Why We Need A Coalition

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.
People's Coalition - Third parties. One voting bloc.

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The People’s Coalition

A house divided cannot stand. And yet that is where Progressives, Independents, Greens, and other third parties find themselves, despite having so very much in common politically. Every time third parties try to organize, we only create one more party, among the plethora of third parties. The formation of new parties is clearly not working. We split our power so that the majority of the electorate comes to nought. In this we become disillusioned and our low voter turnout is the only form of political power we have, albeit, a negative form in our absence at the polls. We are a fragmented movement. This is, and has always been, to the advantage of the two major parties. These two parties continue their dangerous drift to the right without any concern that something might blossom in the power vacuum that remains. This situation tends toward lesser-of-two-evil jargon, leads inevitably to the illusion of choice, and brings out the baser side of all involved, at the expense of the American citizen and the real issues and problems we all face.

The People’s Coalition

The writing is on the wall. In singleness of purpose, we are not the mere sum of our parts. Our voice is our power, and it grows by organization. If we stand together, our power is multiplied, our voices are louder, our solutions are wiser. The time has come to form a coalition, The People’s Coalition, what the Rev. Jesse Jackson and later Senator Bernie Sanders would refer to as a rainbow coalition.

That Which Unites Us

What follows then are suggestive structures that, in this writer’s opinion, are essential to a successful coalition of third parties. Before outlining these, it should be made clear that we can have unity without uniformity. We need not look alike, live alike, or believe alike to unite as one in our various problems. We are our brother’s and our sister’s keeper, and it is in the extension of the terms, brother and sister, to apply to every human being that we find real allies and in which we fight against oppression and disenfranchisement everywhere it is found. It is a shallow kind of morality, in fact the basest kind, which requires homogeneity to have ethnic, political or religious peace. Believing that we are virtuous enough to find alliances within, and at times despite, our diversity, the following coalition structure is outlined:

I. The Coalition Platform

The participating parties of the Coalition must first assemble and create a common platform of political issues that seem both vital and immediate in their impact on our lives. An issue based platform allows from a strong statement of collective intention, makes political decisions a moral issue, and unites people in ends, if not in means. We must avoid lofty moralizing and empty platitudes and instead create a platform that defines discrete policies that go to the heart of the issues, that are at once strong, moral and yet broad enough to be adaptable according to individual parties. This is not a watering down of all parties with a resulting loss of party identity. This is the creation of the hub of a great wheel. The Coalition is not a party. It is this Platform that the parties create.

II. Coalition Candidate Vetting

Having created the Coalition Platform, no small task, we can begin in earnest to work in unison, as a large and diverse bloc of voters. The Coalition must provide a web based resource for vetting of Coalition party candidates. Having a Coalition Platform that is clear and issue based gives us the ability to quickly describe in short order where a candidate in any given party of the Coalition stands on, say, the ten key issues of the Coalition Platform. The result is that we increase our ability to vote as a bloc. As individual voters, we will still vote as we choose, but by voting over party lines where possible, we are collectively voting for the Coalition Platform. This is no small achievement. Pause to consider it.

III. Coalition Clearinghouse

In addition to vetting candidates from all member parties consistently and concisely, and in all levels of government, the Coalition must provide information on propositions, laws and regulations that are being proposed at all levels of government, as they relate, and only as they relate, to the Coalition Platform. If a proposition in California or a law in Congress touches upon, hinders or forwards the Coalition Platform, those with a vote need to know of it. Protests, rallies, town hall meetings, marches, inquiries and hearings must, to the best of the Coalition’s ability be available should they touch upon the Coalition Platform. This is technically possible via zip code.

Strictly Platform Based

Parties are going to disagree on various issues. Candidates within parties may disagree on issues. Two candidates may, for instance, have different stances on student debt and how to solve this problem. However, if it is not an issue of the Coalition Platform, the Coalition has no basis for acting, has no ground for vetting candidates. This allows an added measure of diversity of thought, opinion, and solutions to reign, and allows both parties and candidates to diversify, angle themselves and appeal to the varied needs and hopes of voters. But in the Coalition Platform, we vote as a block. There is risk that should the Coalition stray from its exclusive focus on the Platform, it might end in bias for or against a given party. There is also risk that the Coalition will become watered down and lose sight of those things all member parties collectively deem crucial. Stay the course.

Coalition As Potential Mediator

When two candidates from different parties within the Coalition run for the same office, the Coalition could potentially act as the host of a debate (or several) between these two, previous to the actual election. The loser of the debate(s) and intermediary election would agree to drop out in support of the other candidate. Voting methods would have to be worked out, but this would serve as a way to avoid splitting the vote over against candidates outside the Coalition. This would have several other positive consequences to both parties as well as the Coalition.

Unique Opportunity

Member organizations need not be political parties. They can be politically oriented organizations, but in all cases must be politically oriented in purpose, and abide by the Coalition. By joining the coalition, they are gaining a voice in the chorus, and have the right and duty to affect the Coalition Platform to an extent. Those parties that field candidates should have the greater say.

Ballot Access

It is easier for 10 parties to gain ballot access for one candidate, than for 10 parties to gain ballot access for 10 candidates. The Coalition must act as the coordinating body of the respective member parties. The Coalition acts to coordinate resources for gaining ballot access, increasing the number of signatures needed for a given petition, etc.


The portrait that is being painted here is one of incentive. The People’s Coalition proposes to federate the third parties. As the Coalition gains in strength, credibility, legitimacy, more third parties will wish to join. It will be beneficial to do so. The goal is a diverse body of member parties, working together on agreed upon core issues, adding voice where there once was none. In attempting to create lift, the People’s Coalition is applying added pressure with increased numbers, and in organization, is moving the fulcrum to increase leverage.

If we unite, we win.

People's Coalition - Third parties. One voting bloc.

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