Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Saturday, July 31, 2010

City Hall News: Independent Streak -- Back and Forth: Fred Newman

Independent Streak

Back and Forth: Fred Newman

By Chris Bragg

Fred Newman, the controversial psychotherapist, philosopher, playwright and political activist, has not been in the news as much as his onetime nemesis, Frank MacKay, the chair of the State Independence Party who once tried to boot Newman from the party over his beliefs.
Nonetheless, the city-based faction of the Independence Party has been working hard to make one last push for non-partisan elections, while watching MacKay’s travails from afar. Newman discussed his desire to see Mayor Michael Bloomberg push harder for non-partisan elections, how the state Independence Party has strayed from its roots, and why reporters do not call him very much anymore.
Click here for an edited transcript.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hankster Summer Friday: Live-blogging Friday Afternoon July 30, 2010

Hey there Hanksteristas -- it's Friday, it's afternoon, it's summer -- it's time for Hankster Summer Friday!

3:42pm (NY time) It was a little cooler today (not really) but it was really HOT on Wednesday night at the Queens Boro Hall NYC Charter Revision Commission public hearing. The Queens Boro Hall is right next to the Van Wyck, which is how a lot of people get around in cars in Queens, and how lots of people get to JFK Airport from Manhattan. Hence the photo I just put up.

Here's a picture of Queens Boro Hall

So anyways, I won't give you the whole run-down since I tweeted the basics from the Hall last night, but suffice to say that there were about 100 people in the audience, many independents, who I suspect wanted to see what the follow-up response would be to the "disruption" of the Harlem hearing on Monday night by Community Voices Heard [watch for upcoming video soon!] and the spectacular statement about democracy by Dr. Lenora Fulani.

The upshot of this meeting was a response from every single commission member about where they stand nonpartisan elections.  Hard to tell, most of them stand somewhere between here and there. However, results-oriented Anthony Crowell's statement was clear and unequivocal. He noted that with every election cycle the level of disenfranchisement deepens for non-Democrats in the City of New York.

Then independent attorney Harry Kresky characterized the discussion (this is an issue that's being talked about all over the country) as a "New York City throw-down." It's a fight.

4:33pm -- I was reading a couple of articles today on the #7 train on my way in to work (around this time of year you get a seat more often because there are so many people on vacation...) (and I have now subscribed to 3 magazines that come to my apartment on paper -- interesting! Who knew!?) in Rolling Stone. One about Leo DiCaprio, who I didn't know much about but who seems like an interesting actor. And the other was about this performer who goes by M.I.A. "Maya Arulpragasam, the British-Sri Lankan hip-hop art-punk guerrilla, has his genius for stirring up trouble

---- EXTREMELY INTERESTING! "Why wouldn't they give those kids a microphone?" she asks. Indeed!!

4:49pm -- okay, I gotta go! My group has a date with a new group tonight and I don't want to be late! See you soon! Enjoy your evening!!!


the van wyck


  • An independent's view of Obama (Stephen Hambric, Centre Daily Times - Penn State) Well, this independent male voter sees a president who is doing precisely what he promised to do. Perhaps my fellow male independents didn’t listen to Obama’s speeches carefully when he was running for office. As an independent, I paid a great deal of attention and believed (and still do) that his way of doing things deserves a chance after many years of an earlier, failed approach.
  • The Red Flag of Partisanship - Gary Andres: Independents Are Increasingly Wary of Political Pitches (CBS News)
  • Metro Council independent Deonte Hollowell files for 6th District seat (By Sheldon S. Shafer, Louisville Courier Journal) A professor of Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville, Hollowell filed Thursday with the county clerk’s office as an independent candidate. He is the only independent ever to serve on the metro council, which was created through city-county merger in 2003.
  • Charter panel meeting at PS 58 on Monday (Peter N. Spencer, SI Advance) Non-partisan elections - a pet issue for Bloomberg - may also get on the ballot. Nonpartisan elections eliminate party primaries and let anyone run for city office in an open September election, with the top two finishers facing off in a November election. 
  • Will New York Revisit Non-Partisan Elections? (By MICHAEL SCHENKLER, Queens Tribune) While we believe the impact of passing such a proposal will have little effect in the end on who wins what, we do believe it is worthy of consideration and should be put to the voters. 

Anthony Crowell NYC Charter Revision Commission in Support of Nonpartisa...

