Thursday, December 11, 2008

Know Your Third Parties: Part 7 - the Modern Whig Party

Everyone knows about the Whig Party - the 19th Century political front which formed for the sole purpose of opposing the Democrats and quickly dissolved after the rise of the Republican Party.

Today there is a little known Modern Whig Party - formed about a year ago to promote veterans affairs. With a centrist platform they hope to build a coalition between Reagan Democrats and disillusioned Republicans. They have grown quickly and now have affiliate parties in 25 states. They are self-described as the "fastest growing non-fringe party".

Membership: Approximately 20,000

Modern Whig membership has grown dramatically since the party's inception. By August of 2008 they had gained 10,000 members and the number nearly doubled following the November 4th election.

Members Holding Office: 1 (soon)

On November 4, the first Modern Whig was elected to office - Constable-Elect Ken Belcher of Lee County, AL (a Constable is the Alabama version of a Sheriff).


The Modern Whig Party was founded in late 2007 in Washington DC. The first and current party chairman, Mike Lebowitz, is a notable Washington attorney and former journalist who also served as a paratrooper in Iraq. He first became noticed in the political scene for testifying before Congress on improving military whistle-blowing law.

A Board of Benefactors who organized the party selected Lebowitz along with a 3-person Executive Committee. As a rule the Board instituted, at least one member of the committee must be a veteran or military spouse.

In July the party unveiled a long-term political strategy that focused on electing members to local and state offices, especially in districts with large veteran populations. They see running federal candidates this early in the party's inception as unrealistic and a mistake that too many third parties make.

On the Issues:

The Modern Whigs take moderate and often non-controversial positions on all of the issues. They advocate common-sense solutions for just about every policy. You can read some of their platform positions here.

Fiscally: They support fiscal responsibility based on practical budgetary outlooks. Among these issues they advocate for earmark reform that allows Congress a specific lump sum of taxpayer money to be allocated to local projects annually. They believe that science and technology innovation should be supported, but space and ocean exploration should be privatized.

Socially: While they describe themselves as progressive on social issues, they are fairly non-controversial. They believe that abortion is too divisive of an issue and support realistic approaches to reducing abortion, such as adoption law reform. They are pro-second amendment, but believe that individual states can and should regulate guns appropriately according to their local values.

They take no hard positions on gay rights, with the exception of their belief that homosexuals should be included in hate crimes legislation. They are against taxpayer money going towards anything religious, but do not feel public spaces should exclude holiday symbols so long as they are open to all faiths. They believe in non-race-based affirmative action, but rather affirmative action in education for the economically distressed.

Trade and Immigration: On the problems of trade (especially with China) they support tax incentives for U.S. corporations that they do not outsource. They believe that illegal immigrants that are caught should be deported - but that it is not realistic to hunt them all down. Instead they suggest amnesty to illegal immigrants that serve in the U.S. military, with the full benefits of the new GI Bill, with jobs that do not require security clearance.

Foreign Policy: They believe that troops should be pulled out of Iraq - with the exception of the northern Kurdish region - by the end of 2011. They also support President-Elect Obama's position on Pakistan - that the U.S. cannot allow the country to be a terrorist safe-haven, and that the U.S. must intervene if the Pakistani government cannot control the situation.

Because of the impact energy independence has on national security, as well as the danger of climate change, they have endorsed the Picken's Plan and the efforts of Al Gore's We Campaign.

Final Thoughts:

Watch for further growth of the Modern Whig Party in terms of both membership and electoral success. The progress they have already made establishing themselves in American politics is truly remarkable.

The Modern Whigs will be sure to make further inroad among centrist Democrats, disillusioned Republicans, service men and women, and independent policy-buffs. They have big plans to win local seats across the country in 2009 and it is more than likely they will see some victories.

Coming Monday - the Boston Tea Party.

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