Dear Friends, Family, and Fellow Community Members, I must at this time concede that I will not win

, or more precisely, that I shall be legally forbidden from running in, the 2012 election for the New York State Assembly in the 102nd A.D. The immediate reason for this concession is that, while I have collected twice the number of signatures which a Democrat or Republican must collect in order to appear on a ballot, the law (as created by Democrats and Republicans) requires non-party candidates to collect three times that number within the same alloted time. Although I have spent many days and nights collecting signatures alone, or with friends, and while others have collected signatures on my behalf, the deadline for collecting them is this week and I have collected only two thirds of the required number. While this is the most pertinent reason why I cannot run, yet I would like to record for public consumption a few observations I have made during five months of participation in politics, because it has become clear to me that the overwhelming majority of people--even our most interested and selfless community members--do not understand how, by whom or when our candidates are selected for public office, and until that process is understood by more than a micro-minority of people, our political system is bound to grow more corrupt and less representational. I believe this to be detrimental to all citizens regardless of party affiliation. When in February I decided to run for Assembly, my decision was made for two interrelated reasons. First, over 28 years I’ve seen my own community decline into a collection of collapsing buildings with little hope for a future resurrection. As a student of American History I felt that the fortunes of my community were emblematic of the problems facing America, or at least rural America. For over the last 140 years our political system and the virtue and happiness of our people has declined by many measures. Second, viewing that declension, and judging that it is likely to continue for some time, but finding myself in the possession of numerous ideas and helpful legislative experience, I felt that I was obligated to run for office to try to bring about positive changes, just as I would be duty-bound to help some person in danger if I were to come across him in need and I was able to offer my assistance. I knew that I would have to make sacrifices in order to stand as a candidate. I’d have to ask favors of my friends and family. I would need to be absent from my family as they dealt with sickness. I would need to sully what little public reputation I had at the time by associating myself with political matters. And I would have to postpone my grad-

uate studies and take time off of work and go into debt in order to contend energetically for the position. These were difficult personal considerations I had to acknowledge. Yet philosophically I cannot believe that matters of a self-interested or even a familial nature are enough to excuse a person from helping his community. I believe these words of Cicero’s are true and binding: “There is no social relation...more dear than that which links each one of us with our country. Parents are dear; dear are children, relatives and friends; but one native land embraces all of our loves.” If this is true, it compels a man or woman to act for the benefit of their community. “No phase of life, whether public or private, whether in business or in the home, whether one is working on what concerns oneself alone or dealing with another, can be without its moral duty; on the discharge of such duties depends all that is morally right, and on their neglect all that is morally wrong in life.” So I had to offer my ideas, even if it would be difficult, not merely because doing so is good, but because to fail to do so would be evil. As I began making my candidacy for office known, I was aware that I was handicapped because I refuse to join one of the major Parties. It had not escaped my attention that Democrats and Republicans win nearly every election at every level of government. I knew the Party candidates would have major advantages over me. I thought that those advantages were the result of those Parties having inexhaustible monetary resources and volunteers. I thought perhaps a kind of cultural conditioning was also at play, wherein most voters--having witnessed Democrats and Republicans winning every election over the course of their lives--mentally perceive only Democrats and Republicans as legitimate candidates. And indeed those things are true obstacles. But what I learned over the last five months is that there are in addition legal obstacles specifically enacted by Democrats and Republicans in order to keep others from mounting an effective challenge to their control of government. I learned as well that the important decisions that determine who our elected officials will be take place prior to election day and out of the public eye, like a season of American Idol where the judges meet each week off-camera, and throw a singer off the show, and the viewers only tune in for the season finale and vote between the two singers who have survived the secret judging sessions. To be clear: Democrats and Republicans make the laws; they have made and enforced the laws exclusively for 150 years; some of the laws they make are the election laws, and they have amended the election laws so that the result of elections will be to keep Democrats and Republicans in power. Some of these laws are designed to provide benefits to Democrats and Republicans if a candidate gains ballot access and challenges them. But the most important of these laws prevent a candidate from ever becoming a candidate for a general election, preventing, ahead of time, a majority of peo-

