At a time when misinformation about the 2020 election is widespread, social media are the dominant political arena of the day and big money fuels campaigns more than ever before, can a candidate eschew all of that and actually win?
What’s more, can you create a whole new political party around this idea? The 28-year-old grandson of a former Minnesota governor is putting that idea to the test this campaign cycle and using himself as the guinea pig.
“It’s always lonely at the beginning. I realized that at some point you have to take a risk,” said Stephan Quie, whose grandfather is former Republican Gov. Al Quie. “I decided to start this now and be willing to make mistakes and a learn.”
He’s running as a write-in candidate for a seat in the state House in northeast Minneapolis under the Honesty Oath Party, which he created around the idea that misinformation is rampant in modern politics and politicians should pledge to always tell the truth.
“I believe that Americans, broadly speaking, are disillusioned and often apathetic toward politics today, and I believe that’s in large part due to the lack of honesty that they see from elected officials,” he said. “It’s commonplace to see the phrase, ‘Well, of course politicians lie, that’s just given.'”
Originally, his idea was to create a pledge that candidates from either party could sign to get an endorsement from the group, but Quie realized it would be hard for him to police whether the candidates were following through once they were in office.
He decided to run himself, and as part of his new party, he’s doing so without setting up social media accounts or accepting money from lobbyists or political action committees.
Quie knows that puts limitations on his ability to promote himself. He was unable to get the signatures required to file for office as a third-party candidate this fall, so he’s continuing his effort as a write-in campaign.
It’s a long shot, but he doesn’t view this election as a win-or-bust situation. He plans to take lessons from his experience in figuring out how to mold the party going forward.
The approach hearkens back to the kind of campaigns his grandfather would have run during his nearly three decades in politics, including four years as governor in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There was no social media back then, PAC money hadn’t exploded in elections, and candidates went out in person to stump for votes.
“I’ve seen him have a long career upholding character and virtue. It gives me so much hope that this is possible and it’s not idealistic and it’s not unrealistic,” Quie said. “People are drawn to it and people just need to tell politicians to begin this conversation.”