Sanders for President as an Independent?

The Game Plan for Winning and Governing with Intelligence and Integrity

Robert David Steele

Now that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has made it clear that it is merely an extension of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and all too willing to sacrifice Bernie Sanders over a brief indiscretion due to a security flaw that the Sanders campaign itself had flagged multiple times to the DNC, the time has come for Bernie Sanders to get real. He was not going to win the DNC nomination before, and he will not win it now.

America is unhinged — from Griftopia [1] to Double Government [2], all the checks and balances are gone. A two-party duopoly that has rejected — nine times — national legislation to assure electoral integrity and open the ballot to independents and small parties, at least for federal offices — is the enabling factor. [3] A country whose institutions — from academia to labor unions to the media to religions — refused to challenge 935 lies [4] leading to an elective and ruinous war on Iraq, is now also near cultural, economic, and social ruin. The unemployment rate is 23%, not 5% (U1) or 10% (U6), but our institutions — particularly Forbes and MSNBC as well as the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and others, refuse to get real.

Politically, the two-party tyranny had anointed Jeb Bush on the Right and Hillary Clinton the left — both representing dynasties too easily connected to drugs and money, while suffering the bluster of Donald Trump and the platitudes of Bernie Sanders. There can be no question about the wisdom of Tom Friedman’s declaration, that none of the existing candidates is attractive. [5] There has never been a better opportunity for an Independent candidate to make a bid for the presidency. Fully 60% of all Americans hold the two-party duopoly in disdain and believe an alternative is needed. [6]

Now that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has made it clear that it is merely an extension of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and all too willing to sacrifice Bernie Sanders over a brief indiscretion due to a security flaw that the Sanders campaign itself had flagged multiple times to the DNC, the time has come for Bernie Sanders to get real. He was not going to win the DNC nomination before, and he will not win it now.

If Sanders were to run as an Independent, he must avoid the assumption that merely winning the presidency on the strength of televised debates and a traditional campaign, will suffice. It will not. As long as Congress is in the grip of a two-party duopoly, where Members no longer write or read legislation, whose votes are sold in bloc form to combinations of 40+ billionaires, [7] any President, however well-intentioned, will be very weak.

If Sanders decides to run for real rather than as a placeholder (placemat) for Clinton, he must first restore integrity to the US electoral system, such that he not only wins as an Independent, ideally with a bi-partisan ticket and a coalition cabinet announced in advance; but is also able to govern in partnership with a Congress in which the 20–30 seats being vacated — i.e. without defending incumbents — are taken by small party and Independent candidates — and perhaps some Democrats and Republicans — who make one pledge: to represent their constituents, not caucus with either of the controlling parties, and vote on the basis of ethical evidence-based decision-support. Creating a swing vote independent of the two-party duopoly is the fastest way to restore Article 1 of the Constitution and integrity to the legislative process. This is the other half of “independence,” of being able to govern with intelligence and integrity.

There are seven specific things Sanders could do in the Fall of 2015 in order to not only be assured of winning, and also be assured that the next federal government is inherent honest, governing with intelligence and integrity.

01 Call for a “Virtual” Article V Constitutional Convention. Reach out in a most unorthodox manner and invite Mark Levin [8] to chair and organize the event. Inspire an online and Living Room Conversation [9] process from the county-level up that ultimately sends eight people from each of the 50 states — one each from each of the eight information tribes (academic, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit). There are at least five amendments that need strengthening or revision.

  • 1st Religion & Freedom of Expression
  • 2nd Right to Bear Arms
  • 12th Electoral College
  • 14th Birthright
  • 17th State Appointment of Senators

There are thirteen arguments — an entire book has been written on this — central to defining and inspiring all US citizens that could be discussed as part of this national conversation — this is the substance no candidate today is competent or caring enough to address: [10]

  1. Who Is a Person?
    2. Who is an American?
    3. The Role of Faith
    4. The Limits of Individualism
    5. What Can We Know and Say?
    6. Who Judges the Law?
    7. Debt and Dollar
    8. Local versus National Authority
    9. Presidential Power
    10. The Terms of Trade
    11. War and Diplomacy
    12. The Environment
    13. A Fair, “More Perfect” Union

A “virtual” Article V Constitutional Convention will “air out” in a most constructive way where we all are on the essentials, and will illuminate the possible outcome of a “real” Article V Constitutional Convention should 34 of the 50 states choose to demand a convention. Absent adjustments, I fear the real prospect of a series of state secessions, beginning with Hawaii, followed by Vermont, Alaska, California, and Texas. [11]

