South Carolina voters need a new political party that better represents what the majority of them want, say two men working to form the new American Party.
Former State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, a Democrat who also ran for governor, and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Oscar Lovelace, a rural doctor from Prosperity, need 10,000 signatures from registered voters to certify the new party. So far they have 2,000, they said; they hope to have candidates on the ballot in 2014.
The problem with the two dominant political parties is that neither one legislates or governs from the middle, said Rex, who served as state superintendent from 2007 to 2011 and is the last Democrat to hold a statewide office. So people have “general disgust and distrust” for the political process, he said.
According to the group’s literature, polls show the majority of voters want:
Placing the common good and problem solving above partisanship.
Ethical behavior, accountability and transparency.
A focus on solving the nation’s economic issues without the distraction of “single-issue” or divisive politics.
“This is what people say they want,” Rex said. “They are sick of career politics and career politicians.
“We need a disrupter.”
Lovelace said the plan is not just for another party, but for a different approach to politics. It’s based on “best practices and common-sense policy,” he said.
The hope is that the party will “offer voters a chance to vote for someone, not against someone,” Lovelace said, and that it will encourage people to have adult conversations.
The idea for the party began in South Carolina, Rex said, but people also are working on it in Alabama, Texas and Michigan.
He is not yet ready to name potential candidates, but said he thinks there are qualified, reasonable people who will run as American Party candidates. “There are a lot of people who wouldn’t want to run under the current system,” Rex said.
He knows that launching a new party will be difficult, but said there’s an outside chance that it will take off, and will be effective. That’s important, he said, because there is no inside chance that the reform efforts the party supports will happen under the current system.
“It’s a grand experiment,” Rex said.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.