World PoliticsSocial IssuesEconomyMilitaryUS PoliticsActivismGovernment

The Centrist Project: The Unparty That Might Actually Work

Updated on August 23, 2017
My Esoteric profile image

ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.

Where it All Started

What is the Centrist Project?

The purpose of the Centrist Project is to bring government back to the people and force an end to the partisan divide that is crippling this country. How is this different from third party attempts to win the presidency? First and last, they never worked and even if they did they would beat their head against a stalemated Congress. Further, even if Congress was actually governing, who would listen to somebody who is not a Democrat or a Republian? Not many people would. The Centrist Project, on the other hand, attacks the problem at its weakest point—the Senate.

But, before we get into the Centrist Project program, how about a little history? It all started with the founding of the non-profit Centrist Project in 2013 and then with the 2015 publication of the Centrist Manifesto by Professor Charles Wheelan. Prof. Wheelan teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College ... a policy wonk, in other words. Like the rest of us he saw the building up of extreme partisanship and almost terrifying dysfunction at all levels of government, not the least of which is the federal government. Also, like me, and I suspect many of you, he was a person without a party. Unlike most of us, he decided to try to do something about it.

His hard work in creating the opportunity for America to take back their government comes to fruition this weekend (8/12/2017). when the Centrist Project is holding a conference in Philadelphia (symbolism intended). The raison d'etre is to bring together leaders from around the country who are thinking about running as independents (or maybe the Centrist UnParty)1 or have the wherewithal and time to support and work for such campaigns. This is a far cry from the 2016 elections when the Project could not find anybody to run against established Ds and Rs. It is clear to me that as we run up to the 2018 midterms this movement has legs.

1 Not to be confused with the Centrist Party which Wheelan touts in his book. I don't know for sure but I think the Centrist Party morphed into the Centrist Project.

Charles Wheelan - Inspiration for the Centrist Project

The Centrist Project is Not Alone but Nevertheless Unique

As you can seen in Table 1, there are a multitude of third parties; but the Centrist Project is not one of them because its approach is unique. Instead of a traditional party organization, the Centrist Project seeks to create an infrastructure designed to help independent candidates compete against the two major parties. It does this by providing a national organization dedicated to raising money.while providing education and a structure an independent candidate can use to help him or her to victory.

ACTIVE POLITICAL PARTIES IN AMERICA

PARTY
PLATFORM DIRECTION
# OF STATES
AMERICA FIRST
FAR RIGHT
7.
CASCADIAN NATIONAL
SECESSION OF OR AND WA
2
COMMUNIST
RADICAL SOCIALIST
15
CONSERVATIVE
FAR RIGHT
4
DEMOCRATIC
MODERATE to FAR LEFT
50
ECOLOGY
FAR LEFT
1
GREEN
FAR LEFT
45
INDEPENDENCE
FAR RIGHT
3
INDEPENDENT AMERICAN
FAR RIGHT
8
JUSTICE
LEFT to FAR LEFT
1
LABOR
LEFT to FAR LEFT
16
LIBERAL
LEFT to FAR LEFT
1
LIBERTARIAN
NON-SOCIAL FAR RIGHT
50
LIBERTY UNION
SOCIALIST
1
MARIJUANA
SINGLE ISSUE
3
MODERN WHIG
CENTRIST
1
MOUNTAIN
SINGLE ISSUE
1
NATURAL LAW
CENTRIST
15
PATRIOT
FAR RIGHT
22
PEACE AND FREEDOM
SOCIALIST
1
PROGRESSIVE
FAR LEFT
3
PROHIBITION
SINGLE ISSUE
1
REFORM
RIGHT to FAR RIGHT
18
REPUBLICAN
FAR RIGHT
50
REPUBLICAN MODERATE
CENTER RIGHT
1
RIGHT TO LIVE
SINGLE ISSUE
1
SCHOOL CHOICE
SINGLE ISSUE
1
SOCIALIST
SOCIALIST
13
SOCIALIST LABOR
RADICAL SOCIALIST
1
SOUTHERN
FAR RIGHT
1
TIMESIZING.COM
SINGLE ISSUE
1
UNITY
RIGHT or FAR LEFT, DEPENDING
26
VETERANS PARTY OF AMERICA
RIGHT
5
WE THE PEOPLE
SINGLE ISSUE
1
WORKER'S SOCIALIST
SOCIALIST
1
WORKER'S WORLD
RADICAL SOCIALIST
6
WORKING FAMILIES
FAR LEFT
2
TABLE 1

