On the surface, it often seems like our existing two-party dominated system is somehow the way our country is “meant to be” and nothing could change that regardless of how dysfunctional things become.
But in poll after poll and in countless other ways, the American people are saying loudly and clearly that the major political parties and their leaders are failing the country and the state. That is why more and more people today identify as independents rather than as Republicans or Democrats.
The fact is, America’s political system is constantly evolving and changing. Whigs and Federalists used to win elections -- seen any of them around lately? Republicans used to be in the majority in California, and Seattle, while Democrats used to dominate the solid south. The only thing that is constant is change.
And change – big change – is coming again.
Look at any poll; the American people are fed up with the Republicans and Democrats, and they are sick and tired of the gridlock, special interests, big money, extremists, dysfunction, and destructive tribal partisan warfare.
America is ready for something new and something positive.
Today, a new centrist political movement is growing. Across the nation, organizations are forming with different functions, but all serve the same mission: to disrupt the destructive paradigm created by our two political parties.
And now this movement is coming to the Evergreen State via a new organization, Washington Independents. The mission of Washington Independents, like the nationwide Centrist Project, with whom we are affiliated, is to provide independent candidates the support they need to be competitive: money, professional campaign assistance, and grassroots volunteers.
Washington Independents will support independent candidates for state office who fit the culture of Washington State: fiscally responsible and pro-free enterprise, but progressive on social issues and the environment.
While this new movement has no rigid litmus tests, a general statement of principles can be found here.
Across America, centrist independent candidates are coming forward and winning elections. The governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, is an independent.
In Maine, the State Treasurer Terry Hayes is running for governor as an independent. Numerous independent legislators hold office today in Alaska and Maine.
In Nebraska, a state senator recently left the Republican Party in order to run for governor as an independent. Serious independent candidate are gearing up in Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, and Colorado.
And here at home we have already begun talking to potential independent candidates for the Washington State House and Senate.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer their support.
It is time to give voters an alternative – a movement based on problem solving and common sense, not extreme ideologies. Electing just a few independents to office will begin to fundamentally change politics in Washington State and across the country.
Voters are tired of extremes and want alternatives to the current choices. They are looking for candidates who will listen, have the courage and integrity to solve the tough issues, and who will put principle over party or special interests, and people over partisanship.
We can help provide those alternatives and restore the confidence of voters in their democracy and institutions.
To those who think this cannot, or maybe even should not succeed, consider this: there is a reason the United States Constitution never mentions the word “party,” and George Washington cautioned against factional politics that put party interests over national interests.
Independent candidates, who are not beholden to special interests and not obedient to party leaders, are precisely what is needed to bring about real changes and real progress where the parties are failing today.
We believe there are hundreds of thousands of Washington voters, of all ages and all backgrounds, and from all across our state, who want real choices and real solutions. Washington Independents is dedicated to supporting candidates who will give those choices and work for real solutions.
The political tectonics are shifting. A new movement is here and is growing rapidly. Join us.
Editor's Note: This article was co-written by Chris Vance and Dr. Brian Baird, the co-chairs of Washington Independents. Vance is a former Republican state representative, and former chair of the State Republican Party. Dr. Baird is a former Democratic congressman.