Voters in the U.S. love to complain about our rigid, two-party system. When election season rolls around, we feel constricted by the “two evils” that are the Democratic and Republican parties and we desire more options. Of course, there are more options: the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Reform, Socialist Workers, and Prohibition Party will all gladly have your vote. However, barring the occasional surprise, America’s third parties never actually get elected to office. But maybe that’s about to change. Since Donald Trump’s chaotic election loss in 2020, his shaky relationship with the Republican establishment seems headed towards full-on divorce. Rumor is that Trump may establish a brand new “Patriot Party” as a vehicle for his wildly popular cult of personality and crackpot views, without having to deal with the pesky conservatism of establishment Republican politicians. Considering that nearly a quarter of the American population appears to be loyal to Trump over all else, his party would become the first electorally-viable third party in a Presidential election since Teddy Roosevelt's Progressives of 1912 (okay, maybe Ross Perot too). In the event that Trump starts his Patriot Party, America would, at least briefly, become a three-party state. But what if we did better than that? What if we had had, say, seven unique parties? In this thought experiment, I try to imagine America as a seven-party state. Below, I list seven distinct parties that I think would be most likely to arise in a multiparty nation based on the various American ideological groups. I also include a short description of what each of their policies might be, as well as a list of three positions within each party: “Leader” (who would serve as the party's Presidential candidate), “Senate Leader,” and “House Leader.” I choose real-life politicians for each position in order to give you a better idea of the types of people who may gravitate towards each party.
Below are two maps depicting how the Senate and House might play out in such a seven-party system. Nothing here is based on statistics; I’m simply guessing how I suspect election results could look based on the current trends of voters in certain regions. It’s likely that ranked-choice voting would need to be implemented in order to ever lead America down a path that remotely resembles such a multiparty state.
Let’s run through each party now:
The Progressive Party is a left-wing party that supports sweeping reforms to the United States economy that would dramatically curb the influence of corporations and increase the size of the welfare state. Most analysts characterize the party’s policies with the term “social democracy,” although certain members of the party have branded themselves as democratic socialists. As one might expect, the party is America’s most left-wing on social issues, advocating for the total legalization of Marijuana, limited regulation on abortion, and outright bans on most firearms. They also champion numerous large government programs including Medicare for All, free public college, and government-guaranteed housing. They support extremely high taxation on the rich, including the imposition of a national wealth tax, and they endeavor to increase union membership nationwide. Progressives are particularly aggressive on climate change and have pushed forth the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan aimed at curbing the global climate emergency. The party is most successful in urban areas, especially among young, white, college-educated voters. They often face bitter fights with Democrats for seats in such areas, where Democrats tend to garner more support from racial minorities. Nonetheless, the Progressives hold 52 (mostly urban) House seats across the nation as well as 6 Senate seats in Hawaii (2), Vermont (2), Massachusetts (1), and Oregon (1).
Leader: Bernie Sanders (VT)
Senate Leader: Jeff Merkley (OR)
House Leader: Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (NY)
The New American Party can be invariably described as left-wing, conservative, classically liberal, or centrist, depending on who you ask. In reality, the party typically votes in line with Democrats and sometimes joins the Republicans on key issues, particularly those involving fiscal policy. Political scientists have considered the New Americans to be the “centrist swing vote” of Congress and their voting record certainly supports such a claim. The party’s branding generally characterizes itself as pragmatic, realistic, and even technocratic, a position that often attracts criticism from ideologues in both the Progressive and Patriot parties, who the New Americans openly dislike. The New Americans include a wide diversity of social beliefs within their ranks. For example, they are rather strongly pro-abortion but extremely apprehensive about increased gun control. On most issues, the New Americans look to uphold the status quo and are generally wary of any ideological overhauls in the American system. The New Americans are most popular in moderate, suburban districts filled with white, middle-class voters. The party has also found success in a few rural districts that are known to prefer moderates. The New Americans hold 30 House seats and 5 Senate seats in Arizona (1), New Hampshire (1), Maine (1), New Jersey (1), and New Hampshire (1).
Leader: Michael Bloomberg (NY)
Senate Leader: Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)
House Leader: Abigail Spanberger (VA)
The Patriot Party of America is a right-wing, populist party that traces its roots to the improbable rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Most of its signature positions involve nationalism, and it advocates for heavily curbing international trade, as well as drastically reducing immigration and refugee resettlement. Many have accused the party of aligning closely with alt-Right and white nationalist sentiments, labels that party leaders vehemently deny. The party skews conservative on social issues, although Patriot politicians and voters alike seem to care little about such issues as Marijuana legalization and gay marriage. Additionally, the party positions itself against corporations and the political “elites,” which often puts it at odds with the Republicans and Libertarians who are more friendly to corporations. The Patriots are generally most successful in rural, working-class, mostly white regions. They are extremely unpopular in suburbs and urban areas, where they often do not even run candidates. The Patriots hold 80 House seats and 19 Senate seats, all of which are in mostly rural regions.
