The first post I was invited to write for this site was about why I was coming all the way from Nebraska to attend the launch of the nonpartisan political organization No Labels in New York. This weekend I am traveling to your fair city once again, this time to attend the Conference of Independents, hosted by IndependentVoting.org, a political organization headquartered in New York City that is tied closely with the Independence Party of New York, as well as Michael Bloomberg.
This isn’t nearly as big of an event as No Labels’ launch, as the target audience is a more focused group of actual independent activists, and is positively tiny in comparison to the conservative CPAC conference, but that it continues every other year and is growing is just another example of how what I call the ‘independent groundswell’ is beginning to organize itself.
As much as IndependentVoting.org has been highlighting this trending away from the two major parties for years now, it hasn’t shown signs of being a movement since the days of Ross Perot. The independent groundswell is far too unorganized, has almost no direction, very few leaders with any level of name recognition among the general population and has a much smaller impact on the politics of today than our numbers would suggest we should. We have a long way to go before we are a movement, and no amount of spin will change that.
I could have made it to the last conference, two years ago, but I didn’t see much of a reason to. There just wasn’t much happening among independents at the time, which isn't the case now. This conference doesn’t appear to have much as far as substance goes (not abnormal for events like this in my experience), with much of the schedule being taken up by fluff like a documentary and mock trial, but as regular conference goers know, it's who you can meet at these events that are often the real reason to go.
There is some controversy revolving around a election rule called Top Two, which has to do with efforts to crack open the primary process beyond the two parties. I tried to get some information from IndependentVoting.org by email, but they wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I’ve got some more digging to do on the subject while I’m in town, but for the most part it's the people I’ll get to meet that draws me to the event. I’m heading there as much as a blogger and writer for this site as I am an independent activist, so I’ll be getting interviews and some video of the event while I’m there to share with you.
I’m flying halfway across the country again because I want to meet more of the people spearheading this groundswell across the country. I talk to people like this all of the time through the contacts I’ve made on my blog, but I rarely get to meet any of them in person. As I look around the country I see more and more signs that people not only are rejecting the major parties and declaring their independence, but that the giant vacuum between the two major parties is beginning to be filled. As far as I know, this is the only national event that tries to bring some of those people together in one place.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.