In addition to identifying the various parties trying to make a mark on the political scene are where on the political spectrum their websites put them and how many states they are active in. Notice the vast majority (21 out of 35)1 of the parties hold positions at the extreme ends of the political spectrum. Only two parties, the Modern Whig party (in one state) and the Natural Law party (in 15 states) seem to me to qualify as truly centrist in their platforms. Six others appeared to have moderate planks in their platforms.



1 Excluding the Democratic and Republican parties which are included in the list

Is Something Like the Centrist Project Needed in America Today?

See results

How is the Centrist Project Intending on Achieving Its Objectives

The idea is very simple really. Just elect enough independents in State Legislatures and Congress so that neither major party holds a majority. In practice, that is hugely difficult to do ... until this year, that is. In fact, it has already happened in Alaska and Maine (more latter).

There are three major obstacles facing this movement: 1) organization and infrastructure, 2) money, and 3) candidates willing to leave their party to run as an independent or starting fresh as an independent. Because of these barriers, the Project found very few candidates to endorse in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. 2018 appears to be different.

The challenge the Centrist Party has taken on is to elect three to five centrists to the US Senate. There are two independents already there, Sens Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Angus King from Maine although it is uncertain whether they will join their independent brethren to form a ruling faction. The point of this goal is that one of the most powerful positions in the federal government is the Senate Majority Leader. The theory is that if the independents prevent either major party from reaching a majority, then they gain enormous power, far in excess of their small numbers. With this power they can effectuate (a favorite word used by the framers of the Constitution) change in how the Senate operates ... including electing who the leader is going to be.

Yes, they can do that. They get to decide who the majority leader will be thereby forcing both major parties to make a case for their candidate; while not trying to field a candidate for the leadership themselves. They strive to the kingmaker. Consequently, because of their "fulcrum" position, neither party will have the incentive to put forward candidates in the extreme of their respective parties.The same is true for any legislation that comes through the Senate. This will also have a mitigating effect on what comes out of the House, because they know the fate of highly partisan legislation will face in the Senate.

The reason the Project is focusing on the Senate is because fewer of their limited resources will be required to be successful plus the fact that gerrymandering of House districts make it very tough to win there in sufficient numbers to affect the outcome in the House. The same is true in many of the state legislatures and but not necessarily the governorships. Also favorable for the Centrist Project is Donald Trump and his less than stellar performance as president. As a consequence of the sickening divisiveness and inability to govern brought on by Trump and the extremities of the GOP, the populous is currently moving decidedly leftward. Maybe not enough to elect Democrats in pink states but maybe, however, a centrist might sneak through.

Can It Work? Yes It Can Because It Already Has!

ALASKA

As an increasing number of disaffected Republicans, and some moderate Democrats, are starting to do the soil for a centrist movement is being made. These politicians are taking a huge step and are dropping their party affiliation in order to effect a more centrist outcome in legislation.

This is working in Alaska where Gov Bill Walker (AK) in 2014, now a leading member in the Centrist Project ran as an independent and won. Likewise, while not associated with the Centrist Project yet, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), who lost in a Republican primary fight nevertheless won as a write-in candidate (she was one of the no votes in the last attempt by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare in July 2017).

More importantly, at least for the Alaskan House, an independent took a seat away for a staunch Republican in 2016 and Democrats flipped another 5 seats. Add to that an incumbent independent and the minority caucus ended up with 19 of 40 seats in the House; still short of a majority though. Then a miracle happened. Three moderate Republicans joined the two independents and 17 Democrats to form a new bi-partisan governing coalition and elected a Democrat as the Speaker of the House; the first time since 1993. This is what the Centrist Project hopes to do in the United States Senate.

