Will Americans support alternatives to Democrat, Republican Party?
By S.T. Patrick
There is a growing dissatisfaction among grassroots supporters in both major American political parties. The left believes pro-war Democrats like President Joe Biden have long been Republicans in Democratic clothing, voting closer to former Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mitt Romney than former Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Sr. Many Republicans are baffled by the continuing adherence of party members to QAnon. There have been calls from longtime party members of both the Democrat and Republican parties to form third parties that align more cohesively with the political goals and beliefs of voters. There has even been one call for a true Unity Party.
Still contending that Donald Trump was defrauded out of the 2020 presidential election, multitudes of former Trump supporters are openly calling for a third Trump-led party. Speculative names, to date, have been the Patriot Party or the MAGA (Make America Great Again) Party.
The reasons Mr. Trump may potentially be open to leading a third party may have more to do with exacting revenge on Republicans who supported his second impeachment trial than an ideological desire to carry on the ideals of the MAGA movement.
The Washington Post reported that Mr. Trump is talking to advisors at Mar-A-Lago about starting a party to challenge the 10 Republicans in the House who supported the latest impeachment scheme. A move away from the Republican Party for Mr. Trump could begin as small-scale as 10 House races, or its size and scale could be dependent on the spontaneous groundswell that occurs when the now-unnamed party is announced. Whatever the case may be, a Trumpian political party cannot be good news for Republicans, as it will further divide an increasingly divided party. That Trump’s approval rating rarely dipped below 40% in such contentious times proves that there is a very loyal (to the man, not the GOP) base in place. This gives the former president an immense amount of power within the Republican Party that will have its candidates work for two years to distance themselves from him.
The Democratic Party could fracture if the progressive left splits from the neoliberals. The problem, as progressive Democrats see it, is that when the progressive left gets into office, they become neoliberals. Someone like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York campaigns as a progressive and then genuflects to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a majority of issues after being elected. It’s similar to when a Republican candidate campaigns as a social conservative and then governs as a corporate conservative.
In the 2020 presidential election, Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins combined received over 2 million votes with a comparatively miniscule broadcast media ad footprint. Other third-party candidates, combined, received almost 800,000 votes. Rapper and independent candidate Kanye West received over 70,000 votes.
Nevada is the only state to offer “None of These Candidates” as an option on federal and state ballots. Over 14,000 Nevada voters chose the ballot box equivalent of “No, thanks. I’ll pass.” Not counting a long list of independents, there were 17 third parties that received over 100 votes for their presidential candidate. While the two-party duopoly has controlled presidential elections in the United States for well over a century, an independent streak has run through the American bloodstream since George Washington warned against the formation of political parties in his farewell address.
The most optimistic clamoring for a third party has been the social media topic (neither politician has mentioned it, nor have they been asked about its possibilities) of a potential Tulsi Gabbard (DHawaii) unity partnership with Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Both have strong populist tendencies and respect for religious freedom. Both support the pardoning of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning. Both are vociferously anti-war. Both talk directly to those who feel they are not being represented well in the Democrat and Republican parties. As much as their foreign policy aims and their views on personal freedom align, there would be some disagreement on domestic policy, where Gabbard is more progressive and Paul is more libertarian. Those differences could be overcome if a majority of Americans simply trusted their motives and their mutual aims. Gabbard did introduce an abortion bill that would protect “pain-capable unborn children.” (In other words, if the fetus can feel pain, then the abortion cannot be performed. This is open to wide interpretation, but quite at odds with the official Democratic platform that is pushing for abortions to be legal up until the minute of birth.)
A major hurdle will be the appeal to Americans who feel like they are “wasting their vote” by casting a ballot for a third party, as if it’s a horse race and you’re going into a voting booth to predict the winner. By voting for a third-party candidacy, you are saying to the ruling duopoly that you see the situation as unwinnable. Even if your former favorite party “wins,” what have you won? For Republicans, the four years of President Trump have ended. What did you win? For Democrats, after eight years of Barack Obama, what do you feel like you
won? If you feel as if your electoral efforts simply stopped the other party from opening the floodgates of their ideology, then you haven’t won. If all we are doing as American voters every four years is voting against someone rather than for something, we need to go another way.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected] He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.