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Forward Party: What do you need to know about the new third political party created by Andrew Yang?

A new political party is making an attempt at mainstream success: the Forward Party, co-chaired by Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman. 

A new political party is making an attempt at mainstream success: the Forward Party, co-chaired by Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman.
Chip SomodevillaGetty

What do you need to know about the Forward Party? Centrism is the goal.

Rather than a third option, this moderate party takes the middle road “forward” by rejecting the so-called ‘extreme’ positions on the right and the left. The party’s ideology could be described as neoliberal which is often a difficult position to pin down. Largely, those who are socially liberal but physically conservative, can be considered neoliberal. However, when one asks how socially liberal one is, typically solidarity ends at social issues like same-sex marriage and empowering women in the business world. In regards to healthcare, they typically believe that the government would not be more effective as a way to provide care and welfare programs are often seen as ineffective means of proving families the resources necessary to acquire the the bare minimum means of subsistence; in both cases they would opt for a capitalist private market focused alternative.

There will be two co-chairs of the Forward Party: former presidential contender Andrew Yang and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. None of the candidates they endorsed for in US House, Senate or governors races have won their primaries thus far. Forward Party endorsed New York gubernatorial candidate, Larry Sharpe, a self-proclaimed libertarian who believes that “government has gotten too big, too expensive, and too out of touch.” Sharp considers himself pro-choice and anti-abortion, making him the perfect candidate for a party that does not want to take a stand on politically divisive issues.

The party’s national director told ABC 10 in Sacramento that “don’t ever plan on holding a firm position on issues like guns and abortion.” While the party may fear of alienating both sides of the political spectrum by providing a firm position, they may end up having that effect anyway as the silence may be hard to interpret. Additionally, abortion is a key issue on the minds of many, and not having a position could end up alienating voters anyway.

Rather than something new, the party is attempting to reach a previous Republican electorate that existed before Donald Trump took control of the party.

What is the political view of the Forward Party?

One of the ways the Forward Party wants to set themselves apart from Democrats and Republicans is by rejecting political purity tests. As a big tent party, they plan to run candidates who vary in their political ideologies.

“The Forward Party will create a political home for everyone willing to set aside the partisan extremes and find practical ways to make this country better. We won’t be checking IDs to see if people are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents,” read the party’s website.

However, this again risks creating a moderate ambiguous party that appeals to no one because what the party stands for is difficult to nail down. This possibility is not made any better by the fact that the real information released about the party’s ideological basis are three vague “priorities.” only overarching pieces of the parties platform are vague concepts, including ‘Free People,’ which they describe as striving to “revitalize a culture that celebrates difference and individual choice, rejects hate, and removes barriers so that each of us can rise to our full potential.” Exactly what celebrating individual choice means is a bit obscure and as for the removal of barriers, there are many possible interpretations. On the one hand, one may think that the leaders are in favor of deregulation to help businesses, while on the other they could intrepret the idea as the removal of socioeconomic barriers. This all becomes a bit more clear when considering who has funded the Forward Party, and the two other organizations it recently merged with: Serve America Movement (SAM) and the Renew America Movement (RAM).

Who funds the Forward Party?

The ways these groups are being described on the party’s website sit a bit disingenuous. It is clear that they want to give off the impression that the party is very grassroots, but SAM and RAM were some of the largest centrist and political donors.

RAM was established in the early 1990s as a Republican/Conservative PAC, according to Open Secrets. However, in recent years the PAC has taken a liberal turn, endorsing Joe Biden for president in 2020.

SAM was established in 2016 by former George W. Bush staffers, Reed Galen and Sarah Lenti, as well as, Morgan Stanly lawyer Eric Grossman. Former Florida Congressman David Jolly served as the Chair of SAM until organization until the merger with the Forward Party. The organization is largely seen as an economically conservative with a liberal faction. The organization has recieved funding from at least one high questionable source: Charles Wall, a former vice chairman of Philip Morris International, the multinational tobacco conglomerate. In 2020, he donated ninety-three percent of the funds the group distributed during the election cycle.

It could be that the Forward Party will drop donors like Charles Wall but if they continue to receive funding from these sources, it is hard to believe that structural economic chnages to improve healthcare or labor conditions for average workers would improve under their leadership.


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