My 50-state strategy as an independent candidate for President of the United States means choosing the states where I will run as an individual (by collecting the required number of signatures), choosing the states where I will “actively seek” the nomination of a ballot-certified 3rd party (appear on the ballot line of that small party and so do not need to collect any signatures) and – more recently – choosing the states where I will ask my supporters to create a new 3rd party to accelerate the progress of independent politics in America (which requires tens of thousands of signatures).
At the beginning of Week 6 (on February 8), I became one of three women the California Secretary of State had accepted as a Peace and Freedom Party Presidential candidate and I will be listed on that ballot line in the June 7 California Presidential Primary! This was a wonderful personal milestone. Nearly 11 months after announcing I am running as an independent candidate for President of the United States, I learned that I will appear on a Presidential ballot and people will be able to vote for me.
Week 6 was therefore focused on meeting leaders and members of California’s Peace and Freedom Party – since it is party leadership that will take into account the results of the June 7th Presidential Primary and then decide who goes forward on their ballot line to appear in the November 8th election. After meetings the previous week in Sacramento, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, I went south for a meeting in Santa Cruz and then drove along the beautiful and winding Pacific Coast Highway to Cousin Sarah’s in Los Angeles. At the end of the week, I had one final meeting near San Diego.
I truly respect the enthusiasm and decades-long commitment to social justice of all the Peace and Freedom Party members and leaders I met and spoke with. That’s why I initially approached this small, independent political party. I had read the platforms of more than 75 small political parties in America and only a few touched my heart. As the author of a book entitled Peacemaking, the designer of citywide summits on violence and the consultant driving for consensus in plain-language strategic plans that would transform juvenile justice and probation, I am aligned with the broad reach of their social justice goals. More than that, I am the perfect choice to lead our federal agencies as they adopt the transformative models that will actually achieve social justice goals.
I am far and away the Peace and Freedom Party Presidential candidate most knowledgeable about the mechanics of federal agencies. I am their only candidate who knows exactly how to make policy and funding changes to support and lift up poor and working class people. I am the only candidate that can start on Day 1 to transform the purpose and priorities of every federal agency to better meet the needs of We the People. I am the only candidate that knows how to send in teams on Day 1 that can “follow the money” in every budgeting, contracting and acquisition system in every agency and insert new requirements. That is how my White House will re-direct funds to support new priorities such as improving the daily lives of the 100 million Americans who live at or near poverty.
After two weeks in California, I was struck with the diversity of views and opinions within the Peace and Freedom Party – from strongly ideological to deeply open-minded to genuinely curious about how the federal government actually operates. June 7, 2016 will show our nation whether members of the Peace and Freedom Party cling to a candidate whose strength is an ideology or vote for an experienced organizational psychologist with 32 years of federal experience including 6½ years on the White House Partnership to Reinvent Government. I can hardly wait!
A New Coalition of Independent Presidential Candidates
Woven throughout Week 6 was a set of conversations and developing agreements that I pray will mark a historic moment in the divisive political climate of today’s America. Four of the nine candidates participating in the Independent Presidential Debate in Lake Charles, Louisiana, January 28, 2016 began a conversation about working together!
Within minutes after the debate ended, four of us started talked about points where we agreed and the values and goals we shared. These conversations continued at dinner that night, at breakfast the next morning and through emails and telephone calls all that week. We made lists of where our ideas overlapped.
By Friday, February 12, the four of us agreed to a statement of our intentions:
- While still competing with each other as Presidential candidates, we would create a new alliance to inform Americans about credible and experienced independent Presidential candidates.
- We agreed that Big Money and a broken 2-party system have pushed America far away from the ideals that led to the founding of our nation.
- We agreed we could strengthen the independent political movement in America by respectfully debating each other on the issues, avoiding all personal attacks, and emphasizing independent alternatives to traditional “bought and sold” politicians.
- We understood we represented at least some elements of the American Party of South Carolina, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Reform Party and the Veterans Party of America.
- We agreed to appear in a series of Independent Presidential Debates coordinated by the Veterans Party of America beginning in June 2016.
The four candidates are:
- Dr. Lynn S. Kahn, independent Presidential candidate actively seeking the nomination of the American Party of South Carolina, the Peace and Freedom Party, and the Reform Party.
- Chris Keniston, the Presidential Nominee for the Veterans Party of America
- Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry, Presidential Candidate for the Green Party
- Rhett R. Smith, Presidential Candidate for the Libertarian Party
Our brief statement – and the four of us fully agreeing on every word in our statement – was exhilarating and sparked among us a wave of optimism. Would mutual respect, cooperation, genuine collaboration and building together on the good ideas of competitors herald a new era of politics? Then, on Saturday, February 13, 2016, Chris Keniston, the Presidential nominee of the Veterans Party of America, posted the notice that his beautiful 41-year old wife – “the love of my life and my best friend” — had suddenly and unexpectedly died that morning.
I had been sitting next to Chris for the entire 3 hours of the January 28 debate. After about 30 minutes and a lot of nodding in agreement, we realized we shared many of the same goals and priorities for America. When we answered the debate question about improving services to our veterans, we realized our ideas fit together seamlessly. He had the veteran’s experience and perceptions; I had the specifics of how to transform that one agency. Immediately after the debate, Chris introduced me to his wife, Charla, and we talked about meeting again to discuss the specifics of transforming the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. As we talked about calendars, this was perfectly clear: Charla adored Chris, her pride in his leadership and candidacy for the Veterans Party of America was visible, and her passion for improving the lives of our veterans was all she spoke.
So, I dedicate this article to Charla Keniston, a woman who found friends instantly and whose passion for a better America and honoring the commitments we make to our veterans stands as a beacon for us all. To Charla, a life to be celebrated.