Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year 2011,000,000,000,000,000>

IndependentVoting enthusiastically supports the top-two law in California

The Hankster Top 10 Major Political Reform Achievements in 2010:

#1. California's Proposition 14 - Top Two Open Primary, a hard-fought 14 year battle that gives 3.4 million independent decline-to-state Calfornians the right to vote in the first round of voting

#2. Republican Party of Idaho vs. Ysursa - Independent voters won legal standing and in mid-October a federal court judge in Boise, Idaho, heard testimony in the case Republican Party of Idaho vs. Ysursa, a crucial test of the parties vs. the people. Idaho has an open primary system, where any voter can cast a ballot in all primary and general elections — voters simply register in Idaho, they do not affiliate with a political party. 

#3. NYC Independence Party's proposal for nonpartisan elections - an 8 month endeavor in 2010 (and altogether a 7-year fight) to lessen the control of partisan interests in NYC and increase the power of voters.

#4. California Proposition 20 - 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. See Proposition 20 on Wikipedia. A competing initiative on the November 2 ballot, and Proposition 27, Elimination of the Citizen Redistricting Commission, unsuccessfully sought to repeal Proposition 11.

#5. Florida voters enact nonpartisan redistricting plan  Almost obscured by Florida's high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate, voters passed two amendments to the state's constitution Tuesday intended to radically limit the ability of the Republican-controlled legislature and governor's mansion to gerrymander state and congressional districts.

#6. Randy Miller's cartoon "We've Got to Stop Top 2, But How?"

#7. Harry Kresky's HuffPo op ed "California's Top Two Primary System Opens the Door to a Broader and Stronger Coalition for Political Reform" In this moment of possibility, it is important to remember what independents and minor party members have in common: a recognition that the major parties have too long placed partisan interests over the national interest; a belief that the existing two party arrangement keeps the policy dialogue within too narrow a framework; and a commitment to leveling the electoral playing field.

#8. Jackie Salit's report in theNY Newsday article "Goodbye Two-Party System?" from October 2010 Americans are starting to move beyond the parties, even beyond partyism. That’s the dynamic story unfolding on the edges of the midterm battleground. And if that motion is cultivated by truly nonpartisan innovators, the political parties will have a comeuppance sooner than you might think. Contrary to what some analysts argue — that America is ripe for a third party — the direction Americans are really heading is away from parties altogether.

#9. Joelle Riddle's Independents for Colorado Election Day organizing effort: Being on the “inside” allowed me to experience the consequences of a broken system and how it fails the people and the issues that are most important to us on a regular basis, day after frustrating day. Until the system changes we won’t have qualified candidates, we won’t solve problems and we won’t regain the public trust.

#10. Michael Lewis's Independent Kentucky Coup reports on The Hankster: In 2010 Independent Kentucky had positioned our semi-open primary bill as a win/win for everyone in Kentucky and the state GOP was on board from the start. So I continued to build off our overwhelming win in the Senate and decided to work towards more success in the House where we have been stonewalled for the last 3 years. Independent Kentucky has faced overwhelming opposition in the House because of the controlling party’s unwillingness to consider the 185,000 independents in the state that they have chosen to isolate.

On behalf of the hundreds of ordinary grassroots activists around the country working for political reform


 -- NH

And now for the news:

  • Former Leaders of New Alliance Party Have Become Leading Opponents of Ballot Access Reform (Ballot Access News) Notwithstanding all these harms done to voting rights, IndependentVoting enthusiastically supports the top-two law in California, and expresses open hostility toward minor parties.  For example, see this cartoon [by Randy Miller on The Hankster], carried on a blog associated with IndependentVoting.
  • Canceling Washington's Presidential Primary (Seattle Post Intelligencer/Forthright with Sue Lani Madsen) Before there is any move to reinstate the presidential preference primary in 2016, it needs an overhaul. If any political party wants a presidential preference primary, let the political party design it, control it and pay for it. There is no other way to run a primary in an open registration state, and stubbornly independent Washington voters aren't likely to accept a requirement to register by political affiliation.
  • Editorial: Take politics out of redistricting (Glens Falls Post Star) Sometimes, the benefit of having power is having the ability to do the right thing for your constituents. That's why New York's heavily partisan state Legislature should turn over its redistricting power to an independent, non-partisan commission, as suggested by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
  • Governor Cuomo (EDITORIAL New York Times) Gov Cuomo to clean up Albany... (?)
  • Daniels Puts Hoosier State on School Choice Map (The Heritage Foundation/The Foundry) More quality educational options are clearly needed. While just 34 percent of Indiana fourth graders are proficient in reading, minority students fare far worse. Among African American fourth graders, just 15 percent are proficient in reading.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We've got to stop 'Top 2' from coming, But How?

Oklahoma Bill Would Give Independents the Right to Vote in Presidential Primaries

  • POLL: CALIFORNIA'S INDEPENDENTS WEIGH IN (by Damon Eris, CAIVN) Published earlier this month on the basis of interviews with over 2,000 California voters, the political affiliations of the poll’s respondents roughly mirror official registration numbers in the state at large: 45% Democrat, 34% Republican and 20% Independent, with 1% in support of another party. 
  • New governor, new pledge for reform (North Country Public Radio) Sue Lerner, with Common Cause, says Cuomo should use the momentum from his landslide victory and popularity as Attorney General to achieve his objectives early on, including non partisan re-drawing of legislative and congressional district lines, and campaign finance reform.
  • NY Senate Republicans say Democrats overspent (Associated Press, Wall Street Journal) The Democrats chose three leaders with expanded staffs: Sens. John Sampson of Brooklyn, Malcolm Smith of Queens and Pedro Espada of the Bronx.
  • If you're Con then you're on - Vote hike gives Conservatives ballot spot (By MICHAEL GORMLEY, NY Post) [This is the AP report]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

pardon billy!

