Over the past few weeks, as I’ve encouraged voters across the political spectrum to support Jaime Herrera Beutler for Congress, I’ve heard from some folks who strongly disagree with that idea.
This column is for them, or for anyone who doesn’t quite feel at home in either of the two major parties.
Fortunately, there is a candidate running for Congress in the 3rd District who is strongly pro-life, pro-small business and pro-old fashioned community values.
The candidate is Oliver Black, and he represents a new political party that I think would fit well with the beliefs of many Lewis County voters: the American Solidarity Party.
“I want to give people an option that they can feel comfortable with and happy about later and not have regret later that they voted for someone they didn’t quite align with,” Black said.
Black, 32, is a father and a high school history and civics teacher at a private school in Longview.
I asked Black how he would describe his candidacy and the American Solidarity Party.
“It’s pro-life for whole life and encouraging worker ownership,” he said.
Pro-life for whole life means opposing abortion and euthanasia, but also opposing the death penalty.
It also means strong and meaningful support for families once children are born, so that only one parent has to work and the other can stay home with their children.
“That includes maternity and paternity leave,” Black said. “That includes ensuring access to healthy food choices. That includes making sure that families have access to affordable housing and supporting life — not just from conception to birth — but conception to natural death.”
He supports small business and encouraging systems that help larger businesses voluntarily bring workers into ownership through worker cooperative or employee ownership models (popular grocery chain Winco is employee-owned, for example).
As part of its pro-worker focus, Black supports labor unions in their work to advocate for how employees are treated and compensated.
Overall, Black and the ASP want widespread ownership — that means people being able to afford and own their own homes and businesses being oriented in a way that employees can become owners.
The ASP supports local control whenever possible. Some things have to be done at the national level, but government is better when done at the smallest, most local level possible, Black said.
“Education is a really good example of something that is best accomplished by local school boards or even, I would say, local schools,” Black said.
The ASP is also focused on the environment, which he believes is a good fit for Lewis County and southwest Washington, where so much of the economy is based on a well-functioning natural environment.
As a third party, ASP is also pushing for election reform. Black supports ranked choice voting, which allows people in primaries to pick the top candidates they like, rather than being forced strategically to vote only for the candidate they might not actually prefer, but that they think has the best chance of winning.
“Ranked choice voting allows you to vote for who you really want to win, rather than playing the game of voting against who you really don’t want to win,” Black said. “f you’re looking at this vote and feeling hopeless about the current situation that we have, third parties are the way forward.”
What about people who worry about “throwing their vote away” by voting for a third party?
Black said he understands that concern, but he notes that the Republican Party started out as a third party, too. Until Abraham Lincoln, it had never won a presidency.
“When we think about who the greatest president we ever had was, it was a third party candidate,” Black said. “Since then we’ve not learned that lesson and we keep voting these same two parties again and again.”
You can read about Black at www.blackforwa3.com and learn more about the ASP platform ( it’s worth a read) at www.solidarity-party.org. There’s also information there about how to get involved at the local level in building up a party that provides a real alternative for people who are pro-family, pro-small business, pro-worker and unhappy with the options of the big two parties.
Brian Mittge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.