"The goal of the NH Rebellion was to make the corrupting influence of money in politics the number one issue by asking all future candidates a single question: How will you end the system of corruption in Washington?" explained Skarin. "I believe I already have an answer for 2014 by running as an independent using a 100% voter-funded campaign."
For the past ten years, Bruce has been employed as a Senior Simulation Scientist at Aptima, a Woburn-based government research and development company with a focus on human-centered engineering. Over the last two years, in his spare time, Bruce has been applying his expertise to evaluate why the U.S. government has been unable to make meaningful progress on big problems like long-term climate change and the national debt.
"Part of the problem is that Congress is ill-equipped for understanding the complexities of the challenges," explains Skarin, "yet tracing the issues further led me to the nearly chemical dependence between representatives and the big money required to win today's elections."
It was this insight that led Bruce to join the NH Rebellion, a movement spearheaded by Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig. Lessig has spent the better part of seven years advocating against the system of corruption in Washington as described in his 2013 Ted Talk."Before the walk, I used to believe that people were apathetic about politics and the future of our country," noted Skarin, "but as the walk progressed, the strong local response proved that people were hungry for real change. They just felt powerless to do anything about it."
Bruce hopes to change that sentiment by taking an entirely new approach to politics.
"If I try to beat Senator Markey at his own game, I'll lose," explains Skarin. "Instead of chasing huge amounts of money from a tiny number of people, I will be seeking a tiny amount of money from a huge number of people"
"It's about returning to our roots of having a government, of, by, and for the people," he added.
Bruce has set the maximum individual campaign contribution to just $15 per year, which is over 150 times lower than the federal maximum.
"I know I cannot afford contributing $2,600 just to have my voice heard in Congress," points out Skarin, "I don't expect that the vast majority of my supporters can either. If we want equal representation, then it has to be affordable"
To launch his campaign, Bruce is proposing a five-month, one thousand mile walking tour of Massachusetts."While participating in the NH Rebellion, I learned how transformative the simple act of walking can be," recalls Skarin. "Instead of all the usual daily distractions, I had hours to just talk with people."
Building on the legacy of other great walkers and reformers like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Doris "Granny D" Haddock, Bruce hopes to use his walking campaign to gain ballot access, to explain his approach, and most importantly, to listen to voters.
"I want to do more than just refuse big money," Skarin notes. "I want to create a new way for representing the priorities of the people instead of only powerful interests."
As a project manager for a number of advanced research contracts, Bruce is also proposing to do far more than just talk about solving problems. With a Master's degree in System Dynamics from WPI and 10 years of experience, Bruce intends to use his unique skills to develop an innovative way for supporters to rank their national priorities and to receive high quality information in exchange for their support."It's about establishing a meaningful way to be responsive to voter feedback and bringing representative democracy into the 21st century," explains Skarin. "Politics is just another system laid on top of the foundation provided by our constitution. "
While the odds may be largely against him, Bruce is confident that there is a unique opportunity to disrupt the status quo. One indication, he notes, is that Massachusetts voter registration for independents is now one of the highest in the nation with 53 percent of voters registered as independents.
"There is widespread dissatisfaction with the political establishment right now," observes Skarin. "My challenge is to connect with voters and to explain that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to uphold the right to fair and equal representation."
Bruce believes that the people are ready as long as the approach is realistic and not just another fringe political fad.
"I'm not so foolish as to believe that I can come in as an independent with some good ideas and expect to win. Instead I believe that by doing the right thing and fixing the political system first, that we the people can win and then fix everything else," concluded Skarin.