Third Way (U.S.)

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For more information, see: Third Way.

Established in 2005, the Third Way organization in the United States is a interest group of the moderate wing of the progressive movement, which describes itself as working with elected officials, candidates, and advocates to develop and advance the next generation of moderate policy ideas. [1]

In a broader context, "Third Way" attempts to redefine centrism for a post-industrial society, breaking some traditional left-right and capitalist-socialist assumptions. There are Third Way groups in several countries.

Among its projects is the Progressive Policy Institute think tank.


Its programs fall into four major categories: economics, national security, culture issues and clean energy.

The Economic Program

Third Way is designing a new economic agenda and narrative for the 21st century. Highlights include

  • Analyzing the American middle class and developing a new policy framework for addressing the challenges facing modern middle-class families
  • offering an agenda for Congress that would help stimulate the economy and rebuild the path to middle-class economic success and helping with the origin and launch of the House Middle Class Working Group and the White House Middle Class Working Task Force to champion those ideas
  • trade debate and issuing a major paper analyzing the causes of declining progressive support for trade and global economic engagement and offering insights into how it can be restored; analyzing the health care crisis through the lens of the middle class and offering proposals for reform that would benefit and resonate with the middle class
  • of the decline in public trust in government and the implications for progressive governance which offers the Obama administration and Congress a strategy to restore public trust.

The National Security Program

Its progressive approach to national security includes:

  • joining with another group on a study for the incoming Obama administration on handling the threat of terroris
  • issuing a report and hosting congressional briefings to raise the alarm about the strain on the U.S. Army that is the result of the war in Iraq and helping to spur a successful effort in Congress to increase the size of the Army
  • issuing a major new strategy on combating terrorism with Sen. Dick Durbin and others;
  • conducting public opinion research and devising framing guidance for Senate and House members and candidates to establish a new brand on national security and to counter conservative attacks
  • conducting a series of trainings for House Members, candidates and staff on national security issues.

The Culture Program

Third Way is developing new progressive approaches to U.S. cultural issues

  • releasing a set of common ground policy ideas with a group of centrist Evangelical leaders on issues like religion in the public square, abortion and gay equality
  • drafting a bill to shore up the gun purchase background check system
  • conducting original research on immigration that has formed the core of the progressive approach; and releasing (with a group of four governors) a study on crime highlighting four dangerous societal trends that could cause a major spike in crime and offering more than 100 specific policy solution recommendations for use by state and federal lawmakers.

The Third Way Clean Energy Initiative

In its energy initiative, it has

  • hosted major national energy forums with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, governors, business leaders and others;
  • conducted a major national poll and extensive qualitative research on the politics of clean energy; serving as one of the sole progressive groups championing the role of nuclear power in America’s clean energy future
  • analyzed the policy implications of a shift to a clean energy future.


It issued a draft paper on health care reform that offended many in the progressive movement, and raised claims of conflict of interest.[2]