With the storm of the midterm elections in their rear-view mirror, a coalition of influential opinion-formers is preparing to launch a third political party in the US next month that will eschew the partisan extremes of right and left and seek consensus in the moderate middle of American politics.
The unveiling in New York City on 13 December of the "No Label" Party will be seen widely as an almost inevitable response to the ever deepening gulf between the conservative Tea Party movement on the one hand and determinedly liberal groups like MoveOn.org backing Barack Obama on the other.
It will also derive some credibility, its backers hope, from the outcome of the midterms, which saw moderates of both parties driven out of office in many parts of the country leaving a US Congress that is arguably more polarised ideologically than ever before.
The driving forces of the new party are Mark McKinnon, a moderate Republican and former campaign adviser to John McCain and George Bush, and Nancy Jacobson, a Democratic fundraiser. Others giving their support include close advisers to Michael Bloomberg, the New York Mayor and independent, who has been invited to the inaugural event. It's not clear if he will attend. "There's nobody that gets rewarded for bipartisan behaviour," Mr McKinnon noted earlier this month. "In fact they get punished... American voters are so hungry for more voice, and more choice."
The history of third-party bids for the White House is not a happy one. Ross Perot launched the most credible run in 1992 yet still only got 27 per cent of the vote. The Bloomberg name seemingly bubbles forth with each presidential cycle, and he has said in the wake of the 2008 race that he remains uninterested in a White House bid.
But the birth of the No Label Party will be sure to reignite speculation about the Mayor. Backers of No Label will be gambling that if by the end of next year the 2012 contest is coming down to candidates identified with the extreme ends of their party – should Sarah Palin be the Republican nominee – the space for a third candidate may be too inviting for Mr Bloomberg to resist.Reuse content