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The Best That You Can Do: One Man’s Attempt to Bridge America’s Political Divide

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Robert Schlaffer has had it.

A twenty-nine year veteran of New York City’s Transit Authority who recently retired as a manager, he has been monitoring American political affairs closely since well before the 2008 presidential election, and finds himself equally disappointed with the policies of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Instead of merely venting his anger through the airwaves of talk radio, or the pages of an inevitably seldom-read blog, he has decided to do something requiring a bit more fortitude; establishing his own political movement, which he has dubbed the Best Party, inspired by the highly entertaining, and smashingly successful, pursuits of Icelandic comedian Jon Gnarr.

Mr. Schlaffer is also my close uncle; when he asked me to write a bit about his new organization, I was only too happy to oblige. “The Best Party,” he explained, “believes in democracy; government by the people. Members can align themselves with any party. We got ourselves into this political quandary as a result of Republicans and Democrats becom(ing) too ridgid in following the party line (whether this be) right or wrong.”

That last sentence sounds like exactly the sort of message which I have been trying to get across for nearly a year now.

What about specific stances on key policy issues, though? When it comes to fiscal matters, he told me that, “Those in true need must be included in our social safety net to prevent hunger and homelessness. We must provide some sort of medical aid to those who cannot afford it, but Obamacare is not the option. Those citizens and non-citizens who are taking advantage of government handouts must be rooted out and made to pay back ill-gotten gains.”

After hearing this, I could not help but wonder if somehow he had been  reading my mind. On matters relating to foreign policy, however, we differ quite a bit, as the Best Party, “does not see a major threat to our national security” in the present state of international play. We nonetheless reach a mutual point of view on domestic defense issues, with both of us believing that “the threat from white supremacists and radicalized Muslims is of great concern and both must be seen and addressed as an equal threat to our (country’s) security.”

A self-described centrist, Mr. Schlaffer urges those with whom he holds political discussions to join the Best Party because, “Both [the Republican and Democratic leaderships] feel empowered and see no threat to their abusive and counterproductive actions. We are a capitalist society, a little competition to the status quo might put us back on the right track.” How does one go about attaining membership in the Best Party? It is more about being of a certain state of mind than making donations, stuffing envelopes, or voting a straight ticket. From what I understand, all one truly needs to do is think for him- or herself, using logic and reason, as opposed to sheer emotionalism, along with maintaining correspondence with elected officials when necessary.

As a pragmatic center-right Republican in the mold of the late Nelson Rockefeller, a true leader who thought nothing of crossing partisan lines while serving the state of New York as its governor and our nation as her vice president, I am all for the Best Party and wish it tremendous success during the years to come. Needless to say, I am sure that the same goes for the vast majority of those reading this. Perhaps now, more than ever, the political landscape of the United States could use a legitimate movement promoting unyielding moderation on the hot-button topics of any given day, regardless of whatever they might be.  It most certainly beats conservatives calling their adversaries “communists” and liberals referring to their opponents as “fascists”.

Indeed, the time for the Best Party is now.

About Joseph F. Cotto

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    We can agree that two parties aren’t enough to work through complex array of issues we face. Have taken look at your uncle’s Best Party website: With the stroke of a pen state governments are taking away the contracts and collective bargaining rights of middle class workers. Why can’t we borrow the same pen and take away the rights of Big Oil?

    Have come up with deliciously ironic fate for “Big Oil.” Details forthcoming.