Since the establishment of the modern American political duopoly during the 1830s, there have been several attempts at creating a viable third party. The most successful effort came in the 1890s with the People’s Party, better known as the Populist Party. Formed around farmers in the South and Midwest who, in a variety of ways, were deeply troubled by the rise of capitalism, Populists focused on issues of debt, currency reform, and the strict regulation of big business, up to and including the proposed government seizure of corporate land for redistribution to the public, government-owned alternatives to private banking, and even government-run monopolies on vital industries such as communications.
That’s right. Several generations ago, many of the people in what are today the reddest, most Republican, free-market, Tea Partying parts of the United States, actually advocated socialistic reforms to combat the consolidating effects, crushing debt, and boom-bust cycle of capitalism. They even advocated the introduction of a national income tax despite the U.S. Constitution then banning one.
Why this (improbable) alliance?
Beyond political expedience and mutual antipathies, the two parties would need to find enough philosophical middle ground to make the pairing viable. And that could begin with the shared space at the intersections of Green social progressivism and social libertarianism. Both parties, though not always for the same reasons, do have several shared ideals in this area.
Shared general outlooks include: maintaining a wall of separation between church and state; supporting gender equality; supporting equal rights for GBLT people; and liberal interpretations of free speech. Both parties also both promote several specific policies, including: abortion rights; the right to die; ending capital punishment; scaling back (or eliminating altogether) U.S. surveillance of Americans; and ending the war on drugs. And in foreign affairs, Greens and Libertarians both favor tempering U.S. intervention abroad.
An amalgamation of these and other domestic and foreign policies may be enough to broach a temporary political alliance. But what would that alliance look like and what can it accomplish? In other words, to what extent can it help America skirt Duverger’s Law?