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A Political Bridge for 2008

Posted on May 1, 2007

The top six candidates (from left to right): Edwards, Obama, Clinton, Giuliani, McCain and Romney.

Steve Kornacki, community outreach director of Unity08, the online independent party, speaks with Truthdig about his organization’s vision for a third way in the coming election, why our political system is broken and how he intends to fix it.

Click here to listen to this and other interviews.


James Harris: This is Truthdig.  James Harris sitting down with the esteemed Josh Scheer, and on the phone we have Steve Kornacki. He’s the community outreach director for Unity08.  It’s a new political party, and it is their hope that they can bridge Republican and Democratic ideals.  I know you [readers] may think it’s a far-fetched effort.  Steve, tell me about what you guys are trying to accomplish over at Unity08. 

Steve Kornacki: It’s a collaboration between veterans of two different parties and from sort of a different era of American politics.  Doug Bailey is a Republican.  Sort of an old-school Republican, in the sense that he, you’d call him a moderate Republican.  He ... worked for Gerald Ford.  That was probably his most prominent campaign experience.  He teamed up with Hamilton Jordan, who was Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, sort of the architect of the Carter presidential campaign in ‘76, and Jerry Rafshoon, who was Jimmy Carter’s ... communications director during that ‘76 campaign.  So you have three people, and two were on Carter’s side in ‘76 and one of them was on [President] Ford’s side in ‘76.  And yet they’ve come together in the year 2008 to sort of say there was an era in American politics when we could have our differences.  We could even campaign against each other but at the end of the day we were able to sort of seek out the common ground that existed, to not make politics overly personal.  This sort of, you know, personal-combat nature of politics that’s taken hold in the last 25 years wasn’t so prominent back then.  It didn’t affect them even though they ran against each other.

  And you’re looking at a 2008 election that’s coming up and what they [Bailey, Jordan and Rafshoon] saw and what I think a lot of people are seeing is that this country has been—and you can blame anybody you want, Democrats can blame Republicans, and Republicans can blame Democrats.  In the 1990s, it’s fair to say the Republicans were out to get Bill Clinton.  Whether you think they were right or wrong, they were out to get him, and in this decade the Democrats have been out to get George W. Bush.  And again, whether you think they’re right or wrong, that’s been what has defined and dominated our politics, and in the meantime the Democratic Party gets so defined by what it’s against and the Republican Party gets so defined by what it’s against, you forget that there are a lot of good people in both of these parties that have a lot of similar values, a lot of similar concerns.  And they are completely relegated to the sidelines of most debates in Congress, most debates in Washington, D.C., these days.


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So our conclusion, Doug and Jerry and Hamilton, and then my conclusion in joining in with them, and I hope the conclusion of a lot of other people, is that the kind of common ground, the kind of unity, the kind of common-sense government that we seek, really isn’t going to come in the year 2008 from either one of these political parties.  It’s got to come from a new movement, and that’s what Unity08 is.  The idea is that around this time next year the two parties will nominate candidates who—we don’t know who they’ll be, but if past is prologue most Americans will be looking for a third choice because neither party will nominate somebody who is that inspiring.  Both parties will nominate someone who is more beholden to the hard-core element of his or her party.  So we’re going spend the year building a vehicle so that this time a year from now a third choice can emerge, and the one condition that we set is the third choice needs to be bipartisan. One Democrat, one Republican, on a ticket, either order.  And that’s the concept of Unity08. 

Josh Scheer: Is this a centrist party? 

Kornacki: I don’t like that term because we’re sort of, when you say centrist  you’re sort of buying into the terminology of the D.C. consultant world.  That’s the wrong way of putting it.  You’re defining left and right, the way it’s defined in our combat politics these days.  You’re defining left and right pretty much according to wedge issues, and what we’re saying is we reject the left and right definitions that exist because we reject the issues they’re based on.  They’re mostly based on issues that have very little to do with the average person’s daily life.  Gay marriage is a great example, abortion is a great example.  We have invested so much of our politics and geared so much of our politics towards wedge social issues that pit people against each other, that get people to the polls.  I mean, goodness, we saw this in 2004.  This president may very well owe his reelection to the use of a particularly ugly wedge issue, and our point is, we’re not trying to get into the middle of that, we’re just trying to reject that altogether.