Thursday, July 29, 2010


  • STATE SENATE–PADAVAN, ADDABBO ENDORSED (Queens Gazette) Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) is “the driving force in the Senate to bring about the necessary common sense changes to reform the state government”.


Harry Kresky to Charter Revision Commission on Nonpartisan Elections: This is a real New York City throw-down. Let the voters decide.

Attorney Harry Kresky speaks before the NYC Charter Revision Commission tonight at the Queens Boro Hall:

"The opposition [to nonpartisan elections] has worked overtime to shut down dialogue, and yet they have not been able to shut it down."
Attorney to NYC Independence Party organizations Harry Kresky testifies before the Charter Revision Commission at the Queens Boro Hall, Wednesday, July 28,2010, regarding nonpartisan elections for city offices.

"You can't say that we won't put this reform on the ballot because the very forces that it's designed to do something about (partisan special interests) are going to be vehemently opposed."
"This is a fight. This is a real New York City throw-down. Let the voters decide."
Harry Kresky
NYC Independence Party
NYC Charter Revision Commission

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



  • Plain Talk: We only say we want independent pols (Dave Zweifel, The Cap Times - Madison WI) Meanwhile, the independent voters exhibit the patience of a hungry baby, willing to change course at the drop of a hat or buy into the loudest rhetoric, whether there’s any truth to it or not. From the beginning, with President Obama’s blessing, Senate Democrats tried to get Republicans involved in the health care legislation, only to be rebuffed after wasting six months of crucial time trying. In return, Obama’s approval ratings by “independents” plummeted. Go figure.
  • The secret Twitter war for America's independents: #tcot vs #p2 (Yobie Benjamin, San Francisco Chronicle/Hacking Capitalism, Carbon, Politics & Food blog)


  • TN: Local GOP appears to be in state of polarization following challenge (By Michael R. Moser, Editor, Crossville TN Chronicle) Cumberland County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Snodderly's call for GOP unity was muted Thursday night when he endorsed the challenge last week of a voter's right to cast a ballot in his party's primary and went on to state he favors closed primaries for Tennessee.


  • Queens Civics Advance Charter Principles (CityPragmatist) QCC recommends that the CCRC reject suggestions for non-partisan elections.
  • Dr. Lenora Fulani addresses NYC Charter Revision Commission: The Commission has not practiced democracy, it's a disgrace! VIDEO ON HANKSTERTUBE

The Charter Revision Commission will be discussing what else they might consider putting on the ballot in addition to Term Limits tonight at the Queens Boro Hall.

  • Place:  Queen Borough Hall, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 120-55 Queens Blvd, Kew Gardens, QUEENS
  • Time: 6 p.m.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NYC Charter Revision Commission Public Hearing Queens on Wednesday July 28

Heads up! We're going to Queens New York:

At the end of last night's hearing in Harlem, after Dr. Fulani testified,Chairman Goldstein said that the Commission had not yet had a discussion among themselves on the issue of nonpartisan elections and that they would be devoting a substantial part of the next two hearings to this and other issues.

Please join me in person, or check The Hankster tomorrow night!


  • TN: Limiting voting wrong for democracy (Jackson Sun) Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who also is running for governor, wants to close primary elections to all but bona fide party members. We believe he is wrong and citizens should be able to vote in any election in which they want to have a voice. Limiting voting options is no way to encourage people to participate in a democracy.
  • TN: Ramsey Alone for Closing TN Primaries (Fox News Memphis, By ERIK SCHELZIG Associated Press Writer) 
  • AZ: Independents should exercise their political clout in primary election (Steven W. Lynn Special To The Arizona Daily Star) The number of independents - almost one-third of Arizona's 3.1 million registered voters - is political muscle that should be flexed. Independents can affect the outcome of primaries and, ultimately, government's political temper. More than 940,000 Arizonans are registered independents or "no party designated." Democrats are at about 1 million and about 1.1 million are registered Republican.


  • Redistricting Commission diverse in more than just race (Rose Institute - Claremont McKenna College) As required by Proposition 11, 40 of the remaining applicants are registered Democrats, 40 are Republicans, and 40 are not registered with either of the two major parties. The Citizens Redistricting Commission represents the first time that independent voters will have a significant voice in the state’s redistricting process.



Lenora Fulani To NYC Charter Revision Commission: This is about Democracy.

