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The Centrist Project: The Unparty That Might Actually Work

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

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.

Where it All Started

Charles Wheelan - Inspiration for the Centrist Project

the-centrist-party-a-third-party-that-might-work

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

TABLE 1

PARTYPLATFORM 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

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

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.

STATEPARTY or MAJOR GROUPSPECTRUM

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

 

TABLE 2

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

 

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Scott Belford

Comments

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 24, 2017:

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.

Scott Belford (author) from Keystone Heights, FL on August 23, 2017:

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 from Oklahoma on August 23, 2017:

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

Catherine Mostly from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD on August 22, 2017:

LoL! That's funny. :)

Scott Belford (author) from Keystone Heights, FL on August 22, 2017:

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.

Catherine Mostly from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD on August 22, 2017:

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. :)