Threats to Democracy: The Lie that Both Major Parties are Extreme

In their rationale for creating a new “centrist” political party in the United States, the leaders of the newly formed Forward Party are making the claim that the Republican Party has gone too far to the right and the Democratic Party has gone too far to the left, and hence, they claim, the need for a third “moderate” party for what they see as the unrepresented middle. In other words, they are asserting that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are both too extreme, so what is needed is a political party that represents the mean between the political extremes.

There might be some merit to this argument if both parties were as extreme as some leaders of the nascent Forward Party are making them out to be. If we had a party of fascism on the right and a party of radical socialism or communism on the left, then a centrist party might be needed, but that is not an accurate description of our current political context either from a historical or global comparison perspective.

While there is ample evidence that the Republican Party has become much more extreme in its embrace of Christian nationalism, xenophobia, voter suppression, regressive taxation, attacks on public education, climate crisis inaction, environmental deregulation, and acceptance of violent insurrection; it is simply not the case that the Democratic Party has made a similar move to extremism in the opposite direction. By all global comparisons, the Democratic Party in the United States is not to the extreme left; in fact it is extremely moderate. Even the most progressive among the Democratic leadership in the United States are still to the right of the social democracies that have proven to be the most democratic, happiest, healthiest, most educated, most just, most participatory, most sustainable, and least corrupt countries in the world. Given such comparisons, one could make a strong argument that the current Democratic Party in the United States is not left enough. At any rate, it is certainly not extreme!

The Forward Party’s narrative that the Democratic Party is too extreme to the left falls right into the hands of the autocratic right. It allows the middle to be redefined more towards the right, and the Republican Party’s base voters are now far too ideological to be attracted to the Forward Party. The more likely scenario is that moderate to conservative Democrats and Independents will vote for such a “centrist” party, thus benefitting the autocrats at a time when the survival of our democracy is more in question than at any other time since the Civil War.

The reality is that the Democratic Party of today is not extreme left. Actually it is very similar to the Republican party of President Eisenhower’s time. After Eisenhower, the Republican Party moved further and further to the right, and now with Trumpism, it is so extreme to the right that Eisenhower would likely wonder how a country that helped lead the fight against fascism in World War II could be where it is today.

The solution during this time of existential threat to our democracy is not the creation of a centrist party that perpetuates the lie that both parties are extreme and that is likely to harm Democratic Party candidates and potentially tip the balance in the United States further towards autocracy. Until we have Ranked Choice Instant Runoff Voting becomes a reality, voting for any political party other than the Democratic Party enhances the strength of the forces of autocracy in our land and will accelerate the demise of our democracy.

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