INDIANAPOLIS — A new PAC, ReCenter Indiana, was recently founded to bring Indiana politics more towards the center. Don Knebel is the president of the PAC.
“The people who are running are the people that think they can be supported by special interests, and we want to make sure that people who aren’t supported by special interests know that there’s someone out there who will support them,” Knebel said.
This comes at a time when Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with their political options. A Gallup poll from last year shows that 62% of Americans think a third party is needed. That’s the highest it’s ever been.
“One side leans toward the one way, the other leans towards another way, and I feel like there should be a median,” Indianapolis resident Mark Robinson said.
Michael Wolf is acting director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics. He says that people are becoming increasingly extreme these days, but the bulk of people still hold moderate views.
“Not everyone wants moderation. But at some point, there is a critical mass of Americans who really are more moderate than their politicians and there is a disconnect in representation,” Wolf said.
That disconnect is very concerning to Knebel.
“They’ll stop showing up and voting if they don’t feel represented,” Wolf said.
That’s why he feels that he isn’t just fighting for moderation, but for democracy. According to Ipsos, 64% of Americans think their democracy is in crisis and at risk of failing.
“Politics has created a huge divide within every community ever. It’s become too extreme and just too much,” Indianapolis resident Helios Jacobs said.
“They’re fed up with our parties, they’re fed up with our system, and they think something needs to change,” Knebel said. “We’re trying to stop the threat to democracy. Now whether that’s such a grandiose idea that we shouldn’t have it, we have it.”
ReCenter Indiana is non-partisan. The board is comprised of members from many parties, including independents. The PAC’s bylaws prevent any political party from gaining a majority on the board. The group will support candidates of any party that reflect its views.
The PAC will focus its efforts on candidates who respect the democratic process of debate and compromise.
Moderate candidates have historically struggled in primary races. Wolf says that primary races can be flooded with money from special interests. Those groups tend to favor candidates on the political extremes. It can be daunting for new candidates to attempt to enter the arena.
In addition, more extreme voters are the ones who typically vote in the primaries.
Turnout in the primaries is typically low. This year, only 14% of voters statewide cast their ballots.
“The ideological extremity tends to be more motivating. So it’s hard to get a moderate to be an extremist for moderation,” Wolf said.
ReCenter Indiana hopes to break the cycle by supporting and recruiting moderate candidates. They also plan to work to engage moderate voters to go to the polls.
The group’s website just launched on Thursday, but it is hitting the ground running. It is already looking to investigate two races this November: House District 25 and the Secretary of State race.
Both candidates in District 25 are new to politics, and this could be an opportunity to connect with them before more extreme special interests get involved.
Knebel says the race for Secretary of State, the position that oversees elections, is too important to ignore.
As the group gets up and running, Knebel says there’s no other group like it in the country.
“I’m getting calls from other states. I got a call from somebody in Maine who wants to know why we don’t have a Recenter Maine,” Knebel said. “I got an email from someone in Oregon saying we should have a ReCenter America. So we’ve actually registered the domain name ‘ReCenter America.'”
For now, the group is focusing on November in Indiana. But the group is in it for the long haul.
“People my age, we’re not doing this for ourselves, we’re doing it for our grandchildren,” Knebel said. “It might not be this election. It might not be the next five elections, but we hope to create a change in the way people approach the political process. We think we’ve got the right ideas, we’ve got the right people, we’ve got the right people on our side. We think it’ll work.”
For more information about how you can get involved, visit ReCenter Indiana’s website.