Pardon Billy the Kid, NOT the Parties!

  • Calif. blue election not likely to see conservative voters (Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow California correspondent, American Family News Network) The election will take place February 15 and will be the first of its kind since constituents voted to pass Proposition 14 and enable the top two vote-getters to run in the general election. But Craig Huey, speaker and founder of the Election Forum, says the Christian voice will be completely silenced this election in blue (Democrat-dominated) California.
  • Special election set for Runner's seat (Wesley G. Hughes, San Bernardino Sun) The deadline for filing for candidacy for the seat in the district, which cuts a swath across the northern sectors of San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, plus a minuscule piece of south Kern County, is 5 p.m. Jan. 3
  • Status of Republican Party Attempts to Obtain Party Registration via Courts in Two States (Ballot Access News) The Republican Parties in two states, Idaho and South Carolina, are currently litigating whether they are constitutionally entitled to some procedure that will prevent adherents of other political parties from voting in Republican primaries.
  • Third Parties Have Newfound Clout in NY (By Michael Gormley, Associated Press, Brooklyn Eagle) “It certainly is a stronger position,” said Long. “We moved up, and the Working Families Party moved up. I would give them credit ... the reason we moved up is because both parties represent something.”
  • Green, Conservative parties ready newfound clout (Associated Press, Wall Street Journal) "I think it's a better system, even though we changed positions," MacKay said. "Obviously we all want to be on Row A for bragging rights, but under the new system it's better for the voter to pick who he or she wants."

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: The Year of the Open Primary

As 2010 draws to a close, open primaries remains front and center among political reform.

  • ‘Candidate’ has a vision for Pennsylvania (John R. Ingram II, president and CEO of Ingram Real Estate Group, Allentown, Centre Daily Times/Focus o Harrisburg) CALLS FOR: The elimination of closed primaries in Pennsylvania, to be replaced with open primaries, where any registered voter would be allowed to vote for any candidate, whether Republican, Democrat or independent.
  • Moving to the center (EDITORIAL Press Democrat - Sonoma County CA) These two changes — redistricting and the open primary system — offer the best hope in a long while that Californians will see Sacramento move more toward the center and toward progress. From that perspective, 2011 looks to be a promising year already.
  • Party leaders out of step with voters (THE OLYMPIAN) The unanimous decision out of California is good news for Washington state voters, too, because it’s yet another legal decision on the right of voters to select the candidate of their choice regardless of party affiliation. 
  • POLITICAL CHANGE IS COMING TO CALIFORNIA (by Greg Lucas, CAIVN) Both changes -- Proposition 14 in June and Proposition 20 in November -- were opposed by most incumbent politicians. Proposition 20 expanded the powers of an independent 14-person redistricting commission approved by voters in 2008 to include California's congressional delegation. Voters defeated a rival measure, Proposition 27, backed by the congressional delegation and incumbent state legislators which would have abolished the commission.
  • Political reform/Looking back (By John Howard, EXCERPT Capitol Weekly) Big year for California political reform
  • Open primaries could stymie tea party success (James Rufus Koren, San Bernardino Sun) Because of a change in how California's primary elections are conducted, candidates likely won't be able to win primary elections with so few votes, and tea party groups might not see any such victories in the future, said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.
  • Top 2 primary system still standing (EDITORIAL Daily News - Lower Columbia WA) There's no mystery as to why party officials here and in California are so determined to scuttle or, failing that, change the Top 2 primary system. It's a system in which voters have the freedom to choose who they deem to be the best candidate, regardless of party affiliation.
  • Brown: A time when "no labels" was a reality (By Fred Brown, The Denver Post) I can remember a time in the Colorado legislature when party labels really seemed not to matter so much. Legislators got elected and became more loyal to the legislature than they were to their parties. Party leaders were not often seen at the Capitol. Members of the Joint Budget Committee, in particular, became JBC members more than Republicans or Democrats.
  • Obama Can Win by Securing the Middle (Ronnie Shows-Former Congressman, Mississippi's 4th District, Huffington Post) The only way he can get back these independent voters that he won in 2008 is to adopt more centrist positions and reduce unemployment. If he cannot, the President will be vulnerable to a Republican challenger who will appeal to these independent voters by campaigning on conservative policies to end the current employment slump. To keep the White House, we need a President who appeals to moderate voters -- not just hope that Republicans nominate Sarah Palin.
  • And the Tea Party's next target is ... Scott Brown?! (BY STEVE KORNACKI, Salon/The War Room) That said, if Brown is challenged, he should be boosted by the ability of independent voters to participate in Massachusetts primaries.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have a Hankster Holiday!!!

east of the moon

No Labels to Consentrate on Open Primary States

  • Obama Boosts Image With Indies, GOP Moderates: Gallup (by FRANK JAMES, NPR)
  • Obama's Overall Job Approval Steady at 46% - Dip in support from liberal Democrats offset by boost from moderate/liberal Republicans (by Lydia Saad, Gallup) Liberal Democrats' approval of Obama remained subdued, averaging 80% in the past week, similar to the 79% in the previous week and below the 88% found just prior to the midterm elections. This is based on Democrats as well as independents who lean Democratic.
  • No Labels: What happens next? (Ken Bingenheimer, National Common Ground Examiner) n the simplest terms, in the words of Nancy Jacobson, a founding leader and moderator on the call, "We're going to be spending 2011 building this organization." That will consist of setting up local groups in each of the 435 U.S. Congressional districts, as well as building teams in the 17 states that have open primaries.
  • Obama’s Second Act? (Michael Tomasky, New York Review of Books) He cannot count on a continuation of this fortnight’s burst of bipartisanship, but the recent victories have probably replenished his capital with his own party, and to some extent with independent voters, putting him in a stronger position as he prepares for battle.
  • What Newark Schools Need (Dana Goldstein, The Nation) But Furman's methods aren't magic, and they rely only partly on her innate talent for teaching. Her singalongs, read-alouds and writing lessons are all part of a research-backed system developed by the Children's Literacy Initiative, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that has won a $22 million grant from the Obama administration to bring its teacher training program to fifteen Newark elementary schools.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joelle Riddle: Independent Leader in Colorado Report from the Field, E-Day 2010

