Facebook Twitter

Mitt Romney’s moment to start a new political party is now

Moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats can help secure our democracy by creating a new party.

SHARE Mitt Romney’s moment to start a new political party is now

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, questions Homeland Security Secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Bill Clark, pool via Associated Press

Despite a disastrous end to president Donald Trump’s presidency, the GOP is unlikely to abandon Trumpism as ideology and electoral strategy. There still is a demand for populist nationalism in America. The nature of having majority-based voting districts means that representatives in the House are held accountable by the primary voters of their party, thus ceding governance to the tyranny of the minority. Many Republicans would be vulnerable in a primary election had they decided to vote to impeach Trump.

In addition, the Democratic Party will likely continue its move to the left. The America of the future will be a lonely place for moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats, fiscal conservatives and millions of other Republican voters who reject populist nationalism.

Prescriptively speaking, the best way to take power away from the tyranny of Republican primary voters and to give it back to the silent majority of American voters is the creation of a new center-right political party. A center-right party in America would be fiscally conservative, socially moderate and support the rule of law and democratic norms. Mitt Romney can help establish it.

To be successful, a center-right party will need critical mass, momentum and leadership. Mitt Romney could provide the leadership and help recruit those needed for critical mass (like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins). The new party would need support at every level of government, as well as momentum and electoral victories in 2022. Three-way races would turn the majority of districts into swing districts. As Sen. Murkowski’s 2010 reelection campaign already proved, third party candidates can be victorious in a three-way race. A center-right party would likely be successful in gubernatorial races in New England, senate races in Western states and the Sun Belt, and house races in the suburbs across America.

There would be many opportunities for electoral victories, but Utah could be one stronghold. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman could potentially beat Mike Lee in a three-way contested election for the Senate. Evan McMullin, the 2016 independent presidential candidate, would be able to win a congressional seat in a three-way race. 

Despite the fact that a new center-right party would be getting a majority of its votes from conservative voters, Democrats would not benefit enough to ensure majority rule. They would lose their new suburban voters who were voting against Trump rather than for Biden. The Democratic Party also faces a significant built-in disadvantage at the House and Senate levels. Despite demographic trends, Democrats continue to underestimate the conservative-leaning nature of American society.

A new center-right party would be large enough to prevent both the Republican and Democratic parties from having a majority in the Senate and House. The new party would be putting themselves in the position to be kingmakers. A center-right party would caucus with the party that was willing to make the most concessions. It would be coalition rule in America.

In an ideal world, moderates would simply stay in the two catch-all parties and fight to keep the parties away from destructive tendencies and extremist views. This strategy has failed time and time again. In wave elections, it is the moderates who are voted out of office, leaving the extreme representatives in power and unchecked. Creating a new party and introducing a viable third candidate in races across America would provide the mechanism to reduce the influence of extremist voices in American politics. 

America does not need to be held hostage by the tyranny of the minority. The dynamics of introducing a third party would also decrease the toxic partisanship that now plagues the country. The current crisis is an opportunity that Mitt Romney and other moderates should take advantage of. America’s democracy is more vulnerable than ever. Moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats can help secure our democracy by creating a new party.  

Matthew Crandall is an associate professor of international relations at Tallinn University in Estonia. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University.