Former US Democrat Andrew Yang launches centrist ‘Forward Party’

USA & World

Former US Democrat Andrew Yang launches centrist ‘Forward Party’

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who experienced a surprise surge in popularity in his bid to become the Democratic candidate in the 2020 United States presidential election, has announced the launch of a centrist new third party.

Yang said the new Forward Party, which has been formed with Republicans, Democrats and independents, will be the largest in terms of resources in the US outside of the goliath Democratic and Republican parties, which have long been the most dominant political forces in the country. The new party will begin a national building tour in the fall (autumn), he said.

“It’s time to deliver the new approach to party politics millions of Americans have been waiting for—Forward! Let’s go!,” Yang, who also unsuccessfully ran to be New York City mayor in 2021, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

Forward, which aims to be on the ballot in 15 states by the end of the year and all 50 by 2024, is the result of the merger of several smaller organisations.

Those include an earlier version of the party created by Yang after he left the Democratic Party last year.

It also includes the Serve America Movement, which is a coalition of former members of the major parties led by former Republican Congressman David Jolly, and the Renew America Movement, a group of former staffers from Republican administrations led by former Department of Homeland Security chief Miles Taylor, who served under former President Donald Trump.

Reuters news agency reported that former Republican governor of New Jersey, Christine Whitman, will initially co-chair the party with Yang.

The party’s platform envisions a departure from “rigid … one size fits all” policy pillars, instead saying its candidates will be united by broad themes meant to support freedom, help communities grow and bolster democracy, while seeking to emphasise problem solving over traditional partisan politics.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post published on Wednesday, Jolly, Todd and Yang wrote that the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters hoping to overturn the election victory of Joe Biden reflected a grim outlook for a US democracy increasingly defined by polarised viewpoints that do not represent the majority of voters.

“How do you remedy such a crisis?” they wrote. “In a system torn apart by two increasingly divided extremes, you must reintroduce choice and competition.”

“The US badly needs a new political party – one that reflects the moderate, common-sense majority,” they wrote.

Still, gaining momentum for a third party remains a tall order in the US.

No third-party candidate has won a presidential election in the era of the modern Democratic and Republican parties. The last third-party candidate to win any states in a presidential election was segregationist George Wallace, who won five in the 1968 vote.

Members of other prominent third parties, including the Libertarian and Green parties, have only sporadically held seats in the US House of Representatives, although third parties generally fare better in local and state elections.

Third parties have also been accused of siphoning votes from the major parties with which they most closely align.

The most famous instance of that came in the 2000 presidential election, when critics accused the left-wing Green Party candidate Ralph Nader of costing Democrat Al Gore the victory in Florida. Republican George W Bush ultimately won the state, and in turn the presidency, by just 537 votes, although some analysts have argued the loss was more likely attributed to Democrats choosing to vote Republican, and not Democrats diverting to the Green Party.

Jolly, Todd and Yang preempted the criticism, arguing that the status quo, in which large swaths of the US are dominated by one party, and where only a few consequential races make the difference in federal elections, deserves a shake-up.

“Some call third parties ‘spoilers’. But the system is already spoiled,” they wrote. “The two major parties have shut out competition, and America is suffering as a result.”