We’re trying to talk about issues.  We’re trying to create a vehicle where it’s safe for candidates to talk about and address, head-on, issues that neither party really wants to address.  Social Security is a great issue; the national debt’s a great example.  My God, it was considered a scandal in 1992 that our national debt had creeped up to $4 trillion.  Folks, we’re two years away from $10 trillion, and that’s being piled on the next generation.  It used to be, it went without saying that every generation’s responsibility in this country was to leave it better off for the next generation, and yet nobody in Congress even seems to think about that, in either party.  We just passed the, my God, Iraq spending bill that’s going through right now and, again, let’s take the Iraq question out of it, which, I know that’s sort of a ridiculous statement, but a question of war and peace should be decided on the basis of war and peace.  And what has the Congress done?  They’ve gone and inserted pork into the bill to entice support in the House and the Senate to pass the bill.  Shame on them for doing that, shame on the congressmen who went along with it, and shame on the president who now suddenly decides to develop a conscience on that issue and says, oh, I’m going to veto this because of the pork, when he’s been only too happy to sign bills from the Republican Congress for the last six years that have taken that national debt and brought it to the verge of $10 trillion.  Shame on all of them.  Nobody seems to care about that issue.

And that’s just one example of what I think Unity08 can address.  And if you want to call that left, right or center, you can call it whatever you want but we call it ignored.  And that’s our idea.  Put some sunlight on it. 

Scheer: I understand where you’re coming from, and maybe centrist is the wrong term, but when you get a left-wing Democrat who wants healthcare for all and the government should pay for it, and then you get someone on the right who’s saying, no, we can’t pay for it because we’re going to creep up that national debt, you guys aren’t, you don’t pick those kind of sides.  You’re trying to find a middle ground between behavioralists and structuralists. 

Kornacki: Absolutely.  Healthcare’s a great example because the debate has sort of stalled in Washington.  Clinton brought it—well, hell, Harry Truman in his first address after WWII to the Congress asking them to pass a universal healthcare bill.  That was, quick math here, 62 years ago. But, Clinton sort of brought it to the fore in the early ‘90s.  The Republicans killed it, and we haven’t really had a serious healthcare discussion in Washington, D.C., since then, but you know what’s happened, if you look around the country, a lot of state legislatures, which are far less polarized on partisan grounds and ideological grounds, have sort of taken the initiative and you’ve found interesting alliances, interesting coalitions being built between the parties, between the contrasting ideologies.  Massachusetts is a pretty good example of this.  You’re probably seeing some of the stories now, a year ago, they passed what is pretty close to a universal healthcare bill in that state.  You had a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, signing it.  And you had a legislature that’s 87 percent Democratic.  Perhaps the most Democratic legislature in the country, that sort of crafted the legislation and passed it.  There’s some disputes around the margins there, and some of the Democrats felt Romney vetoed a few things in there because of his presidential ambitions and trying to play to the right and all that.  But, Massachusetts is just one example.  A lot of states are taking the initiative on this now, and we’re saying, my God, if the state legislatures are capable of coming together and actually keeping their eye on the ball and, that is, getting healthcare to people who need it, why can’t the Congress?  What’s the excuse of the Congress?

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By Wayne S Gallant, October 23, 2007 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Steve Kornacki is sort of, well he’s sort of inarticulate.  If he’s the best spokesman for Unity08, they’re up the creek without a boat, much less a paddle.

But to the issue.  I see U8 as either a utopian pipedream (as in opium pipe), or a ploy by the two major parties to erode any true third party challenge to their quadrennial swapping of power, which bears a strong resemblance to wife swapping.  Each are the running dogs of the military-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical giants, and all the other vested interest groups which control them by pulling the pursestrings.

Does anyone sincerely believe that you can get two also-rans from the major parties to get in bed together?  Imagine that you think, as I do, that Ron Paul and Dennis Kuchenich represent the outsider point of view most likely to appeal to voters rabid for a change in national direction.  I just don’t see how you could get either to agree to appear on a ticket with the other.  Got a better slate in mind?

The lesson of the Gracci is that two party systems always devolve into a succession of first one and then the other selling out to an hegemony which buys them, each in it’s turn.

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By Leefeller, May 17, 2007 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment

We need to get rid of the electoral college first.  If we had a bunch of political parties, the special interest guys would be working overtime.

