Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who only last year was hailed as one of the left’s next generation of leaders, has quit the increasingly divided party to form a new movement.
“I’ve been a Democrat my entire adult life,” Yang wrote in a blog post. “And yet, I’m confident that no longer being a Democrat is the right thing.”
He announced that he switched his party registration from Democratic to independent – and one day later launched what he’s calling the Forward Party, aimed at voters like himself who are fed up with Democrats and Republicans alike.
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“Right now, this duopoly is not working for any of us,” he told Tucker Carlson this week. “It’s not working for Democrats, Republicans or independents. And so this is my new project, the ‘Forward Party’ – not left or right, but forward.”
It’s not yet clear if his party plans to field candidates or simply tackle issues.
The announcement on his website invites supporters to keep their current party registrations if they wish, and says it will first focus on broader issues such as open primaries and ranked-choice voting to increase choices at the polls.
“This would both diminish polarization by making it so that our representatives answer to the broad majority rather than the partisan few, and enable new parties and perspectives to emerge,” he wrote. “It would make our entire country more reasonable.”
His move comes as he seeks publicity for his new book, Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.
In it, Yang writes that he can see how quickly and easily politicians lose touch with the people they’re supposed to represent – because he saw it happening to himself on the campaign trail.
“You function on appearance; appearance becomes your role,” he wrote, according to an excerpt published by Politico. “Empathy becomes optional or even unhelpful. Leadership becomes the appearance of leadership.”
And that, he noted, leads to the very opposite of true leadership.
“People talk about running for office or running for president as an act of leadership. I’m not so sure about that,” he wrote. “I actually think that in many respects running for president requires qualities that would make you a terrible leader.”
He then came up with a comparison to the world of business – and not a very flattering one for anyone involved in U.S. politics at the highest levels.
“In national politics, it turns out, you’re not as much the CEO as you are yourself the product,” he wrote.
But beyond that, he said in his blog post this week that he found himself increasingly uncomfortable with the party he’s belonged to since the 1990s, especially when he became a candidate.
“I’m not very ideological. I’m practical,” he wrote in his blog post. “Making partisan arguments – particularly expressing what I often see as performative sentiment – is sometimes uncomfortable for me.”
Americans have consistently indicated a strong desire for a third party, at least in theory.
For years, only a small minority interviewed by Gallup has said the two parties do a good job representing the American people.
And for most of the past 20 years, that same poll has found more than a majority support a third party, peaking at 62 percent in favor earlier this year.
The political reality has been another story as few true independents have been elected to major office. Currently, there are just two members of Congress who belong to neither party: Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Both these senators caucus with the Democrats, and Sanders has run for president as a Democrat.
Yang himself may not be the best face of the new movement.
While he did earn plenty of media attention for his debate performances, that didn’t translate into votes: He dropped out of the presidential race after a poor showing in New Hampshire last year, and he drew just 12 percent of the vote in his bid for New York mayor this year.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.