While voters may say that we need a moderate third party, they refuse to offer financial support or volunteer for a centrist third party. And they won’t vote for third party candidates when there is a Republican and a Democrat on the ballot for fear of electing their least favorite candidate
Without a financial base, a volunteer base, or voters, it’s hard to imaging a third party gaining a permanent foothold in Oregon politics.
The alternative for moderate or eclectic independent voters could be to join the weaker of the two major parties and assert their influence in geographic areas where the weaker major party can’t compete. This is purely a strategic, not an ideological decision. It doesn’t matter which party you join, it just has to be “the opposition” party in your community.
Right of center and left of center moderate independent voters could join the Republican Party in Multnomah and Washington counties and the Democratic Party in Douglas and Curry Counties. These independent Democrats/Republicans could then support moderate candidates that aren’t beholden to a strict party platform but instead would represent the moderate and independent opposition to the far left or far right candidates put up by the dominant major party.
In Multnomah County an Independent Republican candidate would be liberal on social issues and moderate on fiscal issues. They may support police efforts to battle the out of control protest industry and still back police oversight commissions. They would definitely support LBGTQ rights and the right to choose, but may oppose rent control.
In Curry County an Independent Democratic candidate would support private labor unions and PERS reforms. They may support choice, with limitations on late term abortion. They could support school vouchers at the same time they supported corporate tax reform dedicated to reduced class size and longer school years.
Hacking the Oregon political system may mean not taking the two major party special interests head on. It may mean using the rules they set up to protect their interests.
Trump ran as a Republican and Sanders ran as a Democrat not because they were party loyalists – in fact populist candidates are rarely party loyalists – but because they understood how to use the rules that the Democratic and Republican insiders and power brokers wrote, to their advantage.