Leader: Donald Trump Jr. (FL)
Senate Leader: Marsha Blackburn (TN)
House Leader: Matt Gaetz (FL)
The Christian Party is a right-wing, Christian fundamentalist party that primarily focuses on a hardline conservative position on social issues. The party advocates for complete bans on abortion, same-sex marriage, marijuana, and pornography, and openly pushes for Christian reforms to the American school system. Christian party members believe that America is an inherently Christian nation, and many are not afraid to actively challenge the concept of the separation of church and state. While the party focuses on social issues, it does skew somewhat conservative on economic issues as well, often aligning with Republicans in congressional voting. However, the Christian party’s hard-line stances and hyper-fixation on social issues leave it to be generally unpopular in most parts of the U.S., where the majority of conservative voters simply gravitate towards the Republican or Patriot party. The Christian party coalition is mostly made up of Evangelical and Catholic voters who find the Republicans too moderate on social issues, and consider the Patriots to be overly vulgar, demagogic, and “un-Christian.” The Christian party succeeds in rural, ultra-religious districts, particularly in the Southern U.S. (“The Bible Belt”), and in Utah, where the majority-Mormon electorate has launched the Christians to capture both Senate seats and every House seat except for UT-04. The Christians hold 10 House seats and 4 Senate seats in Utah (2), Alabama (1), and Mississippi (1).
Leader: Jerry Falwell Jr. (VA)
Senate Leader: None.
House Leader: John Curtis (UT)
The Libertarian Party is the nation’s most economically laissez-faire party, arguing for a massive reduction in the federal government’s size and for lower taxes on American citizens and businesses. They vehemently oppose large welfare programs proposed by the Progressives and also reject the often anti-corporate stance of the Patriot party. While caucusing with the Republicans on most issues, the Libertarians happen to be quietly liberal on social issues, supporting abortion and marijuana legalization in accordance with the party’s heavy emphasis on personal freedom. The party has made the reduction of government surveillance a centerpiece of their campaigning and legislation proposals. Though polls prove the Libertarian’s policy positions to be extremely popular among the American people, the party’s appeal remains rather limited as the majority of their intended base typically vote for the Republicans, who are seen as less fringe and unrealistic. The Libertarians hold 7 House seats and 4 Senate seats in Alaska (1), North Dakota (1), South Dakota (1), and Wyoming (1).
Leader: Rand Paul (KY)
Senate Leader: None.
House Leader: Gary Johnson (NM)
One of America’s two major political parties, the Republican party (sometimes called the GOP) is center-right, supporting robust, deregulated capitalism and holding broadly conservative social positions. Often referred to as the party of elites and big business, the Republicans are generally wary of government expansion, though not nearly to the extent of the Libertarians. They also support restrictions on immigration and gun rights, though not to the extent of the Patriot Party. Finally, they are broadly conservative on social issues, although many members retain a more moderate stance on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, much to the horror of the socially conservative Christian party. The Republicans are most popular in suburban and exurban areas, where voters often appreciate the party’s brand of moderate conservatism. The party typically clashes with the New Americans or even the Democrats for control of America’s suburbs. While once extremely popular in America’s most rural regions, the Republicans have since lost much of this ground to the Patriot party, whose populist appeal is more potent in rural America. Nonetheless, Republicans remain extremely successful in much of rural America as well as in smaller cities. The party holds 100 seats in the House and 22 seats in the Senate, both second to the Democrats.
Leader: John Kasich (OH)
Senate Leader: Mitch McConnell (KY)
House Leader: Kevin McCarthy (CA)
One of America’s two major political parties, the Democratic party is center-left, supporting modern liberalism and a mixed, capitalist-based economy. They do not support the sweeping welfare policies of the Progressives (which they consider too radical), instead preferring more incremental versions of such social programs, like a public option for healthcare in lieu of Medicare for All. Democrats paint themselves as friendly towards organized labor, but the party is not overly antagonistic towards big business, a balance that many critics consider pointless. Socially, the Democrats are left of center, supporting the right to abortion and arguing for a strict gun control policy. The Democrats’ coalition is chiefly made up of racial minorities, especially African-American and Hispanic voters, the former group voting for Democrats by over 65% nationwide. Democrats also rely on left-leaning middle and upper-class suburbanites who typically consider the Progressives too radical. The Democrats run candidates in most districts each election cycle, where they often face significant opposition. They must battle the Republicans and New Americans in moderate suburban areas, the Progressives in left-wing urban areas, and the Patriots in certain rural areas where white, working-class voters sometimes bounce between the two parties. The Democrats hold 156 House seats and 40 Senate seats, both by far the most of any single party.
Leader: Joseph Biden (DE)
Senate Leader: Chuck Schumer (NY)
House Leader: Steny Hoyer (MD)