02 Host a Workshop on Unemployment. I will not belabor the ignorance of those who refuse to be truthful about unemployment and refer to those of us who are as “unemployment truthers.” The actual unemployment rate in the USA today is no less than 23% [12] and could be as high at 40% according to the Congressional Research Service. [13]

03 Raise Funds for and Lead an Electoral Reform Summit. Sanders, ideally backed up by Tom Steyer and others, to whom I have sent a Memorandum also posted online, [14] and ideally also the Mars Family of Virginia, as well as Lady Lynn Rothschild of New Jersey, has the power to force through — in partnership with Occupy and AdBusters — an Electoral Reform Act of 2016. Imagine an event in January 2016 that includes all past candidates for president as well as major thought leaders — issuing a Statement of Demand that brings back to our process the 100 million eligible voters who chose not to vote in 2012, and includes a fast-track registration process for the 52.7 million unmarried women, people of color, and youth eligible to vote, who have not registered to vote. Show the 39% who identify as Independents today, [15] and the growing number of new voters registering as No Party Preference (NPP), that they have the power to force through an Electoral Reform Act of 2016 that will at a minimum enable Independents, Constitution, Green, and Libertarian candidates to win the 20–30 seats in Congress that are being vacated in 2016. Once organized this larger group could make a deal with the incumbent Members — pass the Act and you get one term to break with your party and start representing your constituents. [16]

Here are the elements of the Act for discussion — 12 distinct but essentially integrated fixes. The Most Holy Father has called for electoral reform [17] — his staff has a copy of the 12 points. Can you think of a more powerful combination than Sanders, perhaps with Elizabeth Warren or a strong Latina if not, Tom Steyer, the Mormons, and the Pope — and the massive engaged public they are capable of mobilizing?
01 Universal Registration
• Opt-Out Option
• Prisoners Remain Voters

02 Free & Equal Ballot Access

03 Tightly-Drawn Districts

04 Free & Equal Public Funding

05 Free & Equal Media Access

06 Inclusive Debates
• Restore League of Women Voters
• Debates in Every State
• Cabinet Announced in Advance
• Cabinet-Level Debates

07 Open Primaries

08 Election Day Holiday
• Visitors to Disabled
• Free Public Transportation

09 Paper Ballots
• Counted Publicly On Site
• Military and Embassy Sites
• Exit Poll Validation at all Sites
• Mail/Internet Triple Validation

10 End Winner Take All Voting
• Instant Run-Off or
• Range, Concordant, Other

11 Legislative Process Integrity
• End Party-Line Voting
• All Legislation Published in Advance
• No Secret Provisions
• Process for Citizen Guidance to Representatives

12 Article V Constitutional Convention
• 1st Religion & Freedom of Expression
• 2nd Right to Bear Arms
• 12th Electoral College
• 14th Birthright
• 17th State Appointment of Senators
04 Sponsor a Name Your Cabinet Web Site. “Fantasy Football” is big business. Why not a “Fantasy Cabinet” as a basis for emerging citizens into thinking about who — irrespective of party affiliation — they would most trust for each of the Cabinet positions? Should some positions be abolished? Are other positions needed? Why not harness the collective intelligence of the public while using this as a means of re-engaging the public in public governance? [18]

05 Sponsor a Balanced Budget Web Site. What would a balanced budget look like in which true cost of all policies and practices were fully documented (US Government waste is known to be roughly 50% across all domains from Agriculture to Defense to Education to Energy to Health)? Sanders could even invite Ben & Jerry to lead a national conversation on this topic. This would among many benefits exposure the ignorance of all other presidential candidates who do not understand that giving more money to a corrupt military-industrial complex is like pouring gasoline on a fire. The infantry, 4% of the force, takes 80% of the causalities and gets 1% of the budget. The other 99% of the budget is spent on pork that kills. We need a 450 ship Navy, an air-mobile Army, and a long-haul Air Force and we can create such a force while still cutting 30–40% in waste from our Department of Defense as now managed. [19]

All of the presidential candidates now running lack credibility when it comes to discussing what the threats are to America the Beautiful. Immigration is not a threat and China did not take our jobs — it is US business leaders, enabled by corrupt US political leaders, who have systematically refused to respect the laws against paying illegal aliens, while exporting our manufacturing jobs to China without regard to the “true cost” to our country and our communities of disenfranchising — bankrupting — vast swaths of our working class. [20]

There are the ten high-level threats to the USA specifically and humanity generally. [21] The only public figure talking about these threats with intelligence and integrity has been the Pope!
01 Poverty
02 Infectious Disease
03 Environmental Degradation
04 Inter-State Conflict
05 Civil War
06 Genocide
07 Other Atrocities
08 Proliferation
09 Terrorism
10 Transnational Crime
These are the issues that Jesse Gordon is tracking for all the candidates at On the Issues. [22]

