1 + 1 + 1 = 15–or more. But only in this way. If we defy part of the the fundamental genius of God and nature and insist the that all ethnicities and both genders are the same, the whole–all of us–can never be more than, well, a collection of people with much the same to offer. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3–at best.
  • Tax and money Goal: Setting tax and other economic policies to maximize the national economy, lower the burden on individuals–and do it in a way that allows the government to do its defined job efficiently. It is not a question of generally preferring higher or lower taxes. The question is clearer than that: 1. How much money is required to support the government in the tasks it does best and 2. What is the lowest tax structure that delivers the required funds while being fair to those taxed?
  • Etc. What are some other examples of areas where we have/can have common ground?

None of these questions have easy answers. But all of them direct the conversations away from cliches, foregone conclusions and “proof by insult” or “accusation by identity” toward manageable, productive conversations. Conversations that can lead to, well, results with reason.

Yesterday, alone, I was politically homeless. Today, working together–working with you–I know we will build a political home together, a home built on the foundation of common goals, and erected with “Passionate, Relentless Reasoning.”



Let’s do this together. Find the common goals. Take action. Comment in the blog. Mention the blog to others. Stand by for the podcast.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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Will Luden

As an author, speaker, public company board chair, family man, a man with many friends (and friends-to-be), citizen and a child of God, I am driven to contribute. One way to for me to contribute is to start thought-provoking discussions.My overall objective is to stimulate “Passionate, Relentless, Reasoning.” My specific goals include getting people to act (only) after Reasoning.
Will Luden
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  1. Will, as you know, I am a lifelong Liberal. I agree in general with what you have sketched out, with a couple of exceptions.

    First, in the Poverty Goal section, I’m not sure “comfort” is the right word. One person’s idea of comfort could be another person’s idea of luxury. Would you say basic housing, electricity and plumbing, food on the table, a safe refuge from crime? What about a job that is at least at minimum wage?

    Second, in the Gender Harmony section. While I recognize that men and women are different, I believe that as far as the government and employers are concerned they deserve the same rights and access. Furthermore, I accept that some people are LGBTQ and they have the same rights.

    You don’t mention abortion but I will because it is a gender issue. I believe in a woman’s right to choose whether she carries a pregnancy to term. Abortion should be allowed right up until a fetus would be viable on its own.

    Finally, you don’t mention Health Care. I believe that all Americans need access to basic health care. We have a system in which some people can afford it and some cannot. But the “cannots” often get medical care anyway, and that is often at great expense — in emergency rooms or when their diseases have greatly progressed — and that ends up costing Society a lot more than it would have. Some people don’t understand how insurance works (that you need healthy and sick people in the pool) and didn’t want government telling them they had to be in the insured pool, so the ACA didn’t fly. I believe that time will prove the dismantling of that provision to be a problem.

    1. Author

      Hi Ann, Many thanks for a long and thoughtful response. I am happy with either the word “comfort” or “basic;” both words mean different things to different people. The key here is distinguishing between knowing to whom to give the comfort or basic necessities. Give it, temporarily when possible, to those who simply cannot provide for themselves. And nothing for those who simply will not. Difficult distinction. Tough, necessary, implementation. Abortion is clearly controversial, and, to me boils down to two questions: 1. When does life begin (a moral question, not a legal one) and 2. When is it OK for the state to sanction the taking of a life. Re healthcare, I fully agree that all who want it should have access (I do not see it as a right.). Access means that those who “can” will have affordable access, those who “can’t” will have it provided and those who “won’t” go fish. Same thinking applies to food, clothing, housing, some level of entertainment, etc. Thoughts?

  2. Will good thoughts – I listened to a thought provoking sermon/discussion this morning at SaddlebackChurch – the discussion/ sermon was between Pastor Rick Warren and Dr. John M. Perkins, Pastor, author and civil rights leader. The main point were as follows:




  3. Well said. I would add to you list reclaiming science and a fact baes rational decision making process.
    I am politically homeless too. So are many friends and family members. There is talk of fining common ground and starting a new party.

