Getting the Party Off the Ground
The party will start at the state level, but not in South Carolina alone. Petition drives are also underway in Michigan, Texas and Alabama, and Rex says he's received inquiries from a few other states in the past week, too. "We're hoping for a national party, but you can't start at the top and work down," Rex says. "The grassroots approach is a better place to start."
Following petition completion, the next step will be selecting proper candidates. The party website describes the candidates it will seek as "experienced public servants."
"Ideally," Rex says, "what we're looking for are people
who are motivated by serving the public good, not politics. People who've been
doing that in their communities--people who've given back."
Rex believes there are many people who have such qualifications, but that they avoid running for office because they fear the personal and professional damage that would come from being identified with narrow partisan positions. However, by running on a platform supported by the American Party, moderate candidates committed to serving the public good could reach the moderate majority of voters and avoid the repercussions of extreme partisanship.
Rex believes that this freedom from partisan restrictions would attract "quite a few" good candidates to the American Party. However, he says, "We'll focus on the quality of the candidates, not the number."
Another factor that could be helpful to the new American Party is the so-called "fusion
option." This is a voting procedure, still on the table, in which candidates appear on the ballot multiple times and can be endorsed by more than one party.
Where the "fusion option" is used, qualified Republican and Democratic candidates who pursue moderate platforms, but who lose primaries due to ideological polarization in their
parties, could have recourse to the American Party as a second option. "If we didn't
officially adjourn following our convention [which would take place prior to
major party primary elections], we could still consider endorsing them [i.e. the primary-losing Republican or Democratic candidates]," Rex
assumes. That would give those candidates a second option to get their names on the general-election ballot.
The New "American Party" Should Not Be Confused with the Old One
The new American Party should not be confused with any others that have used the same or similar names in U.S. political history--especially not the last one.
The "American Party" of 1969 to 2011 promoted far-right positions on immigration, Social Security, ethnic diversity and affirmative action, and its Florida chapter was criticized for promoting the racist-leaning "nativism" of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1998. The old American Party even nominated segregationists George Wallace and John Schmitz as its presidential candidates.
The new American Party doesn't hold such beliefs, Rex says. In fact, supporters of the party adopted the name precisely because they believe it best represents their commitment to a national, non-partisan pursuit of the common good.
The new party's petition drive continues at various events in South Carolina, where, Rex says, about 80 percent of the people approached are signing on. The party's leaders
hope to have candidates for the 2014 election cycle.