A Strong Third Political Party is on its Way

Events will prevent it from happening

History tells us that a Third Party has never been successful. The American Federal system, majority rule, Electoral College, and voter perception that a third alternative serves as a spoiler, hinder the eagerness for a Third Party. The possibility of dividing the Electoral College vote so that no candidate gains the required 270 majority deters public endearment for a Third Party. Bringing the selection of POTUS to the House of Representatives, where the President is elected from the three Presidential candidates who received the most electoral votes, is not democracy in action.

In the 1912 election, Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party enabled Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win, and in 1992, Ross Perot’s Reform Party aided Democrat Bill Clinton in his victory. Unproven analysis has Green Party candidates Ralph Nader taking votes from Al Gore, giving Republican George W. Bush the edge in Florida and enabling Bush to win the 2002 election, and Jill Stein siphoning votes from Hillary Clinton and preventing Ms. Clinton’s election in 2016.

Other Third Party candidates, John Anderson in 1980, Dixiecrat J. Strom Thurmond and Progressive Henry Wallace in 1948, lessened the totals of the Parties they vacated but did not alter the elections. George Wallace and his American Independent Party steered votes from Democrat Hubert Humphrey in Ohio and southern states in the 1968 election but his limited success did not affect the outcome. Humphrey would have lost anyway.

The approaching 2024 year is shaping as the year of the emergence of another large Third Party. Significant differences between the previous disaffections and contemporary resentments with the political Parties highlight its calling. A unique situation implies a realignment of the political spectrum.

(1)    In previous presidential races, a large Third Party emerged from only one of the two established political Parties. Uniquely, in 2023, both major Parties have a high percentage of alienated. The Wall Street Journal, The Third Party Dream is Alive in 2024, August 23-24, claims 27 percent of voters have unfavorable opinions of both political Parties, and “between 60% and 70% of voters in swing states said they would be open to considering an independent ticket if the main choice is between Biden and Trump.”

(2)    The political Parties have changed policies and direction in the last decades, leaving many voters without a political harbor and effectively disenfranchised. They either remain unrepresented or join forces and establish a new political Party.

(3)    The electorate is tired of voting for the lesser disliked. If both President Biden and former President Trump are the candidates, rather than stay home or vote for the lesser disliked, the voters will seek another candidate.

(4)    Previous Third Parties rallied for a charismatic candidate; the anticipated 2024 Third Party rallies against two candidates and for its own program and agenda.

Once the political Party for union workers, reformists, liberals, farm community, peace and justice advocates, and the less fortunate, the Democratic Party has become the party of neoliberalism, global finance, alignment with Wall Street bankers who are principal power brokers for the Party, and elitist groups who regard with contempt those that challenge their policies. This does not mean that the Democratic Party does not function as a “caring Party.” Its economic programs have brought growth and prosperity to the population and greatly benefitted the Middle Class. Its entitlements and welfare capitalism have served as a safety net for the less privileged.

Neoliberalism, defined as market-oriented reform policies that “eliminate price controls, deregulate capital markets, lower trade barriers, and reduce, especially through privatization and austerity, state influence in the economy,” has alienated the unions and rural sector. Global finance, which chooses gaining hegemony before providing peace and justice has disturbed progressives, and alignment with Wall Street, which advances the economy in financial and high-tech areas, has benefitted the wealthy class and increased the inequitable distribution of wealth, bothered the “left-wingers “and given them the appearance of their Party as a self-serving meritocracy. Failures to resolve social problems of racism,  educational inequalities, illegal immigration, gun control, excessive crime, and illicit drugs have led some reformers to perceive the Democratic Party as a tired, incapacitated, and weak institution. Inability to convince Democratic Senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona (now an Independent) to vote for passage of the failed voting rights legislation emphasized the perception.

By bringing back government involvement in the economy and welfare policies that characterized the Democratic Party before Bill Clinton took office, President Biden slightly reversed the negative trends that disaffected the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, while disturbing other constituencies. No President can please all Party members and all voters. Complaints may be voiced but the record shows an administration having a successful economy, giving attention to maintaining a high-tech edge with the CHIPS Act, passing bipartisan legislation, and keeping urban streets clear of super-charged demonstrations. Biden has been a president desired by the traditional Democratic Party followers. So, what is his problem?

It’s not mainly him; it’s his Democratic Party of entitlements, government interference in the economy, and welfare Capitalism that has disturbed the neoliberalists, global financiers, and Wall Street bankers. Millennials and Gen Z echo the words of young John F. Kennedy, asking to pass the torch to a new generation that has fresh faces and fresh ideas. Biden, who? Oh, you mean that guy who became a Senator in the 1970s, tried to run for president in the 1980s, badgered Clarence Thomas in the 1990s, and served as Vice President back in 2009.

One word, “conservative” — social, fiscal, and cultural— identifies the Republican Party. Moderates — former presidential candidates from the Bush family, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney —  have had strong and leading voices in the Republican Party and represented a significant social and cultural liberal force. Since 2016, the Republicans have evolved into a populist, extremely nationalist, and socially ultra-conservative Party, reducing the moderates from a major to a minor role in everyday activities. The moderates, as well as some conservatives, such as former congressional representative, Elizabeth Lynne Cheney, cannot remain in a political Party in which they are insulted, embarrassed, and repressed. They welcome a Third Party that approves their policies.

