Interviews

An Independent Entrepreneur for Senate

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Written by James Piltch

The Independent movement has gained one more candidate. Nathan Altman, a thirty-year-old entrepreneur living in Indiana, announced his candidacy for the United States Senate just under two weeks ago. The youngest candidate for the U.S. Senate running in the 2018 cycle, his background is in tech, construction, and bringing people together. We had a chance to ask him a few questions about his candidacy.

It seems like core to your appeal as a young candidate will be your appeal to young people. How will you get that population, who is so often disengaged, out to the ballot box? Why will running as an Independent be important for that effort? 

You’re exactly right that they are not turning out and are disengaged. But it’s not just young voters – it’s a lot of people. In Indiana, in the 2014 midterm elections, just 30% of voters turned out. THIRTY PERCENT! It’s crazy. Increasing participation not just in elections but in civic life and government broadly is a key goal of why I’m running. We’re going to use a lot of innovative ideas to engage and turn out younger voters including digitally, of course, but also in person, on campuses, in community tech hubs and more.

In terms of being an independent, all the recent data show that millennials don’t identify with either party. Nearly 70 percent consider themselves independent in the recent Gallup polling numbers nationally. We think that’s an enormous opportunity for us.

What policies do you see yourself as “blue” on? And “red”? 

I actually reject the premise of the question. No offense to you at all – I understand that how we are viewed on that spectrum matters to voters. But I really believe that the issues we are focusing on, and more importantly the way people feel pushed into two camps, is a fundamental problem in American politics and it’s probably the biggest single reason I’m running. I want to bring an entirely new way of thinking to the table. An approach where we listen first. Gather input. Let people’s voices be directly heard by their representatives. Then, and only then, do I cast my vote on a particular issue. I realize there are things that are very important to people. But I’m tired of politicians taking the shortcut on tough issues by telling you where they personally are on the issue because they know it aligns with some group or another. Then they claim they’ll solve everything. This is really a poisonous and disingenuous approach.

What’s your one sentence (maybe two!) pitch on why you’re the right person to come to Washington to fight partisanship?

I’ve spent my entire life from a young age taking on things people thought I was too young to take on and where they expected me to fail. But I’ve succeeded a lot because I work hard, bring smart people to the table and collaborate to get things done. I don’t see anyone doing that in the Senate and as an independent, I know I can.

About the author

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James Piltch

James Piltch is the editor of Smerconish.com. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Forward, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.