A Look at A Declaration of Independents by Greg Orman
Before reading his book, I was somewhat familiar with Greg Orman. I had been impressed with his 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. When the Democrat dropped out of the race, I remember thinking he had a real chance of winning. For independents, such opportunities are few and far between, especially at that level. Of course, I was aware that Pat Roberts ultimately retained the seat, but it was great getting a behind the scenes look at what transpired during the campaign. Beyond that, it was refreshing to read such a detailed narrative of what it means to be an independent.
I am a lifelong independent, but as Greg points out in his book, most Americans are preoccupied with making a living and don’t have a lot of time to think about politics. For most of my adult life, I was content to vote for the perceived lesser of two evils. Rather than worry about the government’s impact on my life, I was focused on strategies necessary to adapt. However, that is not to say, as Greg suggests, I was not insulted by the behavior of politicians on both sides of the aisle.
When politicians are more concerned with getting reelected than solving problems that affect the daily lives of their constituents, something is terribly wrong. What’s wrong is meticulously detailed in Greg’s book and, absent our propensity to support unwarranted wars, it reflects a “manifesto” I once published years ago on a personal website. At that time, I was afraid I was alone in my way of thinking, and it is exciting to see a candidate for governor espousing true independence.
Having been a casual observer of politics before retiring in early 2012, I had a rude awakening once I began to delve into what passed as political discourse on the internet, first in the comments section on my local newspaper, and then on Facebook. I came to the conclusion early on that those active on various sites were doing nothing more than parroting talking points gleaned from media sources and calling each other names. It reminded me of trash talk between sports rivals only far more rancorous. Both sides rejected objective criticism, and no one appeared open to participating in rational debate. The “Frankenstein media” was alive and well, and with the recent revelations about Russian meddling in our last election, I am even more concerned about its negative effects. It didn’t take me long to adopt the mantra, “We have the government we deserve”, and I was frustrated by a feeling of being unable to have an impact. That frustration caused me to seek other ways to engage. I sought out other independents.
Since being affiliated with Independent Voting for over five years, my hopes for positive change have risen considerably.
Although the problems detailed in Greg’s book still exist, and in many cases are worsening, more people are claiming independence from the duopoly. Although the Freedom Caucus still gets more attention than the No Labels Problem Solvers Caucus, independents and reformers are networking and agreeing on needed structural changes. Although 80-90% of incumbents are still returned to office, discontent is finding a new voice in the independent movement. Although the rules of the game remain rigged in favor of the corrupt duopoly, an increased number of vibrant challenges are chipping away at the wall of obstruction. Although Democrats and Republicans still dominate, the persistence of people like Greg, renews our faith that change is not only possible, but that we may be on the cusp of a major upheaval in the political process.
Steve Hough is a lifelong independent and became an activist for political reform after retiring as an accountant. He is the director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries.
POLITICS for the PEOPLE
CONFERENCE CALL with GREG ORMAN
A Declaration of Independents
How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream