Little noticed in the post Election Day cacophony of political punditry was the emergence of a new third party in these United States. The “Serve America Movement” or SAM garnered enough votes to secure an official ballot position for the next four years in New York State. Now it must roll up its sleeves and do the hard work of being a viable alternative to the two major parties.
Tired of politics as usual, Stephanie Miner and Michael Volpe, two mayors from two different parties audaciously stepped up to take on the “political status quo” in New York. Running under the SAM banner, Stephanie and Mike offered a different way forward. They were two mayors working together across the partisan divide to address the real problems facing real people – things they confronted everyday as mayors. They spoke about health care, educational reform, infrastructure improvements, criminal justice reform and a corrupt political system in the Big Apple that has become rotten to the core.
Make no mistake, the political establishment in places like New York is strongly entrenched. Big money from the special interests flowed to the incumbents and the political machines and kept the money away from challengers. Lacking the funding to penetrate the expensive New York media market, Stephanie Miner and Mike Volpe went door-to-door, met in small meetings with voters, and did the grass roots campaigning necessary to get their message out and earn the needed 50,000 votes state-wide to secure a ballot position for SAM for the next 4 years. It was not easy, but enough people were looking for another way forward and they did it. On Election Night Stephanie and Mike received just over 51,000 votes statewide.
The candidates from the other well-established third parties, the Green Party and Libertarian Party, garnered more votes, but those parties have been around for years. The SAM Party literally came from nowhere in New York in the spring to winning enough support in the fall to earn an official ballot position for SAM moving forward.
So maybe people will take notice of this new moderate third party. A party that looks to solve problems, not play politics. A party that realizes that we are not upstate and New York City, but one Empire State. That we are not blue states and red states, but one nation made of 50 United States. That we need not be “two Americas” – the coasts and the heartland, urban America and rural America - but the United States of America.
It was not a groundswell, but a start. More like a ripple than a wave. But I am reminded of the words of a former US Senator from New York, Bobby Kennedy, who spoke of such aspirations:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Let us build on that hope for a more perfect union in these United States.