Domestic Issues: Civil Rights, Crime, Drugs,Environment, Gun Control, Jobs

Economic Issues: Budget & Economy, Government Reform, Social Security, Tax Reform, Technology & Infrastructure, Welfare & Poverty

International Issues: Energy & Oil, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Homeland Security, Immigration, War & Peace

Social Issues: Abortion, Corporations, Education, Families & Children, Health Care, Principles & Values

Not a single candidate is offering a coherent, evidence-based, revenue-calculated discussion of these issues. Bombast, buzz words, lies, and platitudes are the order of the day. We need a serious nationwide discussion of all threats, all policies, all issues as a foundation for selecting a new transpartisan executive team and a president who is chosen not on the basis of his or her views on any given issue, but on the basis of being absolutely committed to restoring the integrity of the electoral process and thence of the government, the economy, and our society.

Indeed, the fastest way for Sanders to establish his credibility in relation to national security is to ask the Vice President to lead a Grand Strategy Review such as has not been done since Project Solarium was commissioned by President Eisenhower. I have published a Kindle white paper that could be helpful. [23]

06 Take Over and Raise a Billion Dollars. From a practical business point of view — one that Ross Perot displayed — it makes sense to offer the public a vehicle for buying back its government. I am betting there are 100 million voters out there from across the political spectrum that now see very clearly that the two-party tyranny is in complete betrayal of the public trust. $10 from each is one billion dollars. I fully expect such a site to raise $2 billion if Sanders chooses to champion electoral reform, and forms a coalition on that foundation. This money would fund the Occupation of the home offices and front lawns of every Member refusing to co-sponsor and vote for the Electoral Reform Act of 2016, provide basic income assistance for the unemployed, and help advance Independent and small party campaigns for vacant seats in Congress if the public funding portion of that Act is rejected by the majority. The Electoral Reform Act of 2016 as finally passed may or may not include public funding of all campaigns for federal office — if it does, the balance can be donated to the government fund; if not the balance can be used to create a swing vote. Perhaps more importantly — with a nod of appreciation to Howard Dean, Joe Trippi, and Zepher Teachout who created the Big Bat concept in the first place — it is time we show the US Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, and the US Supreme Court that people, not billionaires, are sovereign in the USA. Not two million people, which is what Sanders has now, but 120 million or more — THAT is a “Big Bat.”

07 Hire a Catholic Latino Advisor. Now that The Most Holy Father has weighed in on electoral reform [24] — the Franciscan order has the lead in the USA — the time has come to create a grand coalition outside the two-party system, in which youth, single women, and Latinos, as well as prisoners (mostly black) whose vote would be restored by the Electoral Reform Act of 2016 — come together. All of our institutions have failed us; We the People have many legitimate grievances. [25] In my view — I happen to be Latino of a mother born in Colombia — the Latinos and the organizations they have created or dominate — including Voto Latino and the Service Employees International Union as well as the Catholic Church — are ready to lead a renaissance in American political participation. The time has come to displace political parties and put the people — all of the people — back into politics. [26]

Robert David Steele is a former spy, honorary hacker, and the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reading in 98 categories. He briefed Occupy on electoral reform in a video that went viral, ran briefly for the Reform Party nomination, aggregating good ideas at We the People Reform Coalition, and is today the pro bono CEO of an educational non-profit, Earth Intelligence Network. His most recent books are OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 — Open Source Activist Tool-Kit, The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust, and Intelligence for Earth: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability. A Guardian profile of him has received 68,000 likes.


