Cornel West has an uphill battle to secure his placement on presidential ballots following his surprise announcement that he was leaving the Green Party to run as an Independent candidate.
The noted scholar and activist made his political intentions clear on Thursday morning in a 40-second-long video clip he posted to his social media channels.
“People are hungry for change. They want good policies over partisan politics. We need to break the grip of the duopoly and give power to the people,” West, 70, wrote in a message that accompanied the video. “I’m running as an Independent candidate for President of the United States to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!”
West’s path to the ballot will still be via a third-party candidacy, but his campaign suggested the” internal party dynamics” of the Green Party played a significant role in determining his political allegiance, or lack thereof.
“As Dr. West’s campaign for president grows, he believes the best way to challenge the entrenched system is by focusing 100% on the people, not on the intricacies of internal party dynamics,” West’s campaign said in a statement.
West’s campaign manager suggested that going from what would have been a sure-fire nomination by the Green Party to operating an as independent candidate seeking the White House wouldn’t be an easy transition.
“It’s a major strategic hurdle for an independent or third party to attain ballot access even in one state, let alone all 50 as a present presidential candidate,” Peter Daou told Politico. “So we will be applying as much rigorous analysis as we can to the best way to approach this because we don’t have unlimited resources.”
Daou added: “Our Constitution provides for Independent candidates to gain ballot access in all states, and Dr. West has begun seeking ballot access as an Independent, unaffiliated with any political party.”
The way to get on all ballots is to file with each state prior to their deadline and have a certain number of signatures on petitions, according to guidelines established and enforced by each state’s secretary of state.
Democracy Docket, a website that provides information about voting rights and elections, warned that the “required number of signatures [for petitions] is usually higher for independent or unaffiliated candidates than the number required to make it onto a political primary ballot.”
Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential nominee, said West’s decision to run as an independent candidate will lose him access to the Green Party’s resources.
“In deciding to run as an independent, the West campaign leaves behind the ballot lines they would have had access to, as well as the guidance of experienced ballot access staff and Green volunteers familiar with the process in most of the 50 states,” Stein and her 2016 vice preidntial running mate Ajamu Baraka said in a statement on Thursday. “We expect this will be a formidable obstacle in the coming months.”
This week is the second time West has cvhanged his political affiliation since declaring his presidential candidacy in June. Back then, West said he was running “for the People’s Party to reintroduce America to the best of itself – fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all!”
Not two weeks later, West announced that he was switching to the the Green Party, a declaration that he said at the time was in “the spirit of a broad United Front and coalition strategy.”
Now, fewer that four months later, West is now an independent candidate.
The last time an independent candidate made waves with a presidential campaign was in 1992 when Texas billionaire industrialist tycoon H. Ross Perot secured his name on the ballot in every state.
Perot’s campaign, like West’s, endured its fair share of ups and downs, including being briefly suspended. In what could be a telling sign for West, Perot — despite being on all presidential ballots — ultimately didn’t earn one of the 270 votes in the Electoral College delegate-driven system needed to determine the winner of presidential elections.
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