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Thought About Running for Office? Maybe You Should

by Preston Picus, published

We have been conditioned to think that regular folks shouldn't run for office. That's just plain wrong.

When the Framers of the Constitution designed the checks and balances of our nation, Congress, the legislative branch, offered the most protections for the people of the United States.

As the Framers felt that Congress was the most important, they dealt with it first. Article I of the Constitution outlines the functions and functionality of the U.S. House and the Senate.

Congress was designed to be the house of the people. The executive branch could do things in secret, the judicial branch could do things in secret, but not the legislative branch. All sessions were to be open to the people, all activity strictly accessible by our citizenry.

Today, we have lost this. Our Congress is driven largely by the 0.01% of Americans who fund the election cycles. In the 1970s, getting elected to Congress cost $50,000 (or about $170,000 in 2015 dollars). In 2014, the cost of a seat in the U.S. House was about $2,000,000.

Because they need the money, our representatives spend their time pandering to the wealthiest 0.01%. To be in the 0.01%, you have to make a minimum of $30,000,000 a year. If you aren’t one of the 35,000 Americans making more than $30,000,000 a year, our Congress just doesn’t care what you think.

The people’s House no longer listens to the people.

But we can change that. The first step is to vote in your primaries. Yes, your primary elections. For the sake of making it difficult for us to generate a lot of votes in the primaries, every state picks its own date for the primary elections, every state picks its own rules, and every state has a different way of deciding who gets to be on the ballot in November.

Two states, California (June 7, 2016) and Washington state (TBD), have a nonpartisan primary system for all state-level and congressional races, where the top two candidates make it to November. In California, this means a bunch of candidates run in a district and then on June 7 the two highest vote-getters move on to the November election -- whether that’s two Democrats or an independent and a Republican or whatever.

We could have two independents on our November ballot, but we haven’t so far because voter turnout in our primaries is less than 30%.

Some states, like Maryland and Idaho, have a mixed primary system, where each party holds a primary to determine who they will send to the November election and each party gets to decide who can vote in their elections. Others, like Florida or Maine, have a closed primary system, where primary ballot access is strictly conditioned on party affiliation.

[For a great explanation of all the different primary processes, check out this IVN article.]

Now, once you’ve made up your mind to vote in the primary, look and see if there is an independent or third party candidate registered to run in your district. If there is, reach out and connect with them. [You can search the FEC for these kinds of candidates here.]

If there isn’t an independent candidate,

 you should consider running for Congress. We need regular folks like you in the U.S. House. We need more people who aren’t connected to the elite of our federal government to bring fresh ideas and dedication to our people to the legislative process. Win or lose, you will be doing your duty as an American to turn the tide on this corrupt, broken system.

And you can win! Depending on the kind of district you have, there are really simple tools and powerful strategies to help independent candidates make waves in the 2016 election.

(If you decide to run as an independent, contact our campaign and I will give you a head start – help you understand how many votes you need, give you access to our data aggregation capacity, help you with strategy, even lend you work hours form our dedicated staff to get you on your feet.)

When you make the decision to run for Congress, you are making a massive sacrifice, but an important one. When you decide to run with us, to drum out the lifelong politicians and the extremely polarizing political sycophants, you are striking a hammer-fist against the system that is eating our nation.

This is an important time. We all can see that we need better people in Congress. To get better people, we need you to be one of them.

Join us. Let's get in a fight with corruption.

Photo Credit: Augusto Cabral /

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