Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hankster Choice of the Week: Cathy Stewart's Politics for the People with Jackie Salit and Mickey Edwards

This week The Hankster will feature Politics for the People, a monthly briefing and forum where independent political activists in New York City dialogue with each other and engage city, state and national elected and non-elected leaders on events of the day concerning independent politics.

Cathy L. Stewart, chief organizer of the NYC Organizations of the New York Independence Party, the founder and creator of the P4P Series, has been a mover and shaker in independent politics since the 1980s. One of the most popular programs offered by the NYCIP, Politics for the People is designed to give an inside look at politics and history from an independent’s point of view.  The class uses a variety of formats and explores a wide range of topics.  Whether featuring a guest speaker or a panel discussion, every class includes an in-depth Q & A session with audience members.

The Hankster is pleased to bring you the latest P4P session in several segments throughout the week.

Please tune in as Stewart brings to the stage Mickey Edwards, former Congressman from Oklahoma City and author of the upcoming book based on his provocative Atlantic article How to Turn Republicans and Democrats in to Americans, and Jackie Salit, the outspoken independent strategist and long-time organizer of the independent movement, author of a soon-to-be-published book Independents Rising.

Jackie and Mickey speak with New York City Independence Party members, activists, and others --  indeed a national audience of concerned Americans, as covered by C-Span, in an important dialogue  about our democracy and our democratic -- but highly partisan-centric -- process.

To begin the series, I will start at the end, with a question by my colleague and friend Dr. Jessie Fields, a medical doctor doctor with a long-time practice in Harlem and in the under-served communities of New York, and a brilliant community organizer. She speaks now about a country in crisis: our country, a nation, a culture, not being able to talk about real issues because of the partisanship of our politics. 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Extra! Extra! 2016 Presidential Breaking News!

Apparently we are so bored with the 2012 Presidential election, the media is now pushing the 2016 election! Wow, the 24 hour news cycle + 5 year presidential campaign cycle = sorry, I gotta go to work now...

Independent News of the Day, April 26



  • Money Is Corrupting Our Elections -- It Can Be Stopped (Ed Koch, Huffington Post) The committee should know that while it would be very helpful to have limits on campaign contributions and expenditures in New York State and elsewhere, as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in this area of election spending limitations, a program of limitations cannot be imposed on anyone. Those covered and bound by any such laws must voluntarily agree to be bound.

  • Brad Breithaupt: Independent voters won't be on the sidelines in this primary (By Brad Breithaupt, Marin Independent Journal) VOTERS WHO decline to join any of the political parties have mostly been bystanders in picking party nominees for state and federal offices. But this year, thanks to reforms passed by voters in 2010, they're important players in selecting the candidates who will be on the ballot in November.
  • 'No party preference' is new political flavor in California (By Torey Van Oot, Sac Bee) Congressional candidate Linda Parks isn't one for conventional choices. As she tells voters in a recent television ad, her favorite ice cream flavor is not chocolate or vanilla, but the nuts-and-marshmallow-loaded Rocky Road. And her chosen party preference on the June 5 ballot? "None."

  • Our View: Illinois, where political independents go to die (PEORIA Journal Star) House Bill 2009 quietly became law on March 30, preventing anyone who votes in a partisan primary from running for public office as an independent in the following general election (or from running under a traditional party's banner if different than the ballot pulled in the primary). Even though passage of the bill and the governor's signature came after the March 20 primary, the law is being retroactively enforced so that it impacts this year's general election.

  • Supreme Court shrugs off logic - Justices' reinstatement of map-panel head was a transparent arrogation of power (by Robert Robb, The Republic) Instead, the decision is disturbing because of the arrogation of power by the court and the slippery reasoning used to justify it.

  • A controlled disagreement between Christine Quinn and Michael Bloomberg (By Azi Paybarah, Capital New York) City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has taken pains to show that she acts independently of her ally, Michael Bloomberg. But sometimes Bloomberg says things that convey the opposite impression.
  • NYDN Poll: Ray Kelly For Mayor? (BY Celeste Katz, NY Daily News/ Daily Politics) “He could be a contender,” said pollster Doug Schoen, who surveyed 600 city voters for The News. “He clearly is the last, best hope of the Republican Party at this point.”
  • Ray Kelly for mayor? Nonsense (by Greg David, Crain's New York) The Kelly obsession keeps returning because there is a need for an alternative to the obvious Democrat choices. But if Mr. Kelly ever says yes, it will be quickly apparent that the emperor has no clothes. And then what will the instigators of this idea do?
  • Scott Stringer Goes After Stop-and-Frisk, Does Not Criticize Ray Kelly In The Process (By Sam Levin, Village Voice/Runnin Scared) At the same time, though, it seems that Stringer tries to avoid using confrontational language when referring to Kelly, and today, he repeatedly found opportunities to praise the police commissioner and the NYPD's efforts at reducing crime.

