Home WORLD AMERICA The impossible dream of a third party in the United States

The impossible dream of a third party in the United States


While almost everyone had predicted the defeat of Liz Cheney against a candidate dubbed by Donald Trump, who had espoused his false thesis of the stolen election, many are those who now see her seeking the presidential nomination.

Within the Republican Party? It’s hard to survive when, like Ms. Cheney, you’re ostracized by your constituents. An independent candidate? This is unfortunately not viable, because of the fundamentally two-party system of the United States.

Andrew Yang, however, still believes in it, or at the very least wants us to believe so. For this millionaire who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, Americans are ready to move on.

The new party called Forward (Forward) was born a few weeks ago from the merger of three political groups that have emerged in recent years in reaction to the increasingly polarized American political system: RenewAmerica, formed in 2021 by dozens of former officials from the Republican administrations of Reagan, the two Bushes and even that of Trump; the Forward Party, founded by Mr. Yang; and the Serve America Movementa group of Democrats, Republicans and independents, whose executive director is former Republican Congressman David Jolly.

Andrew Yang delivers a speech as signs bearing his name are seen in the back.

Andrew Yang, a former candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is one of the founders of Forward.

Photo: Getty Images/Michael M. Santiago

This budding party will host a series of events in two dozen cities this fall to roll out its platform and build support. An official launch is also planned in Houston on September 24.

But, in the meantime, in what sign does this embryonic party lodge on fundamental issues?

On the question of the invalidation of access to abortion by the Supreme Court or on access to AR-15 type assault weapons from the age of 18, for example, Andrew Yang recently answered, in an interview with Jim Acosta at CNN, that Forwardthere is no left or right position, rather it is a position to go forward and go the right way”,”text”:”in the Forward party there is no ‘there is no left or right position, it is rather a position to move forward and to go in the right direction”}}”>in the party Forwardthere is no left or right stance, rather it is a stance to go ahead and go the right way. If you want to manage this country, you will have to take a stand, not just say that this is a question that raises passionsreplied the host.

We understand that Forward wants to be centrist, but by dint of staying in the middle of the street, he risks being crushed by the right or by the left…

History, cruel to third parties

There have been many attempts to create a third way in the American political system. Among these was the Progressive Party led by former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. He won a larger share of the popular vote than William Taft, the Republican candidate, but both lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

In 1968, notorious segregationist George Wallace, who had failed to win the Democratic Party nomination against Lyndon Johnson four years earlier, founded the American Independent Party. Wallace especially wanted to siphon votes from Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, and thus become a king maker.

He still won five states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia), but failed to really influence the presidential race, as Nixon secured a comfortable majority of 301 voters. He will never know that he was in fact the last to have won, as an independent, votes in the Electoral College.

A limited two-party system

The American electoral system is the main reason the United States is the only major democracy with only two parties capable of getting elected. Votes are counted in most US elections using the winner-takes-all rule.The winner takes it all“,”text”:”The winner takes it all”}}”>The winner takes it all, as Abba sang. Whoever gets the most votes wins the seat.

To be sure of winning, you need money, a lot of money… The two parties thus have access to hundreds of millions of dollars to mount their electoral campaign. Above all, they have organizations and electoral machinery in every state that assures them of a place on the ballot, everywhere in the country.

Ross Perot speaks on the podium, fists in the air.

Ross Perot, independent candidate, managed to obtain almost 19% of the vote in the 1992 presidential election.

Photo: dpa via getty images / PAUL J.RICHARDS

Who remembers Ross Perot?

The only third-way candidate who managed to win a good share of the popular vote never managed to win a single vote in the Electoral College. It was 1992 and his name was Ross Perot.

This Texan billionaire, also famous for his nasal voice, managed to obtain 18.9% of the votes in the presidential election which opposed Bill Clinton to George Bush senior. Some Republicans also resented Perot for possibly ruining the re-election of the outgoing president. After creating the Reform Party, Perot ran again four years later, but won only 8.4% of the vote.

An unfavorable impact on the Democrats

Other third-party attempts were no more successful. Ralph Nader, under the banner of the Green Party, played spoilsport in 2000 with 2.4% of the vote, which was enough to cause, according to some Democrats, the defeat of Al Gore against George Bush junior.

The Republican, however, had not won the popular vote and had only a narrow majority in the recount of the votes of the Electoral College. Officially, Bush won Florida by 537 votes, after a controversial Supreme Court decision that halted the judicial recount. Except that Nader had collected more than 97,000 votes in this state, hence the Democratic reproaches.

Ralph Nader smiles at the microphone, in a crowd.

For some Democrats, Ralph Nader is still seen as the man who made George W. Bush win against Al Gore.

Photo: Getty Images/Chris Hondros

Jill Stein, always in the colors of the Green Party, caused some turmoil in 2016 by going to grab some 1.07% of the popular vote, but finishing fourth behind Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party. Some bad Democratic losers still resent Jill Stein for letting Donald Trump slip through the cracks of the electoral net.

A more central third party?

But why does this feeling that Democrats have a lot to lose from a third party persist? It seems that the Democrats are still very critical and, therefore, less satisfied with their party than the Republicans can be with their Great Old Party. Moreover, in recent history, independent centrist presidential candidates seem to be inspired most of the time by Democratic ideas, and less by the Republican Party.

Al Gore addresses a crowd with a giant American flag in the background.

Al Gore, Democratic candidate in the 2000 presidential election, had finally given up in the face of George W. Bush.

Photo: dpa via getty images / LUKE FRAZZA

The hope that the creators of third parties often found is rooted in the “declared” political affiliation of American voters. Gallup recently conducted a poll asking Americans if they consider themselves Republicans, Democrats or Independents.

Republicans and Democrats are tied at 27% each, while 43% said they were independent. Such a proportion of 43% seems to constitute a critical mass that could be seduced by a third way. Except that these independent always end up choosing one of the two camps, at the end of the day, and care little for the small parties which, in any case, have no chance because of the electoral system in place.

Aheadbut towards what?

Forward will try to organize in 30 states by the end of 2023 and in all 50 states by the end of 2024. Just in time for the next presidential and legislative elections?

Still, the party’s ambition is to have candidates in local races, such as school boards, city councils, the US Congress and up to the presidency. Quite a challenge, which will require a lot of money and, above all, persuasion to manage to survive against the two-party system.

The slogan of the Forward party.

The future Forward party hopes to field candidates in all 50 states by the 2024 election.

Photo: Screenshot

All of this does not necessarily leave much room or hope for those who are still hoping for a third way.

Because, unless the current system is transformed into a parliamentary system, as in Europe or Canada, it is not tomorrow the day before that we will see a party, represented by elected members of Congress, which will advance the idea of ​​a viable third way to the presidency, in the land of Uncle Sam.

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