Joelle Riddle was one of three full-time La Plata County Colorado Commissioners since winning the election in 2006. Not a newcomer to the political arena and policy making, Riddle was a Young Democrat and then chair of the La Plata County Democratic Party prior to changing her affiliation to "independent" to better serve the people of La Plata County. She was prevented from running for re-election by Colorado state law which imposes a 17-month waiting period for candidates who disaffiliate, a law that she and other nonpartisans challenged in the courts. Riddle was honored this year with an Extraordinary Leader Award during the Women’s Resource Center’s Girls Night Out for her education work with Planned Parenthood, the various constituencies she has represented as a commissioner and founding the independent Voters for Colorado.

Joelle Riddle



Election Day November 2, 2010, turned out to be a very personal experience for me. I knew that this day more than any other would be the beginning of the end as far as my current capacity to serve as an elected official.

It was clear several months ago that I was not going to be on the ballot, having discovered the inequities in Colorado law immediately after changing my affiliation from Democrat to independent (or unaffiliated). It was further affirmed I wasn’t going to be on the ballot after a federal court judge ruled that there would be no changes to the rules set in place by the parties to blatantly advance their candidates and discourage others.

I knew it, but on Election Day I felt it.

Being on the “inside” allowed me to experience the consequences of a broken system and how it fails the people and the issues that are most important to us on a regular basis, day after frustrating day. Until the system changes we won’t have qualified candidates, we won’t solve problems and we won’t regain the public trust. 
It was sobering in a way that I hadn’t imagined as I looked at the list of candidates on the ballot and didn’t see my name, as I had four years earlier. To not win an election is one thing, but to be prevented from even running is another -- very frustrating -- experience all together.

Although I experienced this intense feeling of injustice and frustration (as most independents do at one time or another, I imagine) it was juxtaposed with a very deep sense of relief, a relief that I would no longer have to work within a broken, dysfunctional system. The effects of our partisan politics are felt at every level, and if you are someone that thinks it only affects our elected officials in DC, then think again—it’s thought, felt and ingrained into all levels of our political process, even in our small rural communities, and that’s exactly where we need to start the reform.

I spent the last four years learning and understanding countless processes, participating in numerous local and state boards to advocate for my community, studied issues I had never even heard of prior to taking office. I built relationships based on trust in order to continue to do the best job I could for my community. And really all of that didn’t amount to much in the end as far as the "system" was concerned. Everything boiled down to the fact that I didn’t want to play for just one team; I wanted to work for all of the people, with no biased party labels or preconceived notions. For me it was a natural evolution and a product of my observations and learning.

Being on the “inside” allowed me to experience the consequences of a broken system and how it fails the people and the issues that are most important to us on a regular basis, day after frustrating day. Until the system changes we won’t have qualified candidates, we won’t solve problems and we won’t regain the public trust.

I knew when I made the decision to become an independent that there would be consequences, some rather predictable and others I couldn’t have imagined.

One thing was for certain, independence was the only way forward that would allow me to do the best job I could for the people I was elected to represent.

I have never regretted that decision and it has proven to not only affirm my passion for democracy, it has elevated it to a level that will inspire my work as a grassroots organizer for “Independent Voters for Colorado”.

Although I wasn’t re-elected to office, I know that my commitment to the people in my community is deeper and I am even more determined to help change our government. In the future I want to contribute to a more authentic expression of our democracy; a productive political process and not just a power game for political parties who seem to be concerned for their own “win” as opposed to genuine gains for those whom they purport to serve. I would venture to say that my next Election Day report won’t be fraught with so much frustration, but more of a sense of accomplishment in working with other independents to organize and demand a better democratic process.

Happy Holidays,

Joelle Riddle can be reached at UPDATED!! or (970)799-3720

Not Just Indies, But Dems and Repubs Agree: electing a nonpartisan President is a good idea

