Long prominent national political consultant, Douglas E. Schoen makes the case of voting independent in his book Declaring Independence (Random House 2008).
A 2006 survey revealed that two thirds of Americans consider themselves “dissatisfied with the way things are going in the US. With the current economic and financial crisis, one can only assume that number had greatly increased.
In recent polls, 60 to 80 percent of registered voters say they want an independent presidential candidate.
Independent voters now constitute the largest segment of the American electorate.
Schoen uses historical data to show how the major third party candidates in the twentieth century (Teddy Roosevelt, George Wallace, John Anderson and Ross Perot) though they did not win, had a major impact on policy.
With convincing facts Schoen demonstrated how the American public is fed up with party politics and interested in politicians who get things done for the good of the public and not for the bought party machine. He uses as examples the Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger in a predominantly Democrat state, Ted Strickland of Ohio, a Democrat governor in a largely Republican state, and Michael Bloomberg of New York city who changed his party affiliation to get elected.
The system is rigged against Independents or third party candidates and Schoen shows this sad fact. It is rigged by the Republicans and Democrats in conjunction with the media.
What Schoen illustrates is how the new paradigm of the internet is changing the political spectrum, and giving the independents a chance to really institute change.
Most people aren’t aware of how the Democrats systematically blocked Ralph Nader from getting on the ballot in many states in the 2004 for election through court challenges. And yet they manage to call themselves Democrats!
Declaring Independence presents many arguments for voting third party. The book concludes with the following three paragraphs:
A recent Battleground Poll made clear the focus of the American people. By two to one, Americans prefer politicians who are committed to find “practicable, workable solutions” versus ones who are defined by the strength of their “values and convictions.”
Americans see threats from a broad and diminished expectations at home. They believe their children’s future will be less bright than their own. Above all, they are not interested in confrontation and polarization. They are more focused on solutions. A third-party or independent candidate can drive that message home. He or she can run a campaign that focuses on ending corruption in Washington, crafting bipartisan solutions to the great challenges facing our nation, and strengthening the country’s international position. An effective third-party candidacy can generate important debates on these questions–as third parties have done in America for nearly two centuries.
Of course, there is and always has been an alternative. The two-parties can wake up to this reality and respond to it themselves. The choice and the solution are in their hands. What they decide will go a long way toward determining the nation’s political future. The ball is in their court.
Schoen’s book focuses too much on national politics and not on state and local politics. The book does focus on Jesse Ventura, the Independent governor of Minnesota. It does not, however, show how independent movements throughout the country can be brought together on a national level to bring a new focus to the country.
The case can be made, though it is not made by Schoen that one Independent candidate in a major race can change the face of American politics. It should be noted that Independent candidate in 2008 is Cindy Sheehan challenging Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco’s Congressional seat.