ple from choosing a non-Democrat or non-Republican candidate. Provisions of the law function exactly like a pill that causes a woman to shed her uterine wall at gestation time, in order to prevent an unwanted offspring. Before the people ever have a chance to perceive a candidate, to consider the effect of her or his proposals, to weigh whether or not to support him, the candidate’s viability is aborted. Consider as an example the dual signature standard for candidates based on their Party status, which favors major party candidates and forms a significant obstacle for non-Party candidates. But first remember that our laws are not accidental. Our elected representatives wrote each word of the law for a specific purpose, and they can amend every word of the law at any time. Any effect of a law which remains on the books for generations may justly be viewed as an intentional effect purposefully put in place by elected officials. Now, there should of course be a requirement for all candidates to collect signatures, in order to show that they have some level of support within their district. The most obvious and simplest system would be one that requires all candidates to collect the same number of signatures at the same time. Instead the Parties have created a system which is intentionally complex and intentionally disfavors nonparty candidates. Section 6-136 of the NYS Election Law requires a Party candidate to collect a maximum of 500 signatures to run for Assembly. Section 6-138 requires a nonParty candidate to collect a minimum of 1,500 signatures, or three times the amount Party members must collect. The law gives both kinds of candidates the same amount of time to collect the signatures, meaning non-Party candidates must collect their signatures at three times the rate Party candidates collect them. The law further requires nonParty candidates to wait until after Party candidates have finished collected their signatures, before non-Party candidates are legally allowed to begin collecting theirs, and stipulates that no voter may sign two petitions for the same office. The only explanation for this dual system is that Democrats and Republicans have used their power as lawmakers to create a system that keeps them in power. And indeed, even if a non-Party candidate ultimately collects the required number of signatures, and therefore gains ballot access, this system hurts him in the long run. For the system creates a period between mid-July and mid-August where there are two tiers of candidates. Party candidates are “official” candidates while non-Party candidates are not. Not only does this grant Party candidates an extra month to politic, but this is a crucial time in the electoral process where groups like business associations and labor unions endorse their candidate for office. When I met with one frank group, they said to me, “We obviously think you have great ideas, but [our organization] feels we have to endorse an official candidate.” So while non-Party candidates are scrambling for signatures, Party candidates

are receiving endorsements, which often are accompanied by monetary donations and press releases. The result is that if a non-Party candidate manages to overcome the odds and get on the ballot by late August, he finds himself coming late to the race after his potential supporters have given their endorsements to his competitors. This is not unlike a game of Monopoly where two players get $15,000 apiece and take five bonus rolls at the beginning of the game, buying up the real estate, before other players are allowed to have their first roll, and start with $1,500. The system is unfair to the point that it verges on being un-representational, but it is legal, because the recipients of the benefits of the dual-standard are the lawmakers. (Note that a simple solution to this problem would be to require all candidates to collect the same number of signatures for ballot access, during the same time period. This would be an easy bill to draft and one would assume that it would have the support of any honest voter.) As I collected these signatures over the last month, by going door to door, by going to festivals and bars and grocery stores, some similar questions came up again and again. “What party are you?” was often the first point-blank question. When I explained “I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, I’m running against them to give people a third option,” I often got an enthusiastic signature. But when I explained that I needed three times the number of signatures a Party candidate would need, I was sometimes asked, “So why don’t you just join a party? Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?” as though joining a party were as casual a decision as deciding what shirt to wear on a given day. Joining a political party ought never to be a casual decision. Why not “just join a party?” It is not so simple for me. Here is why. Consider a young couple who are very in love and want to get married. The wedding plans are going well until the soon-to-be-bride says, “I think we should get married in a church. Now, I know we’re not religious, and we don’t plan on bringing our kids to church and Sunday School and all of that, like they make you promise to do at the wedding. But my grandmother and my mother would be really mad if we don’t get married in a church, and I just think we could say at the wedding that we’re going to do those things, even though we know we won’t, and then everybody in my family will be happy and we can have the church atmosphere to make it official.” Would not the soon-to-begroom be correct to reply: “I love you and I want to marry you, but the lying concerns me. I think it would be a blemish on our wedding day, if we are to stand in front of 100 of our friends and family, and in one breath promise to do something we know is a lie, and in the next, promise to always be true to one another, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. Isn’t