If Biden and an extreme Republican — Trump or DeSantis —secure nominations, preventing either of them from being elected will drive a large portion of the electorate in 2024. Staying home and not voting will not accomplish the task; only having a successful Third Party candidate in the campaign will suffice. Fifteen months before election day, an examination of polls of voter preferences indicates a Third Party candidate can be victorious.

Predicting the outcome of a Third Party that is fused from centrist Republicans and Democrats is presumptuous. Decisive facts that generate an acceptable analysis are still scarce, and polls that contain the statistics have not been trustworthy and change daily. One of the latest polls, Forbes, Apr 21, 2023, Associated Press/NORC poll states,

The poll, conducted April 13-17 among 1,230 U.S. adults, found only 26% of respondents would like to see Biden run again in 2024, versus 73% who said he shouldn’t. That includes 47% of Democrats, while 52% of Democrats do not want him to run.

Former President Donald Trump’s 2024 bid was similarly unpopular, with 30% of respondents saying they don’t want him to run again, though 55% of Republicans say they want him to run again.

In 2020, a Pew Research poll had the Democrats with an edge of 49% compared to 44%. The poll included Independents who favored each Party in the American electorate. The edge is quickly fading.The PBS News Hour, June 27, 2022, reports,

WASHINGTON (AP) — A political shift is beginning to take hold across the U.S. as tens of thousands of suburban swing voters who helped fuel the Democratic Party’s gains in recent years are becoming Republicans. More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press.

Let’s give the political Parties an even split with both having 48% of registered and sympathetic voters. The other two percent goes to minor Parties (Green and Libertarian). If only 48% of Democrats want Biden and the other 52% would be willing to support a centrist Third Party candidate (assuming no disenchanted Democrat will vote for Trump before voting for a centrist), then Biden gets 23% (0.48 x 48%) of the vote. Following similar reasoning, Trump gets 26.4% (0.48 x 55%) of the vote. This leaves the other Parties with 51.8% of the vote. Decreasing the Green and Libertarian vote total to 1.8 percent and we have a future Third party able to gather 50% of the vote, which should allow that Third Party to achieve an electoral college majority.

Preparations for the appearance of a Third Parry have been underway for several years. The centrist and bipartisan No Labels, a combination of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats have been quietly organizing themselves for the day they emerge from the cocoon and fly into the political arena. Knowing the difficulties in rallying support and the consequences if they do not achieve victory, No Labels, to its credit, has developed a careful strategy:

We have created an “insurance plan” that would allow a Unity ticket to run for president if the two major parties select candidates the vast majority of Americans don’t want to vote for in 2024.
We are preparing for the possibility of nominating a candidate. We have not yet committed to do so.
We will run ONLY under the proper environmental conditions, which must be met for us to proceed.
We will measure these conditions rigorously, through regular polling and research.

Problem solved. Biden and Trump are sidetracked and the Democratic and Republican Parties begin their reformations. Not so fast, a Third Party is a dangerous solution and a much easier solution to the Biden/Trump dilemma is available.

Assumptions, polls, and analysis cannot accurately predict fickle voter decisions on Election Day. An error can lead to a disastrous outcome — no candidate gets the majority electoral vote and the election goes to the House of Representatives or the Third Party swings votes from one of the major Parties that help elect the candidate from the other major Party. Installation of a Third Party is not worth the gamble, no matter the odds for success.

In assembling a political Party, members share and radiate hope, inspiration, idealism, and dedication. When operating, members jockey for position, power, furthering personal agendas, and control of the finances. The well-serving become self-serving and big donors want to command.

As mentioned before, previous Third Parties rallied for a charismatic candidate; No Labels rallies against two candidates and for its program and agenda. How will Democrats respond if a known Republican is the Third Party nomination for president and vice-versa? Can Democrats and Republicans compromise separate positions and gain unity? Suspicions, in-fighting, backstabbing, and discord are eventual and prominent features of all political parties, and No Labels will be no exception. The initial vision, order, and clarity presented to the public will become foggy and disappointing, better to stay with what you got than invest in what is shaky.

This dismal view and realistic assessment of the possible success of No Labels does not matter. There is a lesser need for a Third Party and a greater need for sensible Democrat and Republican leaders. The public does not want Biden and Trump. Both are losers. Why run them and allow their nominations to stimulate a Third Party and humble the major Parties? Something is wrong with political strategists that are guiding the Dems and the GOP to demolition. Their concentration should be on getting Party leaders to dump Biden and Trump and let the electorate know they are not viable candidates. These Party leaders are not the lackeys whose positions depend upon loyalty; they are the wheelers and dealers, the big-money guys who drive the Party from behind the scenes. Why do the political strategists want losers as nominees and destruction of their Parties as a result? Are the present strategies rational and believable?

More likely, Biden and Trump will disappear from natural causes. Biden will recreate Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 sacrifice, and, for Party unity, decide to withdraw his nomination. Trump will be slammed out of the race, unable to function due to being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from the terrifying court procedures he faces.

Let California Governor Gavin Newsom and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy seek the Democratic Party nomination and  Arkansas’ former Governor Asa Hutchinson and  New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (governors are winning candidates) slug it out as the Republican candidate. Let common sense take hold and voters will sleep much better on the night before the next presidential election.

MASA – Make America Sane Again

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at substack.com.  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.