Could the Forward Party be the third national American political party? | Opinion

If your reaction to the country’s newest third party, the Forward Party, was a constant yawn, you’re probably not alone.

The nation’s newest party was unveiled last week by former Florida GOP representative David Jolly of the Washington Post, former GOP governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

This is not the first attempt to harness the enormous power of the political middle – people are so tired of extreme politics that they yearn for an alternative. A recent Gallup poll found 43% of Americans identify as political independents, up from 27% who identified as Republicans or Democrats.

In theory, anyway, this should be enough to supply a plurality victory to one or two candidates who hold appropriate positions somewhere in the political middle. And yet, harnessing the power from this group has proven to be as easy (but not as enjoyable) as using electrical power by rubbing balloons on our heads.

To understand this, I called on Richard Davis, founder of the United Utah Party, an in-state third party, and author of the book, “Beyond Donkeys and Elephants: Minor Political Parties in Contemporary American Politics.”

Davis said that Utans, like Americans in general, show a majority, saying they want a third, centrist party.

“People would say, ‘Oh yeah I want a third party.’ But at the same time, they will not vote for that party unless certain conditions exist,” he said. That is, they should know the candidate well and feel that he has a chance to win. If not. , then a lot of people will feel that a vote will be wasted for that person, no matter what kind of candidate he is.

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The “vain vote” barrier can be difficult to overcome. It takes time and patience.

Davis said the two major parties have vast resources, including volunteers, fundraisers, and established nationwide networks of collaborators. And there is tradition on their side. Voters may not be satisfied with the party’s platform, but if their parents, grandparents and other relatives are members of the party, it becomes difficult to break the ranks.

Donald Trump gives an example of this. A lot of mainstream Republicans initially spoke out against him, then supported him because the party did.

As Philip Bump of the Washington Post recently wrote, “Trump was not a strong Republican, not a party man. As he changed his position on issues, he flipped between party identities at various points. Then, in 2016, he took over the GOP and rebuilt it in his image. He deemed a secret, under-represented political force and aligned it with the Republican Party infrastructure.

By no means is it impossible for a third party to win. This has happened before, in the race for the state. The election of former wrestler Jesse Ventura as Minnesota governor on a Reform Party ticket comes to mind.

Davis believes the best strategy is to start locally and expand upwards. He worries that the Forward Party will make a mistake by starting at the top with the presidential candidate. Which, ironically, would be backward.

one more thing. Don’t underestimate the need for patience. The Utah United Party has one race to win. But one of its candidates garnered 38% of the vote in a face-to-face race with Republicans, and the party fielded more candidates in 2020 in Utah County than Democrats.

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“We’re still a long way from 50% plus one,” Davis said. “It’s taking longer than I expected. But you can see the progress here. It’s gradual.”

So does the forward party have a chance? Although I agree that it is needed, I would not bet on it. For one thing, the vast middle — that 43% — in the United States is not united.

In a Washington Post op-ed, the Forward Party founders did a good job outlining the problem. The country’s politics is polarized, and in a dangerous, potentially violent way. Americans are being given the choice between two extremes.

On gun control, it either confiscates every weapon and abolishes the Second Amendment or abolishes all gun laws.

On climate change, it is either destroying the economy as we know it or denying global warming.

On abortion, it allows it under all circumstances at any time of pregnancy or makes it a criminal offence.

But when you bring all those independent candidates together, it is not clear where they land on these issues. As Bump noted, in the same Gallup poll I mentioned, those independents are also roughly divided on whether they are “leaning” Democrats or Republicans. That means some big differences of opinion.

The ideals of the nation have always rested on the shoulders of different castes, religions and ideologies whose members often looked at each other with suspicion. A successful third party will need to devise a clear path, articulate it well and field candidates who can woo and unite people on their side. It is not enough just to invite people into a room and start a civil discussion.

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