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Live Blog: Dean Barkley on Political Polarization

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12:07 p.m. Dean Barkley, founder of the Independence Party, is giving a speech this afternoon at the Humphrey Institute entitled, "The Polarization of Our Political Parties." Barkley has polled as high as 19 percent during this past week in the U.S. Senate matchup against Republican Norm Coleman and DFL-er Al Franken.

12:10 p.m. Barkley says the polarization of the two major parties started after the end of the Vietnam War. Barkley left the Democratic Party after he felt they lost their way in giving into the special interests. Barkley credits Independent presidential candidate John Anderson's 1980 run with the first attempt to unify the middle into a cohesive political movement.

12:15 p.m. In the 1990s in Minnesota, Barkley says Minnesota had two U.S. Senators that represented the extreme left (Paul Wellstone) and right (Rod Grams). Barkley jokes he could use the same campaign materials he used 16 years ago when he ran for Congress (e.g. gridlock, deficit spending), but that he'd "have to add a few more zeros."

12:22 p.m. Barkley says Norm Coleman left the Democratic Party in the 1990s over a single issue (abortion; Coleman is pro-life).

12:25 p.m. Barkley laments how the Taxpayers League has a hold on the Republican Party, and that the dogmatic pledge not to raise taxes Republicans are forced to take may have contributed to the I-35 bridge collapse, as Governor Jesse Ventura had attempted to secure more infrastructure funding that was shot down by the legislature.

12:27 p.m. Barkley says we have sold our political institutions to the highest bidder, and that bribery is illegal everywhere except in politics.

12:29 p.m. "How much child abuse can we inflict on our kids?," poses Barkley, in reference to the amount of deficit spending the United States is incurring.

12:33 p.m. Barkley says there are some good people in the U.S. Senate who are willing to break away from their caucus - there is a Gang of 20 (10 Democrats and 10 Republicans) - who will do what is right for the country on certain issues and vote agains their party's leadership.

12:36 p.m. When asked how he would deal with fixing Social Security, Barkley says he would bring AARP into the conservation ("start talking with the enemy") and asking them what their solution is, as opposed to having them be against everything. In regards to the national debt, Barkley says neither Coleman nor Franken will even touch the issue.

12:40 p.m. Barkley, although he was against the financial bailout legislation in its first incarnation, ultimately supported the second version, to avert greater financial crisis.

12:45 p.m. In terms of trimming the budget, Barkley says he would first look at the defense budget. He says we have too many bases around the world, and, hopefully, we have reached the point where we will stop being the world's policeman.

12:47 p.m. Barkley says he would consider eliminating the Department of Education. He says he does not want Washington D.C. to have its hand in running education in the State of Minnesota. Barkley says he would support vouchers for private institutions, but not religious institutions, as that "crosses the line" between the separation of church and state.

12:52 p.m. Barkley supports simplification of the tax code, whereby the tax rates drop and loopholes are eliminated.

12:56 p.m. Barkley says we were lied to in getting into the Iraq War, but we had a responsibility to "undo the damage we did." Barkley says we have now done enough to give Iraq a chance at being successful, and we should pull out now - in 6 months, a year, or 14 months, whatever the case may be. If the country devolves into chaos, "that's on them," he adds.

1:02 p.m. Barkley says the War in Iraq is the biggest foreign policy error since Vietnam, and that Congress should never pass another War Powers Act - only Congress should be able to send troops to war.

1:06 p.m. Barkley says he "is a Libertarian at heart," and that the Patriot Act went too far, though not by a lot.

1:09 p.m. With regards to how the rules could be change to benefit third party candidacies, Barkley advocates having uniform rules for achieving major party status across the 50 states. He also supports an instant run-off voting system, which would eliminate the 'wasted vote' argument.

1:13 p.m. Barkley says if New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg would have run for president as an independent he would have won. Barkley says he will not caucus with either party if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.


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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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