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Declaring independence : the beginning of the end of the two-party system /
Douglas E. Schoen.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Random House, c2008.
description
xxx, 240 p. : ill., maps ; 21 cm.
ISBN
1400067332 (alk. paper), 9781400067336 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
New York : Random House, c2008.
isbn
1400067332 (alk. paper)
9781400067336 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
6530076
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Chapter 1 2008: Why America Is Ready for a Third-Party Candidate "The right candidate . . . might be able to drive a bus right up the middle of the U.S. political scene today-lose the far left and the far right-and still maybe, just maybe, win a three-way election." -Thomas Friedman, New York Timesop-ed columnist There is no doubt that we are at a crisis point in American politics. The American people are increasingly developing doubts about the efficiency and responsiveness of our institutions. And these increasingly deep-seated doubts cut to the very core of our philosophy of governing. As a result, there is a crisis of legitimacy in our democratic system. Polls show it, focus groups resonate with it, and political columnists are reporting it day in and day out. The crisis is due to a lack of credibility in the system itself. There are record levels of cynicism about Congress and the president. Americans lack confidence in both major parties, and believe they are far too partisan; they squabble endlessly rather than working collectively and collegially to solve our most pressing problems, and act as if ideology matters more than the greater good of the citizenry. As a result, we're where we were in 1992 in terms of the level of dissatisfaction that allows a third-party presidential candidate to emerge. But we're also at a point where the record level of dissatisfaction impacts directly and immediately on the overall functioning and, indeed, legitimacy of our system of government. Frustration and unhappiness are subjective feelings, and they change all the time. But they are quantifiable feelings nonetheless, and are measured obsessively by research organizations. According to a Gallup survey taken in the middle of May 2007, there has been a sudden plunge in its regularly reported "Satisfaction" index. Only 25 percent of Americans now say they are satisfied with the state of their country. The index has dropped 8 percent in just one month, and is at one of the lowest points ever measured. Three out of four people are dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country. "The current 25 percent satisfaction level is very low by historical standards," according to the polling firm. "Since Gallup first asked this question in 1979, the average percentage of Americans saying they are satisfied with conditions in the country is 43 percent." In June 2007 Gallup reported that the percentage of Americans with a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress was at 14 percent, the lowest since the polling organization began taking this measurement-and the lowest of any of the sixteen institutions included in its 2007 "Confidence in Institutions" survey. It was also one of the lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested over the last three decades. The bottom line, concluded Gallup, was that "Americans are in a very sour mood." David Broder, the Washington Post political columnist, interviewed California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for an Outlook column published on July 1, 2007. Schwarzenegger had thoughtfully taken the pulse of the people. He said, "People want bold leadership, somebody who is clear in his or her views, who can make tough decisions and who will reach across the aisle to address the important issues- health care, immigration, public safety, climate change, and the rest- someone who has a vision and a plan for the future, well beyond the next election." He went on to say, "Voters admire you when you are willing to talk about difficult issues. Politicians think you have to be careful when dealing with powerful interests, but really you've got to be daring. "People are looking for leaders who can bring people together. If the parties don't provide them, then a latecomer can come in from the outside and pr
First Chapter
Chapter 1

2008: Why America Is Ready for a Third-Party Candidate


"The right candidate . . . might be able to drive a bus right up the middle of the U.S. political scene today-lose the far left and the far right-and still maybe, just maybe, win a three-way election."
-Thomas Friedman, New York Timesop-ed columnist

There is no doubt that we are at a crisis point in American politics. The American people are increasingly developing doubts about the efficiency and responsiveness of our institutions. And these increasingly deep-seated doubts cut to the very core of our philosophy of governing. As a result, there is a crisis of legitimacy in our democratic system. Polls show it, focus groups resonate with it, and political columnists are reporting it day in and day out. The crisis is due to a lack of credibility in the system itself. There are record levels of cynicism about Congress and the president. Americans lack confidence in both major parties, and believe they are far too partisan; they squabble endlessly rather than working collectively and collegially to solve our most pressing problems, and act as if ideology matters more than the greater good of the citizenry.

As a result, we're where we were in 1992 in terms of the level of dissatisfaction that allows a third-party presidential candidate to emerge. But we're also at a point where the record level of dissatisfaction impacts directly and immediately on the overall functioning and, indeed, legitimacy of our system of government.

