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This underreported story is why I'm outraged | Three Things Thursday

What a new American Caucus might look like and why political reform is important, plus how a Florida state senate races shows us why ranked choice voting matters, and get to know Sarah Jane Higginbotham

Brett Maney
Sr. Communications Manager
December 10, 2020

All 50 states have now certified their elections, but the attacks haven’t stopped. Whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, election officials are facing increasingly violent threats against themselves, their jobs, and even their families. 

Is this really who we’ve become? 

No matter the election results, no matter the party affiliation of our election officials, we should have faith that they’re upholding the integrity of our elections and the will of the people. Violence and the threat of violence is antithetical to our republic’s value of free and fair elections. 

The results have been certified. Now, we wait for the electors to do their job.

Here are three things to think about this week: 

  1. What an “America Caucus” might look like

Unite America board members Charles Wheelan and Neal Simon teamed up this week to sketch a plan for a new American Senate. What would happen if a bipartisan team of Senators put an end to the status quo and charted a new way forward for compromise and deal making in Congress? What would that look like, and who would be viable candidates to lead such an effort?

Turns out, the foundation is already there. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-ME) have teamed up with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Angus King (I-ME) to craft a new, desperately needed coronavirus relief bill. In doing so, they buck the establishment of their parties, and put the good of their constituents over their political parties. With just a handful of common-sense, reason-guided senators working together, we could break the gridlock that has hampered DC for so long. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Charles Wheelan founded Unite America -- and Neal Simon ran for Senate -- on the back of a similar idea: in a closely divided senate, just a handful of leaders could serve as the fulcrum needed to get both sides to the table. And as Charlie and Neal point out, we’ve seen this sort of country-over-party type leadership before, in the Progressive Era, when the term “progressives” didn’t describe a new party, but rather a new mindset for leaders from different parties who believed in reform. The opportunity is there; here’s hoping these senators take it. 

  1. A real life example of why ranked choice voting is important

We get questions from time to time about why ranked choice voting is important. We get accusations that ranked choice voting is just a reform to help third party candidates, and are told that we’re trying to mess with something that isn’t broken. Well to all those doubters, I would like to present to you Florida State Senate District 37

The final results were incredibly close. The Republican 48.53%; the Democrat got 48.51%. Meanwhile, a faceless third party candidate that few had ever heard of got 2.96% of the vote. No candidate received a majority of support. The election was decided by just 34 votes, while Alex Rodriguez got 6,000 votes, seemingly without running a campaign at all. How suspicious is it? Suspicious enough for Florida prosecutors to start looking into it, to see if this candidate was simply an explicit attempt to spoil the election.

This should outrage everyone, because this may well be an example of the two parties using the two-party system against us, the voters -- the people they claim to represent. With ranked choice voting, we wouldn’t have to worry about “candidates” like Alex Rodriguez spoiling the election; when the Democrat and the Republican failed to get 50% of the vote, the independent Rodriguez would be eliminated as the lowest vote-getter, and voters who voted for him would have their second place votes counted, ensuring that the winner actually has majority of support, and actually represents the will of the people. From our friends Rob Richie and Perry Waag this week, read why ranked choice voting is essential. 

  1. Finally, get to know our new teammate!

We are thrilled to announce that we have a new teammate week: Sarah Jane Higginbotham has joined our team as our new Managing Director! Sarah comes to us from the world of legislative advocacy, having worked everywhere from the American Heart Association to the Everytown for Gun Safety. 

Read a bit more about Sarah and what she’s bringing to Unite America (as well as her seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of state capitals). As Managing Director, she’ll be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Unite America Fund, which mobilizes resources to accelerate and scale the growing movement to put voters first. 

Do you want to get involved in the movement? Friendly reminder that has the latest and greatest jobs from across the reform movement.