I have long supported Republican candidates and elected officials, not because they had “R” next to their names, but because they were people whose character and ideals generally resonated with my values.
Honesty, integrity, and deep concepts of service have been the foundation of the candidates I have supported — along with an anchoring belief that we can fulfill our founders’ promises and empower citizens to pursue happiness, and to build better lives and a better America.
By comparison to such standards of character and ideals, the Republican Party’s nominee falls tragically short of the expectations we have for the leaders of our nation.
Upon realizing there was little I might do to change the outcome of his candidacy through the nomination process, in May I declined my invitation to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention. I could not support a candidate like Donald Trump, whose behavior disqualifies him to be a PTA member, let alone president.
Two months ago, I felt there was nothing I could do to change the course of this election. However, after reaching out to friends and colleagues who felt the same way, we began to find common ground — Republicans, Democrats and Independents, all sharing a goal. I discovered a remarkable grassroots coalition of lawyers, pollsters, ballot access professionals and others who shared the belief that something had to be done.
That nonpartisan coalition, Better For America, arises from the belief that we can, and must, offer Americans hope for a more qualified candidate in 2016. We are preparing a path to the presidency for one of the best among us to stand up and give this country what it desperately wants — a better choice for president.
No ‘lesser of two evils’
It may seem strange for someone like me — a longtime and devoted member of the GOP and a former Republican delegate from my home state — to be taking a leadership role in a movement like this one. But I am even more disillusioned by GOP leadership than by our candidate. The party standard-bearers failed to sound the alarm at the outset of the primaries that the nominee has never been a Republican and does not follow the party’s platform.
I cannot watch idly as the country is forced to face a lesser-of-two-evils election.John Kingston III
Now they continue to pay lip service to a candidate who undermines the principles of our party, our Constitution, and our country — all while violating the most basic rules of civility.
I cannot watch idly as the country is forced to face a “lesser of two evils” election, where corruption, illegality, and untruths are the order of the day.
I cannot be silent while my party’s candidate employs belittling and dehumanizing language to my fellow citizens of Asian, African, and Latin-American descent — in addition to women and the disabled — day after day. All of us deserve better.
If the Democratic Party offered a respectable alternative, I wouldn’t be telling this story. However, Hillary Clinton should also be disqualified from serving in even local community leadership for a variety of reasons.
There is record-breaking dissatisfaction with both major parties, and we face the most dynamic, volatile presidential race in history.
Polling done by Data Targeting, Inc. on the viability of a third-party candidate suggests that 65 percent of respondents would be willing to support a candidate besides Trump or Clinton. This number includes a staggering 9 in 10 voters under the age of 29 who favor having an independent on the ballot.
Despair, and hope
Along with two-thirds of my fellow Americans who agree our country is on the wrong track, I grieve that our political leaders cannot get along or do anything productive together.
I grieve that a terrible act of terror in Orlando immediately became an ideological “tug of war” in a fight for political territory.
I grieve that people are being left behind economically, and fear for their futures.
I despair that people have lost hope in what nevertheless remains the greatest nation on Earth.
Yet, there is hope. We do not have to accept a choice forced on us by a corrupt system. There is still time to find another path and another candidate — one who demonstrates honor, lives with integrity, and truly seeks to unite a divided America.
The conventional wisdom and national narrative says it cannot happen, but they are wrong.
There is a credible and viable pathway for an independent alternative to get on state ballots across the country. It is not too late — the Better For America team has worked tirelessly to establish a real, practical roadmap for an independent candidate to win the presidency and break the two-party system that has a stranglehold on our democracy.
I have been thinking about what happened on June 16 way back in 1858. Newly nominated U.S. Senatorial candidate Abraham Lincoln warned his fellow citizens that America was becoming a “house divided,” and that any house divided could not stand. Less than three years later, the country was plunged into the Civil War.
The American house has become divided again, but I’m comforted by the fact that no matter how divided we are, there are leaders and ideals that can unify us. Americans have always stood up and fought for what is right.
We are confident that a citizen worthy of this moment in our history will lead us back to being a more united United States by throwing his or her hat into the ring to be a better choice for president.
John Kingston III is the Founder and Chair of Better for America, and a former Republican delegate from Massachusetts. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Editor’s Note: This article originally published on CNN on June 22, 2016, it has been slightly modified for publication on IVN.