MAINE

Going into the 2017 session, the House in Maine's legislature had 71 Rs (up from 69), 77 Ds (down from 79), 2 Independents, and 1 Common Sense Independent. Since then, one Republican and two Democrats dropped their party affiliation giving the House a total of 6 independent legislatures. If the independents can gain one more member, then they can begin leveraging their new found power to drive the Ds and the Rs toward the center.

The Centrist Project Could Make a Difference

As pointed earlier, most third party efforts focus on winning the presidency. All they generally accomplish is acting as a spoiler ... just ask former Vice President Al Gore. Even if they win, it won't change much in any case because, as Donald Trump is finding out, Congress are not subordinates you can hire and fire at will; they will do, or not do, what they want. As the framers intended, it is Congress that actually governs while the president executes.1 The Centrist Project has found a practical solution that will allow independents and third parties to actually make a difference.

1 While the framers never expected the "Chief Magistrate" to set the agenda or lead, practically speaking human nature had a different plan in mind.

Other Political Parties in the United States

For reference, Table 2 contains, by State, political parties registered in that state. Since the Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican parties are registered in all 50 states, they will not be included in the table below. Also, keep in mind that things change so fast this table might be outdated ten minutes after you read it.

STATE
PARTY or MAJOR GROUP
SPECTRUM
ALABAMA
 
 
 
CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
INDEPENDENCE
Far Right
 
AMERICAN PATRIOT
Far Right
ALASKA
 
 
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
INDEPENDENCE
Far Right
 
REPUBLICAN MODERATE
Center-Right
ARIZONA
 
 
 
COMMUNIST
Radical Socialist
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
LABOR
Left to Far Left
 
CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
REFORM
Right to Far Right
 
UNITY
Far Right or Far Left, Depending
ARKANSAS
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
REFORM
Right to Far Right
CALIFORNIA
 
 
 
AMERICAN INDEPENDENT
Far Right
 
LABOR
Left to Far Left
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
NATURAL LAW
Centrist
 
PEACE and FREEDOM
Socialist
 
REFORM
Right to Far Right
 
SOCIALIST LABOR
Radical Socialist
 
SOCIALIST
Socialist
 
COMMUNIST
Radical Socialist
 
UNITY
Far Right or Far Left, Depending
 
WORKERS WORLD
Radical Socialist
COLORADO
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
PATRIOT
Far Right
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
SOCIALIST
Socialist
 
UNITY
Far Right or Far Left, Depending
CONNECTICUT
 
 
 
COMMUNIST
Radical Socialist
 
JUSTICE
Left to Far Left
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
SOCIALIST
Socialist
 
UNITY
Far Right or Far Left, Depending
 
WORKING FAMILIES
Far Left
DELAWARE
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
NATURAL LAW
Centrist
FLORIDA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
ECOLOGY
Far Left
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
REFORM
Right to Far Right
GEORGIA
 
 
 
GREEN
Far Left
 
SOUTHERN
Far Right
 
UNITY
Far Right or Far Left, Depending
 
VETERAN'S PARTY OF AMERICA
Right
 
WORKER'S SOCIALIST
Socialist
HAWAII
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
Far Right
 
GREEN
Far Left
IDAHO
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
ILLINOIS
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
MARIJUANA
Single Issue
 
PATRIOT
 
 
REFORM
 
INDIANA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
VETERANS PARTY OF AMERICA
Right
 
UNITY
 
IOWA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
VETERAN'S PARTY OF AMERICA
 
 
UNITY
 
KANSAS
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
MARIJUANA
Single Issue
 
REFORM
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
UNITY
 
KENTUCKY
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
MARIJUANA
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
UNITY
 
LOUISIANA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
CONSERVATIVE
FAR RIGHT
 
GREEN
 
 
REFORM
 
 
UNITY
 
MAINE
 
 
 
GREEN
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
UNITY
 
MARYLAND
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
PATRIIOT
 
 
UNITY
 
 
WORKERS WORLD
 
MASSACHUSETTS
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
CONSERVATIVE
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
TIMESIZING.COM
Single Issue
 
VETERANS
 
MICHIGAN
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
WORKERS WORLD
 
MINNESOTA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENCE
 
 
LABOR
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
UNITY
 
MISSISSIPPI
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
UNITY
 
MISSOURI
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT
 
 
LABOR
 
 
REFORM
 
 
UNITY
 
MONTANA
 
 
 