UPDATE: Video available on Facebook - search Nancy Hanks

The Hankster is uploadng video to YouTube (Hankstertube) but it might be a while. Was hoping to get you tape by 11, but seems no go... Please check back later tonight or in the morning. [Why a 4 and a half minute video taken on a Canon G11 would need that much time to upload to YouTube is... not my business...]

In the meantime:

The NYC Charter Revision Commission held a public hearing tonight at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street, a block away from the famed Apollo Theater. Seemingly designed to "take care of" some administrative issues about reporting and administrative tribunals (testimony from Esther Fuchs made a rather passionate point about the fact that political issues intervened and prevented putting a referendum on the ballot that was 10 years over-due 10 years ago about reporting issues... And there was testimony from Deputy  Mayor for Legal Affairs Carol A. Robles-Román about the court system that regulates city businesses such as cabs and etc. Recommended reading: Jill Colvin, NAinfo)

So, from my sketch-note: NOT DIRECT QUOTES mind you, but please check back in for the video later tonight...

I'm simply a Black woman -- who will never be asked to sit on a commission like this...

Nonpartisan elections is the issue that has come forward -- 2 million people in California voted for nonpartisans, tens of thousands are debating nonpartisans throughout the country...

The role of the committee is not to decide the issue -- but to decide what issues the voters will decide. The #1 issue is nonpartisan elections.

Objections from the Commission:
"No time"
"Needs more study"
"What if it doesn't win???"
"What if it's too big????"

We just elected the first black President of the United States in a country that was based on slavery. (Pretty big!)

Every step to enfranchise people has required something big.

Note to NYC Charter Revision Commission: We are not counting on you to educate the public about this issue. We were on the street in Harlem for Harlem Week yesterday and signed up a hundred people who support nonpartisan elections.

Thanks to good work of attorney Harry Kresky, Dr. Phil Thompson of MIT, and stalwart good government group Citizens Union (Dick Dadey testimony)

Ok. Just got notice that my YouTube upload failed. Might need to move on... So rather than re-uploading to YouTube, will spend some time finding another venue.

Excuse me, and sorry!

And while you're waiting for YouTube/Hankstertube, check out NY1 -

Well, it's now well after midnight and I be tryin to upload video -- now via Facebook on I guess realplayer that requires another 52 minutes. See ya in the mornin... yeah!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm an Independent Voter - Can I Vote in the Primary in Oklahoma or Michigan?

"Remember that Oklahoma does not have an open primary. Republicans cannot vote in Democratic races and Democrats cannot vote in Republican races. Depending on a voter's party affiliation, some races may or may not be represented on the primary ballot." (By Tulsa World's Editorial Writers)  

MICHIGAN - Yes you can, but you have to pick a party!
Michigan has open primaries. This means a registered voter can walk into the polling place and pick a party. A chest-thumping liberal can ask for a Republican ballot without apology, and a conservative from the deepest part of right field doesn't need a disguise to play ball with the Democrats. The caveat is you only get one choice. For instance, if you vote on the the Democratic side for governor, you cannot switch to the Republican ballot for legislative races.... Another option is skipping the party stuff altogether. The nonpartisan ballot in St. Clair County features an elimination round for circuit judge as well as a menu of ballot questions including requests to renew smorgasbord taxes for libraries, parks, senior services and the community college. (From Mike Connell in the Port Huron Times Herald)

nyc below 50

NYC Charter Revision Public Hearing Today, July 26, Harlem - 6pm


Monday, July 26
Place: Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building 
163 West 125th Street, 8th Floor

Time: 6 p.m.

Directions: By train, take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 to 125th St. and walk west, or the A, C, B, D to 125th St. and walk east. By bus, take the Bx15, M2, M3, M7, M10, M18, M100, M101, or the M102 to 125th St.

For transcripts and video of previous hearings, click here.


