This leaves a wide sea of non-partisan purple unchartered, they find, and with a majority of the population forced to drift across the currents created only by those opposing far-end spectrums.
A new moderate American Party being created by Lovelace and Rex could put the public majority at the helm, though, which they say could steer to safer waters.
Its primary goal isn’t to address any single, contained issue, either, but is of a broader-yet-targeted scope. “The core issue is a competitive global economy,” Rex says.
Addressing national debt, education, healthcare, tax reform and protection of individual rights would be principal to that goal, the party declares. (Check its website for more platform information.)
“The 20th Century was the American century – militarily, economically, educationally,” he offers, but “the 21st looks like it’s going to be different.”
Rex is right, too: the U.S. economy has slipped in annual global rankings for the last four consecutive years; the dollar’s use as global currency in international trade is at risk; a once world’s-best school system has declined in rank compared to those of other developed countries; and the public believes that U.S. military status as a global power is on a downward slope.
The fabrics of these declines share a common thread, Rex states.
“The biggest disadvantage – the Number One liability – is our dysfunctional political system.”
Instead of addressing pressing issues, a wide gap between Republican and Democratic officials has only resulted in a stalemate status, he finds, asserting that too many politicians merely stick to the outlying polarities of vocal party members for selfish advantage.
“It all comes down to the fact that we have a whole bunch of people who want to stay in office no matter what. Everything else is secondary.”
Rex offers as example recent legislative news from South Carolina, where both he and Lovelace reside.
A recent bill calling for public hearings when government officials face legal charges and public disclosure of campaign filings was at first promoted by both Republicans and Democrats, only to wound up dead on the floor of the State Legislature.
“This debacle recently on ethics reform – that it went back and forth (with no results) makes it obvious that neither party wants it,” Rex sighs. “As a group, neither party has office holders that want transparency.”
Not only does polarization block the middle from representation, but it also removes incentive for election participation, he finds, resulting in a political Catch-22 of sorts: candidates who stand upon far-end platforms to appeal to their party primary voters, and moderate voters who lose interest in primary participation due to the narrow restrictions of those platforms.
“There tend to be candidates who could win a general election, but who don’t win a primary,” Rex says, attributing the circumstance to wider polarity found in the party faithful who vote in that first election cycle. “They get punished in their primaries for their moderate positions.”
An example of such a risk (though not offered by Rex himself) might be Bob Inglis, the Republican who represented South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District for six terms. His high ranking by the American Conservative Union and an NRA endorsement apparently didn’t appease far-right Republicans, who were upset with Inglis’ statements opposing offshore drilling and warrantless surveillance of citizens.
In 2010, Inglis lost the GOP primary in a runoff against Tea Party-favored Trey Gowdy. Since elected, Gowdy has supported corporate-favoring measures that would take away individual rights, and even sponsored a bill that would abolish the federal office that pertains to labor laws.
An American Party identified with goals of a common good would return moderate voters to the polls, Rex hopes, resulting in government response to more representative issues.
The two first met that same year at a candidate forum at Rock Hill’s Winthrop Univ., where each heard the other’s address and platform.
“We realized we have a lot in common aside from the two (party) labels,” and in particular on stances regarding their individual professional fields of education and healthcare.
They maintained contact and regular conversation, a common theme of which was their mutual frustration with what they find to be a government that’s unresponsive to a majority of the population.
Each found shared perceptions of government gridlock on the national and state levels within their own social and professional circles, too, he says, which helped inspire their idea for this new political party about a year and a half ago.
Since February 2013, the two have been officially promoting the American Party at events and in local media. Its petition to be recognized in the Palmetto State so far has about 2,500 of the required 10,000 registered voter signatures, Rex says.
The party will start at the state level, and not in South Carolina alone. Petition drives are also underway in Michigan, Texas and Alabama, and Rex says he’s received inquiries from a few other states in the past week, too.
“We’re hoping for a national party, but you can’t start at the top and work down,” Rex says. “The grassroots approach is a better place to start.”
Following petition completion, the next step will be selecting proper candidates, who the party website describes would be “experienced public servants.”
“Ideally,” Rex says, “what we’re looking for are people who are motivated by serving the public good, not politics. People who’ve been doing that in their communities – people who’ve given back.”
There are many who have such qualifications, says Rex, but they avoid running for office due to fear of personal and professional damages caused by identifying with narrowed party stances.
Running with a platform supported by the American Party would allow moderate candidates to reach the moderate majority of voters, and without such repercussions could attract quite a few.
“We’ll focus on the quality of the candidates,” however, Rex declares, “not the number.”
The fusion option, in which candidates can be endorsed by more than one party and appear on the ballots multiple times, is still on the table, too, says Rex.
Qualified Republican and Democratic candidates with applicable moderate platforms, but who lose primaries due to polarity in their parties, could have the American Party as a second option. “If we didn’t officially adjourn following our convention,” which would take place prior to major party primary elections, “we could still consider endorsing them,” Rex assumes, giving those candidates a second option to remain on the ballots.
Don’t confuse this new party with any others that have used the same or similar names in U.S. political history, though, and especially not the last one.
That most recent “American Party” of 1969 to 2011 promoted far-right arguments against immigration, Social Security, ethnic diversity and affirmative action, and its Florida chapter was criticized for promoting a racist-leaning “nativism” stance by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1998. It even nominated segregationists George Wallace and John Schmitz as its presidential candidates.
This new American Party doesn’t hold such beliefs, Rex says, and is so named due to supporters’ beliefs that the term better indicates a national and non-partisan goal of representation of the common good.
Its petition drive continues in South Carolina, where it hopes to have candidates for the 2014 election cycle, and at different events where about 80 percent of persons approached are signing, Rex says.