American democracy is threatened by a Republican Party in thrall to Donald Trump’s Big Lie of a stolen election. With every new measure passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures to suppress votes and subvert the electoral process, the danger grows that 2020 will go down in history as the nation’s last free and fair election.

Never Trumpers, disaffected Republicans, and pro-democracy conservatives face an urgent choice among the only three realistic options for thwarting the accelerating drive toward autocracy: 

  1. Stay in the Republican Party and fight its anti-democratic forces from within;
  2. Form an independent, center-right third party; or
  3. Join and strengthen a moderate-to-conservative faction within the Democratic Party

At a time when control of Congress rests on the narrowest of margins, the center-right has the potential to become the pivotal force during this existential crisis in American democracy. Its actions in the runup to the 2022 and 2024 elections may determine the country’s future.

In June, the Niskanen Center hosted a webinar debate on the three paths forward for the center-right, featuring three accomplished thought-leaders and activists representing each position.


Kodiak Hill-Davis, Niskanen’s vice president for government affairs and co-founder of Republican Women for Progress, advocating the fight-from-within Republican strategy;

Lee Drutman, New America senior fellow and author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop, making the case for a third-party option; 

Liam Kerr, Massachusetts director of Democrats for Education Reform and co-founder of The Welcome Party, calling for the center-right to join forces with the center-left in a Democratic Party faction.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash