“Changing the way we think about politics will be a long journey,” says Bruce Skarin, an independent candidate out to challenge incumbent Senator Ed Markey in November. This week, Bruce released details on the Walk for Democracy, a 1,000-mile walking tour of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The walk will begin in Millbury, where he has lived for the last 7 years, on Sunday, April 6, with an event at 10 a.m. at the Elm Draught House Cinema. At 11 a.m., he and a band of supporters will depart for Oxford on the first ten-mile leg of the journey.
“For the last decade people have grown increasingly skeptical of politics and our government,” Skarin said, “and this has led to a huge disconnect between members of Congress and the people they represent.”
Through the walk Bruce is aiming to restart the conversation on what people want from their government.The tour will last 80 days and along the way Bruce will collect the signatures needed to gain ballot access, explain his unique approach to Massachusetts voters, and “most importantly,” notes Skarin, “take the time needed to really listen to voters and learn what their priorities are for our country.”
As far as his priorities, Bruce has made the corrupting influence of money in politics a focal point of his campaign.
“We have lost our representative democracy,” he explains, “and until we bring that back, we simply will not make real progress on any other issue.”
From the dependence on big money donors, to the growing roster of former politicians and staffers joining lucrative lobbying groups, Bruce argues that members of Congress represent the funders of campaigns first and only pander to the public during election years.
“The vast majority of us are now second class citizens in a country founded on the idea of equal representation,” Skarin noted.
He points out that both Republicans and Democrats alike are trapped within what he refers to as a system of corruption.
“None of this is really news anymore,” he said. “The real problem is that people feel powerless to change that system.”
Bruce is counting on his approach to break that mindset and to create a real movement for honest reform.
“We need to return politics to a level of grassroots purity that cannot be manipulated by powerful interests,” explains Skarin.
To accomplish this, Bruce has capped contributions to just $15 per person per year and pledged to use a significant portion of his campaign budget to develop technology to improve representation.“This is the hardest way to fund a campaign," Skarin acknowledged. “But, it is precisely what we need to do if we ever want to fix Congress.”
Bruce describes his funding approach as a kickstarter for revitalizing and modernizing representative democracy.
“For hundreds of years nothing has been done to improve representation, while much has been done to take it away,” he added.
Riding a wave of renewed interest in independent candidates, Bruce points out that 53 percent of voters in Massachusetts are registered as independents.
“We independents and moderates need to realize just how much we are capable of,” says Skarin. “If we leave this in the hands of partisan loyalists, national problems will only get worse, when in reality we should be leading the world on every front."
When pressed on where he stands on the issues, Bruce is asking that voters put aside the litmus tests for the time being.“As a scientist, I want to be very clear about where I stand on the issues,” Skarin explained, “but I also want to be responsive to the priorities of the people.”
Instead of playing what he calls “buzz-word bingo,” Bruce is asking voters to submit their concerns and ideas so that he can begin responding to each in turn using a process that he has already begun though his campaign site.
“We need to have a sincere conversation here Massachusetts about the direction we are headed,” says Skarin. “If we are not satisfied with how we are being represented, then we need to do a little more than just showing up to vote in elections. Not everyone needs to run for office or walk 1,000 miles, but when we all pitch in a minimal amount and take part in the process, we can do amazing things."
To learn more about the Walk for Democracy and Bruce’s campaign for US Senate, you can visit his website at www.bruce2014.org.