Why I’m Going Independent

Last year, as I drove  around my Houston neighborhood, I noticed a new type of political sign. No candidate’s name. No party logo. Instead, just one word: “Neither.”

The sentiments of my neighbors haven’t changed in recent months. They think, and I agree, that our political system seems to be at a crossroads. Our two parties are producing minimal positive change for the American people. With so few people voting, and most media narratives polarized, candidates now run to the extremes to win elections instead of coming to the center to solve problems. The political pendulum swings back and forth, but very little is getting done. It’s time to change the equation.

In our everyday lives, we’re surrounded by innovation all the time. Companies and organizations that weren’t around ten years ago have revolutionized the way we travel, communicate, entertain, live, and learn. But in politics, we’re stuck with two choices that most of us don’t like. Innovation that can make our politics more representative and responsive to all Americans is long overdue.

But Americans do have another option, one that will offer change and growth in the way our leaders govern: Candidates and legislators that focus on country over party. I’ve recently come into contact with a group that is trying to change the way governing is done by presenting a commonsense, non-divisive approach to politics. It is not a new party. Rather, it’s a group committed to governing in different way. It is called Centrist Project/Unite America. It follows long standing principles that made this country great and that somehow have been lost:

  • Put country before party: Put the long-term interests of our country ahead of the short-term interests of any political party or special interest group.
  • Follow the facts:  Seek the truth and let the facts guide how decisions are made.
  • Find common ground: Find areas of agreement (with those we might otherwise disagree with) in order to solve problems.

Given how polarized our politics are, it makes sense that most folks might be skeptical of whether this effort can succeed. The backbone of the concept is that most in this country are tired of the lack of results in our government and are independent minded voters not tied to the agendas of either the Democrats or Republicans. Recent Gallup polling supports the idea: 44% of Americans are registered as Independents. By electing even a small number of independents, both parties can be denied a majority in the Senate. The independents can then work with the parties to produce practical, common sense legislative solutions guided by the underlying premise that in a vibrant democracy, compromise is our source of strength and the glue that holds us together.

These common sense legislative solutions will focus on addressing problems that should not depend on a rigid party agendas, ideology or party tribalism: creating an environment where the private sector can thrive, especially small businesses, providing a meaningful safety net, laser focus on both keeping and bringing back high paying jobs, investing in human capital (early childhood education, quality K-12, modern workforce skills), promoting equality for women and minorities, modernizing programs and infrastructure for the twenty first century, and creating practical immigration reform. Maybe most importantly, having a few people not tethered to a party will force people to heal divisions and find common ground.

I have come to believe so strongly in this approach that I have joined the Centrist Project/ Unite America and hope to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the next election (U.S. House District 7). I’m not doing so as a Republican or as a Democrat. I’m running as a true Independent. I’m like most Americans: my political beliefs do not fit well into either party, and I am thoroughly disenchanted with the way both parties are so divided and vitriolic that they cannot find a way to govern effectively.

I know most people don’t want to run for office. I know for most it’s easier to pull the lever on a D or an R because the letter suggests what somebody stands for. But this year, if you’re disenchanted with politics, try looking for an I. Doing so might be just be the change that we all need.

Harold Rocketto is Running For Reconciliation. He is from Houston Texas and is a retired Senior Project Manager in petrochemical engineering and construction. He is planning a run for Congress in Texas’s 7th District as an Independent.