• A 2006 survey revealed that two thirds of Americans consider themselves “dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.”
• In recent polls, 60 to 80 percent of registered voters say they want an independent presidential candidate.
• Independent voters now constitute the largest segment of the American electorate.
America is at a political crossroads. We are growing alienated from the two major parties, which are dominated by ideologues and offer simplistic solutions, with candidates who think only in terms of how to frame issues–often irrelevant “hot-button” issues–in order to get elected. Meanwhile, voters tend to crave real solutions to the real problems we face–energy independence, affordable health care, the environment, jobs, sustainable national security. And increasingly those voters want change and they want it now, yearning for leaders who understand the tough problems, confront them head-on, and can offer practical solutions without kowtowing to lockstep partisan interests.
A behind-the-scenes force in American politics for more than thirty years who has worked with, among others, Ed Koch, Jon Corzine, and Michael Bloomberg, political consultant Douglas E. Schoen now makes a bold argument: that the 2008 presidential election offers an unprecedented opportunity for the right third-party ticket. In Declaring Independence, Schoen discusses major
trends–voter dissatisfaction, lengthening campaign seasons, networking and fund-raising on the Internet, demographic shifts, fundamental changes in how Americans view their leaders–that are opening the door to more independent candidates and radically transforming how all candidates present themselves to the electorate and citizenry.
The numbers don’t lie: We are a nation of political moderates who want smart, workable solutions to our serious problems. Largely as a result of media attention, the current cynical and dysfunctional political system divides us into red and blue Americas–and in turn makes government less responsive, efficient, and effective. Americans want to see results; they don’t care whether those results come from Republicans or Democrats or people outside the two old-school parties. This is the first major book to study and analyze the large-scale trends and minor developments that could pave the way to a successful third-party presidential candidacy. Clearheaded, optimistic, and filled with incisive commentary from a respected authority on campaign politics, Declaring Independence offers a cogent glimpse at a transformed near future of American politics and government.
Advance praise for Declaring Independence
“The two-party system in America is breaking down, and Doug Schoen’s new book, Declaring Independence, explains why. This is an in-depth look at why the American people are so fed up with partisanship, and where we, as a nation, go from here.”
–Michael R. Bloomberg, mayor of New York City
“It’s Independents’ Day in America, and Doug Schoen works the numbers in this persuasive book to prove that anxious moderates can do more than swing elections. They are poised to smash the two-party system and give us an independent president as early as this year.”
–Jonathan Alter, senior editor, Newsweek, author of The Defining Moment
“Aptly titled, Declaring Independence is a convincing exploration by a learned observer of the forces propelling–and the urgent need for–political reform.”
–Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska senator and governor, president, the New School
Is the U.S. ready to elect a third-party president? Campaign consultant Schoen, who calls American politics "dangerously mired in a dysfunctional two-party system," gives the question a tentative "yes," and he is in a position to know: his firm has advised top presidential campaigns for over 30 years, and is currently helping New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg weigh his options as a potential independent candidate. Looking at the "large-scale trend that could open the door for a major third-party candidate," Schoen uses extensive polling to contend that the next election will be decided by the 35-40 percent of the electorate fed up with "partisanship and the extremist wings of either party," a group Schoen calls "Restless and Anxious Moderates." He also considers other factors bolstering a third-party effort, including the rising importance of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, and looks back at the history of third-party candidates, especially 1992 independent presidential hopeful Ross Perot. While a third-party candidate might not win in 2008, Schoen shows, he would provide-as Perot did-an important role in shaping the political agenda, invigorating debates and encouraging consensus between the two major parties. A cagey and comprehensive look at the weaknesses, and promises, of the American political system, Schoen's analysis is as convincing as it is timely.