Ten second sound bites are easy. And unfairly inaccurate. Unfortunately, politics are full of them. Similar to stereotyping, sound bites grossly oversimplify and rarely reflect reality. So rather than a ten second sound bite that you may hear without full context, I’ll share with you the story about my political journey.
I am an Independent, noted on the ballot as “Party Preference: None.” I like that designation on the ballot because I have always been a strong believer that our government leaders need to put our country’s best interest ahead of the political parties and special interests that fund them.
I had been a member of the Republican party until March of last year, spending much of the last few years working to both support as well as reform the party. I invested time and money toward that end. I was attracted to the ideals of the Republican party that supported small business enterprises to fuel our economy. I also agreed with the party’s focus on maintaining a strong national defense. Today, as an Independent, I still believe free market policies and balanced budgets are the best ways to create jobs and make our economy (and thus our country) strong. Through my extensive business experience, I know firsthand what does and doesn’t create jobs, and what does and doesn’t fuel economic growth.
I grew up in a household that was not only fiscally conservative but also progressive regarding social issues. Like most Americans I know, I’ve never been totally comfortable with every aspect of either party’s platforms. It depends on the issue. As such, I have supported a number of candidates over the years. While most of my support has gone to my former party, I have also contributed to at least 15 Democrat candidates over the years.
For the 2008 presidential election I supported someone I consider to be an American hero, Senator John McCain. I served as his National Director of Volunteers. Aside from Senator McCain’s selfless military service to our country, I had always been impressed with his willingness to tackle the tough issues of the day, regardless of what group was offended. I was particularly impressed by Senator McCain’s efforts to limit the influence of special interests’ donations in American politics. By working across party lines, John McCain helped enact some real reforms. Throughout the course of the campaign, however, I did note how the business of politicking pushed the Senator further to the right.
Over the years, I had tried to expand the party by welcoming a broader base into its ranks. I have been a member of the “New Majority,” a group trying to expand the California Republican party supporting pro-business, socially moderate candidates. Governor Schwarzenegger was recruited to run for Governor by the “New Majority.” I initially supported Governor Schwarzenegger due to his fiscal conservatism, and I remained one of his strongest financial supporters due to his support for election reform, including non-partisan redistricting reform and the open primaries initiative. In 2009 I joined the board of an off-shoot of the “New Majority,” called “CRAFT” (California Republicans Aligned for Tomorrow) in 2009. Its mission was to recruit moderate Republicans to run in the 2010 election who more reflected the philosophies of California voters.
Continuing my desire to encourage the Republican party to be more inclusive, I started a political action committee called “Grow Our Party” in 2009. We subsequently disbanded the committee a year later as it was not successful.
Although not a perfect candidate, I supported Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign because I felt that, unlike Jerry Brown, she would be willing to stand up to the government unions that have so much influence over California’s legislature.
Although I had worked for years to try to broaden the Republican party’s tent, I called it a day in March of 2011 and re-registered as “Decline to state,” which is the how to register as an “Independent” in California. I felt disenfranchised from a party that continued to send representatives to Washington who let their social agenda and partisan politics interfere with solving our nation’s problems. By then I believed that both political parties had been hijacked by the special interests that fund them. Having worked to enact open primaries, I knew I could now be registered as an Independent and have primary voting rights equal to those of registered Republicans or Democrats.
The final straw for me was when Senator McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said that his main priority was to ensure the defeat of President Obama in two years. I emphatically disagreed. In fact, I called him out on it at a fundraising event he attended in Los Angeles with Senator and Cindy McCain, the same month that I re-registered as an Independent (March 2011.) Attending this event gave me the opportunity to personally tell Senator McConnell that his job, as well as that of all members of Congress, is to solve our nation’s problems. Period. Regardless of what anyone may think of the President, with the issues our country faces, Senator McConnell’s comment was inappropriate.
Rejecting this hyper-partisanship, I am an Independent.
Finally, I am listed as one of the co-founders of “No Labels,” the national organization dedicated to unlocking the hyper-partisan gridlock in Washington. Our organization encourages and backs political leaders who put a priority on solving problems by seeking out and working with like-minded patriots, regardless of party affiliation. We believe in putting country ahead of party and the next election.
Recently, “No Labels” rolled out a 12 point plan to fix Congress, including such sensible solutions as to force up or down votes on Presidential appointments within 90 days, bi-partisan retreats, reduced used of the filibuster and cessation of Congressional pay when budgets are not delivered on time.
The No Labels philosophy is similar to my own: “Not Left; Not Right, but Forward.”