(The following was originally published in The Public Slate.)
In Massachusetts, the race for Governor has been made more interesting with the introduction of candidate Evan Falchuk and his United Independent Party. It is a story which is both old and new at the same time. Every few years, somebody comes along and tries to buck the system by running as an independent. Those with more complicated political philosophies than the standard “left or right” choices allow for will perk up for a moment, but soon lose their enthusiasm as they watch that candidate fall as quickly as they rose. Everyone has learned that an independent party really just can not work.
This campaign, however, may have come in the right place at the right time. So far, the standard pattern has not been followed. The enthusiasm has not waned. This candidate has emerged at a time in history when people are more inter-connected than ever, and technology has allowed grassroots politics to take one giant leap forward from knocking on doors and passing out flyers at the mall. The assumption that an independent party will never work is starting to be challenged in a more meaningful way than has been seen in recent times. The “little people” are not as little as they once were.
There is an entire generation of voters which has grown up on the internet. They understand better than any who came before that they have a platform for their voice, and they know how to use it. They know that online news media craves their comments to boost their rankings, so they comment. They know that social media can reach around the world with a message, so they reach. They see public figures raised up and torn down by the click of a mouse which sends an unfortunate video out onto the web, so they understand the power they have. These are the voters who are hungry to prove that being independent is not the same as being alone. This is Falchuk’s audience, and they are listening.