Frustration and unhappiness are subjective feelings, and they change all the time. But they are quantifiable feelings nonetheless, and are measured obsessively by research organizations. According to a Gallup survey taken in the middle of May 2007, there has been a sudden plunge in its regularly reported "Satisfaction" index. Only 25 percent of Americans now say they are satisfied with the state of their country. The index has dropped 8 percent in just one month, and is at one of the lowest points ever measured.

Three out of four people are dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country.

"The current 25 percent satisfaction level is very low by historical standards," according to the polling firm. "Since Gallup first asked this question in 1979, the average percentage of Americans saying they are satisfied with conditions in the country is 43 percent."

In June 2007 Gallup reported that the percentage of Americans with a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress was at 14 percent, the lowest since the polling organization began taking this measurement-and the lowest of any of the sixteen institutions included in its 2007 "Confidence in Institutions" survey. It was also one of the lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested over the last three decades. The bottom line, concluded Gallup, was that "Americans are in a very sour mood."

David Broder, the Washington Post political columnist, interviewed California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for an Outlook column published on July 1, 2007. Schwarzenegger had thoughtfully taken the pulse of the people. He said, "People want bold leadership, somebody who is clear in his or her views, who can make tough decisions and who will reach across the aisle to address the important issues- health care, immigration, public safety, climate change, and the rest- someone who has a vision and a plan for the future, well beyond the next election."

He went on to say, "Voters admire you when you are willing to talk about difficult issues. Politicians think you have to be careful when dealing with powerful interests, but really you've got to be daring.

"People are looking for leaders who can bring people together. If the parties don't provide them, then a latecomer can come in from the outside and pr
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
PW Annex Reviews, January 2008
Booklist, March 2008
Washington Post, March 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
- 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 theelectorate 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 forcespropelling-and the urgent need for-political reform." -Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska senator and governor, president, the New School
Main Description
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 issuesoften irrelevant "hot-button" issuesin order to get elected. Meanwhile, voters tend to crave real solutions to the real problems we faceenergy 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. InDeclaring Independence, Schoen discusses major trendsvoter dissatisfaction, lengthening campaign seasons, networking and fund-raising on the Internet, demographic shifts, fundamental changes in how Americans view their leadersthat 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 Americasand 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 Independenceoffers a cogent glimpse at a transformed near future of American politics and government.
Main Description
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 issuesoften irrelevant "hot-button" issuesin order to get elected. Meanwhile, voters tend to crave real solutions to the real problems we faceenergy 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. InDeclaring Independence, Schoen discusses major trendsvoter dissatisfaction, lengthening campaign seasons, networking and fund-raising on the Internet, demographic shifts, fundamental changes in how Americans view their leadersthat 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 Americasand 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 Independenceoffers 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 ofThe Defining Moment "Aptly titled,Declaring Independenceis a convincing exploration by a learned observer of the forces propellingand the urgent need forpolitical reform." Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska senator and governor, president, the New School
Main Description
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 issuesoften irrelevant "hot-button" issuesin order to get elected. Meanwhile, voters tend to crave real solutions to the real problems we faceenergy 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. InDeclaring Independence, Schoen discusses major trendsvoter dissatisfaction, lengthening campaign seasons, networking and fund-raising on the Internet, demographic shifts, fundamental changes in how Americans view their leadersthat 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 Americasand 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 Independenceoffers 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 ofThe Defining Moment "Aptly titled,Declaring Independenceis a convincing exploration by a learned observer of the forces propellingand the urgent need forpolitical reform." Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska senator and governor, president, the New School From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. xv
2008: Why America Is Ready for a Third-Party Candidatep. 3
The Ideological Divide: Who Will Confront the Big Issues?p. 32
The Historical Significance of Third-Party Candidatesp. 47
Third-Party Candidates Can Overcome the Impedimentsp. 69
The Internet and 24-Hour Newsp. 79
How Campaign Organizing Has Changedp. 99
Ballot Access Has Been Democratizedp. 121
A Different Kind of Presidential Debatep. 136
Crafting an Electoral Strategyp. 155
The New Language of Politicsp. 191
Acknowledgmentsp. 219
Indexp. 221
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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