More than 230 years after the founding of these somewhat United States, systems of political representation have failed to adequately reflect the range of ideological nuances that exist among citizens. We have he two dominant parties, two very minor parties, and we also have a majority Republican party. So, as political polarization escalates, it should come as no surprise that efforts to create viable third parties will also re-emerge.
Enter businessman-turned-democrat-turned-presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former Republican New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. Together, Yang and Whitman have announced their next move. It is the Progressive Party, which claims to be politically middle-of-the-road. The intonation of the website, “Neither left, nor right, forward,” is trying to “fetch” the catchphrase into your native language.
Our political system requires a 3rd party (and a 4th, 5th party) claim. And with at least one of the major parties further bolstering its far-right ideology, the time may be ripe for a viable third option to bridge the ever-widening divide between Republicans and Democrats. .
But the United States has a long history of third parties that have served no good. This is because since the coalition of these parties in the mid-19th century there has been a considerable amount of ideological wiggle room within his two main parties on the political issues of the time.
Since the Civil War, the Southern Democrats have had their own internal interest groups rooted in white supremacy and Confederate revisionism until they began to peel off in 1948 after President Harry Truman announced the desegregation of the military. These “Dixiecrats” won four Southern states in the 1948 general election and nominated then-South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond to win the votes of those four states. appeared as the “official” Democratic nominee. The Republican Party could not survive after his 1948, and by his 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed, almost all Dixie Kratz and their supporters had joined the Republican Party.
It was, by historical standards, one of the most successful Third Party movements in the United States. Since the movement was governed by a common ideology (support for racism), its goals were clear. Perhaps by forcing elections to votes in the House, it overthrew traditional power structures in the South. In the process, the Dixiecrats Rebellion broke through the control the Democrats had over the “solid South”, allowing the region to finally transition to the Republican pillar.
Prior to that, Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive “Bull Moose” party in 1912 had Roosevelt come second in a three-way race between incumbent Republican William Howard Taft and winner Democrat Woodrow Wilson. helped the
But the latest example of an almost viable third party in American politics is the Tea Party movement. Not a true political party, it emerged after the 2008 financial crisis as a small grassroots movement with a decidedly libertarian flavor. The Tea Party opposed government spending and corporate taxes, but like many libertarians of the time, many of their voted supporters were more liberal on cultural issues such as abortion and homosexual relations, and they believed that it should not be a matter of individual rights. violated.
That changed when President Barack Obama was elected later that year, and the movement rose to prominence, thanks to huge financial support from conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers. By 2018, pollster Rasmussen found that as many Americans supported the Tea Party as Obama did, and nearly two-thirds of Republicans either favored the Tea Party movement’s views or their own. I’ve found that I think it’s a match. After the revolutionary energy waned, the Tea Party found an enabler in Donald Trump. Donald Trump has brought together three right-wing political doctrines into a juggernaut of dissident outrage. This looked less like an economic policy than a massive looting of the Republic.
During its rapid rise, the Tea Party ceased to be a grassroots movement and quickly became a major source of political astroturfing, staging fake grassroots events and protests actually funded by wealthy backers like Koch. Did.
The Tea Party, like the Dixie Kratz and Progressive before it, was ideological. As with political parties in other democracies, the movement’s ideological cohesion helped propel it to power.
But the irresistible force of the Outsider Third Party movement also runs headlong into the immovables of the American electoral system. The office of president is endowed with great power and is supported by an absolute majority of the people (usually but not always). Single-seat constituencies in the House ensure that smaller political parties are disqualified from representing the state. In contrast, in parliamentary systems, third parties above a significant threshold of public support (say, 5%) usually win a proportional number of seats in parliament.
There is no way for a small third party to hold power in the United States other than by introducing proportional representation in Congress and state legislatures. And the third party has neither the funding and fundraising mechanisms of the two major political parties, nor the network of consultants, PACs, mailing lists, volunteers and other associated non-party groups that constitute their own underground political economy. .
Power rests with political parties, reinforced by mass media that treat primaries as an inalienable part of our system. In particular, the Constitution says nothing about primaries or political parties.