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By DennisD, May 17, 2007 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since we’ve been electing mere figure heads as leaders in this country for the last several decades it really won’t matter if there are ten parties.  The MONEY must be removed from our political system for it to have any chance of working the way it was intended to. Our so called representatives were elected to represent “we the people” not f**king corporations or other business entities, they are not people and I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution where they are entitled to the rights of the people. Yet they have become our shadow government and pull the strings our politicians dance to. Don’t forget the monkey won’t dance until the organ grinder’s been paid.
Campaign finance reform is more than our bullshit politicians stating the difference between hard and soft money categories of the graft payoffs they receive. Only a politician could dream up that terminology and call it reform.

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By Nitro, May 15, 2007 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

Well well my old Heathen Savage friend TAO (#67766), here a day late and a dollar short, I return from pushing the cows up a little further to pasture, only to find myself venturing out onto another political bridge I thought better to stay away from as well, yet… Besides, I find the cattle having more sense than most political hopefuls.

A third party by the Unity 08 group, or the fourth party of yet another group, still the old left hand, right hand trick to me. Watch them, they’re all slippery.

The Tiyoshpaye Way, or the Way of the Ancient Ones is a much better way. Maybe someday I’ll see Turtle Island before the left, right, leaves us yet with another valley of blood to walk through…

One thing for sure, from the “Rock of the Angels,” this old Heathen Savage saw and heard just another leg bone gnawing and the gnashing of more teeth. It seems it would be nice though, if theamericanpeople had someone worth following, since they need a leader so bad. Good thing “we” don’t follow the sheep to yet another slaughter…

And if the Bushit regime, or the third party, or fourth party does not extinct our existance, my hope is to see you on the trail of life way past 2012. And my regards to Joseph as well if he be there.

To a better day my friend…


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By SL, May 15, 2007 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
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We need to bridge the gap between the parties. We are currently so caught up in the politics of party separation that I believe the bigger issues, which the parties are meant to address, are ignored. Global poverty is something which affects everyone and that we should all work on together to overcome. The US agreed to the UN Millennium Goals in 2000, which set a timeline for first reducing, and ultimately eliminating, poverty worldwide. According to the Borgen Project every 3.6 seconds someone dies of starvation. This can be changed and we need leadership that will fight poverty, no matter their party.

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By Pat, May 13, 2007 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment
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Neither party represents us. Both are bought and paid for by big business. We will not have fair and sound representation until we have total public funding of campaigns and lobbyists are outlawed. The people have to reclaim their democracy. Public funding, paper ballots and term limits are all needed.

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By Dawn, May 6, 2007 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Publicly funded campaigns would go along way to get big money and therefore corruption out of the White House. If our public servants did not have to spend all day raising money to be elected and re-elected, they could actually spend a little time researching and developing real solutions to real problems.

Right now we have a two party system. Right now we have a very unique Constitution which gives us a way to get rid of corrupt politicians. It is called impeachment. Dennis Kucinich has filed articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney (HR 333).

If you want to have a voice and do your part in our democratic political system, call congress. They need to hear from you. They won’t do a thing unless they are inundated with phone calls about supporting HR 333. Let’s start the flood of calls tomorrow morning. Use the power you already have. If we delay, Cheney will have the opportunity to bomb Iran. There is nothing more important than impeaching this madman immeadiately. Ask everyone you know to call congress, Monday - Friday, 9 - 5. Our democracy depends on informed and active citizens.

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By pormsbee, May 4, 2007 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

Actually multiple parties is a great idea, but it only works when there is proportional representation rather than just one winner and one looser.  If there were some Senators and some congress members who were elected at large and could represent actual people’s interest instead of the dirt they come from, multi-parties would be great.  That way if there were a dozen at large seats and the environmentalist got together and all of them voted for one of the at large seats, they could actually be represented in congress.  It is crazy that the 450,000 people in Wyoming have 2 senators, but 50,000,000 environmentalists or gays or whatever have no one.

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By Peter Rv, May 4, 2007 at 4:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Justice Seeker :
  I second your motion!

