As a result of the growing dissatisfaction with the major parties, passionate Americans all across the country are stepping up to run for office as an independent. Among these candidates is Joe Zwier. Joe was born and raised in Wisconsin and currently resides in West Allis. He has been a lifelong volunteer in the chronic illness community throughout the country and works as a patient advocate. He is running as an Independent for Wisconsin's 5th District Senate seat.
The best part about being an independent candidate is that I can do things differently! I don’t have to subscribe to preset system of beliefs or common practices that I would if I ran with a party. Even the little things can be different. My color scheme, for instance, is navy blue and orange. My kick off event will be at a local brewery, and my team consists of friends and family. Additionally, I am able to be flexible with my views. I am able to cherry pick my platform based on ideas I like (regardless of party or political leaning) and ideas I have.
We need more centrist independents because I don’t believe we are nearly as divisive as the major parties and the media makes us out to be. As the Republicans and Democrats seek to widen the gap between themselves, we are collectively realizing that political tribalism only contributes to the gridlock and distances us from those who seek to challenge our beliefs in meaningful ways. More centrists, and simply more independents, will have the ability to put creativity (a quality sorely lacking in almost every politician serving today) ahead of pre-scripted party solutions. Independent candidates might not be able to bridge the gap between the Democrats and Republicans, but we can work to bridge the gap between people and politics.
Common sense, honesty and integrity. In this context, common sense means setting aside partisanship, popularity, and re-election concerns in favor of long-term solutions that not only consider the present but the future as well. It means taking the time to work with your constituents, listen to their thoughts and concerns, and address them throughly. Not just in 280 character chunks on Twitter.
Honesty is fairly straightforward. It means telling the truth free of partisan slant and in full detail. It means holding frequent town halls so that constituents can ask questions and get responses based on verifiable data and hard fact. It also means giving constituents the good, the bad and the ugly and your plans concerning all three.
Integrity is more personal. For me, integrity means carrying the title bestowed upon you by voters with pride and respect. When I am elected to the state Senate, I will go with my constituents knowing that I will work relentlessly to carry their voices to the state capital and to put them above all things.
I left the Democratic Party in 2016 because I began doing earnest research into conservative thinking and why Republicans identify as such. When I found myself appreciating some of the viewpoints they offered or, at least, understanding the genesis of their ideals, I felt myself pushed away by fellow Democrats. They, along with almost every other political party, actively promote an “all-or-nothing” mindset. I began to see it wasn’t so much a “party” as it is a private club with a strict checklist that all members must adhere to or they’re ostracized. You can even see it happen to the candidates who stray too far from the script. They generate a lot of interest, but are often shunned or offered minimal support from their party.
I decided to run for office because I believe we can do so much more when our elected representatives are part of the team instead of passive onlookers. The separation between individuals and the government that represents them is one that will only lead to less accountability and more out-of-touch policies. I have worked as a volunteer camp counselor throughout the Midwest for 10 years now and have seen that camp works best when the volunteers, paid staff and the children work together to make the program a success. There are designated leaders and those with responsibilities, but when everyone pitches in and is personally invested, the program truly excels. I want to be part of the team that makes my district great.
I have experienced a lot of interesting questions and get new ones every day. Everything from people asking if I’m running as a candidate of the “Independent Party” or the “Centrist Party” to asking what exactly a State Senator is! The variety of questions are great and keep me on my toes, but essentially, I tell them that I’m running “on my own.” While this certainly isn’t the case at the end of the day, I have a lot of support from friends and family throughout the country, “on my own” clarifies that I don’t belong to any certain party. I’ve found that this also helps to dispel any preconceived notion of what my platform could be. If someone runs as a Democrat or Republican, you can, to a degree, safely assume major positions of their campaign, but when people hear “Independent,” they want to learn more and are not afraid to ask.