Over the past few weeks, Independent Voters of America has been reaching out to independent and third party candidates across the country to gather their opinions and insights on issues of interest to our community in an effort to demonstrate to self-identified independent voters the range and diversity of independent candidates ACTUALLY running for office across the country. We’ve received a good deal of responses and anticipate several more.
Today’s candidate contributors to the discussion are:
Tisha Casida - Candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd District.
James Windle - Candidate for Congress in Washington’s 8th District.
Jack Arnold - Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 7th District.
Phil Dodds - Candidate for Congress in Florida’s 3rd District.
Karen Ramsburg - Candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 9th District.
This will be the first in the ongoing series, IVA Candidate Roundtable, with today’s answers being for the following question:
You’ve seen the recent approval ratings and bipartisan gridlock in Washington DC. Why run for Congress? And why run as an independent candidate?
Tisha Casida: I wanted to run for Congress to be a voice for a large group of people who are not being represented by the two parties that have created this bipartisan gridlock. I am running Independent because I believe in fiscal conservatism and social liberty – neither of which are being effectively represented by most of our current Republican and Democratic representatives.
James Windle: The dysfunction in Congress has reached epic proportions. The historically low approval ratings, near 17%, are caused by many factors. They include campaign finance, special interests, the political parties, the current media culture, gerrymandering the borders of Districts, and professional politicians losing touch with the people. A chief concern of mine is the obstacles the two major political parties now present to leading this country, particularly over the last decade. The parties need to be moderated to start getting work done. Political Independents have a major role to play not just in voting, but inside Congress as members as well.
I left my job to run for Congress because I believe what is sorely lacking in Congress is a centrist bloc of members focused on actual solutions instead of partisan grandstanding. The majority party in recent Congresses has rejected out of hand even the good ideas put forward by the minority party. An Independent does not have these constraints. He or she can mix the best ideas from both parties or, if it makes sense, align with the party proposing the best solution. If you have a party label, it has been shown, you are limited in what you can say and do in Congress. In the national media, an Independent can voice what the moderates in both parties think but cannot say. In sum, the election of a small number of Independents into Congress is the most effective route toward restoring the productivity of Congress and getting the legislators actually legislating again.
Jack Arnold: This question answers itself. I’m running for Congress BECAUSE I AM one of the disapproving voters: BECAUSE of the Washington gridlock. This puts me in a unique position: since I’m a regular voter and constituent and a member of the 99% who doesn’t insulate himself from regular folks, I don’t have to conduct market research and polling to decide what makes sense and what doesn’t: I can simply review the contents of my own cranium.
There are two concrete reasons I chose to run as an independent. One, I think it’s obvious to anyone who doesn’t work in D.C. or on Wall Street that our two Party system has failed. Two, I’m a person of integrity, so I’m not comfortable splitting my loyalties between the people who live in my district and a national political elite who controls my party. A wise man once said that no one can serve two masters without ultimately being devoted to one of them and despising the other.
Karen Ramsburg: Karen is running for Congress in hopes of breaking that deadlock, with the help of other independent-minded representatives from both parties. Unfortunately, ballot access restrictions of various kinds around the country make it nearly impossible for independent candidates to win elections. Pennsylvania is particularly hostile to independent and third-party candidacies. The most practical and ethical decision Karen could take was to obtain ballot access as a Democrat. But she is reaching out to dissidents in both parties and everyone with a proclivity for independent politics, and will work toward ballot-access and campaign-finance reform to return the political initiative back to the people.
Phil Dodds: I decided to run for Congress to promote a new kind of representation. Precisely because of the gridlock in Congress and media divisiveness, supporters of either party might have a hard time hearing new ideas from the ‘opposite’ party – which is why I chose to run as an independent. My message appeals to Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, so I chose to campaign in the way the best reflects the message.
Over the coming weeks, we’re looking forward to continuing this series with more answers from these candidates and others to pertinent questions of interest to our Independent Voters of America community. If you have a question you’d like addressed in a future roundtable, leave it in the comments.