  • Independent voters rise in county (By JIM SECKLER/The Mohave Daily News - AZ) The county now has 113,266 registered voters as of June 1. The Democrats have seen losses in Bullhead City and Mohave Valley and slight increases in Fort Mohave and Topock. Independents increased in numbers by 3 to 1 over Republicans.
  • CA: Flawed primary in California (Press Connects - Bingingham )Californians should recall that in 2003, there were 135 candidates for governor. With enough people running, a candidate can advance to the general election with the support of only a miniscule and possibly extreme portion of the electorate.
  • OK: Primary Tuesday (By Tulsa World's Editorial Writers) Remember that Oklahoma does not have an open primary. Republicans cannot vote in Democratic races and Democrats cannot vote in Republican races. Depending on a voter's party affiliation, some races may or may not be represented on the primary ballot.
  • PA: Bill Kennedy: races should be non-partisan (Carroll County Times - PA) Not having a representative of each party on the ballot in the general election leaves those without a candidate disenfranchised in the election of their Commissioner or Sheriff or States Attorney, just as we all are in the election for the state Attorney General.
  • MI: CONNELL: Republicans choose; Dems crown (The Times Herald - MI)  Michigan has open primaries. This means a registered voter can walk into the polling place and pick a party. A chest-thumping liberal can ask for a Republican ballot without apology, and a conservative from the deepest part of right field doesn't need a disguise to play ball with the Democrats. The caveat is you only get one choice. For instance, if you vote on the the Democratic side for governor, you cannot switch to the Republican ballot for legislative races.
  • SD: Marking proposes system of voter input to guide him (By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic - Mitchell Republic - SD) A registered independent his entire life, Marking also calls for open primaries, which would allow anyone to vote in them, as well as an end to corporate financing of campaigns.
  • Ralph Nader: ‘California Enshrines the Duopoly’ (By Ralph Nader at VIA Independent Political Report) Last month, Big Business interests shamelessly dealt our already depleted democracy a devastating blow by misleading California voters into approving Proposition 14, without their opponents being able to reach the people with rebuttals. This voter initiative provides that the November elections in that state for members of Congress and state elective offices are reserved only for the top two vote-garnering candidates in the June primary.

  • Wadhams: GOP is not looking at lawsuit in Tancredo ballot threat (Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post) State Rep. Kathleen Curry, for example, is a running as a write-in candidate. She changed her voter affiliation from Democratic to unaffiliated last December, but had not been unaffiliated long enough to get on the ballot as an independent. She and a county commissioner candidate in the same boat challenged the ruling, but lost.

  • Indy 'pay-to-play' - GOPers backed after hiring chief's pal (By DAVID SEIFMAN City Hall Bureau Chief, EXCLUSIVE NY Post)
  • Probe opened by Staten Island of Independence Party's $10G loan in exchange for City Council nod (BY ADAM LISBERG, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER)
  • In wake of Independence Party flaps, wary Daniel Donovan spurns party in A.G. race (Tom Wrobleski, SI Advance)
  • Party for sale (NY Post) Tabacco is now suggesting that "contracting with [MacKay’s firm]" seems to be "a prerequisite" to winning the backing of the Independence Party, which he now labels "a political patronage mill.
  • NYC Independence Party Chief Cathy Stewart - see VIDEO: The public debate on Top Two in New York City has helped to underscore the difference between the city and state Independence Party. For the city party, our concern has always been the democratic reform of the political process to give more voters—including independents—the right to participate. And we thank the Mayor and the Commission for creating the opportunity for a vigorous public study of non-partisan elections. Sadly for us, this vibrant debate is in sharp contrast with the conduct of Independence Party’s state chairman. Frank MacKay has spent years effectively outlawing democracy inside the party, reducing the party’s agenda to the most cynical patronage and quid pro quo, and now, if press reports of the ongoing investigation by law enforcement are accurate, may also have committed criminal offenses in the name of “party building.” As is well known, the Independence Party of  New York City has long opposed MacKay’s politics and practice.... READ text 
  • Look to New York City for reform (By Jerry Goldfeder, Albany Times Union)
  • Mayor Bloomberg is trying to give nonpartisan elections another push after it failed in 2003 (ADAM LISBERG, Daily News)
  • On missing a chance to shape New York (BY KATHARINE JOSE, Capital New York) The 1989 Charter Commission devised a plan for “fair share,” which Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, said has become “meaningless.” Fair share requires, in the city charter, that every year the city makes an assessment of proposed developments to assess whether certain neighborhoods are overburdened or underdeveloped. But it’s not enforced, Bautista said (a number of speakers brought up the same issue). As a result, he said, waste transfer stations and other undesirable but necessary urban fixtures are clustered in poor, non-white neighborhoods. Asked later what his vision of the 21st century city would be, Bautista said, “It’s a city that doesn’t use 1962 zoning resolutions.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

roque dalton

Upon Waking

on a Saturday morning

with fresh eyes

Beyond Libertarianism
JUL 24TH, 2010
Before coming to realize that mine is a moderate voice, I spent some time in the libertarian movement. Part of that was just the idealism and extremity that often is a part of youth, but part of it was my own innate sense of the importance of freedom and individuality.
… where I took
my first steps in society
smelling faintly of horse shit:
"Peasant!" Roberto called me
that first day of class
in the Infantile section,
and he gave me a hard shove …

have a good sweltering day wherever you are!

