I’ve been asked what we need to do next to get the New Party up and running for 2018. It’s been almost two weeks since I first proposed a new party, so I figure I ought to say something, even if it isn’t much.
I said ten days ago to start talking to people about the future of American politics and where they see themselves in that future. That’s still where we’re at right now. I’ve had several such conversations, some very productive, some less so. Here are some of the things I’ve been asking in those conversations:
- What are the one or two issues and policies that are absolutely non-negotiable for you? Where are you unable to compromise?
- Outside of your non-negotiables, what are the one or two issues and policies that you are most enthusiastic about?
- How successful do you think those ideas will be in your current political party? Are they likely to win support from other members of your party? Are they likely to be actually enacted anytime soon?
- Do you think it’s time for a new political party to represent your views?
- Since a new party needs to actually win elections, who else do you think might be willing to join this new party? What states will be strongest for this party? What states will be weakest? Question the idea that certain regions of the country are “unreachable”; consider off-the-wall possibilities.
I’ve had some interesting answers back, which will help shape where we go next. What about you? What have you been hearing?
My sense so far, from the conversations I have had, is that party elites on both sides right now are very focused on the 2016 elections. This may mean that the New Party won’t be able to make much concrete progress until after the election has ended and elites begin laying plans for 2018 and beyond. We still have much we can do between now and then — refining our central ideas, building a detailed plan for a new coalition, laying the groundwork for new supporters (grassroots and elites alike) to join up after November, and perhaps even putting the rudiments of a national organization in place — but I suspect it will be quiet work for the next few months.
I will certainly send a survey or two to the members of the New Party mailing list during the summer, to get a sense for where our actual supporters and well-wishers stand on certain key questions, but this will be limited, partly by our still-tiny size (there are currently 40 people on the mailing list), and partly because I don’t want to spam up anyone’s mailbox with too many emails.
Another obstacle to our getting off the ground is that many Republican elites still believe the GOP can “return to normalcy” after Donald Trump (probably) loses. They think that a conservative “faithful remnant” can steer the party toward conservative policies after a resounding Trump defeat… or, at least, they haven’t yet been convinced otherwise. I will make the case over the summer that a Republican renaissance is unlikely, but I suspect that this will become much clearer to Republicans just before and just after Election Day regardless of what I say about it. When grassroots Republicans finally lose hope for the future of their party, we will be there to offer a road forward.
When I first wrote my piece calling for a new party ten days ago, I was afraid that I was overreacting. Given time to calm down, I thought I might see some path forward for us in the GOP, rethink the whole “new party” concept, and issue a retraction. It was the most radical thing I’d ever written, and it’s easy to have second thoughts after writing something extreme in the heat of the moment.
That hasn’t happened. I have calmed down, and even made my peace with the 2016 Election From Hell… but I still think the Republican Party I joined is dead, and I am still determined to build something new in its place. I’m grateful to so many of you for reaching out with words and actions of support. To coin a phrase, we are the change we’ve been waiting for, and I hope to see it taking root in the coming months. Let’s keep talking.