  1. Matt Taibbi, Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History (Spiegel & Grau, 2011)
  2. Michael J. Glennon, National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  3. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News explained this to me in 2012, pointing out that the last four times the legislation was introduced by Ron Paul. The best book on the dysfunctionality of our electoral process is Theresa Amato, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny (The New Press, 2009). My Amazon review, Final Detailed Review: Our Bunker Hill, summarizes this superb work.
  4. Charles Lewis, 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity (PublicAffairs, 2014). My review, Title Short-Changes Value — This is One of the Most Important Books of Our Time, summarizes the book.
  5. Thomas L. Friedman, “My Choice for President? None of the Above,” New York Times, 17 June 2015.
  6. Gallup: 6 in 10 Americans say Dems and GOP “do such a poor job that a third major party is needed,” Independent Political Report, 27 September 2015 drawing from Gallup Poll Releases New Results on Whether Americans Want a New Major Political Party, Ballot Access News, 25 September 2015. It is vitally important for citizens to understand that a third party is not the answer. All parties including the Green and Libertarian parties, not only the Democratic and Republican parties, impose on their candidates a single-party ticket, a party platform that is often a mix of corruption and lunacy, and the obligation to honor promises made by the party to major donors. An Independent and presumably transpartisan executive team would have none of these toxic elements.
  7. Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars, “Mega-influence: These 42 dominate super PAC donations,” USA Today, 29 October 2015.
  8. Mark Levin, The Liberty Amendments (Threshhold, 2014); see also Judge Thomas Brennan with Dan Marks: YouTube (43:46) The Article V Amendatory Constitutional Convention — Keeping the Republic in the 21st Century.
  9. Joan Blades founded MoveOn, Moms Rising, and Living Room Conversations. She is one of America’s most creative, balanced, civil personalities, literally a Founding Mother for our future.
  10. Howard Fineman, The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country (Random House, 2008). My review at Amazon, Alexis de Tocqueville 2.0 — Extraordinary Analytic Review offers a summary of this extraordinary work.
  11. A case can be made that 34 states have in fact demanded a convention, but the demands have been over the course of two centuries across many different issues. I believe the USA is on the verge of a revolution, absent a restoration of honest government. On secession, see the books I have reviewed at Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Self-Determination & Secession.
  12. As documented by John Williams at ShadowStats. As he points out, the federal government has been changing the definition of who is counted as unemployed, in order to manipulate the statistics.
  13. Sarah A. Donovan, “An Overview of the Employment-Population Ratio,” Congressional Research Service (27 May 2015). At 40% invalids, retirees, students, and prisoners appear to be included.
  14. The memorandum, and other posts on electoral reform, are easily access at
  15. A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation,” PewResearchCenter (7 April 2015).
  16. My latest book has been #1 in Civics at Amazon Kindle, OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 — Open Source Activist Tool-Kit (Earth Intelligence Network, 2015). My essay, Democracy Lost is supported by over 100 Amazon books reviews, all linked online. Learn more at Open Power Electoral Reform @ Phi Beta Iota.
  17. Abiodun Oluwarotimi, “Pope Francis Tasks World Leaders on Electoral Reform,” Leadership: Nigeria’s Most Influential Newspaper, 25 September 2015. It is significant that no US media outlet carried this story.
  18. I ran briefly for the presidency in 2012, accepted by the Reform Party as one of three aspiring candidates for their nomination. My own speculative line-up for a cabinet selected solely on merit can be viewed at BigBatUSA/Cabinet. I believe that aspiring presidents should be required by law to name their cabinet in advance, and that cabinet officials should participate in cabinet-level debates.
  19. My latest summary piece in relation to defense is “The National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes” (CounterPunch, 6 July 2015).
  20. John Dillin, “How Eisenhower solved illegal border crossings from Mexico,” Christian Science Monitor, 6 July 2006. Jobs lost to trade agreements and out-sourcing are jobs deliberately exported by US CEOs, not “stolen” by China. A commitment to full employment as a national priority, and a commitment to holistic analytics with true cost economics known for every product and service, would radically enhance domestic prosperity.
  21. United Nations, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility — Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (United Nations, 2004). LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret) was the US member of the panel. My Amazon review, Seminal Work that Redirected My Life, summarizes the book and its relevance. The other presidential-level primer is by J. R. Rischard, former World Bank Vice President for Europe, High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years To Solve Them (Basic Books, 2003). My Amazon review, Straight-Forward, Understandable, URGENT, “Strong Buy” summarizes the book and links to other relevant books. My two meta lists of book reviews, Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive Future-Oriented) and Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative Status-Quo) could also be useful to those who wish to think presidentially.
  22. OnTheIssues: Every Political Leader on Every Issue, curated by Jesse Gordon.
  23. An American Grand Strategy: Evidence-Based, Affordable, Balanced, Flexible (Oakton, VA: Earth Intelligence Network, October 2015).
  24. The US media did not cover this aspect of the Pope’s remarks before the United Nations. Only one newspaper in the English language reported properly on this signal aspect of the Pope’s vision for the future of humanity: Abiodun Oluwarotimi, “Pope Francis Tasks World Leaders on Electoral Reform,” Leadership (Nigeria), 25 September 2015.
  25. My first political book, ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Earth Intelligence Network: 2008) includes chapters free online, on Paradigms of Failure, Legitimate Grievances, and The Substance of Governance.
  26. Supra note 6. Parties are toxic. The whole point of being Independent or No Party Preference (NPP) is to be open to evidence-based decision-support and to avoid the financial, religious, and ideological blinders that are associated with individual parties.