In art, variety is essential to beauty. Similarly, in politics, diversity of opinion is indispensable to strength. What is being proposed here — a coalition of third parties of the United States as one voting bloc — will not be easy, and the author of this blog bears no illusions that it will be other than challenging. But the achievement of a coalition will be the beginning of real political discourse. In pushing for a coalition, an appealing vision of what it can potentially be needs presenting. Nothing adds weight to the pursuit of an idea like augmenting its vividness.
Why A Coalition?
I draw again from the National Democratic Institute report, Coalitions: A Guide for Political Parties, p. 20, as it remains an authority on coalition building. I also draw to an extent on organizingforpower.org‘s pdf pamphlet Alliance Building Guide. These are the incentives of forming a coalition:
- Increases vote share – this is where we encourage members of all parties to vote as a bloc to secure seats in office, and augment our ability to pass legislation.
- Combines forces and resources – it bears repeating that it is easier for 10 parties to gain ballot access for one candidate, than for 10 parties to gain ballot access for 10 candidates.
- Manages cleavages (e.g., ethnic, religious, ideological) and broadens participation – our diversity is our strength only when we unite. It is a vice when we do not find common purpose. A coalition strengthens the vision of a common purpose and gets people involved and in contact.
- Mitigates weaknesses and multiplies strengths – A coalition tends to be seen collectively. And rightly so. It is a powerful entity compared to the separate parties acting on their own and for their own isolated gains. Again, a coalition is not the mere sum of our parts.
- Improves public opinion – parties working together all increase their favorability among the members of all other coalition parties. This is so simply because these other member parties are seen as allies willing to work together.
- Increases experience – what can’t be said of this? Teamwork is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn in life, and there is no more profound way of gaining this valuable experience of team effort than working to serve one’s constituents, while simultaneously deferring self-determinative party interests for the sake of the group!
- Associates success – the public may associate individual parties with coalition successes, helping to increase support.
- Solves problems creatively – the pooling of minds and resources is the setting of the stage for new and unique solutions to problems.
- Enhances public awareness – the coalition organizing body becomes a clearinghouse of information about the activities of respective member parties, which increases awareness of member candidates and common legislative goals.
These benefits outlined above are of course generic. The specific situation in the United States will yield unique results, such as a shift of the discourse slightly left, the strengthening of progressive voices, and the increase of offices held by coalition members outside the two main parties. This last point alone will create greater potential for alliance formation and cross-party collaboration even among Democrats and Republicans. Two good examples of this potentially happening is when Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ron Paul drafted a bill to audit the Federal Reserve, or the Floridians for Solar Choice coalition, in which Republicans, Libertarians, Liberals and Tea Party members joined forces to push for a solar energy sales bill. Examples like these are innumerable, in the United States and all over the world. In other parts of the world, in fact, coalitions are long standing phenomena, and do not generally fade with the passage or failure of a single piece of legislation.
This is the vision of what a coalition of US third parties could be and achieve. I hope you will join in reading the proposal for a People’s Coalition and spreading this blog and its cause.