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We've all heard about the Tea Party and its politically conservative approach that blames government in general and Democrats in particular for all the nation's problems. Now, in response, we have the Coffee Party emerging to applaud more liberal views, such as viewing government as merely an expression of our collective will, so it sort of seems like it should be named the Espresso Party. Anyway, it already has 350 coffee shops signed up in 44 states. Now, I'm hearing rumblings of another new political party starting up, one that might really solve the many troubles that threaten to sink the greatest nation on earth, the Microbrew Party. It doesn't have a website yet, or staff, promotional webcasts, offices, or anything formal, so lots more news to break in coming months, but here's what I've heard so far.

The Political Party We Really Need

We’ve all heard about the Tea Party and its politically conservative approach that blames government in general and Democrats in particular for all the nation’s problems.

Now, in response, we have the Coffee Party emerging to applaud more liberal views, such as viewing government as merely an expression of our collective will, so it sort of seems like it should be named the Espresso Party. Anyway, it already has 350 coffee shops signed up in 44 states.

Now, I’m hearing rumblings of another new political party starting up, one that might really solve the many troubles that threaten to sink the greatest nation on earth, the Microbrew Party. It doesn’t have a website yet, or staff, promotional webcasts, offices, or anything formal, so lots more news to break in coming months, but here’s what I’ve heard so far.

This is not just any old beer party with Bud guzzlers acting obnoxious, making non-PC cracks, and in general, giving beer drinkers a bad name. All beers and all beer-drinkers are not created equal. Craft beers and craft brewery aficionados are special, and now, it seems as if they might have their own political party. The thousands of neighborhood taprooms already serve the role of caucus meeting rooms, so making oft-discussed politics a bit more formal shouldn’t be too big of a leap.

You’ve heard the old adage about all politics being local. Well, that sage advice fits perfectly with the Microbrew Revolution, all those local craft breweries gradually taking over the helm from Anheiser-Busch and MillerCoors. The next thing you know we’ll have Beermen driving around town in amber-colored vans and leaving a fresh growler on front doorsteps at 5 pm every day.

Microbrew Party people–I’ve heard they call themselves “Hoppers”–have strong political views, no doubt, but you can’t categorize them as left or right, so this must be an ambidextrous party. Lots of Hoppers drink both coffee and tea, not just microbrew.

Politically speaking, the country needs to lighten up a bit, don’t you think? That also seems to fit well with the Microbrew Party. Hoppers avoid letting anger taint their after-work caucuses. Instead, they’re always hoppy and never mean-spirited, even when discussing the federal government, big banks, endless wars, and health insurance or oil companies. The only two issues that seem to make the Hoppers cranky are the price of a pint and not getting a good pour–plus, perhaps, the federal government continuing to subsidize big tobacco farmers, but not local hop growers.

The taprooms are always friendly, neighborly places, which automatically makes this new political force a social party. Again, this country needs to be a little more social, don’t you agree? So, add a little “-ism” and we can solve health care, joblessness, and mortgage crises–and probably get some control over Wall Street and energy companies, too.

First Presidential Candidate

I have it on good authority that the Microbrew Party is trying to draft Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger as its first presidential candidate. You remember the “Miracle on the Hudson,” right? Sully was the first pilot ever to successfully land a commercial jet on water.

Sully recently retired, so he’s available, and clearly, the country needs him. In his past job, he saved 155 people that day on the Hudson River, but in his new job, he could save us all. As President, Sully would serve as a model for CEOs, especially those running too-big-to-not-fail banks, Wall Street casinos, and health insurance conglomerates, which are all sort of the same thing nowadays.

The “Hero of the Hudson” not only expertly and instantly made all the right moves in the face of a crisis, but he also insisted on being the last person off the plane, walking it twice to make sure all passengers and crew had safely deplaned. Then, after he took his place at the rear of the last life raft, he also insisted on being the last person off the raft.

What would a banking or insurance CEO have done if they’d been flying the plane? Before the word “Mayday” stopped echoing off the cockpit walls, would they have been put on their parachute (you know, the golden one); robbed the passengers; and bailed out of the plane.

And President Sullenberger can help cut the deficit, too. No use paying somebody to fly Air Force One when we have Sully in the Oval Office.

The First Platform

Now that the Microbrew Party has a shoo-in presidential candidate work has started on the first platform. I hear this is sort of a Work in Progress, but here are a few ideas being kicking around, lifted from a draft platform exclusively leaked to NewWest.Net:

We, the distinguished members of the Microbrew Party, hereby endorse the following actions:

Campaign Contributions. Prohibit all private (individual, corporate, PAC, et al) campaign contributions and fund political campaigns with public money only with the exact same amount going to each candidate–and hopefully, there will be more than two.

Voter Education. Require all members of Congress to sign an affidavit under oath that they’ve read every word of every bill before being allowed to vote on it with random spot-testing to assure compliance. After being expelled from Congress, violators must to work six months as a greeter at Wal-Mart and live off the salary.

