Can a Third Party Succeed? Should It?

More from our inbox:

  • Falling Short: The Taliban’s Word, and America’s
  • Perfecting Propaganda
  • Alaska Natives in Support of a Fuel Project

This didn’t work either. Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Andrew Yang’s New Third Party Will Fail,” by Jamelle Bouie (column, July 31):

The Forward Party’s founders are right about the lamentable level of acrimony in American politics today, but their plan to address the underlying issues is fundamentally flawed.

The political discourse has regrettably become divisive and dangerous, and extremism has crept into the mainstream at an alarming rate. We would benefit immensely from restoring a measure of respect and gentility to America’s political framework. But forming a new third party to “reintroduce choice and competition” is not the answer.

Mr. Bouie is correct about third parties historically being founded to further a particular issue or ideal. However, unlike the Equal Rights Party, the Constitution Party, the Working Families Party and many others, the Forward Party is predicated on nothing more than an amorphous notion of catering to moderates and creating more political choices.

We do not need more choices; rather, we need to focus on restoring civility and bipartisanship to the political lexicon. To weather the political tempest that clouds our democratic system, we need to fix the existing parties, not create new ones.

N. Aaron Troodler
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

To the Editor:

It’s disappointing yet predictable that the idea of the Forward Party was attacked in the media within hours of its announced formation.

This is indeed the perfect time for a third party in the United States. Democrats and Republicans have pushed themselves to the ideological edges, with the hopes for compromise and a functioning government decreasing by the day.

The editorial pages have been outlining the effect of money on democracy, efforts to restrict voting and the drift to extremism by both parties. In this country there are 330 million people, and in every grocery store there are 28 choices of shampoo, so why are we forced to choose between just A and B, neither of which have proved to be responsive to the average American over these last few years?

The emergence of a new voting choice, especially one with the centrist views held by millions of Americans, should be a cause for celebration, not cynicism and defeatism. We can’t keep going like this.

Steve Roberts
Cooper City, Fla.

To the Editor:

Jamelle Bouie is correct about the doomed fate of Andrew Yang’s Forward Party, but for the wrong reasons. The biggest impediment facing any new third party isn’t a long history of failed attempts, nor even the lack of any positive message that Mr. Bouie correctly attributes to Forward.

Rather, the difficulty is a new information landscape dominated by social media. As long as these media are incentivized to favor engagement above all, they will continue to foment outrage, which generates much more online activity than civil discourse.

Given that outrage is much more easily created in our current “us vs. them” political system, any attempt to add third party nuance will be buried under the impressive weight of social media algorithms.

Until these technologies (and the business models behind them) are made to change, there will be no viable third party in America.

David T. Schafer
Somers, N.Y.

Falling Short: The Taliban’s Word, and America’s

Taliban fighters stand guard in Kabul, Afghanistan.Credit…Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

To the Editor:

Re “Al-Zawahri Is Gone, but Al Qaeda Is Resilient,” by Asfandyar Mir (Opinion guest essay, Aug. 3):

Yes, it is the case that we tracked Ayman al-Zawahri down in Kabul, and yes, that suggests that the Taliban are not meeting our expectations, because they were providing shelter to an enemy of the U.S. As the writer suggests, that means America can’t rely on the Taliban’s word.

But there is no mention of the fact that the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan apparently cannot rely on our word, no mention of the fact that the U.S. is holding $7 billion that belongs to the Afghan central bank, money we told them to give to us to hold in Washington, and that we appear not to be making plans to return even as the country faces abject poverty, rampant hunger and a failing economy.

The Afghan people deserve an effort by the U.S. to help them at this moment of crisis, to keep our promise and return enough money immediately to stabilize the economy and provide critically needed food aid.

Ruth W. Messinger
New York
The writer, a former Manhattan borough president, was a member of the Women’s Peace and Education Delegation to Afghanistan in March.

To the Editor:

Asfandyar Mir’s analysis is predicated on the assumption that U.S. negotiators believed that the Taliban would stick to the terms of the agreement. No one is that naïve.

Rather, the “deal” was a fig leaf to cover a long-overdue military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Getting out was the objective.

Gregory Porter
Chatham, Mass.

Perfecting Propaganda

The television and radio host Mark Levin with Donald J. Trump at a White House ceremony in 2019. Mr. Levin has characterized the Jan. 6 hearings as having purely political motivations.Credit…Leah Millis/Reuters

To the Editor:

Re “Jan. 6 Panel Didn’t Sway Right Wing” (Media Memo, July 25):

We all have confirmation bias; however, most of talk radio and the Murdoch-fueled behemoth Fox News have, for decades, taken the lessons of propaganda first learned in the 1930s and systematically perfected them in support of Republicans maintaining power, even as Republican policies become increasingly unpopular.

To do that, they have needed to constantly ratchet up fear — persuading mostly white men to be suspicious of and then even to hate non-Christians, immigrants, anyone who supports women’s rights and modernity itself.

Donald Trump is utterly indefensible, and needs to be prosecuted if America is to have a chance at democracy, but Mr. Trump’s presidency, let alone his nomination at the end of the Republican primaries in 2016, is a direct result of this catastrophic, monumentally successful propaganda campaign.

Mark Keller
Portland, Ore.

Alaska Natives in Support of a Fuel Project

To the Editor:

Re “Climate Change Is Not Negotiable” (editorial, July 24):

As a lifelong resident of Alaska’s North Slope and an Iñupiat, I can attest to climate change in the Arctic. I’m also aware of the acute threat to our planet posed by dirty drilling in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and elsewhere.

The Iñupiat, an Alaska Native community, have coexisted with responsible resource development for nearly 50 years, ensuring that our ancestral homelands and traditional subsistence lifestyles are protected while development occurs. Unlike foreign projects, Alaska’s Willow Project will provide some of the most environmentally responsible barrels of fuel available.

Outside activist groups have taken turns swinging at the project but have not acknowledged what it would mean for our North Slope communities. From thousands of miles away, they are crowding out supportive Alaska Native voices. Oil and gas development has been the economic backbone of Alaska’s economy for decades, and a lifeline for the Iñupiat living in the most remote part of the country.

The Willow Project’s permitting and review process has spanned multiple presidential administrations. My people have been deeply involved in the process and remain in strong support.

Doreen Leavitt
Barrow, Alaska
The writer is director of natural resources for the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, the region’s federally recognized tribe.

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