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It’s time to take the vanity out of the “third party”


There’s a 62-year-old woman in Baltimore County, Maryland who has an unusual distinction: She’s the only registered member of the Grass Roots Party in the United States.

Maryland is also home to the only registered member of the Natural Party and the only registered member of the Tax Party. It has three members of the Bull Moose Party, although there are more than 50 across the United States. It also has three members of the political party which is my favorite: the Anarchist Party. Like being a member of Destroy All Clubs.

Most anarchists (i.e. party members, not true anarchists) live in Pennsylvania. In this state, there are 44 Anarchist Party voters, out of more than 7 million Third Party voters overall. There are more than 30 political parties with which Pennsylvanians have registered, from the American Party to the Whigs. (Surprisingly, only three of the state’s 42 Whig party members are over 65.)

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The point is simple. All the talk in this country about the need for a third party – that is, an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties – ignores that we already have a lot of political parties. In fact, in states that report voter registration by party, 1 in 42 voters is already registered with a third party. (That’s according to the Washington Post’s analysis of L2 society voter data.) The 3.3 million third-party members in reporting states represent 1 in 64 voters nationwide.

The state with the highest density of third-party enrollees is Alaska, with 1 in 11 voters

They’re real party members, notice; not just “refuse to state” or “independent”. It does, however, include members of the American Independent Party, a right-wing party that appears to be taking advantage of voters mistakenly believing it is the right choice to register as an independent.

It is also only about registration on the electoral lists. There’s a whole other set of parties that have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission but may not have registered voters anywhere. Parties like United Change (whose membership may be limited by the typo in its URL), the National Cannabis Party, and Black Lives Matter. There are also many “unity” themed themes, from the Iowa Patriots United to the United America Party to the Unity Party.

I included those in this list because they have actual domains. A number of FEC-registered political parties do not, including:

  • The American Party of 1776
  • apple festival
  • Christian political party of the colors
  • Diversity matters
  • Jeffersonian Party
  • Liberty4Life
  • Rising Patriots
  • freedom rebels
  • The rising tide party
  • unicorn party
  • The welcome party

There are also several other ‘unity’ parties, including United Change, the Global Unification Party and Messiah United, which honestly looks more like an oft-relegated Welsh football team.

If chosen, a voter could seek affiliation with one of two parties founded by a gentleman in Modesto, Calif., the Order of the Dracul or Societas Signum Draconis – the Order of the Dragon. The political platforms of these parties are unclear, but I suspect they are diametrically opposed to the Homo Sapiens Americanus party, also registered with the FEC.

Nor am I clear about the political orientation of the global and local Intergalactic Religious Political Government and Party, which you may know better as IGALRGAPP. Or maybe not.

As I noted last week when a group of former politicians and elected officials announced a new “third” party – Forward! — what people ask for when looking for a new “third party” is not really a third party as such. It is a party that can serve as a viable counterbalance to the two most dominant parties in the United States. It is not a call for a third party; it is a call for the end of a system dominated by only two parties. Being more direct about this goal would likely go much further in lessening the sense of failure that often accompanies these statements that a new party was wanted.

A Delaware newspaper documents the views of two of the Forward Party candidates on one of the party’s focal points. The “evils” of racial injustice “can only be eliminated by the abolition of oppressive privilege as set forth in our platform,” the candidates wrote in a questionnaire, “by organizing the Forward Party in Delaware in the part of the national movement for a new national political party.

This statement was released on October 22 – 1922. A century ago, the Forward Party failed to establish a new national political party of any significance.

History does not record what became of earlier political organizations centered on the needs of dragons.

Lenny Bronner contributed to this report.


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