  • FRESNO BEE: Initiative rules need an overhaul (This editorial is from the Fresno Bee - in Press and Democrat) The process is a safeguard against legislative inaction. Changes including the new open primary and creation of a citizens commission to draw legislative boundaries never would have come about without the initiative. But the initiative process is in need of repair…. Several attempts have been made over the years to overhaul the initiative process. The initiative industry is formidable and has blocked changes.
  • Clarus Poll: 2012 Presidential Race (PRESS RELEASE PR NewsWire) "You'd expect independent voters to want an independent President. But more than two out of every five Democrats and Republicans also say electing a nonpartisan President is a good idea," said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. "There is clearly potential for an independent candidate to do quite well in 2012."
  • A sobering look at Florida school reform (By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post/The Answer Sheet) There are also places where the achievement gap in Florida is as stubborn as it has been elsewhere in the country. In fourth grade math, achievement gaps measured on NAEP between 2003 and 2009 have been stable, and the white-black and lunch-program participation gaps in Florida are similar to those gaps for the country as a whole. In eighth-grade writing measured on NAEP between 1998 and 2007, you see the same stagnant pattern.
  • Where the Achievement Gap is Born: A Letter to Cathie Black (Susan Ochshorn, Huffington Post) [proposes early childhood education] Too many of our country's youngest children, however, lack the optimal circumstances for growth and development. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, of the 25 million young children under the age of 6 in the United States, 46 percent live in low-income families and 24 percent are growing up in poverty. The high levels of family stress and trauma often associated with poverty may result in discontinuity in the quality of children's daily care and education, compromising children's readiness for school. NOTE:  Susan Ochshorn is the founder of ECE PolicyWorks, a consulting firm specializing in early care and education policy research, program development, and project management.
  • Education chief nominee calls 2011 year of reform (BY JOHN REITMEYER, THE RECORD STATE HOUSE BUREAU - - Fox) Cerf, a Democrat, is a former teacher and law school graduate who worked in the White House counsel's office under President Bill Clinton and as a clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
  • Jesse Ventura says "all Minnesotans are liars" (By Hart Van Denburg, City Pages/The Blotter - Minneapolis) Ventura no longer supports third party movement, instead supports the abolishment of political parties… also upset with voters for not voting independent even though they claim to be independent...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Independents Applaud California Supreme Court Decision on Proposition 14

Statement by Jackie Salit, President & Harry Kresky, Legal Counsel
The decision by the California Supreme Court to reject an attempt to block the implementation of Proposition 14, the open primary, top two initiative passed by voters last June, is a positive and timely development.

The voters made a clear statement in passing Proposition 14 that they wanted to dislodge the supreme power of the parties.  Though the state’s third parties—which supported the legal challenge are critics of the two-party system and say they want to give voters more competition elections—in this situation they have sided with the two parties against competition. 

We’re glad the court rejected their effort to undo the very sweeping changes that Proposition 14 will bring to the state’s electoral process and to the 3.5 million independent voters who have gained full equality under the law.

* * *

Jackie Salit is president of, a national association of independents with organization in 40 states.  Harry Kresky is the country’s foremost legal advocate of independent voters and general counsel for

CONTACT:  Sarah Lyons / 212-962-1824

Kresky: California's Top Two Primary System, Toward a Stronger Coalition for Political Reform

by Harry Kresky
Counsel to
Posted: December 21, 2010 11:06 AM
Huffington Post

Last week the California Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction blocking the implementation of Proposition 14 in several upcoming special elections. The measure, which won 54% of the vote in a referendum last June, eliminates party primaries in favor of a "top two" system where there is a first round of voting in which all candidates appear on one ballot and all voters participate on equal footing, with the top two vote getters going on to the general election.

Top two was supported by a coalition which included Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, the Chamber of Commerce, the AARP, and California Independent Voter Network (CAIVN). They took on and defeated California's political parties, major and minor.
Opponents of top two knew they could not succeed in a direct legal challenge as the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld the State of Washington's top two system. Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, 552 U.S. 442 (2008). Instead they identified two peripheral aspects of the new system and tried to parlay that into an argument to take the whole thing down. So far they have been unsuccessful, and while the litigation has not yet been fully concluded, it is unlikely their challenge to top two will prevail.

As in the lead up to the referendum, the third parties have been out front in the effort to stop top two. In the litigation they have questioned the legality of (1) limiting descriptions of party affiliation that can appear on the ballot next to the names of candidates to parties that have achieved official recognition under California laws in effect for decades (Democratic Party , Republican Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, American Independent Party and Peace & Freedom Party); and (2) eliminating write-in votes in round two. While either of these two complaints could be remedied without overturning the top two, the plaintiffs have asked the Court to ignore the wording of the enabling legislation and existing legal norms to hold that if any aspect of the system is invalid, the entire system must fail.

Allowing write-ins in round two would undermine top two because the explicit purpose of the system is to provide a face off between the top two candidates in the general election, ensuring that the person elected has a majority. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has already held that a state need not allow write-in votes. Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428 (1992) So the argument that top two must fail because it precludes write-ins in round two is frivolous. And there is nothing inherent in top two that would prevent write-in candidates in round one.

The issue pertaining to ballot listing is more interesting and complex. Achieving official ballot status requires registering 103,024 voting age Californians into that party or getting 1,030,233 voters to sign a petition. But there are all sorts of political affiliations that either do not meet those requirements or which do not aspire to be political parties. There are good arguments for and against allowing them to be listed on the ballot. To allow any and all such entities to be listed gives the voters more information about a candidate and the candidate greater latitude to express who he or she is; to limit the listing to officially recognized parties permits a voter to confirm that a particular candidate is indeed registered into the party listed on the ballot and, further, that the afflation listed is more than just six guys who meet for Friday night poker and call themselves the "card party." Independent voters who do not like political parties might favor expanding what a candidate can say about their affiliations on the ballot to more than just a party. But the absence of that option at this time is not a reason to strike down Proposition 14. Actually, it's a reason to implement Proposition 14, which will create an environment more favorable to non-party players. Better to revisit the ballot listing issues further down the road.

With the litigation winding down, and special elections run under top two just around the corner, it is time for the minor parties to reconsider their relationship to this important reform. The new electoral terrain opening up in our country's most populous state creates possibilities for independents and minor party members to work together to achieve a fairer and more inclusive electoral process.

Leaders such as Lt. Governor Maldonando, who was recently presented with an Anti-Corruption Award by the New York City Independence Party, are looking to build new alliances--including with independents--that can achieve progress on key issues such as immigration reform.

