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Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System Hardcover – February 5, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Is the U.S. ready to elect a third-party president? Campaign consultant Schoen, who calls American politics "dangerously mired in a dysfunctional two-party system," gives the question a tentative "yes," and he is in a position to know: his firm has advised top presidential campaigns for over 30 years, and is currently helping New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg weigh his options as a potential independent candidate. Looking at the "large-scale trend that could open the door for a major third-party candidate," Schoen uses extensive polling to contend that the next election will be decided by the 35-40 percent of the electorate fed up with "partisanship and the extremist wings of either party," a group Schoen calls "Restless and Anxious Moderates." He also considers other factors bolstering a third-party effort, including the rising importance of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, and looks back at the history of third-party candidates, especially 1992 independent presidential hopeful Ross Perot. While a third-party candidate might not win in 2008, Schoen shows, he would provide-as Perot did-an important role in shaping the political agenda, invigorating debates and encouraging consensus between the two major parties. A cagey and comprehensive look at the weaknesses, and promises, of the American political system, Schoen's analysis is as convincing as it is timely.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Douglas E. Schoen was a campaign consultant for more than thirty years with the firm he founded, Penn, Schoen & Berland. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400067332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Douglas Schoen argues, in his book "Declaring Independence," that the two-party system in American politics is breaking down and I couldn't agree with him more. He suggests that the time is ripe for a third political party which has real clout and a real chance to win the White House. Again, I completely agree. Furthermore, Schoen cites statistics that show more and more American voters are leaving the Democrat and Republican parties and declaring themselves to be "Independents." I have seen that happening myself among my own friends and acquaintances.

Call it Synchronicity or just plain coincidence, but it was only seven or eight months ago that I was discussing the field of candidates for the presidential race in 2008 with some of my fellow political junkies and I made the (at the time) bold remark that "if there was ever a time for a third-party candidate to make a successful run for the White House, 2008 could be that year because of the polarization of political thought in this country by the politicians themselves and the widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of both major political parties." I did not know that others were thinking along the same lines. I'm pleased to see that my proposition has been somewhat validated by a political professional such as Douglas Schoen. I don't feel like a such a "kook" now.

I left the Republican party myself many years ago and refused to join any other party simply because of what I perceived to be a failure of a principled response to the major issues I saw impacting our society. I could not determine a real difference between the Democrats and the Republicans when it came to actually "doing" something as opposed to simply "talking" about it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight VINE VOICE on June 20, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a 32 year old, I have been voting for third party candidates for 14 years (mainly libertarians). As such, I was quite excited to read this book, which deftly makes the case for why third party candidates are needed, but why they may be able to win in the current political climate.

Douglas Schoen is a political consultant and strategies. As such, he is able to insightfully read and interpret poll data and also outline winning strategies. The first part of his book looks at recent poll data in order to make a strong case for why people are more likely than ever to accept and vote for a candidate not Republican or Democrat. More and more people are voicing dissatisfaction with party-line-politics and registering as independents. More and more votes are up for grabs.

Also, Schoen goes through the varied and wonderful history of third party candidates, from the "know nothiing" and "dixiecrat" parties, to respetable bids by George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader. Even though none of these candidates won their eleciton, Schoen points out that they all did remarkably well considering how stacked the decks were against them (decks that can be restacked thanks to emerging technology).

This brings us to the next section: Schoen's optimistic detailing of how third party candidates could do better than ever in our current climate. The internet, 24 hour news, the blogosphere, etc., are making it easier and easier to get around many of the hurdles third parties once faced. Need quick mobilization from grassroot supporters? Shoot an e-mail and post a message to your blog. Want to get good airtime? Youtube can be just as effective as CNN.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had read a few of Douglas Schoen's other books and decided to read this one. As a long-time pollster, Schoen knows the mindset of the average American and explains that in this book. What he also does an excellent job with is explaining the challenges that exist for a 3rd party candidate to have a real shot at winning a presedential election. The paradox is that many Americans are open to the possibility of voting for a 3rd party candidate for president, but only if they think that he/she has a "real" chance of winning. Based on the present system of Democrat/Republican domination and 50 states with 50 different ballot rules, this seems unlikely to change anytime in the near future.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Edit of 1 July 2008 to change transpartisan to non-partisan, add flyleaf notes from second reading, and delete observations found wanting by Amazon visitors.

This is without question a very important book, a companion to both Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America and Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It. After a second reading, I now see this book as a primer in a class of its own and understand the author's background with greater appreciation.

One important comment: Both candidates are "keep the `bi-partisan' spoils system" alive candidates. They are of, by, and for the elites, and they are both out of touch with global reality such as depicted in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility--Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate, a Trilateral Commission "House Negro" (as his own pastors of color have put it); see Obama - The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate for details.

Following my fly-leaf notes are a few observations, cut in half from my earlier review.
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