NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, two of the co-chairs of the new Third National Political Party, called “Forward”.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
In the United States, third parties have often tried unsuccessfully to bridge the traditional Democratic-Republican divide. The co-founders of a new political party insist that this time will be different. Forward describes itself as a home for centrists who reject extremism. Two of the co-chairs are former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former Republican New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. It’s good to have you both here.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: It’s good to be with you.
ANDREW YANG: It’s great to be here, Ari.
SHAPIRO: You promoted Forward as a party that doesn’t adhere to a strict ideology. And the flip side is that people have a hard time understanding what you would do, if you won the election, on some of the issues that matter most to Americans. I know you have planned a listening tour next year to hear from voters. But if you plan to field candidates in the 2024 election, do you owe voters to tell them what your proposed policies would actually be?
YANG: We are currently supporting candidates in the local midterm elections. We are building a 50-state national party from the ground up. But the slogan – not left; Not true; forward – speaks to tens of millions of Americans because there is in fact a common-sense consensus on the vast majority – if not all – of the nation’s most controversial and polarizing issues. You can see it in poll after poll.
SHAPIRO: I know you’ve been asked many times, but it seems like you prefer not to articulate specific policy positions on guns, on abortion, on some of these key issues.
TODD WHITMAN: These are questions that, when you address them, you find that there is actually common ground here. Most people don’t want to give up the ability to own firearms. But on the other hand, they don’t think it should be wide open and everyone should have as many as they want, as young as they want.
SHAPIRO: So would you support, for example, a ban on assault weapons?
TODD WHITMAN: The point here is, not what I would argue.
SHAPIRO: Would your party support extensive background checks?
TODD WHITMAN: Right now we don’t have those positions because what we’re going to do, starting this fall, is do this listening tour to listen to people – to say, what do you want- you ?
SHAPIRO: But you’re putting people on the ballot this fall. Shouldn’t voters know what your party stands for on some of these issues?
TODD WHITMAN: They will. Once we have our convention – which we will have next year – we will adopt a platform, but it will be based on what the public tells us about their concerns and how they want the issues addressed.
SHAPIRO: Presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted that. He said, remember, historically, third parties sometimes have the effect of swinging a close election to the candidate of an existing party, which is the opposite of what the third party represents. It’s history. How realistic is it to ask people to ignore this record?
YANG: So the fact that people are rushing to the presidential – that’s not where our focus is. The thing is, anyone concerned about the spoiler effect at any level should just advocate for ranked voting, and then anyone can vote for whoever they want based on their true preferences, and no one will be blamed to ruin an election for anyone. other.
SHAPIRO: Well, you could push for ranked voting without creating third parties.
TODD WHITMAN: Not with the same kind of impact that we can have from the number of people joining us right now in our state-by-state buildup. So – because this is a decision that’s going to be made at the state level, and so we need to educate people and start getting their voices heard.
YANG: And Ari, you can say in the abstract, oh, you can be for open primaries and ranked voting within the two-party system. But the fact is, if there’s one thing the parties can agree on, it’s that all competition is bad. Thus, no party will do something in a particular area that is contrary to its political interests unless pressured to do so by the people of this country who have had enough and want better.
SHAPIRO: I know you’ve both been clear that you’re not focused on the 2024 presidential race. There’s a distance to go until then. That said, should we expect to see a Forward party candidate for president at the polls in 2024?
TODD WHITMAN: It’s way too early to tell – to answer that. We may or may not, depending on who the parties have – depending on where we are at that particular moment. But I know that’s hard to believe for anyone who wants to focus solely on the presidential election. We’re really committed to building this from the ground up – mayors, city councils, secretaries of state, state attorneys general, governors – because they’re the ones who have the most impact on people every day. . And that’s where we focus. And 2024 – we’ll see when we get there.
SHAPIRO: Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang are two of the co-chairs of the new Forward party. Thanks to you two.
TODD WHITMAN: Thank you.
YANG: Thank you. Great to be here.
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