Former presidential candidate and Forward Party Founder Andrew Yang has co-written a new political thriller with author Stephen Marche called The Last Election – and though it is a work of fiction, it presents real world threats to the future of US elections.
Yang discussed the book with Marche in a recent podcast. The book is set during the 2024 presidential election and follows a third-party candidate whose populist message draws the support of many voters.
However, there is a deeper plot within the system to end democracy in the US. The synopsis reads:
“The story focuses on two characters: Mikey Ricci, a political operative who has lost faith in traditional structures following the bitter races of 2016 and 2020; and Martha Kass, the anonymous tip supervisor of the New York Times. In 2023, Ricci becomes the campaign manager of a third-party candidate who runs on a popular centrist platform and whose frank and honest manner stands in stark contrast to the candidates of the two major parties. Ricci faces off against the massive machinery of both political parties, as well as their invested media and dark money supporters—the source of true power in America. Even so, the candidate's message begins to gain ground.
In the meantime, Kass stumbles upon a plot by the current Joint Chiefs of Staff to seize power in the anticipated chaos of the coming election. She hopes it is too improbable to be taken seriously. But as the idea that Ricci’s candidate might win enough electors to upset the delicate balance of America's two-party system takes hold, the threat becomes frighteningly real.”
The book gets into the chaos and confusion that could erupt if no candidate comes out of a presidential election with a 270 electoral majority, particularly in the current political environment.
And in a state of uncertainty, could someone take advantage for their own gain?
The current two-party machinery makes it difficult for any third-party candidate to break through. Third-party candidates have tougher ballot access rules, fundraising rules, are not allowed on the debate stage, and receive little to no media coverage.
Unless, that is, the narrative can be used to embarrass or undermine that candidate’s campaign – something voters have witnessed in recent elections, from Gary Johnson to Jill Stein to any candidate who even thinks about challenging the two-party duopoly.
Marche said one of the most interesting aspects to the book was diving into the intricacies of horse-race politics, particularly in US presidential elections, and the deep strategies and scheming the parties use to work the system.
“You understand exactly where the two parties hate each other, but where they are also in cahoots – where they shore up their influence together,” he said.
“They hate each other, but they sure hate anyone other than them more."
US presidential elections have to be treated like a zero-sum contest between the Democratic and Republican Parties. No one else is allowed to upset the apple cart, even as the festering bitterness and partisanship threatens elections.
A system that is designed to serve the interests of two private political corporations is open to being used by people with self-serving interests who operate within the current political machinery. And this is not an idea cooked up in the pages of a fictitious novel. It is a reality that US voters have already seen in recent elections.
Winning has become the number one priority for both major parties to such an extent that they will call into question the integrity of the election process if they lose. If they don't win an election, then the system must be rigged.
The truth is the system is rigged – just not how the major parties would have people believe. It is rigged against candidates outside the two major parties, and it is rigged against the majority of US voters who want fair elections and an accountable political system.
Yang and Marche may have created a work of fiction, but that doesn’t mean US elections aren’t under a real threat. Check out the full conversation between them above.