Former California congressman, state senator and state finance director Tom Campbell is building a new political party in the state. Campbell calls it the Common Sense Party, designed as a centrist party that would avoid extreme positions often adopted by the major political parties. Winston Churchill had a similar idea.

In Andrew Roberts best-selling biography of Winston Churchill, Walking with Destiny, Roberts writes about Churchill’s plan early in his political career to form a center party. “Along with the development of Churchill’s social thinking came an interest in the idea of a centre party in politics that would combine the best and most moderate elements of the Conservative and Liberal parties, both shorn of their extreme wings,” Roberts wrote. “This dream of a grand coalition of reasonable, liberal-minded centrist politicians ruling in virtual perpetuity was to stay with him until the early 1950s.” 

Campbell’s approach also is based on the idea that a party free of extreme political notions would help solve the state’s problems. The Common Sense Party is designed to encourage pragmatic problem-solving and fact-based decision-making in state and local governments.

In an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Campbell authored with former Independent state senator Quentin Kopp, the pair wrote that the Common Sense Party is “not a national party but an effort to restore California to the center.”

But the great statesman and national hero, Winston Churchill, could not pull off the feat in the United Kingdom. Why would the result be different for Campbell in California?

 “What makes a center party possible in our state that was not possible in Britain,” Campbell wrote in responding to my inquiry, “is the top-2 primary. Britain uses first-past-the-post, so the winner will almost always be one of the two major parties. In our state, however, a Common Sense Party nominee might make it to the finals–especially in one of the state senate races where many candidates of the two major parties are running. Then, the supporters of the candidate from the party who do not make it to the final, plus all the independents, can be expected to support the Common Sense Party candidate.”

Campbell justified the need for a centrist party based on reasonable solutions to the state’s problems. “Social media, the politicization of bipolar news outlets, the disappearance of a neutral press, have all acted to drive the two parties to their extremes. Success for the country (or the state) is opposed by the minority party because it might give credit to the majority party. This is a terrible state of affairs.” 

Can Campbell fulfill the dream once promoted unsuccessfully by Winston Churchill?

The Common Sense Party is picking up supporters but it has yet to achieve the status of a qualified political party to appear on California ballots. Campbell predicts he’ll have the signatures needed to field candidates by the 2022 election.