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By Ralph, May 3, 2007 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment

HEY, all you brain-dead idealists who fanatasize about solving this country’s political screw-ups with the formation of yet another political party to add diversity to the mix…wake up and realize that the more choices that are available to the voting public, the more confused they become! A two-party system is all we need. When you start throwing in all the exceptions to the bought-and-paid-for ideals of the party lines that the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Independant Party and the I-want-free-Oxycontin Party, (Yaw, big fat russki limburger for president!!) start spouting off about, no wonder voters become turned off!! It’s simple math folks! If neither party appeals to a voter, they won’t vote! With all the choices today, 45 to 50% of the population already doesn’t vote! The two party system would weed out the brain-dead voters who would be inclined to cast a vote for Unity08, and force them to accept logic and reality. WE DON"T NEED MORE PARTY CHOICES, WE NEED MORE VIABLE CANDIDATES, EITHER A DEMOCRAT OR ONE OF THE LOSERS FROM THE OTHER PARTY!! IF YOU AREN"T A REGISTERED VOTER, SHUT THE HELL UP!! Pormsbee, you are right on with comment #68000!! Steve Hammonds, get a grip and do more homework! M Currey, get a backbone, don’t waffle and vote Democratic! Justice Seeker, move to Iran or North Korea and see how long those ideas last!! Love ya all!!

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By pormsbee, May 3, 2007 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

My problem with Unity 08 is that I fear they will do just well enough to keep a Republican in the White House.  Shades of Ralph Nader, who gave us the Idiot in Chief we have now. 

I think the Democrats have a number of great candidates. I especially like the idea of an Edwards/Obama ticket.

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By Justice Seeker, May 3, 2007 at 8:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For a truly different change in the corruption of american politics, look at RON PAUL AND MIKE GRAVEL..
Abolish the foreign owned fed, abolish the private for profit fed, end military intervention and break up the military industrial complex…Abolish aipac,jinsa and all other zionist groups that are all unamerican..and re-open the 911 investigation..

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By M Currey, May 2, 2007 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have watched both the Democrat Party and the Republician and sometimes there is not much difference, but the difference that this Bush/Shrub person has used the Republician is way out there, no one disliked Ike that much, except the die hard Democrats.

I am a Democrat but I have voted for people like the Green Party, usually on a local election, but nationally I have always gone Democrat.

This time I wonder if my vote will be worth it, I am of the belief that the Republicians this time will try to steal the election, the way they will do it is to use less voting machines in a highly democratic area, and more voting machines in the suburbs where there are more concertative people.

M Currey, Madder than a wet hen from the state of Washington, city of Vancouver.

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By John Lowell, May 2, 2007 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Has anyone actually sat down and had a long talk with these folks about their premise, that the main problem with American politics is that left and right are defined by wedge issues no one really cares about and that the solution is to ignore those and tackle difficult questions no one wants to discuss in the first place. Now there’s a concept with sparkle and a real future for you. If anyone here owns stock in a company this bird Kornacki runs, best they head for the exits just as fast as they can.

If this approach is the so-called “third way”, I’ll require a fourth, thank you. To me, it seems little more than someone trying to edge their way into our two party, one party state in an attempt to make a three party, one party state and all without breaking any of the furniture. The whole thing misses the point: We don’t need new ways of doing the same old thing time and time again, we need to be done with all of the defective structures, the ownership of our government by lobbies and its conduct by their obsequious hirelings, for one. Bring me someone who will promise something along those lines and I’ll show you an honest-to-goodness third way. Anything short of that and you’ve got an impostor on your hands.

John Lowell

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By Concrete man, May 2, 2007 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Democrat, Republican, Green, they are all under the control of the Zionist Lobby!

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By Hammo, May 2, 2007 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Many people who in the past have voted for Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian or other kinds of candidates may be ready for “a third way.”

So far, the presidential candidates from the Dems and Repub are not impressive. Take a look at:

“Independent centrist candidates might strike chord with voters” (

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By TAO Walker, May 2, 2007 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

What to make of the fact no commenter here has ventured yet out onto this “political bridge.”  This old Indian won’t be going there now, either….not because it looks a little make-shift, which it does, but because it is designed and intended to carry whoever might chance a crossing only to the same dead-end of “power” relations the deteriorating existing arrangements reach inevitably.

Anyway, us Heathen Savages are already on a trail that will take us to “2008” and well beyond….call it the Tiyoshpaye Way.  Maybe we’ll see some of you there/then.


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By Tom, May 2, 2007 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It makes me optimistic about the future of our democracy to know that these guys must feel they are losing control of the Democratic party to the extent that they need to form an allegedly outsider organization like this. “Third way” politics undermine the democratic process by reducing important political differences to differences in management style.

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