GREEN
 
 
PATRIOT
 
NEBRASKA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
REFORM
 
 
UNITY
 
NEVADA
 
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
NEW HAMPSHIRE
 
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
WE THE PEOPLE
Single Issue
NEW JERSEY
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
CONSERVATIVE
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENTS
 
 
LABOR
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
NEW MEXICO
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
UNITY
 
NEW YORK
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
CONSERVATIVE
 
 
FREEDOM RESORATION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LIBERAL
Left to Far Left
 
LABOR
 
 
RIGHT TO LIVE
Single Issue
 
REFORM
 
 
SCHOOL CHOICE
Single Issue
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
WORKERS WORLD
 
 
WORKING FAMILIES
FAR LEFT
NORTH CAROLINA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT AMERICAN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
REFORM
 
 
UNITY
 
NORTH DAKOTA
Only the three main parties
 
OHIO
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
UNITY
 
OKLAHOMA
 
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT AMERICAN
 
 
REFORM
 
 
UNITY
 
OREGON
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
CASCADIAN NATIONAL
Single Issue
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
REFORM
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
PENNSYLVANIA
 
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT AMERICAN
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
PROHIBITION
Single Issue
 
UNITY
 
 
WORKERS WORLD
 
RHODE ISLAND
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
SOUTH CAROLINA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
UNITY
 
SOUTH DAKOTA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT AMERICAN
 
TENNESSEE
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
REFORM
 
TEXAS
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
REFORM
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
UNITY
 
 
WORKERS WORLD
 
UTAH
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
INDEPENDENT AMERICAN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
MODERN WHIG
CENTRIST
 
PATRIOT
 
VERMONT
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
LABOR
 
 
LIBERTY UNION
SOCIALIST
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PROGRESSIVE
FAR LEFT
 
REFORM
 
VIRGINIA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
REFORM
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
UNITY
 
WASHINGTON
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
CASCADIAN NATIONAL
 
 
COMMUNIST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LABOR
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
PROGRESSIVE
 
 
UNITY
 
 
VETERANS
 
WEST VIRGINIA
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
LABOR
 
 
MOUNTAIN
Single
 
PATRIOT
 
WISCONSIN
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
AMERICA FIRST
 
 
GREEN
 
 
NATURAL LAW
 
 
PATRIOT
 
 
PROGRESSIVE DANE
 
 
REFORM
 
 
SOCIALIST
 
 
UNITY
 
WYOMING
 
 
 
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
 
 
GREEN
 
 
LABOR
 
TABLE 2

© 2017 My Esoteric

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 3 months ago from Tennessee

      I have a wait and see attitude about this. So far, Independents still

      usually align themselves with one of the major parties and even centrist candidates could be split and make little difference. If the plan could actually promote more cooperation, I'd be for it but I'm not putting any money on it.

    • My Esoteric profile image
      Author

      My Esoteric 3 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I think what is original is the idea of forgoing a formal party but building a national vehicle for independents to use in order to compete against the major parties at the less than presidential level.

      But I agree, I hope it works.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 months ago from Oklahoma

      Not an original idea. I'd love to see it actually work.

    • Misfit Chick profile image

      Catherine Mostly 3 months ago from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD

      LoL! That's funny. :)

    • My Esoteric profile image
      Author

      My Esoteric 3 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Your quite welcome Catherine. I do have some issues with the stereotypes they hold, at least as proposed in the Centrist Manifesto (I hate that word). Those stereotypes of what the Right and the Left believe is part of the problem.

      Overall though, the Manifesto is spot on. If you become a "founding member" (a sales gimmick I think) you get the book free. OK, I fell for the gimmick, lol.

    • Misfit Chick profile image

      Catherine Mostly 3 months ago from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD

      I'm really glad to see something like this is being organized. I didn't know about it. I've been promoting #ProtestTheVote - voting nothing but 3rd party for potus next election to give them all a kick in the pants about constantly jerking the American people from one extreme to the other. Its ridiculous. I hope this organization makes a difference. I'm going to look into it, more. Thanks for the heads-up. :)