The Democratic Party was strongest electorally when it was a party for class-based economic liberalism. Regaining that identity will require compromise, but is its best chance at survival
Some folks tried the independent model in Alaska (see Politico piece on it from 2018: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/12/how-to-turn-red-state-blue-purple-alaska-politics-2018-216304/). There was some success there but the main leader was a young legislator in his 20s is now retiring (https://www.alaskapublic.org/2022/03/21/sitka-rep-jonathan-kreiss-tomkins-to-end-his-decade-long-legislative-career/).
Separately, a group did decide to try and copy that independent strategy, but found a lot of executional problems, eg three independents in a state couldn’t coordinate in the same way three Ds/Rs could, spoiler problems, etc. They wrote a full report on it (https://www.uniteamerica.org/news-article/independent-candidates-the-2018-elections-what-we-learned).
No clue what the answer is to this problem. I ran in 2018 myself and wanted to try and be an independently branded Texas Democrat but even when consciously trying to brand differently, the message discipline required (in a R+23 district!) is still quite hard - eg you do need to recruit your volunteers, donors from somewhere.
Just adding further resources for those interested in what’s been tried.
I think we reached the limit of the two-party Presidential system. The U.S. system cannot handle a multi-party system like a parliamentary system can. I think about the 2010 FL Senate race where Rubio beat Crist and Meek. Crist refused to announce which party he would caucus with if he won. Towards the end of the campaign, Crist revealed that he would caucus with the Democrats, but Democrats split their votes between Crist and Meek. Rubio actually got less votes than Crist and Meek combined. Another potential race like this is the UT Senate race between Lee, McMullin, and Weston. Clearly Lee is very likely to win, but it is possible that the 2022 UT Senate race will end up like the 2010 FL Senate race where Lee doesn't get more votes than McMullin and Weston combined. Splitting the vote is why we need ranked choice voting. If McMullin has any chance of winning, he needs as many Democratic votes as possible. Democrats will make a vast majority of his voters. Even if it was just a race between Lee and McMullin, McMullin's voters may be more liberal than he and some Democrats may need McMullin to pledge to caucus with the Democrats in order to vote for him. At the same time that could alienate other potential voters. Without a parliamentary system or at least ranked choice voting, I can't see a solution to this problem.
I hope you are doing well,
What gets to me in theses discussions (about trends which have been obvious at least since 2016) is that the small number of urban counties that Democrats routinely carry produce 70 percent of the national wealth. 70 percent! Can a country long endure when the places which are economic failures lord it over the generators of the national wealth? I think the question must be posed in those terms.
I think hope is in the states. I think the United States have split apart. I think power-wrangling to keep some of us worms from climbing out of the bait can is what is killing the planet.