Chicken or egg, where does a new party start? Worldwide many parties have started around charismatic leaders but given Trump already has the Republican Party do we really need another cult masquerading as a political party? Yet without a viable candidate can a party get off the ground? In 2016 the Libertarian Party on paper had a viable ticket with two successful former governors. The reality of the top of the ticket’s unfamiliarity with Aleppo, a Syrian city then under bloody siege exposed a lack of knowledge or staff work or both. Libertarian disinterest in foreign involvement was exposed in the most unsettling manner. Even against maybe the two most disliked Presidential candidates, the Libertarians made hardly a ripple. While on the ballot in all states, no mean feat, they just didn’t have the organization and financing to be competitive. Without it they couldn’t attract winning candidates.
The young Republican Party didn’t come into existence just to elect its first presidential candidate, John C. Fremont. Rather, it was founded over opposition of slavery’s extension into new territories by disgruntled Whigs and free soil Democrats not being heard by the two dominate parties at the time. First they organized at the state level starting in 1854 and then held their national conventions in 1856 nominating Fremont as their first Presidential candidate. This gave a home for those politicians uncomfortable or overlooked in their old parties to have a path forward in the new party. This empowered legions of voters not aligned with the agrarian slave holding interests. The last truly successful party was built from the ground up. It found its leaders along the way.
How do we actually build a bottom up new party? The first thing you need the organizers. The husband and wife team of political strategists Mary Matalin & James Carville come to mind. The former left the Republican Party in 2016 while her husband served President Clinton who had headed centrist Democratic Leadership Council before a presidency featuring among other things welfare reform, NAFTA and a balanced budget. Looking at the parties they long served today, they just might be ready for something new. Of course, they might be at a stage in life they just might not be able to devote the energy required for such a massive undertaking. Hopefully they could at least recommend like-minded political organizers that could determine roughly what is needed to establish the Future Party in every state.
Without a doubt the first thing needed to put any plan in effect would be money and probably lots of it. While there might be some big donors an association with a new party wouldn’t bother, alienating both established major parties just might be daunting. In a climate even Jeff Bezos can inspire Presidential threats against his business, many possible donors may be reluctant to link their names with what would be a revolt against the ruling parties. Fundraising might have to be done in a way and in amounts assuring anonymity to protect the donors from reprisal. This is the downside of all these campaign funding rules. What people do with their money especially in funding political speech is nobody’s business. Does anybody think forcing donors to disclose payments to the Venezuelan opposition to Maduro is a good idea? But rules are the rules and we will have to go the extra mile to protect from retaliation. Talented fundraisers with knowledge and discretion are a must or this endeavor will never get off the ground.
No doubt about it, establishing the Future Party in each state with representation on the ballot will be a massive task. Everyone presently in power is aligned with one of the established parties and they’re not about to cede an inch to upstarts threatening their rule. Litigation is a certainty, so a small army of lawyers will be required. You can see why money is a prerequisite. Good lawyers are expensive, but not providing for what is certain to happen is a recipe for failure. In light of Gary Johnson’s 2016 Libertarian Presidential campaign spending total of $13,370,951 for a campaign that went nowhere a real third-party will need many times that amount.
The one thing the Future Party should dispense with to the greatest extent possible is primaries. Nothing has made a greater contribution to our national divisions than primaries. With their generally low partisan turnouts, they favor the extremists in the party rather than turning out candidates with general appeal capable of working with others. The party convention system even with its “smoke-filled rooms” served us well and gave a six-year-old party the presidency. Recent events prove the Trumpist and extreme progressive pull in primaries towards the furthest edges with the purging loss of MarK Sanford and the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Don’t go towards the immoderate and you’re toast in either major party. Not the place for a party seeking consensus rule.
Once you’re established in every state managed by serious people backed by serious money, the Future Party would provide a place where present disaffected officeholders of either of the major parties could jump to with a reasonable chance of winning. What higher profile politicians might be looking for a new home? A bi-partisan group of Senators under the leadership of the foreign relations committee chairman, Bob Corker has been trying to pass legislation to rein in President Trump’s tariffs. Backed by 273 business and agriculture organizations, these Democrats and Republicans Senators are receiving no support from either party’s leadership. As we pointed out even though there is widespread support for maintaining and expanding trade among the nations, both major Presidential candidates in 2016 showed their lack of support for free trade by vowing to pull out of trade agreements such as Trans Pacific Partnership even though one of the candidates actually negotiated TPP. Trump and the Democrats are aligned on the issue. If you’re for expanding trade and keeping the world trading order you have two choices, retire and go home like Sen. Corker or find a platform to fight and win. While expansive ideas on trade may doom you in a major party primary, in a general election race with a Democrat and a Republican a Future Party Candidate may hold the edge. Especially if they’re an incumbent or well-known. Politicians are known to have egos and ambition meaning they have to see a way forward. The Future Party would provide the path. Planned mass defections to the new party would give it instant visibility and credibility. The party would be wise in setting up situations where nobody has to go fist but many could go together.
Remember those Republicans who put Abe Lincoln in the white house and dominated politics for decades were for the most part once Whigs and Democrats. Abe was once a Whig. Maybe the next President will say “I was once a …..”