Donald Trump still commands strong loyalty among Republicans. Photo: AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

The precipitous decline of the once-invincible United States of America from every standpoint – political, economic, social, cultural and educational – is threatening not only the future of the country itself, but of all Western civilization.  

The political system of the US is in thrall to the Trumpist extreme right on the Republican side and to the “progressive” extreme left on the Democratic side. One result of this situation is that the large moderate middle of the electorate is in essence without anything approaching adequate representation.

The last time there was such a political impasse was in the run-up to the American Civil War in the middle of the 19th century. In the early 1850s the two-party system consisted of a Democratic Party controlled by its southern wing of slave-holding states and an exhausted Whig Party that no longer had any significant programs or policies.  

The result of this impasse was the creation of a third party, dedicated to preventing the spread of slavery to the western territories of the United States. This new party, the Republicans, nominated Mexican War hero John C Fremont as its candidate in the presidential election of 1856. 

The Democrats nominated the colorless James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, minimally acceptable to both the northern and southern wings of the party (and who bears an uncanny resemblance to the current president, Joe Biden) and the Whigs nominated former president Millard Fillmore as their candidate.  

Although Buchanan won, the Republicans did remarkably well for a new party and the Whigs in essence disappeared from the political map. By 1860, Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won a four-candidate race and the brand-new Republican Party dominated American politics from that time until the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. During that entire period the Democrats occupied the White House for only 16 years.

It is now time for a new third party, to mobilize the centrist voters of the US. If such a party were to be formed, it would almost certainly obtain at least a plurality of the presidential vote in 2024. 

The nucleus of such a party exists in the Congress now, namely the two maverick Democrat senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, along with the two maverick Republican representatives, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. 

If these four members of Congress were to leave their respective parties (after all, their parties have already abandoned them) and form a new caucus in both houses, that would act as the nucleus of a new third party.

Will they or others step up to the challenge? I don’t know. What I do know is that some responsible adults in both existing parties had better do so before it is too late.

Norman A Bailey is the author of numerous books and articles and recipient of several honorary degrees, medals and awards and two orders of knighthood. He also teaches economic statecraft at The Institute of World Politics and has experience on the staff of the National Security Council at the White House, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and in business, consulting and finance. He is professor emeritus in the National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and a columnist for Globes, the Israeli business and financial newspaper.