'Forward': third political party launched in US

'Not left. Not right. Forward': Andrew Yang and other political actors introduce new party

Former US Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is part of a bipartisan group that has launched the Forward party. AFP
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Dozens of former Republican and Democratic officials announced on Thursday a third political party with the aim of appealing to millions of voters they say are dismayed with what they see as America's dysfunctional two-party system.

The new party, called Forward, will initially be co-led by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey.

They hope the party will become a viable alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties that dominate US politics, founding members told Reuters.

Party leaders will hold a series of events in two dozen cities this autumn to roll out its platform and attract support. They will host an official launch in Houston on September 24 and the party's first national convention in a major US city next summer.

The new party is being formed by a merger of political groups that have developed in recent years as a reaction to America's increasingly polarised and gridlocked political system.

The leaders cited a Gallup poll last year showing a record two thirds of Americans believe a third party is needed.

Two pillars of the new party's platform are to “reinvigorate a fair, flourishing economy” and to “give Americans more choices in elections, more confidence in a government that works and more say in our future”.

The party, which is centrist, has no specific policies yet, but states: “How will we solve the big issues facing America? Not Left. Not Right. Forward.”

Historically, third parties have failed to thrive in America's two-party system though they have occasionally affected presidential elections.

Analysts say the Green Party's Ralph Nader siphoned off enough votes from Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000 to help Republican George W Bush win the White House.

It is unclear how the new Forward party might affect either party's electoral prospects in such a deeply polarised country. Political analysts are sceptical it can succeed.

Public reaction on Twitter was swift: many Democrats on the social media platform expressed fear that the new party will siphon more votes away from their party and end up helping Republicans in close races.

Forward aims to gain party registration and ballot access in 30 states by the end of 2023 and in all 50 states by late 2024, in time for the 2024 presidential and congressional elections. It aims to field candidates for local races, such as school boards and city councils, in state houses, the US Congress and all the way up to the presidency.

In an interview, Mr Yang said the party will start with a budget of about $5 million. It has donors lined up and a grassroots membership between the three merged groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

“We are starting in a very strong financial position. Financial support will not be a problem,” Mr Yang said.

Another person involved in the creation of Forward, Miles Taylor — a former Homeland Security official in former president Donald Trump's administration — said the idea was to give voters “a viable, credible national third party”.

Mr Taylor acknowledged that third parties had failed in the past, but said: “The fundamentals have changed. When 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 a historic number of Americans saying they want one.”

Updated: July 28, 2022, 8:38 PM
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