Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hankster: A Declaration of Thankfulness -- Wishing You an Independent Holiday Season!

Thanksgiving greetings from The Hankster -- Hope you had a great holiday weekend!

In thinking about this holiday season, I was reminded of how the independent movement has advanced. From Lenora Fulani's campaign for fair elections in 1988, to Ross Perot's astounding 19% of the vote in 1992, to the election of Barack Obama in 2008, independents have been at the forefront of political reform and change in America for decades.

In fact, as my colleague Randy Miller, founder of Utah League of Independent Voters (ULIV), just said to me:  No change in America has taken place without independents, from the abolitionists and women's suffrage movements to the modern day civil rights movement.  As Randy pointed out, "We were established as an anti-establishment country."

I am reminded that the tagline for The Hankster is

WHERE THE INDEPENDENTS ARE.....A daily news feed of, by and for Independents across America.

The Hankster got started in 2006 from a ten-year research project to inform a growing independent movement of grassroots activists about what the mainstream media and pundits were saying about us independents. If you read The Hankster on a regular basis, you probably realize that we link to mainstream media pieces that comment on independent voters regardless of ideological perspective. Commentary comes from the left, center and right, and indeed independents fall across the political spectrum. News consists mostly of polls or other analysis that bears little resemblance to the opinions and activity of actual independent voters. We think you should be aware of the full spectrum.

As we head into the next year, we think it's worth taking a moment to consider that the independent movement has grown by leaps and bounds since 2006. Independents in New York elected the first independent mayor in 2009 and put nonpartisan elections on the public agenda. California independents won a referendum that will implement a Top Two Open Primary and include 3.4 million decline-to-state" independents in 2012.

Grassroots activists like Randy Miller, Joelle Riddle of Colorado, Michael Lewis of Kentucky, and hundreds more across the country, have created openings within the electoral process to have the voices of independents heard.

Over the past year, The Hankster has brought you notes and reports of, by and for independents such as:

Dr. Omar H. AliAssociate Professor, African American and Diaspora Studies, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, author of In the Balance of Power: Independent Black Politics and Third Party Movements in the United States, and In the Lion's Mouth: Black Populism in the New South, 1886-1900. Watch for his upcoming column on The Hankster

Harry Kresky: NYC attorney representing CUIP (, blogs at Legal Briefs, posts from time to time on The Hankster; represented independents at NYC Charter Revision Commission hearings summer 2010

Michael Lewis, chief organizer and chairman of Independent Kentucky, brought national attention to the demand from independents for open primary elections when CNN followed him into the “hornets’ nest” of the statehouse in Lexington during his campaign for election reform. 

Randy Miller
: Iraq vet, founder of Utah League of Independent Voters (ULIV), independent candidate for surveyor in his district 2010, contributor to The Hankster

Joelle Riddle, former independent commissioner in La Plata, Colorado, a founder of Independent Voters for Colorado. She brought a legal suit against the unfair laws that discriminate against independents in her state.

Jackie Salit, political strategist and a 30-year veteran of the independent political movement.  She managed all three of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaigns on the Independence Party line, which provided his core support and margin of victory for nonpartisan governance. As the president of, Jackie conducts a regular national conference call with 140 activist independents from 40 states. She is also the executive editor of the Neo-Independent magazine.

You can also read profiles of independents in their own words -- grassroots activists like youth organizer Lyric, Vice Chair of the Queens Independence Party Bryan Puertas, independent activist Ramon Pena, and actress/ comedian Marian Rich...

We look forward to bringing you more reports, commentary and opinions by independents in the coming year!

And now for the news:

  • To Mobilize the Indies, We Need Stronger Unions (Michael Kazin, The New Republic/In-House Critics) Of all the social groups essential to a winning Democratic coalition, white working-class people are the only ones who, for the most part, currently lack sturdy institutions that promote progressive ideas and policies.
  • Larry Abrams: The Devil and Barack Obama (By Huffington Post, in Capitol Hill Blue) The weak link in the Obama candidacy was always that in his reasoned appeal to liberals and so-called independents, he was leaving behind the ethnic, white working class base of the old New Deal coalition.
  • Independents Are Up For Grabs In 2012 Election (Samantha Yerks, Neon Tommy - Annenberg Center, USC) The majority of Americans, however, now identify themselves as decline to state voters or Independents, falling into the middle of the ideological spectrum.
  • New Yorkers Doubt That Bloomberg Would Make a Good President (BRUCE DRAKE Contributing Editor, Politics Daily) While Bloomberg certainly has the money to launch a third-party bid that would make an impact, he would not have the support of the city's independent voters. Sixty-one percent of them say he would not make a good president.
  • Education Reform -- Crashing on the Bell Curve (Steve Nelson, Head of the Calhoun School in Manhattan, Huffington Post) But educational policy makers and social commentators, including the President and Education Secretary, blindly operate on the opposite cause and effect premise: that the increase in wealth disparity is somehow caused by the erosion of educational standards and if we only demand more of poor children, particularly children of color, social injustice will be cured…. All the hot rhetoric over educational achievement is nonsense. The problem in America is a dangerous class divide, not a crisis in teaching and learning. Until we address deepening poverty, demoralizing unemployment and insidious racism, too many American children will fulfill the sad prophesy they inherit.
  • The mismatch between Duncan's words, actions (By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post/The Answer Sheet)
  • Outgoing NYC Schools Chief Klein: School Reform Momentum Will Continue (PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer) Oh, I think the fact that our families have many more choices. We have opened up almost 500 schools, Jeffrey, over the last eight years. That's more than most cities have.
  • Can Mark Zuckerberg’s Money Save Newark’s Schools? - Newark hit the jackpot with a $100 million donation from the Facebook founder to aid its ailing schools. Now the country will be watching for results—and mistakes. (Newsweek Education)
  • News Corp., After Hiring Klein, Buys Technology Partner in a City Schools Project (By FERNANDA SANTOS, NY Times) On Monday, News Corporation announced that it had signed an agreement to buy 90 percent of Wireless Generation for $360 million in cash, its first foray into the for-profit world of education since its book publishing arm, Harper Collins, got out of the textbook business in the mid-1990s. The deal thrusts one of the world’s largest media conglomerates behind a concept championed by New York City’s schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein: a numbers-based system to evaluate and rank schools and to improve teaching.

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