    1. Author

      Juliet, yes, actual facts (sad to have to modify the word “facts”) and science are vital to any honest, common goals-based, results-seeking process. And what do you see as the “common grounds” and how do you and your family and friends see your roles in starting a new party?

  4. Hi Will.

    Again, your blog is stimulating and ties in with something I just learned about … 2 serious, scholarly books (Fiorina’s “Unstable Majorities” and Lee’s “Insecure Majorities”) have recently analyzed the polarization of American politics in an interesting way . They say that the two political parties and the media are extremely polarized, but that the American people are not that polarized. They say the Democrats/progressives and their media are at one end, the Republicans/conservatives and their media are at the other, but 40% of Americans are in the middle, represented by no political party.

    In your blog, you seem to be staking out sort of a middle position that the Republicans/Democrats have abandoned. The two parties have gone so nuts and extreme, Libertarians are now claiming the middle as well.

    If you buy these ideas, the obvious thing would be to create a 3rd party that would occupy the middle. However, all the analysts insist that the electoral college in combination with the unit rule prevents a 3rd party from succeeding unless they knock off one of the two major parties (as the Republicans did in 1860 and the Bull Moose tried in 1912 ).

    What to do … I think there might be some strategy that could knock off one party or the other. They are both seem to be staggering.

    1. Author

      Dr. Gus, I love these exchanges with you. I read about “Insecure Majorities” just recently. And I was hoping that Carly would have wound up as a VP candidate–at least. I see the political spectrum less as left to right with, well, the middle, in the middle. The continuum that I see as helpful is “disgusted and dropped” out on one end, “fat and happy with the way things are” at the other end, and “wandering in the desert,” AKA politically homeless, in the middle. Just guessing, I’d say the percentages are about 20, 40 and 40, respectively. My take is that both parties are in the fat and happy end. We do indeed need need Revolution 2.0 ™. A thought revolution…I hope.

      1. By the way, that Fiorina is a male and not related to Carly.

        I guess your statement leads to the question: “How Do Revolutions Occur?” My impression is that “thought and concept revolutions” … Iike the Enlightenment leading to modern science and technology, Mozart, and the Declaration of Independence … have mostly come from the top down. Teams of great thinkers develop ideas that trickle down to pundit thought-leaders in the media, then they trickle down to dopey political parties parties.

        I guess Marxism and Post-Modernism came to us in about the same way … though they came by way of different intellectuals and different pundits.

        Now, it seems like the top-down processes may be disappearing as all hierarchies seem to be going away.

        Matt Ridley (one of my favorites) says that most good things actually come from chaotic, bottom-up processes that are not controlled by anyone. If that is so, the internet will save us all … if it doesn’t kill us first.

        I would guess that 90% of the real, card-carrying academic economists (that is, everyone but Krugman and Blinder) would say that a cut in corporate tax to make the US company operations competitive with those in other countries would be good for everyone, especially the middle class. But, 90% of the pundits were against it, and 65% of the general public believed that a cut in the corporate tax would be a “give-away to the rich”.

        I feel like the 2 political parties used to be dummies who would respond slowly to great intellectual winds. Now, I feel like maybe they are dummies who will drive us over some cliff to win the next election … before the internet can save us.

        1. Author

          If necessity in the mother of invention, then let’s hope that crushing necessity in the mother of Revolution 2.0™. My hope–and belief–is that the Internet will be the sea in which the agents of change, e.g., you and me, change will sail. “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.” Mao

  5. Will, I share your political homelessness. I have always considered myself a conservative, having cast my first presidential vote for Goldwater, but that brand of conservatism seems to have died and been taken over by racists and xenophobes. The thought occurs to me that we need a party that is idealistic without being ideological; One that can look at a perceived problem and first ask, “Can government make it better? Will government make it worse?”
    Like Juliet, above, I dream of a new party. It seems to me that the only viable way to get it started would be for some current office holders, such as Democrats from Trump states and Republicans from Clinton states, to get together and take a stand. Are there any with the courage and leadership to do that? Would it be possible to build on something existing like the remnants of the Reform party?
    I’d be willing to participate if something viable gets started.

