Failed and Has-Been Politicians Start New Party
The Forward Party will almost certainly go nowhere.
Reuters (“Former Republicans and Democrats form new third U.S. political party“):
Dozens of former Republican and Democratic officials announced on Wednesday a new national political third party to appeal to millions of voters they say are dismayed with what they see as America’s dysfunctional two-party system.
I’m with them so far.
The new party, called Forward and whose creation was first reported by Reuters, will initially be co-chaired by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey. They hope the party will become a viable alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties that dominate U.S. politics, founding members told Reuters.
Andrew Yang? The guy nobody had ever heard of before a quixotic run for the Democratic presidential nomination? Which he followed by a failed bid to become mayor of New York City?
Christine Todd Whitman was, by most accounts, a solid governor and a mediocre EPA administrator. She followed that by a failed crusade to make the Republican Party more moderate and has pretty much been irrelevant for the last 20 years. She turns 76 in two months.
Party leaders will hold a series of events in two dozen cities this autumn to roll out its platform and attract support. They will host an official launch in Houston on Sept. 24 and the party’s first national convention in a major U.S. city next summer.
Okay. But what is it?
The new party is being formed by a merger of three political groups that have emerged in recent years as a reaction to America’s increasingly polarized and gridlocked political system. The leaders cited a Gallup poll last year showing a record two-thirds of Americans believe a third party is needed.
There are dozens of American parties. It’s just that only two of them have a reasonable shot at electing candidates to major office on other than a on-off basis.
The merger involves the Renew America Movement, formed in 2021 by dozens of former officials in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump; the Forward Party, founded by Yang, who left the Democratic Party in 2021 and became an independent; and the Serve America Movement, a group of Democrats, Republicans and independents whose executive director is former Republican congressman David Jolly.
So, they’ve merged three groups nobody has ever heard of, took the name of the middle one, and . . . what, exactly?
Two pillars of the new party’s platform are to “reinvigorate a fair, flourishing economy” and to “give Americans more choices in elections, more confidence in a government that works, and more say in our future.”
The party, which is centrist, has no specific policies yet. It will say at its Thursday launch: “How will we solve the big issues facing America? Not Left. Not Right. Forward.”
So, essentially, it’s a party about nothing? Maybe they could call it the Seinfeld Party?
Seriously, the Underpants Gnomes had a more sophisticated plan.
Historically, third parties have failed to thrive in America’s two-party system. Occasionally they can impact a presidential election. Analysts say the Green Party’s Ralph Nader siphoned off enough votes from Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000 to help Republican George W. Bush win the White House.
You’re not helping advance their cause, Reuters.
In an interview, Yang said the party will start with a budget of about $5 million. It has donors lined up and a grassroots membership between the three merged groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
“We are starting in a very strong financial position. Financial support will not be a problem,” Yang said.
Cue Dr. Evil: five mil-llllll-ion dollars! That’s not a lot of money these days. Indeed, it’s not hard to spend more than that on a single House campaign.
Another person involved in the creation of Forward, Miles Taylor – a former Homeland Security official in the Trump administration – said the idea was to give voters “a viable, credible national third party.”
Taylor acknowledged that third parties had failed in the past, but said: “The fundamentals have changed. When other third party movements have emerged in the past it’s largely been inside a system where the American people aren’t asking for an alternative. The difference here is we are seeing an historic number of Americans saying they want one.”
That American people have been “asking for an alternative” as long as I can remember, and I’m not a young man. The fact that people want another choice doesn’t mean they want this choice.
Indeed, Yang and Whitman have managed to combine the politician’s fallacy (“We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.”) with the pundit’s fallacy (“What a politician needs to do to improve his or her political standing is do what the pundit wants.”) It’s true that most people think the Republican Party is too hard-right and the Democratic Party is too hard-left. It does not follow, though, that any random “centrist” alternative will appeal to more people, even leaving aside all of the massive structural barriers.
Considering that Yang, Whitman, Jolly, and company almost certainly know all of this, it strikes me that this is more grift than a serious attempt at starting a viable political party.