The Gainesville Sun: Forward Party aims to fight back against growing extremism, tribalism and corruption


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As one of the current medical students here at the University of Florida, we have learned about the physical and psychological ills that humans can suffer. We have also received extensive training about how other things, the “social determinants of health,” affect a person’s overall wellness. 

With that in mind, it is important to recognize that the civic health of our country is clearly on life support. The symptoms of this disease are, among others, the loss of community, the breakdown of important institutions of government and media, out-of-control political division to the point of rioting and violence, and the loss of trust in our election process.  

People with different political views are considered enemies that must be defeated at all costs. The path we are on cannot be sustained. If our country is to return to health, we need a drastic political intervention.  

I grew up in what might be called a high-control religious group, one where things like dissent, critical thinking and associating with non-believers were discouraged. I became deeply familiar with religious tribalism — the idea that our people were “good” and outsiders were “bad,” dangerous or even evil. 

It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I was able to wake up and escape from the control imposed by my upbringing. After that point, I became interested in politics, something I wasn’t permitted to do prior. 

I quickly realized, however, that I didn’t have a natural home among the existing parties. None of my beliefs fit neatly into the Democrat or Republican platforms, and I disagreed with enough major things on each side to be considered an outsider by both. 

Like my unfortunate religious past, dissent, nuance and the mere suggestion that maybe “the other side” had a better idea for a particular issue was forbidden. I found many well-intentioned people blinded by their tribal partisanship.  

In his 2021 book “Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy,” former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang envisioned the creation of a new political entity dubbed “The Forward Party.” Having been a fan of Yang’s approach to politics since first hearing about his campaign in 2018, and as a proponent of the growth of a multiparty democratic system, I was intrigued and interested. 

On July 27, I was excited to learn that three organizations from across the political spectrum were joining forces. The Forward Party, the Serve America Movement and the Renew America Movement merged to create “Forward,” a new political party that aims to fight back against the growing extremism, tribalism and corruption that lies at the heart of the current two-party political system. I joined immediately.  

Forward represents a prescription to treat America’s political sickness. To appreciate it requires understanding, though, that it is not simply a new “third party.” It is a reimagining of the way politics should be, and how that can be used to bring communities closer together and solve civic questions with practical solutions. 

Forward, unlike the Democratic or Republican parties, will not present activists, candidates or voters with a menu of “must follow” policy planks. Rather, the Forward platform is a set of values and principles that dictate how we should treat each other and how we should approach problems. 

Our party seeks to bring ideological diversity, critical thinking, and grace and tolerance back to political discourse, all while advocating for policies supporting Forward’s three main pillars: free people, thriving communities and a vibrant democracy.   

We are surrounded by one-party rule here in Alachua County. The Republican Party dominates at the state level and the Democratic Party has full control of the county and city levels. Our state and local general elections are not competitive, creating little incentive for innovation or for solving problems.

This lack of political diversity hurts everyone, even if your “team” is the one with the advantage. The fact that we suffer in traffic on Archer Road every day, can’t afford our utility bills and have a community dealing with extensive poverty and homelessness, for example, is evidence that our government is not able or willing to work for us. 

Forward represents a new choice and a new way. We will not put partisan advantage over the needs of the community and will focus instead on coming together to find practical solutions to everyday problems — ones that seem to regularly go ignored. 

Nick Davies is a medical student at the University of Florida and lives in Gainesville. He currently volunteers as the platform committee co-chair with the Florida Forward Party

By Nick Davies, Guest columnist