In this moment of possibility, it is important to remember what independents and minor party members have in common: a recognition that the major parties have too long placed partisan interests over the national interest; a belief that the existing two party arrangement keeps the policy dialogue within too narrow a framework; and a commitment to leveling the electoral playing field.

total eclipse

Partisan Tyranny v. Independence, circa 2010

Not since 1776 has the cry for independence been so loud, so adamant and so sustained by the people of our country. This time it's the parties, not King George, who are the tyrants. They sit in office year after year, writing the rules and regulations that restrict voting to a select grouping of party loyalists through closed primaries, gerrymandering and partisan control of boards of elections; they keep insurgents and independent candidates at bay through unfair ballot access restrictions and media smear campaigns.

King George III wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776, "Nothing of importance happened today." That's a sign of a successful revolution in the making. The powers-that-be, whether the parties, the politicians, or the mainstream media, just don't get it. And that's in our favor. We're creating something entirely new that doesn't register on the established radar screens of today's authoritarian partisan forces.

Today's independent movement is an attempt to reform our less-than-perfect democracy through structural political reform. Independents, unlike the partisans, put the country first. Can we reform America?

And now for the news:

  • Obama Reclaims Some Independence (By GERALD F. SEIB, Wall Street Journal) In that sense, the most important movement Mr. Obama has made since the midterm election hasn't been toward the ideological center, or toward Republicans. It has been to move toward his own independence—or, more precisely, back toward his own independence.
  • Left And Right Attack No Labels Movement (By LINDA J. KILLIAN, US News & World Report) Nearly 40 percent of American voters consider themselves not Republicans or Democrats but independents and they are particularly disgusted with the current state of politics in this country.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Open Primaries, Redistricting, No Labels, 2012 and Independent Voters

  • Bucking open primary trend (JOAN BARRON, Casper Tribune - WY) A bill sponsored by Sen. Kit Jennings, R-Casper, and Rep. Amy Edmonds, R-Cheyenne, would make primary elections fully closed. It would require voters to declare their party affiliation 90 days before an election so they could not cross over on election day. If this bill passes, Wyoming will be bucking the national trend.
  • New approach to redistricting needed in Arizona (by James Huntwork, Arizona Republic) Perhaps the right question to ask is, which approach to competitiveness would be better for Arizona? As noted, after creating eight minority districts, the overall political balance in the remainder of our state would be approximately 42 percent Republican and 26 percent Democrat, a difference of 16 percent, with 32 percent independents. If this balance could be maintained, 58 percent of the registered voters in every district would not be Republicans, and candidates from both parties would need to build coalitions that includes independents and crossover voters in order to win the general election.
  • Final six members selected for state's redistricting commission (Posted by Jim Sanders, Sac Bee/CapitolAlert) Members chosen today were Democrats Gabino Aguirre and Maria Blanco, Republicans Gil Ontai and Michael Ward, and two people not affiliated with either party -- Michelle DiGuilio-Matz and M. Andre Parvenu.
  • Obama Approval With Liberals Dips: Gallup (NPR) The loss of some liberal support as the president moved to reconnect with independent voters was probably to be expected.
  • The Populist Wave (By Daniel DiSalvo, RealClearPolitics) Obama was able to capture independent voters in 2008 but lost them in 2010. He has just declared that he will fight to win them over in 2012. To do that the President must grasp that this demographic has begun to develop its own political identity and that this identity is not congenial to liberalism. Rather than attribute such economic sorting to the impersonal forces of globalization, many independents and tea party affiliates think government has exacerbated the situation.
  • White House Sees Deal as a Template (By LAURA MECKLER And JONATHAN WEISMAN, Wall Street Journal) The drive toward compromise is central to Mr. Obama's work to restore his image as someone who can change Washington, and to reclaim the independent voters who propelled him to office in 2008 but abandoned Democrats in 2010.
  • Analysis: Obama may get political boost from tax-cut deal (By Steve Holland, Reuters) As a result, experts believe Obama helped his own prospects with independent voters as he prepares to set up his re-election campaign next year and look ahead to 2012.
  • For President Obama, signing tax-cut bill makes for a good day after a bad election (By Dan Balz, Washington Post) The deal is also a reminder that, despite unrest in his party's base over the terms of the agreement, the Obama White House recognizes that the 2012 election will be won or lost with independent voters, who prize results and prefer to see Republicans and Democrats working constructively. Virtually every political calculation Obama makes over the coming months will be with that compass in hand.
  • Tax Deal Is Template for Obama Course Correction (By LAURA MECKLER and JONATHAN WEISMAN, Wall Street Journal) One downside to the White House approach: Reaching for compromises may anger liberals, as was the case with the tax debate. But White House officials argue, and polling shows, that most core Democrats remain supportive. The more urgent need, Democrats say, is to reach out to independents.
  • The political fantasyland of the 'No Labels' movement (By George F. Will, Washington Post) The perpetrators of this mush purport to speak for people who want to instruct everyone else about how to speak about politics.
  • Around the Sphere Blog Roundup (POSTED BY JOE GANDELMAN, The Moderate Voice) A group called “No Labels” has formed which tries to underscore the fact there is a center and that political labels are not what (should) matter. This is a threat to some who feel anything that does not have a D or R or L or C label is either a lie or threat.
  • ‘No Labels’ movement places consensus over partisanship (By MAGGIE HASSAN, Guest Commentary, Nashua Telegraph) We will advocate for “open” primaries – New Hampshire already has them – allowing a broader cross section of voters to help choose party nominees.
  • The trouble with No Labelers (E.J. DIONNE JR., Washington Post) My attitude is moderately supportive and moderately critical - accented by a moderate touch of cynicism… Indeed, there is no far left to speak of anymore. Even among socialists - I'm talking about real ones - almost all now acknowledge the benefits of markets, no longer propose state ownership of the means of production, and accept the inevitability of inequalities in wealth and income.
  • Avlon: Why No Labels Threatens Rush & Olbermann (FRUMFORUM NEWS) Rush’s core concern seems to be that there is no such thing as the center or independent voters. He believes that America is divided between the far-right and the far-left, and he likes to offer only that false choice because he believes it’s a fight he can win. But an emphasis on swing voters or independents—the largest and fastest-growing segment of the electorate—makes the math more complicated. It screws an inflexible ideologue up.
  • Bloomberg is on the stump, but not (By GERALDINE BAUM, Los Angeles Times, in Sac Bee) In his second term, he began focusing on national problems. He launched a coalition of mayors and business leaders to overhaul immigration policy; he stormed Washington with Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., and Ed Rendell, D-Pa., to raise awareness about the country's crumbling infrastructure. He led a national effort to improve public health.
  • Michael Bloomberg, American God - He speaks. You listen. (By Jack Shafer, Slate) By grooming himself as a sensible yet iron-fisted ruler who doesn't want to transform your life—just to nudge you for your betterment—Bloomberg excites no negative passions.
  • "Can We Tell It Like It Really Happened?": Race and The Scottsboro Boys (Tom Matlack, Huffington Post -- NOTE: Matlack, who is white, helped finance the play in honor of his parents' role in Freedom Summer 1964) None of the protesters had seen the play. The group's leader, Charles Barron, a one-time gubernatorial candidate, organized the protests to raise his own personal profile, while attacking artists who are asking tough questions about racial injustice -- the same racial injustice that the Freedom Party claims to be fighting. My question to the protesters is the one I ask you: When are you going to stop the minstrel show that is race in America, wipe away the blackface, and start telling the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that might be? It will always be easier to lie when the system reinforces myth.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good news for independents: Open Primaries Stays in California