This is often an insurmountable challenge for third parties and is best achieved when they are able to influence one of the two big things.
That’s what happened in the Republican Party, followed by a radical movement that is actively purging those who don’t stick to its ideological core.
Case in point: Liz Cheney. The incumbent Republican Congressman from Wyoming, who voted in line with the Trump administration 93% of the time, was utterly defeated in the primary by Harriet Hageman. Harriet Hedgeman, a relatively obscure attorney who once backed Cheney, was endorsed by Trump because she gave. Credibility to Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
Cheney, of course, was one of the few Republican lawmakers to vote for Trump’s impeachment after he tried to overturn the election of President Joe Biden on January 6, 2021. To add insult to Trump’s serious wounds to his ego, Cheney pulls no punches as deputy chairman of the congressional selection committee investigating Trump’s coup attempt, the most withering of Trump and his Republican enablers. emerged as one of the critics who
In this respect, the Republican Party is becoming more like a congressional party. Rather than focusing on broad bases and governance, it focuses on ideological and specific political goals. Whether that means the Republican Party will be a much smaller body in terms of representation remains to be seen. Several Trumpist election naysayers are running for state government offices to oversee the election. Perhaps to ensure that the next coup attempt to put Trump in power in 2024 will be successful. Coupled with broader voter suppression, an anti-democratic power grab is the only way an extremist movement without a majority of popular support can win the presidency.
But if the Republican Party shrinks into a fringe movement of rigid and outraged ideologies, it could perhaps create room for more parties to emerge.
There are already two “third parties”, Might be so Although it fits the bill, it has failed to gain any real traction on the national or local scene. Justin Amash of Michigan became the first Libertarian Congressman in 2020, after being elected as a Republican in 2010 and then leaving the party in 2019. he is retired now.
The Green Party still ranks fourth in terms of enrollment, with about 245,000 members nationwide (compared to Libertarians’ about 695,000). The Green Party seems like a natural home for green and progressive voters. But unlike its European counterparts, which are members of the five-nation ruling coalition, election results for the Greens in the United States have been even more dire than those of the libertarians, with only a handful of voters in state legislatures since 1999. won only seats. Nominate either a celebrity candidate (such as Ralph Nader) or a complete unknown (Jill Stein) to be labeled as a spoiler.
Judging by the politics of its two most prominent members, the Forward Party appears to be positioned on the middle right-wing wavelength in the political spectrum. But the Libertarian Party already occupies a similar ideological position.
And Yang’s statement states that the party’s prospects non-ideology. The party’s self-proclaimed formula is a three-step process: “Fearlessly Seek Diverse and New Ideas,” “Collect on Smart Solutions,” and “Do Something Really.”
“We start with a surprisingly simple premise: every problem has a solution that most Americans can (really) support,” the group’s website says. “We need to get rid of extreme partisanship, reintroduce competition of ideas, and work together in good faith.”
How nice. In which country will this party be active?
The shallowness of this approach was fully demonstrated in Yang’s interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta. Yang couldn’t give a straight answer as to whether his party would be a spoiler for the Democratic Party. Whether you support abortion rights or whether an 18-year-old can buy his AR-15.
It’s not a good start and may end before the party even begins. For the Forward to emerge as a viable political party rather than a personality cult like Yang, several questions need to be answered, including the most pressing and polarizing issues facing us.
But it’s one or the other, in which case forwards should be comfortable being labeled spoilers by either Democrats or Republicans (it’s very unlikely they actually do For) win), or forwards may join the ranks of the Dixie Kratz or the Bull Moose Progressives hoping to influence the larger parties. Join the Workers Party, the Know-Nothing Party, the Silver Party (which supports “bimetalism”), the Individual Choice Party, and many others. Shoulder of America’s Political Highway. It might be good for headlines and punchlines, but it’s quickly forgotten after hours of strutting off stage.
Chris Winters Senior editor of YES!, specializing in democracy and economics. Chris has been a journalist for over 20 years, writing for Seattle-area newspapers and magazines. He has won numerous awards for covering everything from city council meetings to natural disasters, local news to national news. He is based in Seattle and speaks English and Hungarian.