it bad to start our marriage on a mix of lies and truths? If we start picking which promises we plan to keep, and others we plan not to keep, won’t that take away some of the integrity of our promises? Why must we lie to one another and everyone else just to have a ceremony? And if we must lie in order to get the blessing of others, is that really a blessing, or might it be a curse which we’ll have to deal with later anyway, when we have children and your mother asks why we haven’t brought him to Sunday School, as we promised and vowed to do?” In both the marriage case and the political party case, the person is asked to put aside his principles in order to gain the acceptance of others. Yet when circumstances make it difficult to hold fast to one’s principles...well, those are the very times when one ought not to put them aside! If we put aside our principles at those times when it is inconvenient to have them, they are not principles at all. And that might be the very source of our problems as a political body and a culture. Our leaders ought to be those people who have principles which they never waver from. And yet the system requires people to put aside their principles at the very moment they embark on a public career. The fact is that Parties have platforms, and a person ought not to become a member of a Party if she or he disagrees with significant portions of that platform. I have have a problem with both Parties’ platforms and goals. I don’t think either the Democrats or Republicans adequately protect our civil liberties. Both Parties are opposed to the kinds of protection I believe should be in place to ensure quality American jobs and manufactures. Neither Party champions the kinds of electoral reforms or domestic improvements I support. Neither Party is dedicated to the kind of openness and clarity in our public discussions which I believe are necessary for a true democratic-republican system, but both continue to make important decisions in secret. At the same time, as a student of American History I can state honestly that the Founding Fathers despised all political parties. “Washington believed that the government should have the most direct possible connection with each citizen as an individual...he regarded as an impediment to the true functioning of the republican system...‘demagogues’ whose object was not, he contended, to give the people the materials from which they could make up their own minds but rather to sell them predigested opinions, make them not thinkers but followers...He deplored the adversarial theory which sees government as a tug of war between the holders of opposite views, one side eventually vanquishing the other,” according to one Washington biographer. “Hamilton dreaded parties as ‘the most fatal disease’ of popular governments and hoped America could dispense with such groups,’ according to a Hamilton biographer. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, said “There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties,

each arranged under its leader and converting measures in opposition to each other,” while Monroe said simply “[T]he existence of party is not necessary to free government,” and “Our government may get on and prosper without the existence of parties.” Thus from an historical perspective I dislike parties generally, and after analyzing the views and actions of Democrats and Republicans over the last century, I dislike those parties particularly. So I cannot join either of those Parties and vow to uphold a platform I do not believe in, merely to get elected. The problem, of course, is that almost every other politician does vow allegiance to a party. They then owe the Party for their election and cannot vote against party positions very frequently. The result is the continuation of the two party platforms into perpetuity, like the wagon wheel ruts across the prairies of the midwest 150 years ago, which forced all the following wagons into the same ruts. But enough with the problems with political parties, suffice it to say I could not join one morally. I would have accepted the endorsement of any party, however, and in fact I held several productive meetings in March and April with the Democrats and the Independence Party. Here, too, I learned that the laws are specifically designed to keep nonparty candidates from running, especially in rural areas. It is not the case, as I had thought, that I could petition my way into a Democratic primary, so that in September all the Democrats within the district could choose whether to support me as their candidate in the general election. Were that the case I believe I could have defeated James Miller, the current Democratic candidate. But New York State has an election law procedure known as the “Wilson-Pakula Process” which is designed to prevent non-Party candidates from being allowed into a Party primary. It requires the statewide party committee to give its blessing for an independent candidate to run in a local party race, and it requires the unanimous support for the candidate from the county chair-people within the district. Were my district located in a major urban area, inside a single county, I would have had to receive the support from the county Democratic Chair, and then the State Democratic Chair, and then I would be allowed into a Democratic primary. But my district contains portions of seven different counties, and since unanimous support from the County Chairs are required for a “WilsonPakula,” if even one of those chairs withheld their support, I would be forbidden from running. In March and April I met with several of the County and Town Committees for the Democratic and Independence Parties. At that time they were enthusiastic about my candidacy, because the Democrats had not fielded a challenger to the Republican in-

cumbent in six years. And, frankly, my independent status may have appealed to the 1/3 of voters who are non-registered in my district and allowed the Democrats to overcome their enrollment disadvantage. But all of that changed the first week of June, when I received an email from the Greene County Democratic Chairperson, saying that they would endorse James Miller, who lives in Albany but is allowed to run for office outside his own district because this is a redistricting year. My follow-up emails were ignored. I then received calls from party organizations stating that, since I had lost the support of one of the county chairs, they felt obliged to support Mr. Miller as well. The Independence Party, then, seeing that I had lost Democratic support, decided to endorse the Republican incumbent as the strongest candidate. I point this out not to whine, but to show how the decision of one Party County Chairperson can drastically alter the choices on a ballot, and even prevent 40,000 registered Democrats from having the chance to vote for the candidate of their choice in a primary election. (Again, the simple solution to this un-representative process would be to simply allow any candidate who collects the requisite number of signatures from registered Party members within a district to appear in that Party’s primary election. This would be fairer and simpler, and it would put pressure on the elite within each Party to select candidates with ideas that the majority of their members support. But of course, this latter effect is precisely why Parties favor the current scheme: it allows the Party elite to decide Party policy without the involvement of the vast majority of registered Party members.) So several arcane provisions of the election law have caused me to concede, rather than a lack of effort or ideas on my part. For I have taken nearly two months off of work to campaign, I’ve appeared on radio shows and in newspapers. I have several volunteers who have helped me organize public events, write letters, make signs, and go door to door with me. But these efforts were not enough to overcome the disadvantageous rules which currently pre-determine our election results. I cautiously offer a rather grave observation as I finish this public letter. As I met people throughout this process, on their doorsteps, attending meetings, speaking to people in bars and at riverfront festivals, I was struck by the almost uniform disgust that The People have for their government. To say that people are displeased or annoyed is an understatement. Of the thousands of people I have spoken with, of all ages, classes and party affiliations, not a single person of thousands believed that we as a culture and a civic body are headed on a positive trajectory, or that our government officials have the best interests of the people in their minds. Numerous people said they simply don’t vote because they dislike all of their choices. Some people told me they would not sign