Good news for independents --  the California Supreme Court unanimously denied a request to block the Top Two Open Primary measure, Proposition 14, which takes effect in January. The launch on Monday of a new anti-party organization No Labels is stirring up lots of partisan rancor. The New York Independence Party is downgraded to Column E (5th place on the ballot) after holding Column C (ballot placement immediately after Dem and Repub) since 1999.


  • Might Makes Right Win Over Voters (John Zogby, Forbes/Data Place) By August of this year, Obama’s overall approval dropped to 43% , and to 32% among independents. Among Democrats, his approval in that poll dropped seven points to 83%. Since then, any fluctuation in the President’s approval has been due mainly to Democrats. On Dec. 10, 73% of Democrats gave the President their approval.
  • Obama needs a shutdown, not a Clinton (by Dr. Jason Johnson, Chicago Defender) Let’s be honest about history, Clinton’s first term was pretty much defined by his capitulation to the right, his penchant for frustrating his own base and his tendency to betray his friends. Does that sound like a formula for Barack Obama to follow?



Monday, December 13, 2010

Abel Maldonado Recieves 2010 Anti-Corruption Award from NYC Independence Party

California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado received a 2010 Anti-Corruption Award from NYC Independence Party Sunday afternoon at the Tribeca Grill. Maldonado, introduced at the event by president Jackie Salit, was responsible for putting top two open primary initiative Proposition 14 on the ballot this year in California. Prop 14 was passed with 60% of the vote and allows 3.4 million independent and decline-to-state voters in the state to vote in primaries. Lt. Gov. Maldonado will be speaking this afternoon at the No Labels launch in NYC (see livestream here)

UPDATED: Richard Winger (Ballot Access News) just called in with a correction. Prop 14 passed with 53.73% of the vote. Thanks, Rich!

Livestream No Labels Launch

Watch live streaming video from nolabelsorg at

Election Promises and the Unemployment Predicament

By sameh abdelaziz

The time for easy promises, flashy sound bites, and unchallenged insults is over. The midterm election produced distinct winners and losers. Now is not the time to revive old glories or pretend that the election results present clear marching orders, because, after all, the outcome is a divided government. The incoming Republican congress will have to collaborate with a Democratic Senate and White House to achieve any goals. The need for effective governance comes at a time when 46% of the 14.8 million jobless Americans have been out of work for more than 27 weeks, according to the latest economic release by Department Of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Therefore, while we still have time until the next election, let us examine the wining promises of 2010 and try to understand their potential impact on Georgia and the rest of the country. The 2010 election season focused on two major themes: a relentlessly weak economy diminishing the traditional American dream and an unequivocally proactive government drowning the country in debt.

The prevailing theory is that the weak economy is a reflection of a historically high unemployment rate of 9.6% nationally, and over 10% in Georgia. The weak economy and the high unemployment rates are direct results of the private sector's reluctance to reinvest in an environment of excessive regulations and uncertainty. The regulation overburden and uncertainty is only the tip of an iceberg represented by a big proactive government that is hard at work to change America as we know it and love it. Health care, cars, and banks are just a few examples of government takeovers. Americans voted, or at least 42% of the registered voters went to the polls, and stopped the tyranny, brought in a new team that will govern less, spend less, create more jobs, and deliver prosperity to America.

The challenge with job creation, ignored by the two parties, is a job - never a generic abstract. A private or public job opening requires a specific set of skills and qualifications to meet certain market needs. The job specific requirements mean that if tomorrow the government decides to abandon all regulations and the private sector suddenly discovers a dire need for a million scientists, the unemployment rate will not budge as long as all qualified individuals already have jobs. Subsequently, the only means to bring down unemployment is to create the proper jobs for the available skills or to retrain the work force.

