The American political landscape has been dominated by two parties for almost 150 years. Other parties have risen to prominence during that time, only to fall back into obscurity or to disappear entirely. Yet the Democratic and Republican parties live on as our political powerhouses. There exist even today a plethora of “third parties, some of greater note than others, but none of which have proven to be particularly successful at the ballot box.
So what does the Bull Moose Party hope to accomplish? What distinguishes us from the other alternative parties vying for your support? What is our vision for America?
Although the history of American third parties may at first impression appear to be one of failure, that is not the case. Throughout our nation’s history, the ideas and innovations of third parties have repeatedly made their way into the political mainstream. Sometimes these prove to be good ideas, such as the push for women’s suffrage that began with the Progressive movement. Sometimes they prove to be bad ideas, such as Prohibition, which grew out of the Temperance movement. The Republican Party’s own emergence as a major party in the 1800s involved the adoption of Abolitionist positions.
Third parties fail for the same reason that third party ideas succeed: the political market. When the proposals of third parties begin to attract public attention and gain in popularity, those proposals are “borrowed” by one of the major parties. When the public displays an interest in something different or original, the Big Two naturally want to grab that constituent interest for themselves. Suddenly, the third party is no longer very unique or different. It becomes a victim of its own success.
We in the Bull Moose Party appreciate this pattern of history, but it does not dissuade us. Rather, it is what motivates and emboldens us. We may not replace one of the major parties, though we wouldn’t complain if we did. We may not even elect a candidate, though we won’t fail for a lack of trying. But we can still affect America’s discourse and leave a lasting impression on the political landscape for generations. That is a legacy worth fighting for.
Thomas Jefferson once said that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” We have thankfully grown beyond the need for violent revolution, but Jefferson’s words still bear truth. With the Cold War behind us and a new century ahead, we cannot be complacent with the offerings of our two old parties. As Theodore Roosevelt expressed it in his day, “the old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly what should be said on the vital issues of the day.”
We need revolution. Intellectual revolution. Cultural revolution. Political revolution. And we believe the Bull Moose Party can be an agent for that revolution.
We recognize that many of the issues facing this country, as well as the world, are complex ones, and their answers are unlikely to be simple. We believe it is important to first identify and isolate a problem in order to evaluate possible remedies. All too often a policy with desirable short-term benefits bears the fruit of undesirable long-term consequences. These need to be weighed and debated and understood before choosing a path.
Because complex problems often involve a balancing of values, it is not unexpected for others to balance those same values differently. America’s parties may be tired husks, but America’s people and politicians are rarely irrational, and it is possible for two reasonable people to reach differing conclusions with the same information. Our national political culture, thanks to both major parties, has sunk greatly into juvenile posturing and name-calling. We in the Bull Moose Party will undoubtedly disagree with other persons at times, but we will endeavor to do so respectfully.
Nor are our disagreements limited to one party. We are distressed by the Republican record on civil liberties, by the Democratic record on personal freedom, and by everyone’s record on the national budget. We believe there is an important and vital role for the federal government, but we also believe that there are a great many services that can be run more efficiently and with greater citizen input and control at the local level. Once upon a time, we would probably have been called classical liberals.
Intellectual revolution. Cultural revolution. Political revolution. These are but some examples.
We also offer frankness, honesty and integrity. We are a party of open minds and straight answers. We stand for the truth, convenient or otherwise. We stand for justice, both at home and abroad.
And we stand for the American way, in how it has brought us to this point and in how it will guide us in the future. Our political state may be suffering, but America itself continues to thrive. Our history is one of ever-increasing greatness, and the Bull Moose Party wants to help make it greater still.
— Loren Collins