Majority Rule. Eliminate filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate.

Earmarks or Riders. Require that every appropriation go through the normal budget process, eliminating earmarks. Ditto for new legislation–no bill can be tacked onto unrelated legislation as a rider. Every bill must have it’s own number and a separate up-or-down vote.

Work Ethic. Require members of Congress to work at least 40 hours each week (not counting time spent traveling to golfing destinations) and receive the same benefits as the people they serve and at the same price.

Support Our Troops. Immediately bring troops home from the Middle East and deploy and employ them in big cities to stop gang-related violence in urban areas and on Wall Street to monitor executives there every minute of the day. When they get busted for doing anything shady or risky with our money, they’re assessed a penalty equal to their last three years compensation, which goes into a fund for education and job training for the unemployed, homeless and disadvantaged, and they must work six months as a greeter for Wal-Mart and live off the salary.

Minimum Wage. Set the minimum wage at $12 per hour with automatic annual inflation-indexed increases.

Maximum Wage. Establish a maximum wage equal to what the President receives, which will put many billions back into the economy to provide good-paying jobs, hop grower subsidies, free broadband, free tuition, and expanded social security and health care benefits.

Public Land Access. Prohibit charging fees to use or access any publicly owned land.

Cell Phones. Require telecommunication companies to provide service for any cell phone, regardless of where it was purchased.

Customer Service Systems. Ban the use of voice recognition systems and phone menus with more than three options. Require all customer service calls to be less than 10 minutes long, with CEO of the violating company required to work six months as a greeter for Wal-Mart and live off the salary.

Direct Democracy. Amend the Constitution to create a national initiative process to do things Congress can’t handle, which nowadays seems like almost everything and definitely anything difficult. That would be the 28th Amendment. Then, using Democracy’s newfound freedom, quickly but carefully prepare and vote on at least eight more amendments, as follows:

29. The Right to live in a clean, healthy environment.

30. The Right to free, quality health care for all U.S. Citizens.

31. The Right to a free, quality education for all U.S. Citizens, including a four-year college education.

32. The Right to free, quality broadband Internet access for all U.S. Citizens.

33. The Right to live free of national debt by requiring Congress to retire the national debt in five years and then prohibit Congress from approving any expenditure, including the cost of war, that isn’t included in an approved national budget–and that budget must be approved before September 30 each year, with no temporary continuing resolutions allowed.

34. The Right to be represented in Congress by guaranteeing that each political party receiving more than 2 percent of the national vote in the general election shall receive a similar percentage of Congress i.e. if the Microbrew Party gets 10 percent of the national vote, it gets 10 seats in the U.S. Senate.

35. The Right to have every vote counted by eliminating the Electoral College, so we, the people, can directly elect the President and Vice-President by a simple majority vote.

36. The Right to free ourselves from incumbents by limiting terms to 12 years in the Senate and House and on the Supreme Court.

Higher Taxes. To address “how to pay for it all” question, Congress should pass a national two-step income tax surcharge (higher for higher incomes) or national sales tax on all goods and services, including tea, coffee and microbrew, and reserve all new tax revenue for paying for health care, education and broadband. Whatever this costs citizens is sure to be much less than what they now pay for these essentials.

That’s all I know about the Microbrew Party at this point, but watch for more details soon because it seems to me that such a political force could get some serious attention in the media in the not-too-distant future.

P.S. Is it an April Fool’s Day joke?

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7 comments

  1. I’m sure you’re being only half-facetious. Where do I sign up?

    RH

  2. I belong to the Party of Common Sense, but we are having difficulty finding anyone willing to enter the frey as a candidate. I’d join your Hopper party, up until the new “rights”…lost me there, but the rest sounds good.

  3. My reaction was essentially the same as Ifehl’s.

    Only an April Fool would assume that healthcare, or education, or broadband, or chickens in every pot are “free.” Somebody pays for ’em – either the recipient of the benefits, or somebody else. (Unless after all those doctors and teachers have had a few Microbrews, they are so giddily happy that they agree to provide their services for free.)

  4. Sorry, Bill, but this is a Coffee Party clone for the most part, i.e. Democrat and Green…I’ve watched (or tried to) the Youtubes.
    That said, I’ll agree on reading the bills and the five year…that last would be pretty impressive shock therapy.

  5. Hear, hear! Bill Schneider for President!

  6. Yep, I should have included something on paying for it all, so I just did a little update on the column. Seems like the Microbrew Party believes people would be willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for free education, health care and broadband, and come out way ahead financially……Bill

  7. Customer Service Systems. Ban the use of voice recognition systems and phone menus with more than three options.

    Ok, I have to confess. While at IBM I developed the underlying technology that is used for Voice Recognition and Phone Menu systems. For that I am very very sorry. If I would have known that they would perpetuate into the obnoxiousness that they have become I would have steered my efforts elsewhere.

    My apologies to anyone who has had to deal with these systems instead of a live person.

    Ted.