Eyes on the Prize: Focus On 2018 and Stop Fixating on Third Parties

Oh my god people. Stop talking about a third party. Stop talking about the Greens. Stop talking about Bernie. Just stop.

Every time the subject of voting comes up, it’s all I hear: “Democrats are terrible. We need a third party.”

Everything you say is completely reasonable: that we can’t just sit around and wait for another party to come and save us; that we have to start now to build one; that it will take hard work and time; and that if we don’t start now, when?

It’s all true. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Not at this point. Right now, we have a job to do. Focusing all your energy on building a third party for the 2020 election completely misses the point.

We must focus on the battle that is before us. And that is 2018.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to build a third party. But we are in a crisis situation right now, and we need to fight now, with the tools that we have on hand. We have to win in 2018. That’s only 14 months away.

I totally agree that the Democratic Party sucks. It absolutely does. Would it be great to have another alternative? It absolutely would.

But we don’t.

You want to build a third party for the 2020 presidential election? Knock yourself out. Get out there and get busy and build a beautiful, progressive party. But for god’s sake do not lose sight of the fact that everything is riding on the midterm election in November 2018. We have got to get the House out of Republican control. And there is no third party that has the infrastructure to win seats in the House in 14 months.

Look, I know I don’t need to tell you about all the crap that’s coming from the White House and from Congress. But maybe I do need to remind you that it is not going to get fixed if the Republican Party retains control of both houses of Congress in the next election. I’m not talking about 2020; I’m talking about in 2018. That’s when every single member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection. Also at that time one-third of the members of the Senate will be up for reelection. Most political watchers don’t think that there is much of a chance of changing the make-up of the Senate at that time, but there IS a chance that enough seats in the House can change hands that the Republicans can lose their majority. But it’s not at all certain. What is certain is that it will NOT happen if (1) people do not focus on 2018 because they are only focused on the Presidential election of 2020 and (2) people choose not to vote OR they vote for third party candidates because they are “disgusted” with the Democrats.

People are already announcing their candidacies for House races all over the country. You know how many Green Party members have filed to run for the House of Representatives in 2018? Zero. How are we going to unseat Republicans and win the House with that?

I’m telling you, there is no alternative right now but to vote for Democrats. I know, you are going to tell me that we can’t make change if we keep doing the same thing over and over again. But there is just too much at stake right now to focus only on building a third party. Do you want another two years of Donald Trump and secret interference from Russia, and more games of chicken with North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal? And the Trump family empire getting richer and richer because of their conflicts of interest and business interests all over the world? How about more riots in the streets because of his support for neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Don’t you remember Betsy Devos and the Muslim ban and the transgender military ban? Hell, if Republicans win big in 2018, Trump is going to be insufferable. He’ll be emboldened.

And not only that, if the Republicans retain their majority in the House, our friends McConnell and Ryan are going to be emboldened too. You are going to hear the word “mandate” a lot. As in “We have a mandate from the American people to move forward with our Republican agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy and repealing Obamacare.”
Do you want more tax cuts for the rich and more attempts to repeal the ACA?

Or do you want to do something about all of this? Because the only way that is going to happen is if the Republicans lose their control of the House next November. That way some real adults can come in and hold Trump accountable for the insanity that has been the last eight months. Trump has been doing everything possible to dismantle our democracy and the Republicans in Congress have been enabling him. They may make weak mealy-mouthed statements denouncing his behavior, but they won’t move against him as long as they know he will sign any piece of legislation that they put in front of him.

As has been pointed out here and in so many other places, we can’t sit and hope that Congress is suddenly going to grow a conscience and impeach the President. Nor are they are not going to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip him of his power. The man was right when he said that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes and quite frankly, short of doing that he isn’t going to get impeached either. No, the only thing that will save us now is a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. So when you hear that being discussed, it isn’t helpful to keep saying that we should be building a third party. Because that’s a lot like someone insisting on painting their house when there’s a hurricane bearing down on him. It’s really not the number one priority to be focusing on right now.

So I’m going to ask you once again. Please stop talking about a third party. Please just stop.


  1. I don’t disagree, but Bernie’s not building a third party. He and Our Revolution (I get their emails and actually manage to read some of them) have been fighting the Democrats to open up, to move left, to stop playing the same old losing hand. They’ve gotten the Super Delegates knocked out of the first round of voting at the Democratic convention. They’re the votes that locked Bernie out last time. They’ve backed candidates in Democratic primaries around the country. Really–they’re not a third party.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. And I believe that I probably wrote this at a time when people were talking more about Bernie (and others) running as a third-party candidate, and I was feeling frustrated. That was a year ago; you don’t really hear that so much these days. I wrote elsewhere (here, perhaps: https://eleanorovercoffee.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/a-battle-plan-for-2018/ ) that what we concerned folks really need to do is to work to push the Democratic party more to the left. I believe that we have been doing that successfully. A number of Progressive, Our Revolution-backed candidates did well in the primaries, even in unlikely places. But they are running as Democrats, and that’s important. Because the way our system works, the Good Guys need to have a majority in Congress to make a difference. We don’t have coalition governments here the way they do in multi-party countries.
      And you’re right: the progress that is being made inside the Democratic party is huge and impactful. I think you and I are on the same page.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your insight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much for that. It’s difficult to find the balance between too dry and too fluffy. I try to provide a little of my own insight but also be approachable. It’s a delicate balance and I’m still learning. I really appreciate that you took the time to comment.


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