Third Ways then and now

C.S., one of our favorite correspondents, responds to my post about Third Way politics and, in particular, to my comment that in discussions about the Third Way “it was always socialist or liberal parties that were going to show us the third way. Indeed, some suggested that Tony Blair and perhaps Bill Clinton were already doing so.” Mr. S. disagrees. He states: “I’ve always associated the ‘third way’ or ‘third wave’ with Newt Gingrich and his mentor, the former Marxist, Alvin Toffler. He then refers me to this column from about Gingrich and Toffler.
Mr. S. makes an excellent point. I had completely forgotten about this particular episode from the annals of hubris and cant. However, it is my recollection that, in the mainstream press, the Tony Blairs and the Bill Clintons were the leaders portrayed as potential formulators of a legitimate and viable Third Way between traditional socialism/liberalism and traditional conservatism. Gingrich was portrayed as a traditional small government conservative with a wacky, futuristic side.
But Mr. S. is probably correct on the larger issue. The column that I link to above makes a strong case that Gingrich’s 1994 “revolution” contained strands of a genuine, and unsettling, Third Way. The Third Way that President Bush may be formulating seems less unsettling. However, it still should be viewed as something other than traditional conservatism and, as such, should be viewed with skepticism by conservatives.


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