More than a dozen former Republican and Democratic officials have joined hands in creating a third political party in the United States, party leaders announced Wednesday.
Andrew Yang, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman will be co-chairing the new party, known as Forward, Reuters reported.
Founded by the merger of three political organizations—the Renew America Movement, the Forward Party, and the Serve America Movement—Forward positions itself as an alternative to the two-party U.S. political system.
“We are uniting from across the political spectrum to create the launchpad for a transformational American political party under one name: Forward,” the organizations said in the news release announcing the merger.
The Renew America Movement was formed in 2021 by former members of the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations, Reuters reported.
The Serve America Movement is an organization comprising Democrats, Republicans and independents led by former Republican congressman David Jolly as its executive director, according to the wire service.
Forward “will be a political home for the majority of Americans who want to move past the era of divisiveness and do-nothing politicians – so that our government starts working again,” party leadership said, according to the news release.
“This party will look and feel different. Forward celebrates diverse viewpoints and creativity, works to truly improve communities, and focuses on uniting people around common-sense solutions.”
Forward pledged to work toward “a culture that celebrates difference and individual choice, rejects hate, and removes barriers,” reinvigorating “a fair, flourishing economy and open society where everyone can live a good life and is safe in the places where we learn, work, and live,” and, reforming “our republic to give Americans more choices in elections, more confidence in a government that works, and more say in our future.”
“The United States badly needs a new political party — one that reflects the moderate, common-sense majority. Today’s outdated parties have failed by catering to the fringes. As a result, most Americans feel they aren’t represented,” Jolly, Whitman, and Yang wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post.
“Political extremism is ripping our nation apart, and the two major parties have failed to remedy the crisis,” party leaders said. “Polarization is fueling a spike in political intimidation. In the past two years, we’ve seen death threats and assassination plots against members of Congress, governors, Supreme Court justices and even the vice president of the United States.”
Jolly, Whitman and Yang accused the two-party system of “hollowing out” the center and pledged that the Forward party would be the first “open party” where Republicans, Independents and Democrats can work toward finding a “reasonable approach most Americans agree on” to the country’s problems.
“America’s founders warned about the dangers of a two-party system. Today, we’re living with the dire consequences,” they wrote. “Giving Americans more choices is important not just for restoring civility. Our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life depend on it.”
The party has an initial budget of approximately $5 million, Yang told Reuters, adding that accounting for the three merged organization’s grassroots membership, there are “hundreds of thousands” of members and potential donors.
“We are starting in a very strong financial position. Financial support will not be a problem,” Yang told Reuters.
Former Trump administration Homeland Security official and Forward leader Miles Taylor told the wire service that while “other third party movements have emerged in the past it’s largely been inside a system where the American people aren’t asking for an alternative.”
“The difference here is we are seeing an historic number of Americans saying they want one,” Taylor added.
Not everyone shared the party leadership’s optimism. Third parties have historically been unsuccessful in making considerable gains in the American political system.
New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie cast doubt on the success of the new party in a Friday commentary.
“The two-party system in the United States is a natural result of the rules of the game,” Bouie wrote.
“The combination of single-member districts and single-ballot, ‘first past the post’ elections means that in any election with more than two candidates, there’s a chance the winner won’t have a majority.”
“There might be four or five or six (or even nine) distinct factions in an electorate, but the drive to prevent a plurality winner will very likely lead to the creation of two parties that take the shape of loose coalitions, each capable of winning that majority outright,” Bouie said.
Writing for the Washington Post, progressive columnist Paul Waldman said that the issue with Forward is that it “goes nowhere.”
Waldman wrote that “whatever structural changes you prefer, sooner or later, a third party has to stand for something.”
“This is the problem with the kind of centrism Forward represents,” he continued. “In true centrist fashion, it defines itself not by what it believes, but by an unease with whatever the other parties believe.”
“One suspects that the people behind it are worried that if they take real positions, they’ll start alienating people; better to stick to vague notions about coming together to solve problems,” Waldman’s said.