Remember the New York socialite who couldn’t believe Richard Nixon won the presidential election? “How could he have won?” she asked, “I don’t know anybody who voted for him!”
Come November 9, many Americans might say the same about whoever wins. If so, it would indicate the dissatisfaction they feel about the presidential choices this time around.
Because of widespread discontent and outright dislike of both candidates, there has been more talk than usual about third party options. While a third party candidate will most certainly not win the White House, history shows that new political parties do rise to power, and sometimes their ascendancy is sudden and stellar.
Catholics are among the most disaffected American voters. Moderate Catholics will turn up their nose at Donald Trump’s jingoism, but they’ll also be uneasy with Hillary Clinton’s trail of what seem to be dodgy dealings and backroom deals with big bankers.
Meanwhile, conservative Catholics will squirm at Trump’s casinos, strip clubs and questionable morals, while despising Clinton’s pro-abortion, pro-gay agenda.
Catholic social teaching is famously “conservative” on moral and family matters while “liberal” on financial and social issues. Is there a party that bases its platform on the foundation of Catholic social teaching?
There is. It’s called the American Solidarity Party.
I tracked down and spoke to their presidential candidate, Mike Maturen.
Longenecker: How would you describe the American Solidarity Party on Twitter? You have 140 characters.
Maturen: ASP is based on Catholic Social Teaching. We’re Pro-Life for the whole of life, and support those less fortunate. We are a centrist party.
Are you a Catholic?
One hundred percent yes! I’m a convert and, like yourself, a former Anglican clergyman.
What does your résumé look like?
Long. I have been in professional sales for nearly 30 years. In addition, I have been a professional magician for 42 years, and a Catholic author and speaker.
Have people mocked you because you’re running for president?
Many of my friends think it is amusing. However, an increasing number are taking it seriously. I get emails and Facebook messages every day asking how to vote for me in November. People like what the party stands for.
Even though they know the deck is stacked against third parties, they believe that a vote for me can make a statement, and help us get noticed so that we can further our policy ideas and grow the party in the future.
What’s the inspiration and historical context for ASP?
The party is based on the Christian Democracy movement of Europe. Our platform is based on Catholic social teaching.
Much of our fiscal policy is derived from the writings of GK Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. To be clear, we are not a Catholic party, per se…we have many members outside of the Catholic tradition, and outside of Christianity altogether.
However, the ASP is definitely a party in which faithful Catholics can feel comfortable. If they are unhappy with the two mainstream candidates and platforms, they can vote for the ASP with a clear conscience.
Not a donkey, not an elephant, but a pelican. What’s with the pelican?
The pelican is our mascot, and it opens lots of conversations The pelican is an ancient Christian symbol that stands for charity and self-sacrifice. So, the pelican is the perfect symbol for our party, and, frankly, for the underlying principles of Catholic social teaching.
Is ASP conservative or liberal?
The ASP is a centrist party. Conservatives love our pro-life stance, and moderates/liberals like our fiscal ideas. Unfortunately, both major parties have veered to the extremes of left and right.
We use a bowling metaphor and contend that they are in the gutter while the ASP stays firmly on the alley…headed for the headpin!
How did you get to be nominated as the presidential candidate for ASP?
As a small, relatively new party, our convention was held online. I was originally nominated to be Vice President. Shortly thereafter, our presidential nominee was forced to step down due to work-related conflicts. I was then asked to step up. I chose Juan Munoz of Texas as my running mate.
What do you reply to those who say a vote for a third party is a wasted vote?
No vote is ever wasted if you are voting for a person or a concept that you support. Contrary to common belief, third party votes rarely swing an election for or against one of the major party candidates.
In the past three presidential elections, if you tallied up all the third party votes and gave them to the losing major party candidate, that person still would have lost…and lost significantly.
In 2004, John Kerry would still have lost by more than 1.5 million votes. John McCain would have lost by a whopping 7.5 million votes, while Mitt Romney would have still lost by over 2.7 million votes.
Is ASP growing? Is there a chance it could ever be a real contender on the national scene?
We are growing exponentially at the moment. Having a national ticket has helped us to get the needed publicity.
We are currently building state infrastructure and grassroots support. I believe in time, we will be a driving force on the national scene.
Will we ever win the presidency? Probably not under our current election laws. But as we gain prominence, we can make a difference working with elected officials to promote our ideas and policies.
Can voters choose ASP candidates at the local and state level?
We have chapters in many states, and are continuing to open them as we grow. Our state chairs are working hard at gaining ballot access.
Our main focus this year is simply on building infrastructure and getting noticed. Now that we have so many state chapters in place, we plan to have local and state level candidates on the ballots in the next two years.
Would proportional representation be a fairer system of voting? What is it?
The current method is heavily weighted toward a two-party system, and ballot access requirements make it next to impossible for a small third party to gain access.
I think proportional representation is more fair than our current winner-take-all system, which relies only on a candidate winning a plurality of the vote. We would like to see a system of proportional representation in the lower houses of federal, state, and local government, and a method of either approval voting or range voting for elections.
How can people join the ASP? What can they do to be more involved?
Folks can visit our website to learn more and join the party. After joining, they will receive access to our “members only” Facebook page.
We also have a public Facebook page that folks can visit, and participate in the discussion. All they have to do is ask to join the page, and they will be granted access. Our website is www.solidarity-party.org
We are always looking for people to help grow the party at the local level. Those who are active in social media can share our pages, articles and tweets. Of course, if anyone is interested in running for office at the local level, we will work to get them started!
How can people vote for you in November?
We are still working on ballot access. We will be on the ballot in a handful of states, and for the rest, where it is permitted voters can write in “Mike Maturen” for president and “Juan Munoz” for Vice President.