Friday, July 23, 2010

sag harbor

Hankster Summer Friday: Live-blogging Friday Afternoon July 23, 2010

5:09 pm -- Ok, one more thing -- isn't that the way on Friday nite???  You packed up your stuff, turned off your computer, and your boss calls.... Not a problem! Here's the deal:

There is a New York City Charter Revision Commission hearing in Harlem on MONDAY -- yes, you got it -- Monday, July 26 at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, 163 West 125th St. 8th Floor -- Bring ID and be there or be - well, you know the drill.....

PS -- boy I love hyperlinks!!!
Have a good weekend, try to stay cool!
The Hankster

4:55 pm -- Now concluding Hankster Summer Friday -- going off the air. Thanks for the input. One last reminder to check out Evan's post on The Hankster "Party Politics from a Psychological Perspective" and Damon Eris' post on Poli-Tea "Political Psychology and the Perversion of Political Representation Under the Conditions of the Two-Party State" [this is why I love Poli-Tea!!]

4:25 pm -- ok, we're back. So, here's another burning issue:

Sometimes people ask me why the fonts are so inconsistent on The Hankster, and I usually say it's because of the Two Party Domination. Personally I don't like it. Some other folks don't either. But it could also be because Tech Becomes Us.... - eh?

Ahhh... I feel better now that I can include hyperlinks in my posts.

4:05pm This email just in from Sarah Lyons, spokeswoman and press secretary for

The New York City Independence Party

This week IP Manhattan chair Cathy Stewart testified before the NYC Charter Revision Commission which is reviewing the city's charter.  

In her testimony Stewart stated: 

New York City is right now in the midst of something unusual and very positive. It's engaged in a public dialogue on ways to reform our electoral process and the centerpiece of that democratic dialogue is the debate on non-partisan elections
Stewart went on to praise the Citizen's Union, "which has so diligently examined the issue and so eloquently presented the urgent case for putting the question to the voters this November." She also noted that the public debate on non-partisan elections had helped to underscore the differences between the city and  state Independence Party.  
You can read the entire statement below and see press coverage of her remarks.

Sarah Lyons
Press Secretary
Independence Party of New York City

Testimony by Cathy Stewart before the NYC Charter Revision Commission.

Cathy Stewart had the full attention of the Commissioners at Wednesday's Charter Revision hearing in the Bronx when she spoke candidly about the debate about nonpartisan elections, the positive role played by the Commission and Citizen's Union, and the differences between the city and state Independence Party. 

Daily News 
blogger Celeste Katz previewed her testimony.

Watch video of Cathy Stewart's testimony here.

Testimony of Cathy L. Stewart
To the New York City Charter Revision Commission

July 21, 2010

Good evening. I'm Cathy Stewart, chair of the New York County Independence Party and I also serve as the coordinator of the New York City Independence Party.

New York City is right now in the midst of something unusual and very positive. It's engaged in a public dialogue on ways to reform our electoral process and the centerpiece of that democratic dialogue is the debate on non-partisan elections (sometimes referred to as "Top Two").

Much credit goes to Mayor Bloomberg, who set this process in motion when he convened the Charter Revision Commission. And to the Citizens Union, which has so diligently examined the issue and so eloquently presented the urgent case for putting the question to the voters this November. The Independence Party of New York City, a long time champion of a Top Two system, is gratified by this vigorous and healthy public debate.

During the course of this process, many people have asked me what the difference is between the New York City Independence Party and the state Independence Party. I imagine the Commissioners have read some of the press coverage about the legal and ethical troubles engulfing our state chairman Frank MacKay.

The public debate on Top Two in New York City has helped to underscore the difference between the city and state Independence Party. For the city party, our concern has always been the democratic reform of the political process to give more voters-including independents-the right to participate. And we thank the Mayor and the Commission for creating the opportunity for a vigorous public study of non-partisan elections.

