Analysis | The impossible dream of a third party in the United States

Analysis | The impossible dream of a third party in the United States

It is talked about almost every election cycle in the United States. Should we create a third party for Americans disappointed with Republicans and Democrats who no longer recognize themselves in the options offered?

Would Americans be willing to vote for a third party, even if the current electoral system favors only two-party politics?

A few weeks ago, a third political way was born in the United States with the Forward party. But if the past is a guarantor of the future, the attempt will more than likely be doomed to failure.

While almost everyone predicted defeat of Liz Cheney facing a candidate dubbed by Donald Trump, who had espoused her 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 Mrs. 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 to do so to us to believe. For this millionaire who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, Americans are ready to move on.

The new party called 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: Renew America, formed in 2021 by dozens former officials of the Republican administrations of Reagan, the two Bushes and even that of Trump; the Forward Party, founded by Mr. Yang; and the Serve America Movement, a group of Democrats, Republicans and independents, whose executive director is former Republican Congressman David Jolly.

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

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 for Houston on September 24.

But, in the meantime, how does this embryonic party fit in on fundamental issues?

< p class="e-p">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 in the Forward party, there is no left or right position, rather it is a position to move forward and to go in the right direction. If you want to manage this country, you will have to take a position, not just say that it is a question that arouses passions, retorted 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…

There have been many attempts to create a third way in the American political system. Among these was that of 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.

George Wallace hoped do well between Nixon and Humphrey, during the 1968 presidential election, but he was soon to become disenchanted.

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. Above all, Wallace wanted to siphon votes from Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, and thus become a kingmaker.

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 independent to win votes in the Electoral College.

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, as Abba sang. Whoever gets the most votes wins the seat.

To be sure of winning, you need money, a lot of money… Both parties have access to hundreds of millions of dollars to mount their electoral campaign. Above all, they have organizations and electoral machines in each state that guarantee them a place on the ballot, everywhere in the country.

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

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 Sr. Some Republicans have also resented Perot for possibly ruining the re-election of the incumbent president. After creating the Reform Party, Perot ran again four years later, but only got 8.4% of the vote.

Other attempts at third parties were no more fruitful. 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 by George Bush Jr. /p>

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

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

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

But why this feeling that the Democrats have a lot to lose? to 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 Grand Old Party. Moreover, in recent history, independent centrist presidential candidates seem to draw their inspiration most of the time from Democratic ideas, and less from the Republican Party.

Al Gore, Democratic presidential candidate in 2000, had finally given up against George W. Bush.

The hope often held by third-party creators 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 independents always end up choosing one of the two camps, in the end, and don't care about the small parties which, in any case, have no chance because of the electoral system in place.

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 upcoming presidential and legislative elections ?

Still, the party's ambition is to have candidates in local races, such as school boards, city councils, the U.S. 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 future Forward party hopes to field candidates in all 50 states by the 2024 election.

All of this necessarily leaves little room, or hope, for those still hoping for a third way.< /p>

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 officials in Congress, who will advance the idea of ​​a viable third way to the presidency, in the country of Uncle Sam.

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