Amar Patel is the Vice Chair of the American Solidarity Party and director of Social Media.
Americans don’t want more politicians. Over 100 million adults did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. “None of the Above” could have won by a landslide. Too many people have to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils in election after election all around the country. The American Solidarity Party has run several candidates for local offices, and the Mike Maturen/Juan Muñoz presidential ticket in 2016 garnered a lot of interest in Christian democracy, but we have not been able to create a stable pool of people consistently willing to run for office. This has caused some in the party to become frustrated and impatient, but I ask why?
Why should we think that, out of fewer than a thousand registered members, we should have many candidates? Out of 250 million US adults, there are around 500 thousand elected officials. That is an approximate ratio of 500 to 1. Though it isn’t wrong to pine for more, we should consider ourselves lucky that we have had so many people run or consider running for office. So how do we recruit more of these brave souls, and how do we create leaders to help guide the party through the troubling political landscape?
The answer is a culture, within the party, of service that is so radical, so extreme, so unmatched that people have to take notice. Genuine heroic sacrifice coupled with our principles, platform, and sound policy proposals offer us the only route to breaking through the barriers the political duopoly places in our way. Those who thrive on the coordination and execution of these ubiquitous service projects will be gaining the skills necessary to lead in a political setting. Organization, public speaking, committee work—these will all be required for our internal leaders to move people away from their televisions and out into their communities making a difference.
Studies show more and more Americans are becoming “nones” when it comes to religious affiliation. Why might this be happening? Christian democracy cannot thrive unless it offers an alternative that elevates the human spirit. We can’t just be a centrist political organization; we have to be super-centrist, which is to say, above the center. We cannot be on the same plane as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens; we have to transcend the normal political experience.
Imagine a Congress in which members wake up early, put on jeans, T-shirts, and aprons and serve breakfast to the poor and homeless of Washington, D.C., before addressing a funding bill at the Capitol. How would a president who stops by hospitals every few days to visit with the sick and dying or with new parents view issues like universal health care and abortion? How would your own life change if it were ordered around a social network of friends that look forward to community service as much as going out to a movie or a ball game?
I believe that if the American Solidarity Party can establish a public-service-to-public-servant system of growth toward leadership and candidacy, we can change the political culture in the United States in general. Apart from this, I don’t see any other path to success. G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Let us not say this about Christian democracy and a radical ASP.