More independent candidates needed
Anderson edited "Leveraging: A Political, Economic and Societal Framework" (Springer, 2014), has taught at five universities and ran for the Democratic nomination for a Maryland congressional seat in 2016.
There is something very healthy as well as very threatening about the increasing number of independent candidates for president, notably Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein. West and Stein are on the radical left-wing, and Kennedy is an eccentric centrist.
Our political system is so troubled that new perspectives are definitely needed. The problem is that too many independents running for president may well throw the entire presidential election into chaos and leave no one with 270 electoral votes. Regardless of your politics, it would not be good for the country if the 2024 presidential election gets decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, where a Republican would win since the Republicans will have the authority to make the choice.
What our country needs even more than independents running for president is independents running for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. Moreover, we need to transition from the hopeless goal of bipartisanship to the catalyzing goal of tripartisanship. Indeed, Washington politics needs a tripartisan revolution.
Charles Wheelan made the case in The Centrist Manifesto that five or six centrist Senators who were members of a centrist political party would have enormous leverage on Capitol Hill. He called his strategy the "Fulcrum Strategy." He is correct, but Third Parties paint a target on their back and are therefore always going to run dark horse candidates. Independents, on the other hand, whatever their ideology, can get elected one at a time if they are deft, thoughtful, and well-funded. Some can even get elected if they are not well-funded. The tripartisan ideal does not seek to impose a Third Party vision on the country, left-wing, right-wing or centrist. Rather, it seeks a creative synthesis of concepts and values taken from the Democrats, the Republicans, and a diverse group of independents.
The energy and diversity we are seeing at the level of presidential politics is encouraging but it is also misdirected. Theoretically, even if one of the independents won the race for the presidency there would still be major limitations on what he or she could accomplish -- certainly in domestic politics -- if the Congress remained almost entirely in the hands of the Democrats and the Republicans.
The ideal scenario over the next six to eight years is for about three more independents to be elected to the Senate (there are three now, Senators King, Sinema and Sanders), 10 to 15 independents to be elected to the House, and an independent to be elected to the presidency. These independents would also all rally around the ideal of tripartisanship. Their commitment to the tripartisanship ideal would compel the Democrats and Republicans to work with this third force in American politics to resolve our most pressing policy issues, including gun safety, entitlement reform, immigration, paid leave and child care, health care, the national debt, energy, and foreign policy. These independents, who would not represent the same ideological perspective, would nevertheless frequently vote together, maybe four out of six in the Senate, in order to help the majority party get to 60 votes on major policy bills in order to preserve their club, their leverage, and their chances of reelection.
To be sure, electoral reform is critically important for a tripartisanship revolution to come about, notably Open Primaries, ranked choice voting, and nonpartisan voting districts. There are without doubt structural factors that continue to impede the ability for independents to both run for office and vote in primary elections. At the same time, it is worth pointing out that doubling or tripling turnout in primaries -- from 20% to 40% or 60% -- would also diminish the power of the base in both major parties.
Talk of a Joe Manchin campaign for president has boomed now that he has declared that he will not run for reelection in 2024. Although he might be a candidate to run on a centrist No Labels ticket, he should also consider running as an independent who is motivated both by his centrist values and the tripartisan ideal.