Consider the Radical Center Before Voting

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. I have to come back to the simple observation that Reagan drove deficit spending, Clinton balanced the budget and then Bush again gutted it. But I think that’s the central roles of Republicans. To funnel public money up through the military industrial complex to the top 1%. Its an old school colonialist model in which we colonize nations abroad in order to access raw materials like oil. Bush’s attack on Iraq was the moment when we, as a nation, gave up our final illusions of fairness and settled firmly on the notion of “may the most aggressive players reap the rewards.” We have seen this way of thinking permeate every facet of our public discourse.

    Put simply, “I’ll get mine, fuck you if you don’t get yours.”

    If we had invested in nation building in America instead of pouring $trillions into Iraq and Afghanistan, we would be in a much different place.

    • PastorofMuppets says:

      It’s likely your political thoughts might be taken more seriously if/when you have facts on your side. Unfortunately, you don’t here. Reagan did not “drive” deficit spending. In fact, this country has been deficit spending for a century and we did so at a much larger rate – relative to the GDP – for large parts of the first half of the 20th century than we ever did under Reagan. Not defending Reagan so much as trying to correct revisionist history.
      As for Clinton balancing the budget, please keep in mind that it wasn’t until the final two years of his term and after three years of Republican majorities in both the House and Senate (you know, the people who actually pass the budget) that we saw a surplus. Of course, what really created the surplus was the never before seen growth provided by the tech boom, but who wants to credit private industry with anything, right?

    • AnonymousDog says:

      For what it’s worth, the Democrats controlled the House of representatives the whole eight years Reagan was president. Since all spending bills must originate in the House, I really don’t think the Democrats can be held blameless for all of ‘Reagan’s spending’.
      Government spending has historically been a big part of the Democrats’ political appeal, and there is really no political incentive to control spending no matter who is president.

  2. Tom Matlack says:


    I am totally with you pouring all that money into the wars in the Middle East. But unfortunately that has been both Republicans and Democrats at this point. I don’t think there is much of any difference between Romney and Obama on foreign policy. During that debate it was like the great agreeing society. Which made me want to puke.

    • The horrible part about starting wars, is any president who tries to end one is considered “weak on ________” (enter issue of the day here.) It took Nixon, a firm McCarthyite, to shut down the Viet Nam war and to reach out to China diplomatically.
      Furthermore, Obama said several times during the final debate that it was time for nation building at home and every time he said it on the CNN split screen, the male undeclared voters’ approval spiked dramatically. Romney seemed more concerned that we don’t have enough people deployed. (God help us all.) Independent voters skew toward a more isolationist foreign policy as do many Tea Party folks on the Libertarian side. Between them and the rest of us who are sick to death of these wars, we should be able to pull the plug and bring our troops home. And yet the wars remain a back burner issue. Why?

  3. Nick, mostly says:

    Point #2 is incorrect on the history. The Tea Party was motivated by the bailouts, sparked by Santelli’s rant which fed into a general sense on the right that people were mooching off the system. Their real coming out party was on Tax Day, fueled by a Glenn Beck rally. Is our memory really so short that we’ve forgotten this genesis?
    As it has later been discovered, the Tea Party has not proven to be the fiscally conservative center-right party they claimed to be, but rather a rebranding of far-right culture war idealogues. On nearly every issue they are to the right of the Republican Party, including social issues. They also are more likely to believe Obama is a Crypto-Muslim or was not born in the US than Republicans on the whole.

    • AnonymousDog says:

      How do you really know what individual Tea Partiers believe? There has been a constant effort on the part of some on the left to brand the Tea Partiers as “extremists” as a way of pre-emptively de-legitimizing them and their viewpoint, without any real supporting evidence. It’s the leftwing equivalent of birtherism.

      • Henry Clarke says:

        Four words and an acronym:

        Debt ceiling, summer 2011, wtf.

      • Nick, mostly says:

        I never said anything about “individual Tea Partiers.” As a group, however, they exhibit the attitudes I describe. I’m sure there are some Tea Partiers who are pro-choice, believe that there should be a separation of church and state, and believe Obama is a Christian who was born in the Hawaii.

        You can claim it’s the equivalent of “birtherism” but unlike the completely unfounded beliefs of birthers, beliefs that run counter to all available evidence, we have actual surveys of people that tell us what they believe and what party they affiliate with.

  4. Henry Clarke says:


    I agree with a lot of the points that you made. I also understand the motivation behind seeking common ground with your Republican friends and acquaintances. However, I just can’t bring myself to “make peace” with the Republicans in the same way.

    I study public finance, and can never forget the debt ceiling debacle in the summer of 2011. That was so unbelievably dangerous that it’s hard to believe that it took place without causing irreparable civil conflict. We almost brought the global economy crashing down in the midst of a deep slump all because of the superstitions of a bunch of right wing extremists who don’t know the first thing about economics or finance. Sadly, those extremists are called the Republican congress and they threatened to destroy the economy, putting not only their own fellow citizens, but nearly everyone in the world at risk. The American Treasury bond is the backbone of the financial system. Without it, the system would not function.

    It’s only been a little over a year since they did that. I am blown away every day by the calm and reasonable manner with which Obama has moved on from that extraordinary event. How are you supposed to react when one of your two political parties threatens to blow up the country? The uncertainty caused by that event caused lasting damage, shaving a percentage point off subsequent GDP growth by some estimates. How much better would the jobs situation be right now if they hadn’t done that?

    Maybe a few years from now I will be able to start considering the idea of “reconciliation” with these people. But considering the magnitude of what they nearly did, probably not.

  5. wellokaythen says:

    I totally sympathize. I like to think of myself as a sensible moderate who’s above partisanship, though I sometimes fail at it.

    But, Americans have been calling for politics to rise about partisanship ever since the days of George Washington, who warned when he left office that we should never allow political parties to form. (They had already formed by that point.) There is something about the two-party system that’s just embedded in American political culture. Politics in the nineteenth century were brutally partisan, in ways we in 2012 can hardly imagine. In fact, nowadays the country has an unprecedented number of nonpartisan voters. Voters are in some ways much less committed to political parties than they have ever been. We are still a two-party system, but in some ways not as much as we used to be.

    This reminds me of the complaint every four years about how outdated the electoral college system is. It’s inefficient, it’s corrupted, it’s out of touch with reality, someone ought to do something about it, and then another four years go by. Then, after four years, we all rediscover what’s wrong with it. Political commentators have been complaining about the electoral college for about 200 years as well. So far? No end in sight.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    I’m curious to hear the Presidential model that Obama is being compared to. Who is this ideal president who never let party interests get in the way of his presidency? There has never existed such an animal. That’s a shame, but it’s not like Obama is especially divisive. Most candidates claim to be unifiers and claim to be above partisan bickering, but no one ever really is. I’m the one who wants what is best for the country, but my opponent is just being political. A lot of us Americans want to imagine that our politicians are not politicians, and then we get mad and disillusioned when they act like…politicians. It’s like a dysfunctional, abusive relationship — “maybe it will be different this time”….

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