The Elephant In The Room


Disclaimer: The Not Fake News has endorsed the Forward Party.

A year ago, to great fanfare, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced the formation of a new kind of political movement in the “Forward Party”. In his eponymous book, he described a loose collection of candidates committed to moderation and compromise drawn from — and belonging to — both major American political parties. The slogan is meant to be descriptive: “Not Left or Right, but Forward”.

In the present political climate in the United States, such an approach is one many find refreshing. The concept of bipartisanship as a method of problem-solving has long been out of favor inside the Beltway, with the major parties passing blame rather than bills. Indeed, dissatisfaction with the status quo led to the election of Obama followed immediately by that of Trump, with perpetual outsider Bernie Sanders making a strong showing in the past two presidential primary races that in any other time would be unimaginable. Any reasonable movement promoting reform ought to be a shoo-in, and the stated Forwardist practice of endorsing centrists in both parties should be extremely popular and effective.

And yet, in the 2022 midterms, the Forward Party has endorsed a disappointing 27 candidates. In a year with almost five hundred congressional and gubernatorial races, not to mention those for thousands of state and local offices, the endorsement slate looks positively anemic at first glance. A closer examination reveals a disturbing trend: Many are official Democratic Party candidates; several are independents running against Republicans; exactly one is a Republican. This exception, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, was censured by her own state’s Republican Party, which recruited a candidate specifically to run against her.

There is a deep divide in the national Republican Party, and it’s split on Donald Trump. Moderate Republicans across the country reject him; that extremist candidates lack any organic popular support is clear because those few that won their primaries did so only after they were leveraged by Democratic dark money — the same tactical move that brought us President Trump in the first place. It would be reasonable to presume that any surviving moderates might be eagerly endorsed by Forward, and some of the moderate Democrats that oppose an extremist could see the same consideration. This is plainly not the case.

For those who labor under the misapprehension that there are no moderate Republicans, I would invite you to consider Rhode Island’s 2nd District, where Republican Allan Fung is confronting second-generation party ward-heeler Seth Magaziner, a former venture capitalist and poster boy for chinless-wonder Wall Street Democrats everywhere.

Fung describes himself as a centrist who seeks bipartisan solutions; his opponent has tried to paint him as slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D, MD) referred to him as a “quality opponent” and “not an extremist”. Fung is generally though not extremely pro-choice, has stood against the NRA and what he considers excessive anti-gun laws, has opposed corporate welfare, and has gradually moderated his views on LGBTQ+ issues including gay marriage along with that of the general population.

If Forward were to consider any Republican for a token endorsement, it would surely be someone like Allan Fung. There are others: Anthony Amore, state auditor candidate in Massachusetts; Joe O’Dea, running for Senate in Colorado; Brandon Williams in the New York 22nd, Lori Chavez-Deremer in the Oregon 5th — the list could easily go on.

There are three evident reasons Forward may have failed to endorse Republicans. It’s probable that, as a new organization, they simply don’t have a large enough organization in every state to properly manage endorsements. It’s also not unlikely that in some races both candidates are moderates — O’Dea is running against “Uncle Mike” Bennet, well known to be reasonable. The third is the least pleasant: that they are committed to solutions only if they’re progressive, and that the talk of bipartisanship is just that — talk. Unfortunately, while the least likely of the three, this third is bound to be the most repeated by the opponents of centrism, which — let’s face it — is every partisan political operative.

The Forward Party has a Republican problem, and it needs to be addressed if this new movement aims to have any influence over future election cycles.

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