As results continue to dribble in from extremely tight local and state elections across the country, all about independent voters, independents have already moved on — or stayed the course, depending on your POV. Let’s turn our attention to some important propositions that were put to the ballot this year:
California continues to lead the way in political reform. Back in June, passage of Prop 14, the Top Two Open Primary referendum, enfranchised 3.4 million independent decline-to-state voters in the state in the first round of voting.
And now, as Chief of Staff for the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (IndependentVoting.org) John Opdycke reported last week, voters in Florida are speaking out on the need for political reform:
Proposition 20-which expanded the California Redistricting Commission’s mandate to include Congressional districts-passed by 20 points. In addition, Proposition 27, a bi-partisan ploy to dismantle the Commission, was defeated by a similar margin.
And in Florida, the voters passed Amendment 5 by a 25 point margin. Its passage establishes clear, non-partisan guidelines for the drawing of legislative districts.
Opdycke goes on to point out the significance of these votes:
While the big story yesterday was the new Republican Congressional majority, the victory for redistricting reform in California and Florida was an important subtext. The Democratic and Republican Parties have mastered the non-developmental game of capturing and recapturing the approximately 60 competitive Congressional districts. But this back and forth blood sport-while making for good copy-does not provide the American people the opportunity to fully express their desire for change. When voters have the opportunity to speak directly, as they did in Florida and California, without being filtered by the political parties, reform passes overwhelmingly.
A footnote to these important state-wide reform initiatives: third-term-in-a-two-term-limited NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg set up a Charter Revision Commission (a good thing) to get public input about any city charter issues confronting New Yorkers. The Hankster (moi) was there for a 6-month relentless campaign by the prestigious 100 year old “good government group” Citizens Union, the anti-party organizations of the NYC Independence Party, and an expanding city-wide youth contingent. [A sizable and increasing 25% of NYC youth, mostly black and Latino, are disenfranchised by NYC election law by virtue of being independent…] You can review video here at HanksterTube.
Big Media is paying a lot of attention to the VOTES of independents in the recent midterm elections, and precious little attention to the ACTIVITY of independents on the ground. Their analysis for that reason, of the votes of independents leaves out a critical factor — being independent in a bi-partisan political culture is downright impossible!
And it’s doing the impossible that independents are so good at.
Independent strategist Jackie Salit put it best in her pre-election report to the CUIP networks (a growing national loosely affiliated on-the-ground collection of independent activists):
Right now, it’s very hard for the American people to express themselves. The media has molded politics into a blood sport. And the political system channels everything into a left/center/right, Democratic/Republican paradigm that undermines progress and rewards division. Independents are trying to make a statement about all of that. But even so, we barely register as “real,” even though, paradoxically, we now decide many important elections.
So unfortunately — or possibly fortunately for most of us since they don’t know what they’re talking about anyway — Big Media, not surprisingly, misses the mark. What independents want is structural political reform.
What does it take to get real political reform? I say grassroots organizing — going door to door, speaking with friends, family, neighbors and strangers about what you REALLY think about our political culture and what to do about it. Let me know what YOU think!
Thanks for reading this. And look for upcoming “Reports from the Field” from independent activists around the country on The Hankster
Provocateur/ pundit/ organizer Nancy Hanks is a long-time activist in the independent political movement who’s done it all: petitioning to put independent candidates on the ballot from New York to Texas and points east, west, north and south; fundraising for the independent think tank, the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (CUIP), and its online counterpart, IndependentVoting.org; running as an independent for New York City Council from Queens, New York City’s most diverse borough; serving as the current Treasurer of the Queens County Committee of the Independence Party of New York (of the IP NYC Organizations); conducting research for the Neo-Independent, a magazine that addresses the concerns of independent voters.