Unite America: Mark Cuban; Howard Schultz; Trevor Noah

An update from Unite America (Formerly called the Centrist Project) , a national non profit political reform organization.

Notable & Quotable. Every day, there seems to be another national voice leaving the parties or calling for fundamental change to our political system.

  • Mark Cuban (5/16): “The problem is that no member of a major party can drain the swamp. They are the swamp. We need to reduce the ballot hurdles, particularly for federal offices, so that we get more and better candidates from outside the 2 majors parties.”
  • Howard Schultz (6/5): “I think the issue that we are facing in terms of the dysfunction and polarization that exists within the government is really based on a systemic problem of ideology. And I think we need a very different view of how the government and how the country should be run.”
  • Trevor Noah (6/19): “To be honest with you, I think that [the two-party system] is one of the most destructive forces in America right now…It’s weird to me that America is a country where you have, like, 16 cereals but two political parties.”
  • Steve Schmidt (6/20): “29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.”

A Case in Point. The issue of immigration is one the clearest examples of the failure of today’s two-party system. As Unite America’s founder Charles Wheelan wrote back in February: “The tragedy here is not that the country is being torn apart by intractable ideological disagreements on immigration. It’s the opposite: that our two political parties are snatching political divisiveness from the jaws of consensus.”

  • How did we get here? Just how did we get to the point of such abject policy failure that children have been separated from their families, and to the point of such a coarsened political discourse that at least one Member of Congress has called for more Trump administration officials to be denied service and berated in public?
  • We’re reading Professor Lilliana Mason’s new book: Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. She makes the case that, as we’ve sorted ourselves by religion, race, gender and geography, (i) party affiliation has now become a “mega-identity” and (ii) as a result, the simple objective of defeating the other side for its own sake has become more important than achieving good policy. It’s total tribalism. Any kind of compromise is seen as capitulation to the enemy. Most alarming: this is a self-reinforcing cycle.
  • Bottom line: As identity-based polarization continues to grow, neither party is in a position to unite the country around policies that can transcend bitter divisions to address immigration or any other issue. This is the critical role independent leaders can and must play.As Joel wrote: “Until we demand and elect leaders who care more about people than they do about politics, our nation’s biggest problems will continue to go unaddressed.”
Greg Orman, independent candidate for Governor in Kansas, joined Michael Smerconish on Saturday to discuss the growing independent movement.

Orman told Smerconish: “Voters desperately want something different. They want leaders who are going to tell the truth and serve them, not special interests and party bosses…We’re working not only to get people elected, but also to break down those barriers that both parties use to deprive voters of legitimate choices. “

 

Momentum. We saw two big wins for the independent movement in June:

  • Ranked Choice Voting: After the legislature attempted to repeal Maine’s new system of voting that voters passed in 2016, the voters struck back and approved the Ranked Choice Voting system again –– this time, by an even wider margin. The parties will continue to oppose any measure that threatens their power, but the people of Maine showed us who is boss. Unite America endorsed the measure, as it helps level the playing field for independent candidates.
  • Steve Poizner: Independent candidate Steve Poizner won his “top-two” primary for Insurance Commissioner in California on June 5. The position may sound obscure, but Steve is on his way to becoming the first-ever independent statewide elected official in California’s history. We explained why that’s a big deal.

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