David Jolly: Why I am leading a new political party
Jolly is the new executive chairman of the Serve America Movement, also known as the SAM Party. It was a Florida Republican congressman from 2014 to 2017, but left the party the following year.
As a new era has begun in American politics, the always gracious Joe Biden was right to promise in his inaugural address that, although elected as a Democrat, he intends to serve all Americans. It is, after all, the vocation of the civil service and the public service. Americans from all walks of life, including myself, wish him well as he assumes his formidable responsibility.
As president, Biden will set the agenda and his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill will work to push that agenda forward. Republicans, having lost the presidency and both houses of Congress, will inevitably serve as a formidable opposition party. And millions of Americans, for various reasons, will continue to wonder if there is a way to resolve our endless partisanship.
There are. The United States is in the minority among the leading nations to have a entrenched political duopoly – just two major parties, isolated from accountability by a campaign finance system that rewards their mutual power and protected by electoral rules deliberately implemented to limit challenges by independent candidates or new parties.
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Conversely, many nations have rich, multi-party democracies, and research continues to claim that they produce more inclusive political outcomes, increased voter engagement and satisfaction, and better participation of political and demographic minorities.
This contrast is made more relevant today as the Republican Party grapples with its future. Conservatives continue to gossip either to “grab” the GOP from Donald Trump’s angry populism or to create a new party based entirely on rigid ideological principles. Trump himself has reportedly discussed launching a new party in his self-proclaimed image, flirting with the prospect of a patriotic party rooted in his America First platform.
Democrats, although united in victory, continue to struggle against the ideological diversity that puts a strain on all major political parties. Indeed, it was widely reported that after Democrats lost seats in the House last fall, caucus moderates and progressives clashed on a three-hour call over which members and which message bore responsibility for the losses. These clashes will inevitably continue.
But our political problem is not ideological. In fact, one of America’s greatest blessings is that we live in a society where competing ideologies can be openly debated. We are improved by thought leaders who push the boundaries of new political ideas and compare them to our collective political interests.
If we are to be honest about our policies, we must recognize that Trump’s populism resonated with 74 million people. He gave voice to many who felt left out. It is also true that progressives were appalled by the political and leadership decisions of the past four years. This anger and conviction motivated the country enough to demand a change of direction.
These contradictory truisms also apply within our main parties. Moderates in the House Democratic caucus were brought up by a constituency that chose a centrist ideology, just as progressives were brought up by a constituency that wants to go left. The same goes for Republicans: the more conservative members raised by the most right-wing constituencies and the most moderate members by the more centrist constituencies.
No, the problem is not the diversity of our ideologies. The problem – the fatal flaw in today’s American political system – is that there is no structured political party to accommodate our various ideologies.
This is why the next successful party will not be the one that defines itself by claiming a place on the ideological chessboard. It will have a large tent platform that will accommodate progressives, conservatives, moderates, and single stake voters. It will bring these competing perspectives together around common values ââof problem solving, democracy protection, electoral reform and accountability.
The Serve America movement is one of those parties. A coalition of current and former Democrats, Republicans and Independents, SAM has nominated or endorsed local and state candidates in Connecticut and New York, including unit tickets for governor and lieutenant governor . Our regional working groups have advanced important electoral reform initiatives and continue to speak out about the value of ideas such as preferential voting, open primary and gerrymandering reform. The party is growing and will support and field more candidates next year and into 2024.
Let SAM hold the keys to disrupting our system, let us not miss this opportunity to rethink our approach to politics. For too long, we have unnecessarily restricted ourselves to embracing politics only through the prism of the left, the right and the center. The truth is that our nation’s most pressing problems can be solved through policy prescriptions found across the left-right spectrum.
Show me a political party ready to recognize that health care can be enhanced by both a strong public option and a genuine, solid private option; that public education deserves a greater investment, but that students and parents also deserve choice; that immigration policy can include border security but also a path to dignity and citizenship for those who want it; and that the rights of responsible firearms owners and our obligation to public safety can both be secured through stronger regulation.
Show me that political party and I will show you a ruling majority for decades to come.
For now, the two big parties will continue to provide a political home rooted in a rigid left-right ideology, as will smaller parties like the Greens and Libertarians. Maybe a new conservative party is emerging from today’s GOP, or a new populist party under Trump. But for many Americans, the SAM Party offers a new political home.
Our next successful party will not be bound by the dictates of ideology, it will be bound by the dictates of conscience. And it will reflect an incredible diversity of thought, a remarkable spirit of cooperation – and a determination to forever disrupt the politics our founders warned us about and which today leave so many behind.
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