Headline: The Independent Party Is On The Rise. Here’s Why.
In 2004, roughly equal shares of people identified as Democrats (33%), Independents (30%) and Republicans (29%). But now, Independents are surpassing the two major parties. In 2014, 39% of the public identified as Independents, more than those identifying as Democrats (32%) or Republicans (23%). And in 2017, 42% identified as Independents.
Image: graph found here
That’s why Neal Simon is choosing to run for a US Senate seat in the state of Maryland as an independent candidate. He grew up watching the two major political parties become more and more divided and polarized, leading to negative results in the federal government.
Having successfully run four companies in professional services and sat on the board of many nonprofit organizations, he’s ready to take a break to focus on creating change on The Hill.
“We’re getting nothing done and so much of it is because of that partisanship. I, like so many people, feel unrepresented by the far left and the far right, and have yearned for a government that I felt was working together on our behalf.”
After a few years of complaining and of a clear vision to make the system work better, he was encouraged to run. In business, he was always asked to take on leadership positions, and his main role in those positions was to bring people together. A skill he hopes to bring into the federal government.
“There are no political parties in our constitution, and it is not supposed to work this way. In fact, a lot of our founding fathers feared that one day Americans would develop more loyalty to party than to their country.”
Neal’s mother and grandparents were immigrants that came to this country because they believed that the U.S. was a place where you could work hard and do well. They also came because they knew it was a place where children could get a good education. And Neal wants to make sure America remains that way.
He’s running to represent the 80% of people that don’t identify with the far right or the far left, but who find themselves somewhere in the middle. Neal says this group of people tend to not get involved with politics. They don’t vote in primaries, march on The Hill, send letters to their senators, etc. These are the folks he wants to reach the most. To stop the indifference and keep them from becoming a group of people that just throw their hands up.
When someone told him he needed to make people fear the candidate running against him, he realized that was the long-held mentality on The Hill. But he doesn’t buy into that because he believes it’s an ineffective way to run anything.
There’s no question there’s an anti-government wave, and that America is starved for something different. They want to move away from the career politician that can’t seem to compromise for change.
“It is much easier to throw read meat out to your base than it is to do the hard work of finding common ground and perhaps compromising in order to get things done.”
Neal is currently traveling to every county in Maryland sharing this message in the hopes that he will be elected to impart change. He vows not to caucus with either party. Instead, they’ll have to come to him to find out where he stands on any issue.
“I stand with the people of Maryland, whatever is best for them.”
Image: Capitol Building
The campaign’s challenge is not the message, it’s convincing people that they can win. People tend to be skeptical of independent candidates, despite there being two independent senators currently in the U.S. But that’s not slowing down their momentum.
They know what message each audience desperately wants to hear.The younger audience, Millennials, has this intuition that something in Washington is wrong, and they’re ready for something radically different. The middle group, those ages 30-60, really connect with their message already. So the hardest group to reach is the older audience who have been voting the same for most of their life.
“We need to get them out of the tribal mentality.”
One way to move out of a tribal mentality is to be intentional about the media coverage you digest each day.
“I encourage people to change the channel. If you’re someone who is only watching Fox or only watching CNN, you must change the channel and spend an equal amount of time watching the other one because it will change your perspective.”
If it doesn’t feed the tribal narrative, many news outlets won’t feature your story or your campaign. They share the voices that feed the extreme narratives on either side, so changing the channel allows you to see a wider picture.
“The media is like the hammer that’s slamming the wedge in our society.”
Neal Simon hopes to bring a slate of political reform initiatives that will take the system back from the divided parties.
To learn more about Neal Simon and follow his campaign, visit nealsimon.com.