WRGB Albany | New ‘Forward’ political party aims to appeal to moderate voters


WASHINGTON (TND) — A group of former Republicans and Democrats are coming together to make a new political party targeting moderate voters who they say are not represented well enough in Congress or statehouses.

“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 Today’s outdated parties have failed by catering to the fringes.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,” Andrew Yang, David Jolly and Christine Whitman wrote in an op-ed this week.

The trio is forming a new party called Forward in what they say will be able to harness growing apathy towards Democrats and Republicans to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate to gain more traction than previous efforts at creating new political parties in the U.S.

FILE – In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

Yang is a former Democratic presidential and New York mayoral nominee, Jolly is a former Republican congressman from Florida and Whitman is a former Republican governor of New Jersey.

The group says the current political system has set the stage for extremism and fueled a spike in political intimidation that has brought on death threats and assassination plots against government officials.

“The rigid, top-down, one-size-fits-all platforms of the outdated political parties are drifting toward the fringes, making solutions impossible. We stand for doing, not dividing. That means rejecting the far Left and far Right and pursuing common ground,” Forward’s platform says.

Dan Lee, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who studies American political parties, said it’s unclear how the “moderate” stance of the Forward Party will fare since they haven’t had any candidates with positions.

“What exactly about their positions on climate change, gun control, health care, etc. that are moderate?” he said. “One thing that is clear is that the party supports electoral reforms, such as use of ranked-choice voting and open primaries. But those sorts of reforms are not clearly ‘ideological.’

The announcement comes as more polling is finding voters are tired of their parties’ current leaders and may be open to something new.

A CNN poll released this week found a majority of voters in both parties want a new candidate at the top of the ballot in 2024. Seventy-five percent of Democratic voters said they want someone other than President Joe Biden to be the party’s 2024 presidential nominee, and 55% of Republicans said the same about former President Donald Trump.

Even voters who say they would stick with Biden or Trump want three or more parties involved in politics. According to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Friday, 49% of likely Trump voters and 67% of likely Biden voters said they would want three or more parties. Sixty-nine percent of independent voters agreed.

A Gallup poll conducted last year found support for another political party at an all-time high, with 62% of respondents saying a third party is needed. Just 33% said the Republican and Democratic parties do a good job of representing the American people.

“On the one hand, excessive polarization does create a favorable climate for third parties. Support for third parties is at an all-time high, since Gallup started tracking this question in 2003,” Lee said. “But on the other hand, polarization will hinder third party success. Although people say they aren’t happy with the major parties, partisanship among voters is extremely high today.”

Forward is trying to appeal to those voters by staking their claim in the middle ground to tackle controversial issues like gun control and climate change, which Congress has struggled to address due to partisan fights over solutions.

“The two major parties have hollowed out the sensible center of our political system — even though that’s where most voters want to see them move,” the op-ed says. “A new party must stake out the space in between. On every issue facing this nation — from the controversial to the mundane — we can find a reasonable approach most Americans agree on.”

On top of offering a moderate choice to voters, Forward is also advocating to change the way voters cast their ballots through electoral reforms. The party is pushing for open primaries and ranked-choice voting to be instituted, which they say would give candidates outside the two mainstream parties a chance to win and provide Americans with representatives whose values align more closely with their own.

“Recognizing how third parties can transform the major parties is an important point when trying to assess the impact of third parties in the U.S. Winning elections isn’t necessarily the only way to play a significant role,” Lee said. “Even by just running, even while still not winning office, can help keep the major parties accountable.”

Forward is staying out of the 2022 midterms, but said it is expanding its organization and will have candidates on the ballot in time for 2024.

“There are 500,000+ elected positions in the United States. Most of those races are uncontested, even though they have the most impact on the everyday lives of Americans,” the party’s website says. “Mayors, council members, school boards. While we won’t shy away from big national races, our focus is on winning seats like these to change the course of our country.”

By AUSTIN DENEAN | The National Desk