Three minor third parties—the Forward Party, Serve America Movement, and Renew America Movement—announced on Wednesday that they had combined into one larger party under the name Forward, pooling their resources and attempting to appeal to centrist voters disaffected by the extremes within the two-party system.
The new party will be co-chaired by Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate who led the Forward Party, and Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey who led the Renew America Movement. David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida who led the Serve America Movement, will hold the group’s executive chairmanship.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post published on Wednesday, the three leaders cited a poll suggesting that two-thirds of Americans, including clear majorities across all conventional political divisions, believed that a third party was necessary to break partisan gridlock.
“In a system torn apart by two increasingly divided extremes,” the three leaders wrote, “you must introduce choice and competition. The United States badly needs a new political party—one that reflects the moderate, common-sense majority.”
Although third parties have periodically been introduced throughout U.S. history, they have failed to replace the two-party system, which has remained intact in its current form with occasional interruptions since 1856. New parties lack the institutional ground-level support networks that both the Democratic and Republican parties have developed over time, and winner-take-all voting systems without proportional representation tend to favor two-party systems. However, third parties have occasionally acted as spoilers, dividing one major party’s vote and allowing the other to win. In 2000, Ralph Nader’s unexpectedly strong campaign on the Green Party ticket is widely credited with siphoning votes from former vice president Al Gore, who subsequently lost the election to George W. Bush. Another Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, was accused by Democrats of enabling Donald Trump’s victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. After the announcement, Democrats on Twitter expressed concern that Yang or Whitman could bring about a similar loss for President Joe Biden or another Democratic candidate in 2024.
Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security official in the Trump administration, told Reuters that the new Forward Party was likely to be more successful than previous third-party efforts, noting that other third-party movements had emerged “inside a system where the American people aren’t asking for an alternative.”
“The difference here is we are seeing an historic number of Americans saying they want one,” Taylor added.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.