Can the Forward Party be a landing ground for disaffected moderates?

The Dallas Morning News (TNS)
The newly formed Forward Party hopes to be a harbor for disaffected moderate voters. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

It’s a truism of American politics that public frustration with the two-party system periodically erupts into a call for another option.

Usually that frustration arises from factions that believe the parties are insufficiently extreme in one direction or another, as is the case with the Green and Libertarian parties that persistently field candidates from the far left and the far right but that rarely have the standing to compete.

It’s worth noting then, that this year, a newly minted third party is seeking votes from a wholly different constituency, the American middle, where untold numbers of voters have had it with the creeping extremism of the major parties.

More:Third-party candidates file to run for Pa. governor, Senate

More:More than 1 million voters switched to GOP in past year

We are talking about Americans who are sick of having to hold their noses to vote cycle after cycle.

The Forward Party, founded by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Florida, is the latest effort to organize Americans who are fed up with the increasing polarization of the major parties.

Most Americans, whether they lean to the left or right, are ideologically flexible, and Forward’s emergence speaks to the American public’s desire to move our politics away from the progressive left and the far right. In principle, we like the idea of a voice for the voiceless, but Forward is a concept and organizing principle, not yet a movement with policy positions.

Any third party has an incredibly difficult path from creation to electoral relevance. A third party that is playing for votes in the middle will have that much harder a time drafting policy positions that can attract voters inclined to either the left or the right.

On the other hand, the major parties have left so much room on so many issues for a third party to capture the middle that there is plainly a path forward, so to speak.

Poll after poll shows Americans actually have nuanced views on divisive matters including abortion, immigration, the environment and taxation. What they increasingly don’t have are major party candidates who are willing to represent anything but the most extreme views of their political bases.

The Forward Party may or may not be an option that can capture those voters. If this seedling of a third party is to sprout, it must have a political coherence that addresses fiscal, social, foreign policy and other issues in ways that disaffected voters from the left and right can sign on to. Otherwise, it is a party of hand-wringing that might siphon votes but lack lasting impact.

And we would be surprised if it is the only third party to try to capitalize on the way politics has abandoned the American middle.

But the formation of Forward is a signal that some Americans yearn to restore balance to our badly broken political system. And that is welcome.

— From The Dallas Morning News (TNS).