Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where the Independent Voters -- and Independent Candidates -- Are in 2010

You'll never see what happened last Tuesday looking through a two-party microscope! Nope. You need an independent historyscope to get this one!


I had the pleasure of hearing independent strategist Jackie Salit give her analysis of the November elections on Sunday night on her regular national conference call which is attended by around 150 activists around the country every six weeks.


Jackie is a long-time independent activist based in New York City, the president of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (aka IndependentVoting.org), the executive editor of the Neo-Independent Magazine, and the campaign manager of Mike Bloomberg's Independence Party campaign. She's someone I follow very closely -- and so should you if you care about independent politics.


A statement released by the campaign via email on Wednesday after the election said: This year, the IP delivered 13% of the total votes cast - the largest percentage ever by a minor party for a cross-endorsed mayoral candidate.


The Hankster (my blog) and Donklephant (where I am a guest blogger), in addition to The Independent View (NYC IP activist Michael Drucker's blog) and the NY Daily News' Brawl for the Hall blog seemed to be the only media outlets that even referenced this astounding result from the election. And then today, I caught Maine's independent mayoral candidate Alex Hammers' post on The Moderate Voice "Independents are a Sleeping Giant".


In the CUIP conference call, Jackie emphasized that, far from being the "margin of victory" for Bloomberg's win as an independent in NYC, the vote on the IP line was the foundation of the campaign. At a time when the votes of both major parties Dems and Repubs went down, the 15 year old grassroots Independence Party doubled its vote.


It is indeed wonderous that no other media picked this up.


But if your framework is a bipartisan -- indeed partisan -- system, you don't pay a lot of attention to the margins, no pun intended! You don't see what's happening on the horizon. You're not looking to the future -- you're looking to the past and how pollsters have been able to parse the vote based on prior elections. Polls are supposed to be predictive. They're interesting, and we all follow them. But predictive?


You'd have to have a 6-billion-person polling operation to figure that one out. And still, you'd get it wrong because what the NYC mayoral race points to is the power that independents have as an organized force. It's something like what the unions used to call "strength in numbers" when we still sang Solidarity Forever and meant solidarity forever for everyone.


Old-fashioned as it may be, independents in NYC have banded together, we have talked with each other, we have made endless phone calls night after night year after year, we have fought back against a stupid and vicious state party chair, we have constituted 5 county committees under state law that are directed by a collective 94-person executive committee, and have inched our way forward into NYC politics as players.


We just led New Yorkers to elect our first independent mayor.


In my book this is something that ordinary people can be proud of. And that ordinary people -- nonpartisans -- all over the country can learn from and emulate.


And indeed they are. Take Joelle Riddle in Durango CO, a former chairwoman of the La Plata County Democratic Party who won her post in 2006 with party support and decided to go independent in August, would have to run as a write-in candidate after inadvertently missing a deadline to change her registration.


“I seek to remedy this burden that falls unequally on small political parties and independent or unaffiliated candidates, unfairly discriminating against them and not affording them the same privileges as the major political parties,” she wrote in a statement announcing her decision Tuesday.


Partisan politics isn't the future of our country, but the search for an independent alternative might be.


You/we independents can do it. If we're organized.


NH

3 comments:

Jack Jodell said...

Nancy,
Thanks to you, I am watching the independent phenomenom more than ever before, and am seeing, particularly on the health care issue, the failure of BOTH major parties to deliver for the people as opposed to big insurance. They are largely BOUGHT OUT all the way!

My only hope is that, in the absence of a single powerful progressive party, independents will mainly continue to support the most progressive of the candidates going forward, as they did in 2008. That is not a given, but we have had enough of the center and far right clique which has controlled Washington and screwed the average citizen for the past 30 years, and that clique needs replacing!

Alex Hammer for Maine Governor said...

Thank you so much for the mention and link!!

Nancy Hanks said...

Thanks Jack -- Independents are probably trying to express their dissatisfaction with both parties -- a plague on both your houses, they say. I don't think this one is about ideology. Keep watching!

Alex -- good luck in Maine!