A Courage, Conscience and Character Party

by Bob Schwartz

I have long said that a third (or fourth) party can’t work in America because of political structure, tradition and history. I may have been wrong.

America has a two-party system, one of the many ways we are “exceptional” compared to the rest of the democratic world, which mostly has some form of a multi-party parliamentary system. As much as our system more or less works, it is now apparent that it works only when it is filled, top to bottom, with people of courage, conscience and character. We know this because for the first time in more than two centuries, courage, conscience and character are in short supply, or at least buried under ambition, greed and who knows what other issues.

And so, I introduce a new kind of third party. The Courage, Conscience and Character Party (aka the People of Principle Party).

There is no policy or ideology litmus test for this party. Of course policy and ideology matter, sometimes a lot, in the particular way things get done. But I now see that in the big picture, these are secondary. Whether one is progressive, conservative, or in between, none of that matters if you are not driven by brave decency. Even if the policy or ideology is not to our liking, or completely anathema, we can at least be inspired by those who publicly demonstrate the qualities of courage, conscience and character.

It is true that wherever you stand politically there are preferred policies that appeal to you and for which you will fight. But it is just as important to be able to point to people—be able to point out those people to our children—and say: Their plans may be wrongheaded and ill-conceived, but I don’t question their honesty, sincerity, decency, empathy, courage, conscience or character. We seem to be taking a break from that possibility, and if it takes another party to get us there, we will be a better country and better people for it.