Forwardists Break New Ground In The Keystone State
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Pennsylvania Forwardists announce that two state senators become Forward Party Affiliates. Union ForwardRead More
The Forward Party expanded its coalition this week with the announcement that Pennsylvania state senators Lisa Boscola and Anthony H. Williams will become Forward Party Affiliates.
As Affiliates, Boscola and Williams will remain registered with their current party (Democratic) while aligning with and advocating Forwardist goals and principles.
The announcement lends momentum and credibility to the new party that welcomed four Arizona state representatives as Forward Affiliates just three months ago and is in talks to welcome many more.
Forwardists hope that their newfound momentum will translate into their coalition becoming the first viable new political party to enter U.S. politics since the 1850s.
New Affiliates Announced
Forward Party founder and co-chair Andrew Yang, CEO Lindsey Williams Drath, Pennsylvania Forward Party State Chair Christian Fyke, and several Forwardists from across the state traveled to Harrisburg to welcome the new Affiliates and witness the party’s milestone.
During the announcement, Andrew Yang portrayed Boscola’s experience as an example of the frustration that elected Democrats and Republicans across the country feel with the legacy two-party system:
“I talked to [Senator Boscola], and she spoke about how she has been the same person, but, unfortunately, the politics have gotten nastier and more divisive.
We know that it’s more and more difficult if you have a D or an R on your jersey to be able to reach across the aisle. …
Most Pennsylvanians don’t even think about their community as having an aisle. They think about their friends, their neighbors, the people that their kids are being entrusted to every day when they get dropped off at school.” — Andrew Yang
The stage of Forwardists and Democrats was spontaneously joined by two Republican state representatives, Marla Brown and Valerie Gaydos, just before the announcement began.
Christian Fyke said that Brown and Gaydos were “living Forward already” and welcomed their spontaneous appearance.
Fyke invited any Pennsylvania lawmakers who align with Forwardist principles to join Boscola and Williams in becoming Affiliates, and he is confident that Pennsylvania Forwardists will have more announcements in the “near future.”
Senators Boscola and Williams embody the kind of politics that Forwardists aim to incentivize by adopting electoral reforms including ranked choice voting, nonpartisan primaries, and independent redistricting commissions.
Senator Boscola has long been a leading proponent of removing partisan politics from the redistricting process. In 2017, she introduced legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution and establish an independent redistricting commission.
She was also the primary sponsor of Act 77 of 2019 which, among other things, eliminated straight party voting and established a no-excuse mail-in voting option for all Pennsylvania voters.
A Pennsylvania court struck down the law in January of 2022, but Act 77 was ultimately upheld by the state Supreme Court in August of 2022.
During her announcement that she would become a Forward Affiliate, Boscola stressed that she will remain a Democrat, but that her constituents cared much more about what she had done for them than they cared about her party affiliation.
As a prominent supporter of independent redistricting commissions, Boscola has already spent years fighting for the structural changes that Forwardists consider to be vital to the restoration of American democracy.
She is known to challenge Democratic leadership in the state, including during the pandemic, when she questioned the decision to shut down businesses across the state.
Senator Boscola is also a strong proponent of eliminating all local school property taxes and has introduced legislation in every session to freeze property taxes on senior citizens.
Several days ago, a bill led by Boscola was approved by the Pennsylvania State Senate to protect bald and golden eagles by increasing the state fine for killing one from $200 to $2,000. The bill will now head to the Pennsylvania House for consideration.
Senator Anthony Williams has brought an array of innovative solutions to Pennsylvanians.
Chief among them is his sponsorship of Clean Slate PA, an initiative which automated the process of clearing criminal records in order to overcome a tremendous gap between the number of people who were eligible to have their records cleared and the number who actually had them cleared.
More than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians have benefited from Clean Slate PA, and more than 40 million cases have been cleared.
Clean Slate PA is an example of the benefits which automation can offer if our lawmakers know how to take advantage of them, and Senator Williams appears to be a lawmaker who does.
Williams served as a state representative from 1989 to 1998 before becoming a state senator. Before entering politics, he worked at PepsiCo and launched his own small business. His life was struck with tragedy, however, in the 1985 MOVE bombing.
He witnessed part of his childhood neighborhood destroyed, and in the years that followed, he became acutely aware of a sense of fear and hopelessness beginning to take root in the communities he knew and loved.
Williams dove into state politics in an attempt to reverse the growing despair and help chart a new path for his community.
As a state senator, he has pushed to expand school choice, charter schools, and access to trade jobs. Williams joins Boscola in advocating for property tax reform that eases tax burdens on seniors and working class families.
Both state senators were welcomed by Pennsylvania Forwardists as examples of the kinds of lawmakers that the new party hopes to empower. Forwardists take issue with our modern electoral and political institutions, but broadly believe that most lawmakers want to do the right things; they are just trapped within a corrupted system.
Christian Fyke noted during a Twitter Space following the announcement that Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro expressed his support for the Forward Party’s goals and principles after Fyke reassured him that Forwardists do not intend to become an enemy to Democrats or to anyone else.
Forwardists hope that they can advance their priorities and goals in 2023 and 2024 in part by inviting elected Democrats and Republicans with open arms to become Affiliates without abandoning their current parties.
The Future of the Forward Party
An element of Forwardists’ goal in welcoming Affiliates to the coalition is to rid American politics of the notion that members of different parties are natural opponents.
Lawmakers do not need to agree on economic policy to cooperate on a bill for independent redistricting commissions. They do not need to agree on climate policy to cooperate on a bill for nonpartisan primaries.
Forward Affiliates hope to chart a path for the rest of the country towards transcending the childish partisan divisions that dominate our politics today.
Boscola and Williams join four Arizona state representatives—Alma Hernandez, Consuelo Hernandez, Lydia Hernandez and Keith Seaman—who became Forward Affiliates in March.
The first and—so far—only elected official to become a registered Forwardist is Mayor Jordan Marlowe of Newberry, Florida, who switched his party registration from Libertarian to Forward in May.
The success of the Forward Party movement in rejuvenating American democracy through cooperation and electoral reform remains to be seen. This week’s announcement follows a series of announcements, however, which suggest that momentum is slowly building in a handful of states.
Forwardists often remark that most Americans are already on board for what they are attempting to build, and the biggest barrier is convincing people that a new party can actually work.
Instead of jumping into high-profile national politics, Forwardists are attempting to build a foundation of support at the local and state levels that can develop over time into a national coalition.
The strategy will take time, but it is already bearing fruit.
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