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Op-Ed: Why A Real Independent Candidate is Urgently Needed

Greg Orman & Patrick Caddell

June 5, 2016

Last weekend’s nomination of Gary Johnson as the Libertarian Party candidate for president and this week’s unveiling of writer David French as the potential “Never Trump” candidate have added fuel to the discussion of whether a credible independent candidate will emerge in this year’s presidential contest. If these are the only alternatives to the major party candidates, it will be a travesty for the American people.

While these events appear to bring to a close a storyline that’s been evolving for months – from Mitt Romney’s apparent attempts to manufacture a “real” conservative option to Jim VandeHei’s controversial but insightful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal to Donald Trump’s own clumsy effort to goad Bernie Sanders into running as an independent – they actually fall far short of what this moment in history demands. A genuine broad-based independent candidacy is not merely a wistful idea. It is an urgent national necessity.

There is a crisis of legitimacy threatening the 2016 election. As the primary process wraps up, it appears that the electorate will be offered the choice between two candidates who have the highest unfavorability ratings in the history of American presidential elections. With the middle class under siege from stagnant wages and rising costs of living, our entitlement programs on an unsustainable path, and systemic corruption infecting our politics, a majority of Americans are shaking their heads in disbelief that these are our only choices.

This crisis of legitimacy isn’t confined to the presidential election. Grassroots Americans are challenging the competence, legitimacy, and performance of its governing elite. Some three-fourths of the American people believe that the government in Washington no longer operates with the consent of the governed. There is no way that the current status quo establishment, which did not even perceive the gathering storm before it arrived, can reform, revive, and restore the country. As VandeHei wrote, “Only an outside force can knock Washington out of its governing rut – and the presidency is the only place with the power to do it.” 

Our political discourse at this critical juncture is being overwhelmed by a blind national media drowning the country with conventional wisdom. Which explains why VandeHei’s piece was met with such hostility. The heart of his message, which is hard to challenge, is that only a candidacy outside the duopoly will be able to be a positive disruptive force. To a great degree his statement reflects the stunning finding that two-thirds of Americans who see a battle not between Democrats and Republicans but between Mainstream American and the Political Ruling Elites.  

The vast majority of Americans desperately want this. In recent years, survey after survey has shown that a large majority believe this country’s future is in jeopardy. Indeed, two-thirds of American voters agree that the nation is in decline. Three-fifths (including an overwhelming majority of American millennials) believe our children... Continue Reading.

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