Options for new political parties
Recent polling data suggests that neither the Democrats or Republicans are appealing to most Americans. The number of independents is slowly increasing. Party affiliation stands at 31% Democrat (dropping and tied with their all time low), 29% Republican (holding steady and 1% above their all time low) and 38% independent (increasing and tied with their all time high). Folks like Solomon Kleinsmith, here at
Rise of the Center Uniters.org, see it as a trend of moderates away from the left and right extremes that dominate the two parties. That interpretation sounds reasonable.
If moderates are discontented and leaving the two parties, then what are their options? For people who are more comfortable with conservative ideology, they have the Republican, Libertarian, Boston Tea Party and other conservative third party options. Liberals have the Democratic, Green, Socialist and other parties. Religious people have small or nascent third parties such as the American Party or America’s Independent Party. All of those are grounded in some form of political and/or religious ideology, much of it pretty hard core and extreme. Despite the range of choices, none seem to have much popular appeal to independents.
Why be an independent?
In some (most?) states with closed primaries, people who register as independent cannot vote in primaries for candidates running in a qualified party like the Democratic or Republican parties. That is a big disadvantage. Despite the disadvantage, they still register as independent. A reasonable conclusion is that independents truly do not like their options, including the Democratic and Republican parties.
What else is there?
If it is true, as Mr. Kleinsmith and others suggest, that independents are rejecting political ideology or extremism on the left and right, then that would seem to be a repudiation of at least the extremes of the two dominant ideologies in America – liberal and conservative. If that is true, then what else is there? Other than compromise between the two extremes, not much, that’s what.
The data shows that Democrats and Republicans are being rejected. The other third parties offer variations, usually more extreme, of liberal and conservative ideology but they aren’t getting anywhere. Pragmatic realists (“moderates” as I define it) have essentially no option among any of the existing political groups. If independents are pragmatic realists more or less, that would at least partly explain why they are willing to suffer the major disadvantage of being independent in the first place. Right?Of course, there is another definition of “moderate”, i.e., someone who generally seeks compromise between Democrats and Republicans. In one sense that is pragmatic because there are no other powers to deal with. If you don’t compromise with them, you get nowhere. The downside is that with this kind of moderation, you get compromise between two rejected and flawed ideologies, liberal and conservative.
That may or may not lead to effective solutions to our problems. The outcomes can be good, bad or indifferent. Sometimes what Democrats want makes sense. Sometimes what Republicans want makes sense. Sometimes compromise makes sense. Sometimes (often, I suspect) none of that makes sense. A moderate grounded in pragmatic reality (common sense) and serving the public interest over special interests may on average be better able to see the best option than a moderate looking largely for compromise.
In the world of partisan political advocacy, the two sides (Democrats, Republicans and their special interests) nearly always present us with two highly spun and thus incorrect versions of reality. We also get two, often mutually exclusive, solutions based on their false realities. Their version of reality ignores, distorts or flat out denies facts and reasoning that undercuts ideology. The truth of the matter is that problems and reality are what they are, with no regard to which ideology, if any, it fits or denies. It’s like air pollution not caring about crossing state or international borders – it is just going to go wherever it goes, like it or not.
Assuming the foregoing has some validity, there should be an opportunity for a new political party to form right now. Despite that, the momentum for moderates just isn’t there. At least not like it is for the Tea Party (mostly hard core political and religious ideologues), who made real, tangible progress in a short period of time. Why aren’t moderates coalescing like the Tea Party did?
What is missing?
Maybe some things are missing before independents or moderates, if that is what independents are, will coalesce into an organized force. One is the emotion needed to rally people around a cause. It seems to be the case that many (most?) people just can’t rally around cold, rational political discussions about reasonable and effective problem solving. It’s too dull. Rhetorical fire breathing dragons, or something like that, seems to be needed. The second missing item is a coherent cause or intellectual framework for independents or moderates to rally around.
The coherent cause
As for the coherent cause, there is one possibility that no political party offers today. That is a party grounded largely in pragmatic reality and rejection of political and religious ideology to the extent it can reasonably be done. That is an alternative that none of the existing parties and movements, like the Tea Party, offer. That is something that should appeal to at least some independents and pragmatists.
The search for unspun truth and intelligent, shrewd, efficient and humane policies to address problems seen from the viewpoint of unspun truth could be the intellectual core for a new political party. That is something that none of the other parties can or will offer. From them, we get spin, more spin and service to their special interests at the expense of the public interest, i.e., the political status quo.
At the least, pursuit of honest reality and service to the public before service to the special interest is a real and different option compared to the political party chaos we have now. Any takers?