This ground-breaking collection of writings explores how progressive third parties in the U.S. can become more electorally successful and politically influential. It is the only recently published book that focuses exclusively on how such parties may advance. Their rise may be essential to countering the powerful, growing sway of wealth within the two major American parties, and to creating a more just, democratic United States.
Contributors include key participants in and observers of the U.S. left third party movement. Nearly all have previously authored books or articles on progressive politics. Many have led effective left third party efforts, and some have held elected office on behalf of a progressive third party. Together the writers reflect on a wide range of relevant parties—including the Green Party, the Vermont Progressive Party, the Labor Party, the Working Families Party, Socialist Alternative, and potential new parties on the American left. The authors highlight a variety of strategies and conditions that may facilitate electoral breakthroughs by such parties and their candidates. Overall, the collection suggests that U.S. progressive third parties may make more headway if they thoughtfully combine their idealism and sense of urgency with a flexible, pragmatic approach to gaining power.
"Progressive third parties have played a vital role in American politics, pushing neglected but urgent issues onto the national agenda, from women's suffrage and unemployment compensation to today's fight for a living wage. This book offers an intimate and informed guide to today's progressive third parties and is must-reading for everyone pressing for a more representative and accountable democracy."
-- Micah Sifry, Co-founder of Civic Hall and author of Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America
"In an age of neoliberal retrenchment and political ossification, opportunities for third parties seem more distant than ever. But in Empowering Progressive Third Parties, Jonathan Martin presents a series of original and stimulating writings, including his own, that persuade us otherwise. These essays help clarify the different strategies that have been used by third parties in American politics, strategies that can be built upon for future political success for third parties and an expansion of our democracy."
– Michael J. Thompson, Associate Professor of Political Science, William Paterson University; Founder of Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture
"Valuable and timely! The dynamic analyses of an alternative politics in lower level races in different states are alone a primer on electoral politics; they will excite both students and their professors. Electoral activists dedicated to progressive change can learn volumes about how being down-to-earth and inter-personally connected with voters, as well as highly interactive with community, is key. Without this awareness, lofty vision and well-honed policy positions will fail."
-- John Rensenbrink, Professor Emeritus of Government, Bowdoin College; Co-founder of the United States Green Party and of the Maine Green Independent Party
"In the U.S., independent political action faces major obstacles to success, thanks to a two-party system that sharply limits our electoral choices. Despite that duopoly, third party movements are rising again, especially at the state and local level. Jonathan Martin and his fellow contributors to this important volume compellingly describe what it takes for progressive third parties to succeed in elections. Let’s hope that many readers take these lessons to heart and find similar ways to advance the interests of poor and working-class people in more parts of the country."
-- Steve Early, Author of Save Our Unions: Dispatches from A Movement in Distress
"Jonathan Martin's book is an important read for anyone interested in challenging the two-party paradigm in American politics. Learning from our history—made by others who have succeeded and failed before us—is what makes us better, smarter organizers. Combine that with a political agenda that places the interests of working people over wealthy corporations and you have a recipe for progressive victory."
-- Kelly Mangan, Executive Director, Vermont Progressive Party
Preface Introduction: The Future Rise of Progressive Third Parties Jonathan Martin 1. How a Socialist Won: Lessons from the Historic Victory of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant Ramy Khalil 2.A Green Becomes Mayor: The Election of Gayle McLaughlin in Richmond, California Mike Feinstein 3. The Rise of the Portland Greens Patrick Quinlan 4. Lessons of the Vermont Progressive Party Terry Bouricius 5. Community Connections: How Progressive Third Parties Can Win More State Legislative Elections Jonathan Martin 6. Beyond the "Spoiler" Myth: Exploring the Real Lessons of the Nader Campaigns for Progressive Politics Theresa Amato 7.The U.S. Greens in Presidential Elections: Losing Their Mojo and Getting It Back Sayeed Iftekhar Ahmed 8. Labor Party Time? Not Yet Mark Dudzic and Katherine Isaac 9. Don’t Wait for Labor: The Necessity of Building a Left Third Party at the Grassroots John Halle 10. A New Progressive Party: How the Working Families Party Can Change Electoral Politics Daniel Cantor 11. Breaking Through By Breaking Free: Why the Left Needs to Declare Its Political Independence Thomas Harrison 12. Epilogue: Questions and Answers about Progressive Third Party Empowerment Jonathan Martin