The idea of a third political party is the tantalizing fantasy of independents and centrists, but could it become a reality?
In an interview with the New York Times, presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that the barrier to entry for a full-blown third party in American politics is lower than ever.
“Basically, all you need are money, TV, communications and an issue,” he told the Times.
And while Beschloss’s remarks are based on the candidacy and governance of Donald Trump, it would still be a tall order for a true third party to organize and have any real impact in future elections:
To be sure, the barriers to creating a relevant third party are high and longstanding. But the nationalistic, conservative populist agenda that Mr. Trump ran on has wealthy patrons like the Mercer family, the software billionaires, and Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. They have told friends and associates that they are committed to seeing the movement that Mr. Trump ignited live on.
And while Trump’s win may have signaled a paradigm shift, Congress is still comprised of members from the two traditional parties. That, retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) argues, is the reason for the gridlock and tension in Washington, D.C.
“Before Trump, I saw the ongoing battle between what I would call the pragmatic governing wing and the purists — that was the litmus test issue,” said Representative Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican who announced last week that he was retiring, in part because he was fed up with the gridlock and infighting in Congress.
“Now, since Trump,” Mr. Dent added, “the issue has become, more or less, Trump loyalty.”
A centrist, Dent evidently wants no part of that and announced his retirement last week.
Political movements take years to build and establishing a legitimate party would likely take even longer, but there is no doubt that the Trump presidency has turned the nation’s capital on its head.
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