Forward looks past Democrats and Republicans
The two dominant political parties in America don’t agree on much, but there is one thing they do agree on: The system must be created to help them maintain their power.
From pre-the-post voting to limiting citizen-powered voting initiatives, Republicans and Democrats have done their best to build a system that takes power away from the people and keeps it in the hands of the parties.
However, voters are fighting back. And we will all be better for it.
The headlines of the 2022 election focused, of course, on control of the House, Senate and governors’ mansions. But the subtitle — easy to miss — was a wave of reforms, particularly for ranked-choice voting. Nevada led the way, passing a ballot measure that would make the practice statewide if it passes again in two years. Nine other cities and counties also voted on voting reform, with RCV passing in seven of them. If you consider the voting approval reforms that have passed—a similar change to our voting method—more than 15 million Americans will be able to express their politics more freely through new and better election processes in upcoming years.
With an electoral success rate of 80%, it’s hard to imagine a more popular issue right now than citizen-backed reform. With all the enthusiasm behind these reforms, you’d think the major parties would be clamoring to support them. Sadly, their desire to keep power for themselves is causing them to fight against these improvements. There is only one national party working for reforms that empower people and give them choices: the Forward Party.
In Connecticut, the Griebel Frank Party — part of the Forward Party Alliance — endorsed Democratic Gov. Ned LaMont after he came out in favor of RCV and said he would support legislation to implement it in the state. In Nevada, a coalition of reformers, including many progressive leaders within the state, led the charge to pass the RCV ballot initiative.
Contrast that with two states where incumbent parties tried to use the initiative process itself to make electoral reform more difficult, if not impossible. In Arkansas, they tried to get a supermajority for ballot initiatives. In Arizona, the legislature wanted the power to change or repeal these initiatives entirely. Both efforts were rejected by voters who value their right to self-government.
Unfortunately, in another 24 states — almost half the country — parties have ended citizens’ ability to drive reforms through referendums or ballot initiatives. Reform is left entirely to the people who are usually least interested in it – the elected leaders of the legacy parties.
Putting electoral reform on the ballot in those states means electing reformers to office. And to do that, we must first recruit them and get them on the ballot. Republican and Democratic leaders are not interested in this. The Nevada Democratic Party fought ranked-choice voting as hard as the Alaska GOP.
And so, if we want a new kind of politics across the country—a better politics—it can’t come from the same stagnant parties working together only while protecting their mutual power. They will unite to fight against returning choice and power to the American people. Reform must come from outside the system – and this is where the Forward Party comes in. The Forward Party will be the vehicle for true reformers to run for office.
And we will win.
We are building our state party infrastructures and getting on the ballot in key states across the country. The next candidates will be on the ballot in 2023 and we will embrace the reformers who are cast aside by the existing parties as a threat to their stranglehold on our political processes.
The leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties would like you to think that there is no better way than the status quo. But America is waking up from that deterministic thinking. Many things define a member of the Forward Party, but perhaps the most fundamental trait is that we will not stop looking for a better way of doing things.
This is our call now: to remove the blinders and seriously examine the system that has brought us to this age of discontent and discord. And then, as countless brave Americans have done before us, get to work to create a better, freer, and more equal system.
Let’s undertake that patriotic work together, starting today.
Christine Todd Whitman is a former Republican governor of New Jersey and co-chair of the Forward Party.