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Toward a Viable Progressive Third Party in 2020 and Beyond1

Sociological Forum

Published online on


["\nCreating a strong, influential third party has been an abiding aspiration on the American left, and were this goal to be achieved, it could be a great boon to subordinate groups in the United States. Yet widespread doubts persist, even among progressives that this is desirable, and especially that it is possible. Here, I briefly review compelling reasons for thinking otherwise; I then consider in some depth the potential for starting to build a viable left third party leading up to and after the pivotal 2020 election. In doing so, I go beyond the existing literature on third parties, which has yet to reflect systematically on progressive third party prospects in this period. Specifically, I assess how the emerging political environment may shape left third‐party building, and I evaluate ongoing and developing attempts by key groups engaged in that effort. I find a distinct tension between conditions encouraging progressives to reform versus abandon the Democratic Party, and I identify one alternative party‐building tendency that seems most able to exploit the latter impulse due to its already established electoral viability. Last, I highlight relevant questions that remain for activists hoping to create an effective national left third party.\n", "Sociological Forum, Volume 35, Issue S1, Page 974-995, September 2020. "]