  6. Was thinking of consolidating my writing into a blog and found this place of refuge. You and I are on similar crusades. I’m convinced that “passionate, relentless reasoning” is close enough to “engineering solutions for political/world issues” for us to be related. Obviously, my path to being politically homeless was trod through about 40 years of science and engineering.. Including 30 years of consulting in advanced product design for dozens of companies around the world.

    There’s no limit to what I might opine on — because, while I’ve pursued my vocation, I’ve passionately engaged in following, discussing, writing about topics that span the spectrum from Independent and 3rd party politics, corporate/govt collusion, peace in the Middle East, Global Warming and Criminal Justice reform. There’s no lingering malignant problem that passes me by. And because of a recent disability, I’ve retired early and started to focus on writing about them.

    I do have to disclose upfront, before I camp on your site to read more — that I’ve said some very crass and generally awful things about the minions of MBAs that this nation has recruited in the past couple decades to efficiently break the concepts of customer service, product reliability, differentiation and choice, and loyalty to American innovation and success. I’ll try to suppress all that in the interest of “common goals” Your choice to boot me because of that or not. LOL..

    Enough about my biases.. “”Etc. What are some other examples of areas where we have/can have common ground?””

    The latest crusade I’m on is to create a political awareness of the dangers of the 2 Party dominance. The polarization is killing critical thinking about all issues and discussions. Trust me. I’m a senior moderator at one of America’s largest message boards. And I’m totally done with what passes for discussion among the partisan party animals. You’ve written about the political spectrum as you see it (and similarly to how I see it) — and one of primary Common Goals has to be giving a voice to the 40% in the middle. I call it the “Big Middle”, because at some point in the near future, given the proclivities of both Brand Name parties to become increasingly distracted with obtaining and hold power instead of working for us, this non-combative middle ground WILL be bigger than both parties summed together.

    Getting that voice is critical and unfortunately it requires a bit of retail politics to reverse the damage that 2 party politics has caused. Not just for US as citizens and voters, but for our representatives in Congress as well. There are no independent voices in Congress save the four major party bosses that control the process and dialogue. We need to make the case that INDEPENDENT VOICES and thinking must return to Capitol Hill. Doesn’t require a full domination of our leadership institutions in Washington. Even a dozen truly independent leaders drafted from the ranks of respected (say) former governors and senators would do.. There are by my count, 531 redundant clones there that can only offer opinions and sound bites that are fully coherent with what the four bosses want their messaging and voting to be.

    1. Author

      Larry, please do not hold my HBS MBA against me…:). I, too, am deeply concerned about the 2-party system. The Libertarian Party has an intriguing platform, but don’t seem to take running candidates seriously. What are your thoughts?

      1. Can’t hold your MBA against you. I’m too interested in reading your opinions on important stuff. LOL…

        I’m not as hot on party politics of any kind at the moment. Come to the conclusion that “parties” are perverting the original intents of American Governance. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen these quotes — but it inspired me to write an article I’m submitting now for Magazine publication..

        There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
        JOHN ADAMS, letter to Jonathan Jackson, October 2, 1789

        However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
        GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

        We were warned. It was obvious that having just TWO fingers pointed at each other for several lifetimes would end in complete polarization and leadership dysfunction.

        The Libertarian party serves a purpose. More thru the agencies of the Cato think tank and the libertarian alternative to the ACLU which is the Institute for Justice. They are the only remaining group of TRUE Civil Libertarians in America. I’ve spent much time working with them, but “governing” is not really their “thing”. Although the LP is the ONLY party that jumps all the hoops to get on the ballots of ALL 50 states for every Prez election.. And that’s another value to our system. And we’ve been consistently correct on most all issues about 20 years BEFORE the rest of America comes around to our thinking. From decriminalizing marijuana to the patently and chronically Middle East policies that this nation has stubbornly pursued.

        I only brought that up because of your revelation about “being socially liberal, but fiscally conservative — which is the basis of belief in libertarian land.

