Streams

The Independent Groundswell

Friday, February 11, 2011 - 03:01 PM

WNYC

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.

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. 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 calling this groundswell moving away from the
two major parties a movement 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, its 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 I tried to
get some answers from IndependentVoting.org on 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 its 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
half way across the country again because I want to meet more of the people
spearheading the independent 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 are that giant vacuum between the two major
parties is beginning to be filled. As far as I know, this is the only national
even that tries to bring some of those people together in one place.

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Comments [6]

Hi Solomon!
I was at the Independentvoting.org meeting on 2-12-11. Sorry I didn’t run into you. I thought the program was informative, but that it did not do enough to activate the troops. Here is how I think Independents can do more to inspire folks to work to change US politics:
“Independent Voters Are On the Move. Two-Party System BEWARE – Tunisia and Egypt Can Happen Here!” http://tinyurl.com/gotguts Hope you will have the time to read it, and to comment!

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Internetvoting@gmail.com
http://tinyurl.com/IV4All

PS

Want more info on misnamed “top two”? I have written on that. My latest article is,
“Cal Prop 14 GOOD for All States: Political Parties Un-American” http://bit.ly/gm2lpy

Feb. 17 2011 07:44 PM
Mike D. from New York

I have been going to these events since it started. Even thought it is called a party in NY, I always thought of it as a movement. For me, the concept of Structial Political Reform including Open Primaries and Open Ballots is why I am an activist. I still am working on how to handle the General Election after an Open Primary is run. My blog is www.ipview.blogspot.com, where I explain my concept of Open Primaries.

Feb. 17 2011 06:00 PM
Richard Winger from San Francisco

Somehow my comment got posted in the wrong place. One of the links Nancy had went to someone who said those things I was rebutting. I can't figure out how my comment ended up in the wrong blog.

Feb. 16 2011 11:00 PM
Richard Winger from San Francisco

John Anderson did not "give us" Ronald Reagan. Reagan won an absolute majority, and even if every single Anderson voter had voted for Jimmy Carter, Reagan would still have won.

And George Wallace did not "give us" Richard Nixon. Most analysts of the 1968 election agree that in the states where the Nixon-Humphrey vote was close, it was Humphrey who benefited from having Wallace in the race.

Feb. 16 2011 05:30 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

I didn't say anything about a third party, except in a side comment about Ross Perot. There could be a centrist tea party type movement, or centrist netroots type movement, much like forces on both sides that have a big influence on folks in both parties. A party could happen too, and I do think it is inevitable (although not anytime soon, barring a game changer), but I'm talking a movement, not party.

Feb. 14 2011 02:21 PM

"The independent groundswell is far too unorganized..."

That's an oxymoron, right there.

Can we agree that America's brand of Column A or Column B politics has for the last forty years failed the middle class?

Third-party efforts generally seem to be organized for a single election cycle or two. They are not built to last. And third-party efforts have the unintended danger of enabling an opposition victory...Wallace enabled Nixon, Anderson gave us Reagan, Perot takes down Bush, et al.

Oh yeah, the IAFC webmaster should fix the typo in the link to this article.

Feb. 14 2011 10:45 AM

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