The first step on the road to improve employment will require close analysis of the skill set of the 14.8 million unemployed Americans. According to the Department Of Labor, the 9.6% national unemployment rate consists of four different categories. The percentage of unemployed Americans with less than a high school Diploma is 15.3%; the unemployment rate for high school graduates stands at 10.1%; people with some college or an associate degree fared better at 8.5%, and only 4.7% of Americans with a Bachelor degree or higher were unemployed. These statistics demonstrate that only jobs in industries that require a minimum level of academic education might improve employment numbers. The major industry employing people with these qualifications is the construction industry, which came to a complete halt by the 2007 recession, and potential for improvement is extremely limited for years to come.

The new congress will have only three options: The option to appropriate enough government funds to retrain 10 million Americans; the option to approve major infrastructure projects that would utilize similar education and skill sets to the ones used by the construction industry; or to accept that unemployment will continue to stay at these elevated levels for an elongated period. Each of these options will have serious ramifications to millions of families and affect the country's competitiveness in the process.

The second theme of the election is a smaller government and less spending. Georgia received $6.9 billion in federal stimulus funds so far. According to a report released by Georgia in early November, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the third quarter alone provided the state government with $ 979.3 million used to fund 29,113 jobs. The teachers, college professors, police officers, and other public positions funded through the program are in jeopardy as the stimulus money dries up over the next two quarters. The immediate impact in Georgia will produce even higher unemployment and more foreclosures at a time when homelessness is already at record high, and families represent 41% of the homeless population nationwide.

The TARP program appropriated by former president George W Bush saved capitalism from itself, brought the financial system back to life, and made taxpayers a small profit. In the next two years, only, infrastructure spending will create suitable jobs for the majority of the unemployed. Moreover, federal support to the States will increase tax revenues and gradually bring down the deficit. It is our livelihood and kids' future. Is anybody listening?

Author's Bio: I am an Egyptian American born in Alexandria. I immigrated to the US in the late eighties, during this time lived in many places in US and Europe. I work as an IT manager and love it. I love to travel, it makes me feel young, and it awakes in me sense of adventure and curiosity. I love knowing people from different cultures; it never fails to amaze me how we all live in our little worlds that never meet. History is my second amazement, it always differ depending on who is winning, that leads me to my third hobby, politics is it history or human nature that is the culprit?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Labels, No Partisanship! Monday in New York City

Independent strategist Jackie Salit will be among the nolabelarties on Monday... See Solomon Kleinsmith's post here...
  • The triangulation Obama is guilty of (BY STEVE KORNACKI, Salon) To the extent Obama is triangulating, then, it represents a strategy to extract from Congress the most meaningful, substantive economic concessions possible. Politically, that makes a lot of sense.
  • Will Obama's rift with the left matter? -- The left is hopping mad, not just that Obama cut a tax-cut deal with Republicans, but that he didn't put up much of a fight. But the breach may help him woo back independent voters in time for the 2012 election. (By Linda Feldmann, Christian Science Monitor)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jackie Salit and Michael Lewis on Coffee Party USA BlogTalkRadio


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bittle & Johnson: Playing Roulette With the Country's Future

By Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson, Authors of Where Does the Money Go? Rev Ed: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget CrisisA new and updated version is due out in January. Find out more at

There's something about playing roulette that makes everyone feel a little like the uber suave James Bond. You can picture the actor of your choice (we're not doctrinaire here), but they all make gambling seem glamorous. Not knowing exactly what will happen adds an agreeable tension to the drama. A clever screenwriter has labored long and hard to insure a satisfying outcome. Casablanca makes roulette alluring too. Remember when Rick steps in to fix the results so a dewy-eyed ingĂ©nue and her husband win enough money to escape the Nazis? It's one of the best scenes in the movie.

The problem is that things don't always work out so nicely in real life  - -  and rarely does anyone step in to fix a game of roulette in your favor. That's why it's so disturbing to see the country's leaders playing roulette with the country's economic future by procrastinating on tackling our massive debt and budget problems.

It's no secret that the most bipartisan position in Washington has been the determination of both parties to live beyond our means for decades.

Basically, they're betting that the government can continue to spend more than it takes in, because people around the world will be glad to keep lending to us by buying our Treasury bonds. In the short term, it's not a bad bet. Given the world's shaky economy, the U.S. government is still a better investment than most.

And in the long run? As David Brooks so succinctly puts in, "The bond markets are with you until the second they are against you. When the psychology shifts . . . the shock will be grievous: national humiliation, diminished power in the world, drastic cuts and spreading pain." 1 FDIC chair Sheila Blair, who certainly knows a thing or two about what happens when investors lose confidence, warns of danger too: "Financial markets are already sending disquieting signals," she recently wrote.2

It's no secret that the most bipartisan position in Washington has been the determination of both parties to live beyond our means for decades. And outside of government, public frustration is high, but realism remains low.

On the right, the Tea Partiers furiously demand that government get dramatically smaller, slashing spending by huge amounts to balance the budget now. Some even argue that Congress should slam the brakes on borrowing overnight, by refusing to raise the government's debt ceiling. The Tea Partiers rage against the machine, but seem unprepared for any frank discussion of how the federal government really spends its money, or the human consequences of its ideas.

But even if the Tea Party's champions in Congress could get their agenda through - - and governing is considerably balkier than complaining and criticizing -- such a sudden lurch into smaller government would be wrenching. And refusing to raise the debt ceiling could be disastrous. Tens of thousands of federal and state workers would lose their jobs in the middle of the Great Recession. Schools and colleges around the country would face massive cutbacks. The global bond markets, already nervous about the debt crisis in Europe, might start dumping U.S. bonds as well. The right likes to slam big government entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, but there are millions of human beings depending on them. You don't make major changes in these programs overnight.