        The important thing is getting leadership that is free to speak and act independent of “party” in Washington. Without that “enlightenment” of DC — anything you or I want to do to solve problems or heal wounds is not likely to get traction. The allegiance to party over principles has to be broken in order to affect change.

        That’s where I’m at right now.

        1. Author

          Larry, when I read your responses, my first thought is, “When does Larry do a guest podcast?” I have taken note of both of your wonderful quotes. They will be used in the near future–perhaps after the re-branding to Revolution 2.0™ which is in the works. I agree completely that the allegiance to party over principles must be broken. I am also working on myself to address issues instead of labels. Cheers, Will

    2. Author

      Hi Larry, or should I address you as Fellow Pilgrim? I’d love to get to know more about you, your message board, etc. and more etc…:). Respectfully, Will

  7. Larry and Will

    I feel a strong response to some of Will’s blogs and to Larry’s letter. We might argue the details, but it seems pretty clear that both our political parties have been hijacked by extremists. While businesses are castigated by the media for lobbying and buying elections, it is the one-issue, non-profit organizations that tend to be the most extreme and damanging … at both xtremes. The fact that the internet (Facebook, Google, Twitter, and, now, the news) gives more play to extreme views than moderate views has caused every one-issue organization to become more extreme … and, franky, ridiculous … in the views that it advocates.

    I agree that the Libertarians act like kids playing at soldiers, rather than men and women at war … but, from a “retail” perspective, the Libertarians have a lot of “stores”, i.e., they are on the ballot in almost every state. It seems to me like maybe the Libertarian Party could be hijacked by people who have similar views but feel more strongly that serious work needs to be done to bring this country back to its senses.

    When I started to lean Libertarian in the 1970’s, it looked like an extreme group … now it seems to me that most of their views are close to the middle of America.

    Regardless of your response to my views, I appreciate what Will and Larry have been saying, and I am with you in spirit.

    CR (Gus) Manning
    Livermore, California

    1. Author

      Gus, I am intrigued by the idea of hijacking the Libertarian Party, and am drawn to your “retail” observation. Or is it better to start anew, Tea Party style? This has all the facets of a classic “make vs. buy decision”…:). Cheers, Will

  8. Will. A better analogy is maybe merging with a small public company that has already gone through the now-onerous IPO process to avoid going through it yourself. It is difficult to inagine the insecure hostility of the 2 parties to any competition and the power they can wield WHEN THEY AGREE. They are truly holding us HOSTAGE.

  9. Will. I don’t see any shell except the Libertarian Party … already on the ballot in almost every state. They are also close to being included in Presidential debates. The other important thing would be to find a strong candidate who is already widely known … and is seen as “centrist”.

  10. No. Of the known politicians who have run for President in the past, only John Kasich is very close to the actual middle. He is popular in Ohio, but he is not exactly a Libertarian. Beyond that, I guess it would need to be someone like Rost Perot who is already well-know, has lots of money, and wants to enter politics

    1. Author

      Gus, thanks; too bad that Scott Walker is not 1. a multi-billionaire and 2. on my Christmas card list. But he is looking for his next gig…:).

  11. I just did a quick read on how the Republican Party was formed in the 1850’s. It seemed to be a coalition of ex-Whigs and other minor parties and included some incumbent office holders. I agree that the idea of using an existing party would be an easier way to go, but am leery of the Libertarians because their name and membership are closely associated with an ideology that tends to lead to extreme positions on various issues. What’s the Reform Party doing these days?
    I agree that a key would be to find attractive and well-known candidates, not just a presidential candidate. In fact, it may be better to build from the ground up to avoid a personality cult. There may also be some ground to be gained by endorsing certain candidates of one of the other parties, as the Liberal and Conservative parties in New York used to do.
    Glad to see this thought string is still going.

    1. Author

      Charlie, Gus Manning, also a responder, seems to be advocating backing into the Libertarian party and taking over. It would create a huge food fight, but they are on the ballot in almost all sates–a key requirement for getting elected as opposed to “making a statement”, AKA pissing into the wind.

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