Last month, Gallup released the results of a poll showing that public support for a third party is currently at its highest level ever, at 62%, compared to 40% when Gallup first began polling public opinion on this topic for the first time. 2003. This is when only 33% of Americans feel that the current parties “are doing enough to represent the American people.”
In terms of support for the third parties in the United States, they were mostly based on regional support (Strom Thermond in 1948, George Wallace in 1968), or strong personalities (Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, Ross Beirut in 1992), or voting My protest (John Anderson in 1980, Ralph Nider in 2000), more than it was based on national movements or coalitions. But there are three different things this time.
First: the “Republic” and “Democracy” brands are weak. In fact, partisan decline is an old rather than a new story, but in 2016, the Republican Party collapsed in what amounted to an anti-party takeover. On the other hand, the “Democrats” face less danger, helped by Joe Biden’s smart political pairing with left-wing politics and a moderate tone. But the fact that the House Majority Leader fears a second term in the House of Representatives from Queens also suggests something about the internal weakness of the Democratic establishment.
Second, the people who seem more yearning for a third party are at the political extremes. Perhaps the striking result of the Gallup poll, if not surprising, is that Republican support for a third party jumped by 23 percentage points in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat and his talk of forming a new party. Of course, the possibility of a real fracturing of the Republican Party in 2024 remains intuitive.
Third: The neglected region in American politics no longer exists on the illiberal margins, but rather in the liberal center. It is the place where most Americans are still present, both temperamental and moral, and to which they may return in the future if given a choice.
In fact, I do not mean by the word “liberal” a social welfare system that is watched over by a large government, but rather the principles of the spirit of liberal democracy: respect for the election result, the rule of law, freedom of expression, and the principle of innocence (in courts of law and public opinion alike) until proven otherwise, and respect A free market based on rational organization and social support, respect for personal independence, questioning of politics based on identity affiliation, commitment to equal opportunities rather than “fairness” in results, and a deep belief in the advantages of migration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, and fulfillment of the common ideals and interests of the free world. All of these things were, to some extent, the common ground of American political life, which Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. knew, as well as Barack Obama and Clinton. The debates that divide the two parties, such as the size of the government and the mechanism of trade, amounted to narrow quarrels within a common liberal ideology. A doctrine that has affirmed America in the face of domestic and global challenges, from the far right and the far left alike.
But the main divide in politics now is not between liberals and conservatives, as the two terms used to be understood, but between liberals and non-liberals.
The “illiberal” right is embodied by the likes of Steve Miller on immigration, Steve Bannon on commerce, Josh Holly on elections, and Majory Taylor Green on each of the crazy and fanatical conspiracy theories .. These are all faces of what has so far been considered the most dangerous form of “liberalism.” Because it showed that it can win the elections, and when it loses, it is able to sabotage and challenge it.
But there is also the “illiberalism” of the left, which is embodied by the excesses and excesses of the “Me Too” movement, which destroyed the lives of people, anti-Semitism among some leaders of the “Women’s March”, and the “anti-racism” pedagogy that depicts people who do not agree with its “Manichae” view of the world on They are supposed racists, and the abolition of jobs, book contracts, speeches and opposing opinions in places like “Slate” and other supposedly liberal publications. And everyone on the left who has not noticed the climate of fear that now dominates liberal institutions should begin to pay more attention.
In fact, the new “illiberalism” is frightening, but it can also be useful, since everyone who was stung by its fire, left or right, is now re-discovering the breadth of the old liberal ideology, the insignificance of its really internal differences, and how many things in common can bring them together with people who were In the past they considered them ideological opposites.
This is not a political party yet, but it could be the seed of a party. America needs a liberal party that represents what it was in the past, and what it desperately needs to be again.
* An American writer and journalist
To be published in private arrangement with the New York Times service
Canonical URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/15/opinion/us-third-party-liberals.html