The situation on the left is as just as bad. Despite careful, non-partisan assessments from multiple analysts inside and outside government detailing Social Security's shaky future funding, there is a profoundly disingenuous mantra coming from some progressives: "Don't worry. Don't touch it. There's no serious problem. The Trust Fund is good until 2037."

Yes, but Trust Fund is filled with government bonds, and Social Security will start drawing on the bonds in about five years. Those bonds guarantee that Social Security benefits are first in line when the government pays its bills - - people will get their checks. But that money has to come from somewhere, and the government's own auditors say the only way to do that is by raising taxes, cutting other spending, or borrowing from someplace else. In other words, something else in the budget has to give.

Do progressives really believe the country will suddenly be flush enough to cover Social Security and still pay for all the other spending these very same progressives want? And by claiming there's no problem, they undercut public backing for the ideas they do support, like raising the income cap on Social Security taxes. Why would people want to raise Social Security taxes on anyone if there's no problem?

There's a reasonable discussion about how quickly to move to bring the country's spending in line with its revenues given how weak the U.S. economy is. Huge, abrupt program cuts, big sudden tax hikes, pulling the plug on infrastructure and educational spending that is crucial to having a competitive economy down the road - - these are all risky, both economically and socially. Boring old long-term planning and gradualism are probably the only sensible ways out. But there is no time to delay on starting a reality-based discussion.

A recent Public Agenda survey of Washington insiders - - people whose careers revolve around the federal government - - showed that a whopping 8 in 10 agreed that the only way to solve the country's federal budget problem is to combine spending cuts and tax increases. Why don't these people step up to the plate and say something? Largely, they're silent. Meanwhile, we have profiles in cowardice in Congress and relentless volleys of self-serving spin coming from both the left and the right.

The trouble with roulette is that the house nearly always wins, and players who don't know when to quit lose their shirts. What American needs now is leadership that understands when it's time to leave the roulette table and leave the gambling to others.

1 The New York Times
© 2010 Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson, authors of Where Does the Money Go? Rev Ed: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis. 

Author Bios

Scott Bittle, author of Where Does the Money Go? Rev Ed: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis, is the Director of Public Issues Analysis at Public Agenda and is executive editor of, where he has prepared citizen guides on more than twenty major issues including the federal budget deficit, Social Security, and the economy. He is also the website director for Planet Forward, an innovative PBS program designed to bring citizen voices to the energy debate.

Jean Johnson, co-author of Where Does the Money Go? Rev Ed: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis, is the Director of Education Insights and Director of Programs at Public Agenda, is a co-founder of  She is the author or co-author of studies on education, families, religion, race relations, manners and civility, retirement, welfare, and health care.

For more information please visit and follow the authors on Facebook and Twitter

Independent Voters: Obama Needs to take on BOTH parties

  • What Obama's Tax Package Means to Independents (STATEMENT BY JACKIE SALIT, PRESIDENT, IndependentVoting.Org, Huffington Post) But if he really wants to send a message to independents, he's going to have to show that he's willing to take on both parties and their tightfisted control of the political process, something the left liberals who are railing at him now have refused to do.
  • Your view: Listening to the people (By Steve Goebel, LETTER The Joplin Globe) Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner said he would listen to the American people. Perhaps he should listen to independent voters who made his victory possible, instead of his friends in the health insurance industry.
  • Former state Rep. Miner advises new GOP majority to steer clear of social issues (By Ned Barnett, The American Independent/North Carolina Independent News) He said they should avoid pushing legislation on divisive social issues that urban and well-educated independent voters oppose or won’t support.

  • N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg attacks Washington, stokes the center (By Dan Balz, Washington Post) He attacked the "ideologues on the left" for clinging to the belief that taxing and spending can restore prosperity and for holding a government-knows-best approach to creating jobs. He attacked "ideologues on the right" for entrusting all faith in the free market and writing off any significant role for government in shaping the environment in which the economy can flourish.
  • Bloomberg Loves Obama's Tax Compromise With GOP (Gothamist) "I was very pleased to see the president and the Congress come together. It is exactly - number one, it’s exactly that kind of coming together that we need in Washington, and we need it in Albany as well incidentally. We have it, I think, pretty much in New York City."
  • Bloomberg cheers D.C. for 'coming together and doing something' (Ben Smith, Politico) What democracy is about is coming together where not everybody gets everything they want. In fact, maybe nobody gets everything they want, but you minimize the damage to the outliers, and most people get enough that they can walk away satisfied, if not ecstatic.
  • Pew Report: Florida Increases Pre-Kindergarten Investment Amid Budget Crisis - Race to the Top grant gives newly elected lawmakers chance to improve quality (PRESS RELEASE) Research shows that high-quality pre-k helps narrow the achievement gap, reduces grade repetition and special education placements, increases high school graduation rates, reduces crime and delinquency and leads to greater employment and higher earnings as adults.
  • Federal education official talks schools (by Rhonda Gillespie, Chicago Defender) Speaking recently at an education conference in Arlington, Va., the Defender sat down with U. S. Dept. of Education Asst. Secretary of Civil Rights Russlyn Ali to discuss the nation’s public school system and how the federal government is address it. Ali is a lead adviser on civil rights and responsible for enforcing U.S. civil rights laws in education.
  • SB 6, Part Deux: GOP Pushes School Reform (BY: KENRIC WARD, Sunshine State News) The Florida Education Association and Democratic lawmakers bridled at Senate Bill 6, which sought to link teacher performance with compensation while abolishing tenure in the K-12 system. Now, with Republicans gaining supermajorities in both the House and the Senate, and Crist leaving office, GOP leaders are confident they can enact an SB 6-style reform bill.