Sadly for us, this vibrant debate is in sharp contrast with the conduct of Independence Party's state chairman. Frank MacKay has spent years effectively outlawing democracy inside the party, reducing the party's agenda to the most cynical patronage and quid pro quo, and now, if press reports of the ongoing investigation by law enforcement are accurate, may also have committed criminal offenses in the name of "party building." As is well known, the Independence Party of New York City has long opposed MacKay's politics and practice.

Our thanks go to the Commission which has made it possible for an evolving democratic debate that is challenging and changing the minds of many New Yorkers. We, the Independence Party of  New York City, will continue to participate in that debate and to support what is best for the people of New York City.

 # # #

Video Progress Report on IPNYC's campaign for Nonpartisan Elections

On May 25th, the New York City Independence Party held its twelfth annual Spring Chairman's Reception hosted by Manhattan Chair Cathy L. Stewart.  Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the special guest and the program included this short video progress report on IP's campaign to get an initiative for nonpartisan elections on the ballot for voter approval.  A new poster to build public awareness for the issue was also unveiled at the event. Watch the video.

3:54pm:  Friend d.eris at Poli-Tea sez I'd have sworn I read an article a few months back saying that the CSM went to a fully online-only model. Has it not begun, or was that wrong? Or are they only sending print editions to subscribers?

And here's the bag -- just for you doubting Thomases out there!!!!

What? You're "live-blogging" Friday afternoon?

Yes that's right, Hanksteristas. We've hit the Big Time!

And here's what's on my mind this afternoon:

I was just reading an article in the Christian Science Monitor on the train today (for non-New Yorkers, that means I was fortunate to get a seat offered to me by a young woman who might have noticed my exhaustion -- or was that exasperation? -- from walking a block and a half to the #7 train on the NYC subway line in 100 degrees and 98 percent humidity, to go to work...) about technology and how as a society we might be impacted by it. Seems there are 2 minds on this -- a pro and con. (We do live in an either/or yes or no democrat or republican gay or straight black and white kind of a world after all!) 

If memory serves, the con people think that our brains are being re-wired to scan information, not read books and not think for ourselves, and to get hung up in hyperlinks that lead to --- nowhere?.  Not sure, I forget the details of this position...

The pro people think we have more access to knowledge, surfing the internet is more like how life is where you go from one thing to the next not categorically but "naturally" or "realist-like" [my interpretation] and that everything is ok. Or we don't know if it's ok, but it's ok that we don't know whether it's ok. Or maybe it doesn't really matter. Well, now I'm not sure what they said because I had so many opinions and so little time to think about them because I had to get off at Grand Central and switch to the 6.

Nevertheless, I thought the article was really interesting and I'm wondering if I should put a hyperlink here or not.... Oh, what the hell! Here's the link to the Christian Science Monitor, but you'll have to wait for the online version of Tech Becomes Us by Gregory M. Lamb. (Yes, I cheated and got up from my desk to retrieve the hard copy from my bag of the CSM, which I now subscribe to and which comes to my mailbox -- no the one downstairs that you have to use a metal key to open... -- so that I could tell you the name of the article and the author. And no, it's not online yet.)

PS -- Does anybody think it's a marketing money-making thing?




  • Chafee's independent RI governor bid no easy road (By MICHELLE R. SMITH (AP) Chafee is one of several high-profile independents running in a year of voter discontent, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who's leading in the polls after leaving the Republican Party for his Senate run; Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill, a one-time Democrat running for governor; and Eliot Cutler, running for governor of Maine.
  • Independent Nominee Cohen Visits Springfield (By Kevin Lee, Illinois Statehouse News, Fox News)

  • Repairing the initiative process - in CA and SF (Steve Hill, San Francisco Bay Guardian) Because of these dynamics, direct democracy in California has been captured by wealthy special interests. Proponents
  • of Proposition 14, which was bankrolled by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and big business, outspent opponents by 50:1 to pass a "top two" primary that is deform masked as reform. Even when Big Money's measures lose — as PG&E's Proposition 16 did — they force everyone else to play defense. Ironically, this dynamic is the opposite of that envisioned by California Gov. Hiram Johnson, who in 1911 created the initiative to allow the people to counter powerful special interests like railroad tycoons.
  • Fixing California (By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones) Bottom line: I don't know what to do. If Arnold is to be believed, our shiny new redistricting and open primary laws will change things starting in 2012. I can't wait.
  • In New York, Civics Fans Can’t Fill the Seats (By CLYDE HABERMAN, NY Times) There were other matters at hand, but some of the more contentious ones seemed destined to be pushed aside. They included questions like whether municipal elections should be nonpartisan and whether runoff elections should be replaced by a process known as instant runoff voting. This procedure tends to be condensed to the acronym IRV, making it sound like someone’s old uncle. It refers to a system that lets voters rank candidates in order of preference.
  • Commission Conundrum (LETTER Queens Tribune)
  • Government By The People, Money Matters & A Poem (By MICHAEL SCHENKLER, Queens Tribune)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Party Politics from a Psychological Perspective

