Spirited Reasoners know that this blog has been advocating something akin to a third party for quite some time. The devil, however, appears to be in the details.
For example, one could imagine a scenario in which a third party were to generate a platform that selected half its positions from the most recent Democratic Party platform and half from the most recent Republican Party platform. Sounds interesting at first. But what happens if the third party selects the worst, rather than the best, positions from each of the two main parties? Just because a candidate claims to be able to “work across the aisles” doesn’t mean that candidate will do so on the right issues.
History demonstrates that third parties rarely spring to power with positions on all issues. Instead, they stand the best chance of gaining traction when they are formed to advocate for a single cause. Then, having gained adherents based on that one cause, the party can (if it chooses to do so) expand its platform to include more policy positions in the future.
The Whig Party in the United States managed to play a role in the election of four Presidents based largely on its first anti-imperial-presidency campaign aimed at the excesses of Andrew Jackson. Then, in turn, the Republican Party managed to gain traction based on its opposition to the extension of slavery. Meanwhile, the Know Nothing Party was gaining influence by trumpeting its one theme of anti-immigration.
As an example of this one-issue approach in more modern times, one can compare the relative success and longevity of the Green Party, especially in Europe, with the fly-by-night aspect of other parties, most of which were centered on the personality of a single charismatic spokesperson, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, or Ross Perot. The key to long-term success appears to be the identification of, and advocacy for, one or two major issues that the dominant parties have been neglecting.
Now to the Forward Party founded by Andrew Yang. In answer to the question “does it have a chance?” I would posit the following answer: Yes, but only if enough Americans are, or become, passionate about the Forward Party’s main single issue: the need to revitalize our democratic institutions.
The Forward Party’s platform—all focused on that one issue—consists of several planks we have espoused as Spirited Reasoners: (1) adopting ranked choice voting; (2) adopting non-partisan primaries; and (3) insisting on the appointment of independent redistricting commissions. Core party principles include the celebration of diverse thinking, bottom-up rather than top-down solutions, an open “tent” welcome to all comers, more listening and less talking, working together rather than against, and a spirit of grace and tolerance. See, https://www.forwardparty.com/whyforward
If enough of us can agree that our system of government is broken and needs to be fixed, then we should support these types of reforms. Even if the Forward Party never succeeds in electing a single candidate, we can hope that it’s spirit of open reasoning and debate is infectious enough to improve our democracy.
To this observer, Forward Party advocates sound a lot like Spirited Reasoners.