Wikinews interviews Mike Lebowitz, Chairman of the Modern Whig Party

Monday, October 13, 2008

In the United States, there are two major political parties; the Republican and the Democratic. However, there are several other minor - commonly referred to as "third" - parties. One of these is the Modern Whig Party, which has been steadily increasing in popularity over recent months.

Last week, Wikinews reporter Joseph Ford was able to speak with MWP Chairman Mike Lebowitz about how his party was formed, what it stands for, and why you should consider joining. The interview can be read below.


Wikinews (Joseph Ford): What does The Modern Whig Party stand for?

Chairman Lebowitz: The Modern Whig Party is unique in that it minimizes traditional ideology and instead stands for common sense solutions and rational thought. In fact, this grassroots movement is a non-fringe, mainstream effort designed to cater to those individuals who find themselves cherry-picking between traditional Republican ideals and also traditional Democratic ideals. The fact remains that most people agree with various aspects of both major parties, but one or two issues or reasons ultimately compels them to identify with a specific political party. The Modern Whig Party offers a home for these independent-minded individuals. The general platform of the Modern Whig Party relates to fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and bold social progression.

Joseph Ford: How old is your party? How many members does it currently have?

Chairman Lebowitz: The age of the party depends on how one views our organization. The "Whig" name has been associated with American history and tradition since the early 19th Century. The old Whig Party was mainstream and middle-of-the-road during its time. It are those general aspects of rational thinking and common sense that we adopt in terms of the old Whig Party. But at the same time, we do stress that we are the "Modern" Whig Party. We recognize that we live in a different time. In that regard, the Modern Whig Party basic infrastructure was organized in 2007, and ultimately went public in April 2008.
Currently, the Modern Whig Party has well over 10,000 members. We realize this is a modest number in the grand scheme of things, but considering how quickly we have inspired these members to sign on offers evidence that this movement has a chance to catch on and grow. The Modern Whig Party was originally founded by Iraq/Afghanistan veterans as a veterans' advocacy organization and our growth has occurred with minimal funding and can be regarded as a truly grassroots effort. It also is important to note that roughly 6,500 of these members are affiliated with the military. Our membership expanded so quickly based almost exclusively on word-of-mouth through the military ranks. Instead of trying to attract people to our Web site, we decided to come to them. What happened was that military members would send emails to their friends, who in turn would forward these emails to others. These emails described our movement and provided a means of merely contacting the national party, providing some basic information and ultimately becoming a member. Word of mouth among the military eventually caught the Pentagon's attention due to the fact that the military is supposed to be apolitical, and the Modern Whig Party was ultimately featured in the Military Times newspapers. We have since expanded with members coming from all walks of life -- military and non-military alike.

Joseph Ford: How does The Modern Whig Party differ from America's major political parties (Republican, Democratic, Constitution, Green, Libertarian)

Chairman Lebowitz: The Modern Whig Party differs from the other political parties because our members come from across the political spectrum. Our common sense approach has found a way to reconcile actual common ground among individuals from all political stripes. The Modern Whig Party strives to remain mainstream and practical. Unlike other parties, we don't expect our members to agree with everything, and in fact encourage them to remain independent minded. In a way, the Modern Whig Party is different in that it is designed to provide a palatable home to independents and those who want to be independent. Another element to look at is the diversity of our members. Our state leaders include retired Vietnam veterans, Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, attorneys, college students, a retired CEO, a prominent rock musician, a golf professional, teachers and many others.
What we have found is that even though someone is socially liberal, they also may be very conservative when it comes to other issues. Same for our conservative members. This goes back to our theory that most people find themselves cherry-picking between issues of both major parties, but ultimately end up on one side of the fence. In the end, we offer a realistic and mainstream home for those who want to pick and choose from various ideals and solutions from across the political spectrum.

Joseph Ford: Currently, are there any elected officials in the United States that are members of The Modern Whig Party?

Chairman Lebowitz: By design, we have held off on running or endorsing candidates this year. The established third parties are essentially marginalized because they consistently trot out candidates just to lose. Our goal is to avoid such traps as we attempt to build a mainstream and practical organization that in time will be strong and credible enough to actually be a force in politics and our communities.
Our plan from the beginning is to operate methodically and gradually. The Modern Whig Party leadership is comprised of people who are not deluded into thinking that we are somehow entitled to members. We also are not deluded into thinking that the majority of voters are ready to take that plunge and actually vote for a third party, let alone a group called the "Whigs." We understand the reality, and perhaps that is our biggest asset. As we grow, our name will slowly filter back into the mainstream mentality. Our longterm strategy is nuanced but includes initially running a few candidates who are members of the Modern Whig Party but will initially run on the Democratic and Republican tickets. The plan is to run a few candidates on state and local ballots in 2009 and then support three candidates for Congress in 2010. If our members can win a few during this time, while at the same time our membership ranks continue to rise, we will have accomplished a winning track record from which to really make our move. We believe that we need to be innovative in order to succeed as we know the odds are stacked against us. But nothing ever came out of doing nothing.

Joseph Ford: Today, more Americans than ever before are disgusted with the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties. Many of these people are looking into joining another party. Why should they consider The Modern Whig Party?

Chairman Lebowitz: We have found that many Americans are frustrated with the established political parties because these organizations have moved to such ideological extremes that these groups no longer truly represent the majority of Americans. This means that people tend to either fit somewhere in the middle or they find themselves picking and choosing their stance on issues from all points of the political spectrum. In this regard, I should point out that not all of our members would classify themselves as moderate or centrist. The Modern Whig Party has members who are conservative and we also have many members who are liberal. I think it is a testament to our organization that people from all over the political spectrum can find common ground under the Modern Whig movement.
To this end, the Modern Whig Party offers a political home that actually encourages independent thought while also adopting rational, mainstream and common-sense solutions that takes all points of view into account. Are we deluded into thinking that we will become a major political force overnight? No. But what we offer is the fastest growing political movement in the country with a realistic plan to succeed based on mainstream and common-sense ideals.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.