by Evan 

Among human concerns, politics is a vital one – it governs the way we approach our lives in a most personal way; not only the way we relate to ourselves, but the group we most relate to. How we conceive these relations is part of the foundation upon which our realities are based. It should be a vital concern to inspect these foundations closely; for these relations just happen – and not until they are consciously considered can they be changed....

“Hence the god, when he began to put together the body of the universe, set about making it of fire and earth. But two things alone cannot be satisfactorily united without a third; for there must be some bond between them drawing them together.” 

So wrote Plato in his Timaeus in the fourth century B.C. – an intuitive illustration of the way people have long perceived the dynamic forces of life. 

To see how such ideas apply to party politics, read with me as the noted Swiss analyst, C.G. Jung, reflects upon this philosophical notion: “The number one claims an exceptional position, which we meet again in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages. According to this, one is not a number at all; the first number is two. Two is the first number because, with it, separation and multiplication begin, which alone make counting possible. With the appearance of the number two, another appears alongside the one...” 

As Jung goes on to explain, this results in opposition and conflict: “Also associated with the number two is the idea of right and left, and remarkably enough, of favorable and unfavorable, good and bad.” But as Plato observed, there is a “bond drawing them together.” Jung continues: “The One will not let go of the Other because, if it did, it would lose its character; and the Other pushes itself away from the One in order to exist at all. Thus there arises a tension of opposites between the One and the Other. But every tension of opposites culminates in a release, out of which comes the “third.” In the third, the tension of opposites is resolved and the lost unity is restored.”

Similarly, if we look round to see where the two-party system has landed us, an analogy begins to emerge. The close presidential elections of 1960 (49.7% to 48.6%), 1968 (43.4% to 42.7%), 1976 (50.1% to 48%), 2000 (48.38% to 47.87%), and 2004 (50.7% to 48.3%) appear to express a division which may be seen in terms of energy. Frequent attempts by the two-party system to keep a third party off the ballot in many states, the stagnation Congress represents as a result of such division, and the ineffectiveness of government in providing the individual with basic protections all conform to a general trend. 

Of course, no analogy can make it to first base in the mind of a modern reader without scientific validation, and the laws of energy point in this direction. The principle of equivalence states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The law of entropy states that, in an energic system, differences in intensity are gradually reduced to an even temperature, whereby any further change is prohibited. This is how energy works and it is as applicable to social dynamics as it is to quantum physics – or even political processes, for as Jung writes, “The psyche, too, can be regarded as such a relatively closed system, in which transformations of energy lead to an equalization of differences.”

These transformations have been described by Jung in his eighth volume, and one more quote from it (the last – I promise!) pushes the analogy further: “These functions are based on the principle of the exclusion of the inappropriate, or unsuitable, which might bring about a deviation from the chosen path. The elements that “belong” are left to a process of mutual equalization, and meanwhile are protected from disturbing influences from outside. Thus after some time they reach their “probable” state, which shows its stability in, say, a “lasting” conviction or a “deeply ingrained” point of view, etc. How firmly such structures are rooted can be tested by anyone who has attempted to dissolve such a structure, for instance to uproot a prejudice or change a habit of thought.”

You can see now where the analogy is headed: for this tension of opposites to be  resolved and for change to occur, a third viewpoint is required.

Webster's dictionary defines democracy as: “Government exercised either directly by the people or through elected representatives.” The popular vote was invalidated by the 2000 election, and our representatives are elected – but not unless they are first approved by the two parties. Our representatives are elected by the parties, and that is who they represent. Who is representing us? I think we will have to find an independent party for that.

Evan is an artist, poet, and long-time student of Carl Jung. He is the author of "A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations with the Unconscious," an epic poem of psychic development in the second half of life inspired by Goethe's Faust. He makes a living as a contractor in the Richmond, Virginia.  The illustrations above are his.