06 March 2010

Interview With Chair Of Georgia Modern Whig Party

From the blog, An Ordinary Person, an interview with Drew Scholtens, Chairman of the Georgia Modern Whig Party and member of the Modern Whigs National Executive Committee.

Excerpts from The Modern Whigs: Methodology Over Ideology

The Modern Whigs is a revival of the previously defunct political party which was last active in the 1800s. Prominent Whigs included Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, and Millard Filmore.

From their web site:

Established in 1833, the Whigs are one of America’s oldest mainstream political parties. We were the original party of Abraham Lincoln and four other U.S. Presidents. Revived by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the grassroots movement has quickly [attracted] new members. We represent the moderate voters from all walks of life who cherry-pick between traditional Republican or Democratic ideals in what has been called the Modern Whig Philosophy. This Washington DC-based national movement values common sense, rational solutions ahead of ideology and partisan bickering. This includes general principles of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and educational/scientific advancement.

Curious about what makes the Modern Whigs different from other third party and grassroots protest and political movements, I sent a few questions to them and was fortunate enough to get a response from their leadership. Below is my Q&A with Mr. Scholtens:

A recent press release bills the Modern Whigs as the “anti-Tea Party.” Why?

I am not sure who is the author of those anti-tea party press releases, but I can tell you we are very, very different. The Tea party is an emotional and ideological movement aimed around the size of government and general discontent with the elected officials.

The Modern Whig Party is a pragmatic and methodology-based movement aimed at building a stronger candidate and a better-educated voter. We have a very clear leadership structure and are tightly managed, where as the Tea Party is a non-centralized or controlled movement, which is part of why lots of people are drawn to the Tea Party. We don’t necessarily have anything particularly “anti” anyone but we are a totally opposite approach to ideology politics, which the Tea Party is.

In what ways have Modern Whigs worked with both Republican and Democrat-led initiatives in nonpartisan government and nonprofit projects? Can you point to web sites, news articles and other sources for people interested in learning more?

The Modern Whig Party is a methodology party. What that means is rather than control a base using ideology, we build structures, tools, and rules around methodologies that add value to both the common member and the candidate.

However it is up to the individuals to interact with the methodology systems. As a result we care little for someone’s ideologcial beliefs, we focus on problems and solutions, cause and effect, without preconceieved notions of right and wrong.

Our original founder was invited to a ‘non-partisan’ summit on healthcare put on by the Democrats early in the healthcare debate when they were attempting to build public support. I put ‘non-partisan’ in quotes because quite frankly the two parties can’t do anything non-partisan, their ideologues make this against their very nature. So your question is oddly kind of a trick question, the ideologues would have to want to be non-partisan to engage us.

I am impressed by the breadth and thought that went into developing your platform and stance on various issues. How do you see the Modern Whigs influencing debates and public policy to enact these ideas into practice? How does the Modern Whig movement plan on flexing its political muscle, in other words?

“Flexing its political muscle” is illogical once again to the party. The party focues on allowing individuals to engage in the political system with value-added services. We hope to build candidates powerful enough to overcome this countries corrupt election system. If we can get candidates elected that owe nothing to their party and are powerful enough to overcome the special interests and political manuvering, we can have candidates who are once again focused on their voters not on those who “got them elected.”

How do you recruit new members? Is it primarily through word-of-mouth and personal connections?

Currently we are not advertising too much. A value-added methodology party has to actually build its value added tools in order make their theories a reality. For example everything I can tell you would revolve around a vision, but in a few weeks our membership portal in Georgia is being launched and you can actually see what we mean by a value-added methodology party.

What makes the Modern Whigs different from other non-mainstream political groups and third parties like the Green or Libertarian parties?

All of those today are either ideology-based parties or solution-based parties. Ideology parties solve problems using ideology, which is illogical but there are good reasons for it. Solution based parties focus on a platform of solutions, such as the Unity Party out in Colorado. We are a methodology party so we provide tools, structures, and rules around methodologies that help individuals develop, but are not controlled mindlessly by ideology. Two Whigs might totally disagree with one another but the rules dictate how they have to interact with each other. Thus they have to be able to communicate, even if they can’t agree. There is a lot of complexity I can’t go into, but that’s the gist.

When you think of the Modern Whig Party the best way to think of it is not in the context of politics. Take a college, an IT business, and a political party, shake them together, and there you have the Modern Whigs. People don’t join the Whigs because they agree with our ideology which is why they join all the other parties. They will join the Modern Whigs because we create value.

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