my petition until I told them my position on the 2nd Amendment. Still others predicted another major economic crisis and even a revolution in the near future, perhaps the latter being precipitated by the former. I would like to write these people off as fanatics, but their views are more common than people who work in government would prefer to recognize, and my own experience may be cited as proof of the problems these people perceive. For if a person like me cannot even appear on a ballot, as a generally well-regarded community member with legitimate ideas, energy and legislative experience, because he is forbidden by an unfair system of laws, what chance does the average person have of seeing reform, or even of petitioning their government for a redress of their grievances? It is uncomfortable for most of us to think that we live in a country where majority opinion is not the principle that guides our policy. For if that is the case, our system of representation is failing and we are subjects under, rather than citizens of, our country. But to alleviate the discomfort of such a thought, we are required to imagine that people who are discontent are radical, or that the problems they perceive are imaginary. But they are not. It is not a figment of the imagination that the majority of people pay more of their earnings to government than ever before in American history. It is not polemics, but a statement of reality, to observe that the distance between the poorest and richest citizens is a gaping and growing chasm. It is not false, but true, that politics more than ever before has become a trade full of career politicians unrepresentative of the majority of people. It is not a conspiracy theory, but a rational observation, that there are more police officers and military personnel with greater authority over our bodies than ever before in American history, or that these groups retain arms and surveillance technology exponentially more advanced than anything humankind has ever had access to. It is not an illusion, but a true perception, that there are fewer and less rewarding jobs available to Americans now than several generations ago, or that we have fewer natural rights, and are under correspondingly more regulatory obligations as individuals than ever before in American history. Nor is it ahistorical to observe that the checks and balances originally provided by the Constitution have been negated through the cooperation of Parties which control all branches of government which ought otherwise to be set against one another, or that the Executive branch of government has taken on both legislative and enforcement responsibilities over the last 80 years, or that the President can declare war in all but name without the consent of Congress, or fund secret projects with secretly appropriated funds, or approve trade treaties without ratification by the Senate, all in contravention of the Constitution. It is hardly a falsehood to state that a small minority of persons retain an almost monarchic control over our laws and our economic

system. It is not my purpose here to provide a comprehensive list of the various ways we are worse off as citizens today than we were several generations ago, or to point out conditions which, if not tyrannical today, run the risk of becoming tyrannical at any point. I merely wish to show that significant and growing portions of the population are aware of these conditions and are growing desperate. For they think, correctly, that they are almost powerless to work through government to address society’s problems. We cannot ignore these real dangers to our liberty, livelihood and safety. But we must reform our system of government to allow honest, compassionate and creative people into office. It seems to me much more prudent to reform ourselves now, than to wait until people have become desperate and irrational. For my part I plan to spend the next year finishing my Masters Degree and working in a private capacity on some of the reforms I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere. Specifically I would like to form a Main Street Betterment organization that brings together small business owners, local workers and community volunteers to improve their communities. I’d like to continue to pursue my idea for an “Upstate NY to NYC” food coop that uses the Hudson River to transport produce from upstate farms to NYC, as well as to pursue my initiative for municipal green energy cooperatives. I also plan to advocate for an enhanced governmental studies curriculum for high school students, so that our young people better understand the system they are inheriting. And lastly I’d like sincerely to thank those volunteers, friends and family members who helped me get this far, especially Erin Clary, Koryn Shear, Carmine Berghela and Maggie Flood, as well as all of you who have contributed money or time to my campaign. It is for you folks that I regret conceding the most. It is you, who refuse to be cynical, and who give your energy for the public good, who are the moral leaders of our times. Our country depends on people like you. You are our greatest resource. Thank you, Dallas Trombley