Professor Steven Nemerovski recently released a new fast-paced political thriller series, Third Party, that dives into America’s most fascinating dilemma – why is there no effective, competitive third party in our country? And how cut-throat would Democrats and Republicans be if threatened by a successful third party launch? For some, Third Party is political fiction filled with suspense and intrigue. For others, it is the revelation of how a third party could actually emerge, quickly and victoriously, in our country. He joins us today to talk about his new series:
Q: Your new book series THIRD PARTY takes on ripped-from-the-headlines political issues in a nonpartisan way–Why did you choose to address these issues using political fiction?
A: I decided that fiction would be a better vehicle than non-fiction in that, by surrounding a serious topic with an interesting thriller story, I could reach a broader audience than only those who might come at the topic from an academic perspective or those already steeped in politics.
Q: Where did the inspiration for the THIRD PARTY series come from? How difficult was it to write these novels?
A: The inspiration unfortunately came from day-to-day experience with government in Illinois, primarily starting with the first term of Governor Blagojevich in 2003. At a time when the executive branch and legislative branch were both controlled by Democrats and arguably poised to deal with various burning issues, starting with the state’s fiscal crisis, it was significantly more dysfunctional than when government had been divided for roughly the preceding 20 years. This coincided with a continuing and growing melt-down in DC and neither scenario appeared reconcilable.
In terms of difficulty in writing, given my experience in both government and politics, once the framework for the story was developed the books have been relatively easy to write. However, editing is another matter.
Q: Why should we have strong third parties in the United States?
A: The more I study the problem, there are many layers of the dysfunctional onion that need to be pulled back. However, in its simplest form there are two parts to the answer:
1. We have two entrenched parties and far too many incumbents that do not face significant re-election challenges. This removes any incentive to be accountable to the voters. A viable third party (or parties) that can actually assault this paradigm is the only way to create accountability. If you compare to the business world, we abhor monopolies and duopolies and a worker’s incentive to perform at his or her best is lessened if they will keep their job no matter how poorly they perform.
2. Most of the fixes to this world of “incumbency protection” require legislation. This includes campaign finance reform, redistricting reform, ballot access reform and voting rights reform. Unless third parties are at the table to push for legislative reform, nothing is going to change. Granted change can come through ballot initiatives, that is a very costly and inefficient mechanism.
Q: How do you hope the THIRD PARTY series, as well as your two websites ThirdParty.today, NoneOfTheAbove.us, will actually provide a resource to help strengthen third parties in the U.S., and help undecided voters become more engaged?
A: With respect to my Third Party novel series, it presents a viable roadmap to success that can start the conversation and hopefully encourage action. In terms of my None Of The Above website and grassroots television programming, I am trying to offer a wide range of solutions as well as identify organizations currently engaged in fixing the system. By identifying a range of solutions, the viewers can choose what makes the most sense to them and be able to quickly engage with established organizations. Finally, with the feature on the website that allows undecided voters to find the third party and independent candidates who will be on their ballots, I am trying to provide a resource to help voters gather information to make informed votes. Unfortunately, the media does not generally give third party and independent candidates the time of day.
Q: The series follows Alex “Atlas” Stein and his team’s suspenseful, thrilling struggle to create and maintain the E-Party through multiple election cycles, pitted against political maneuvering from relentless, cutthroat politicians. What was your favorite part about writing the series?
A: It is fun and challenging to unleash my imagination and invent all things “E Party”, from the story lines to the characters to the twists and turns in the plots. Although I draw from my life’s experience, none of the characters are directly patterned after any living person.
Q: In your opinion, how has the United States become so politically polarized, dysfunctional, and divided?
A: See above – the systematic perpetuation of the duopoly and resulting incumbency protection.
Q: What is the number one thing you hope readers take away from your books?
A: As dark as things appear, especially in this election cycle, our democratic system is founded on sound principles and there are plausible solutions and there is hope.
STEVEN NEMEROVSKI an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University with the School of International and Public Affairs, and the author of THIRD PARTY Volume I: Starting in the Middle, and THIRD PARTY Volume II: Strange Bedfellows. He was the Parliamentarian for the Illinois House of Representatives, Special Counsel to The Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Special Counsel to the Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools, and outside general counsel to various state agencies in Illinois. He served as campaign manager for three campaigns for candidates seeking election to the Illinois House. He is currently the President of Knell Consulting, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in advocacy at the state level in Illinois and at the Federal level in D.C. He hosts the “None of The Above” television programming on Grassroots TV in Aspen, Colorado. Learn more at ThirdParty.today and NoneOfTheAbove.us.