Independents and the political establishment are keeping a close eye on what is happening in Kansas this year. Greg Orman, a successful business leader and entrepreneur, is running as an independent for governor of Kansas in one of the highest profile independent gubernatorial races in the country.
In 2014, Greg made national political headlines in his first independent run. He challenged incumbent Senator Pat Roberts in a race that was neck and neck. The Democratic challenger, Chad Taylor, dropped out, recognizing that Greg had a better opportunity to win. Greg earned 42% of the vote, not enough to win.
He went on to write, A Declaration of Independents: How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream, the current selection of the Politics for the People (P4P) Book Club. Orman will be my guest on our Book Club Conference Call on April 15.
This important book is part memoir, reflections on his 2014 run for the Senate, a scathing indictment of the two-party duopoly, and an assertion of the need for a “vibrant independent movement –- one that includes officeholders elected as independents.”
As we head toward our conversation with Greg, independents are reading, discussing and writing about his book on the Politics for the People Reader’s Forum. As P4P member Maureen Albanese writes, “Mr. Orman’s book is a conversation starter…We need to talk to each other without the prison of political parties.”
I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Greg and meeting his wife, Sybil. They are a dynamic and dedicated team as the book makes clear.Greg Orman and Cathy Stewart, Unite America NYC Launch, 2/27/2018
In one of my favorite chapters, “My Path To Political Independence,” Greg shares his history. He talks about the impact of his parents’ divorce when he was 5 and writes how he “learned to consider my folks’ respective point of view with an open mind and an empathetic heart,” which he takes to be central to his independence.
Many P4P members were touched by Greg’s story and have been sharing their own.
Steve Richardson, a founding member of the Virginia Independent Voters Association who serves on IndependentVoting.org’s national Election Reform Committee writes, “I think each of us can relate to Greg’s journey to political independence, whether our trip has lasted just a few years or over fifty.”
The book makes the case that the two parties function as a duopoly, and:
"In some ways, duopolies can be worse than monopolies. Although they create the illusion of competition, duopolies compete against one another while working together to suppress outside competition. They define the parameters of the game – and then rig the rules of that game to keep others out.”
A major focus of the duopoly is, as Greg puts it, “squeezing out Independents.” Greg outlines the ways the system is constructed by the duopoly to marginalize independent candidates and independent voters.
Orman is at his best giving us a detailed indictment of how the two-party system by design is incapable of solving problems, and how partisanship has become “weaponized” to win elections and lead the American people to believe all politics and policy are binary.
Greg writes: “[B]oth parties lead us to believe that there are only two answers to any problem. Generally, these answers have been hyper-distilled to such an extent that they’re troublingly simplistic.”
Many political professionals said if Greg had run as a Democrat or a Republican in 2014 he would have won the Senate seat. Greg has this to say:
“Most people say that in modern politics, winning is everything. But my view is that how you win is important too. If you get elected by talking about issues and opportunities, you have a mandate to go get something done. If you get elected by tearing down your opponent, you have a mandate for further hatefulness and partisanship.”
Michelle McCleary, a veteran independent activist and the President of the Metro NY Chapter of the National Black MBA Association shared her take away:
“I applaud Mr. Orman for having the courage to run for office in a race that he was unlikely to win. In a grossly competitive country like America, ‘losing is for suckers’ and should be avoided regardless of who gets hurt or what gets destroyed. In my more than thirty-five-year history of activism in student, political and professional organizations, I have stood next to, supported and worked with ordinary people who knew that it was unlikely they would be giving the victory speech at the end of election day, but who gave everything they had because it was the right thing to do.”
I am very glad that Greg is in this race this year and who knows, Kansans might just be ready to have an independent Governor.
I hope you will join me on the Politics for the People Book Club talk with Greg Orman on April 15 at 7 pm EST. As you can see, the P4P readers are thoughtfully engaging with Greg’s book. I can guarantee our conversation will be thoughtful and give us an inside look at the Kansas gubernatorial race and explore the critical issues and controversies raised in Greg’s book.
Visit the blog for call in details and pick up a copy of A Declaration of Independents today.