NOTE: I usually reserve "Last Word" for the punditocracy of the left, however, I couldn't resist this Michael Goodwin piece in Fox News…
  • Don't be fooled by third party scenarios as 2012 presidential race heats up (By Michael Goodwin, New York Post, in Fox News) They’re political locusts, noisy and bothersome as they emerge like clockwork from their hidey holes. We’re talking “third partiers,” and they find presidential elections irresistible, so brace yourself, America. You are about to be swarmed by those much holier than thou.
  • Independent Voter or Independent Poser? Take the Test (Howard Steven Friedman, Statistician/Economist for International Organization, Columbia University, Huffington Post) Americans take pride in being individualistic. We often look down on the herd mentality of others, yet rarely identify it in ourselves. As with many things in life, when it comes to being an independent voter, actions speak much louder than words. If your actions show that you are a party loyalist, then embrace it. If your actions show that you are an independent voter, then embrace it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book review: Independents Rising, by Jacqueline Salit

National Common Ground Examiner
Partisan gridlock has pushed public approval of Congress's performance into single-digit territory, and the single largest--and growing--political group in the country is the non-affiliated voters. Yet in much of the country, this massive group is disenfranchised, denied the ability to exert any influence in primary elections and forced to choose between increasingly partisan party nominees in the general election.

George Washington's views on political parties are powerfully relevant today. He said, in his Farewell Address, that political parties can "become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government."

Washington's fears have been realized, and that fact has spawned the Tea Party and Occupy movements and the proliferation of non-affiliated voters. The American people want that power back. 

In her book, Independents Rising, Jacqueline Salit chronicles the growth and maturation of the independent movement over the last quarter century, and exposes the fallacy of viewing independents as just Democrats or Republicans who don't want to actually be party members, but who can nonetheless be counted on to vote for the party's nominee.

Who are independents?
"Who are these independents? A profusion of polling, focus groups, and profiles are suddenly dedicated to answering that very question. This is where the literal reading comes in handy. As someone involved in organizing independents for 30 years, I would advise putting all of the 'data' to one side. Listen to the simplest, the most obvious statement independents are making. No interpretation, polling, or focus group is needed. They are Americans who don't want to align with any political party."

Salit also refutes the misconception that independents are primarily moderates or centrists. She quotes a Pew Research Center study that found that "independents are not moderates but, instead, span the spectrum and combine social and economic views in unorthodox ways."

Says Salit, "they are a social engine for political reform that goes beyond parties, partisanship, and traditional ideology. In this respect, independents are, by their choice, radicals--nonideological radicals, but radicals just the same."

Radicals, by definition, want to change the system. And as she discusses the history of the independent movement, Salit spotlights some of these unorthodox alignments. She tells of how the independent movement, seeking political reform, partnered with Ross Perot when he ran his Reform Party presidential campaigns. And of how then, despite the deep philosophical differences some felt on social issues, movement organizations backed Pat Buchanan's bid in 2000.

"We instructed Buchanan that social issues (right or left) were not a part of the Reform Party platform and that any effort to introduce them would be a violation of what the party stood for. Buchanan said he had no problem with that."

Buchanan was also warned that, "if you attempt to turn this party into a right-wing party, we will destroy your campaign." He did and they did.

Not third-party, anti-party
It was after the 2000 election that the independent movement moved away from the idea of creating a third party to become anti-party. Salit, who managed Michael Bloomberg's three New York mayoral campaigns, describes the efforts to break the city out of its partisan model with party primaries and nominees, to become a non-partisan, open election as is the predominant system in most of the country's major cities.

The effort met powerful opposition from all the political parties, large and small, because, "control of nominations is the bread and butter of party life." Bloomberg supported the move, saying, "What the electoral process should be about is letting everybody have an equal say. . . . You've got to get rid of the partisan politics and party bosses who really limit the public's choice."

Also included is California's successful move to a Top Two system where everyone gets to vote and the top two vote-getters in the non-partisan primary go to a run-off in the general election, even if they are both of the same party. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is quoted after that success saying, "The voters made a clear and decisive statement that the way to fix broken government is to expand democracy, contain the control exercised by political parties, and give greater power to the people."

Salit touches on the efforts of groups such as No Labels and Americans Elect, but characterizes their objectives are being more aimed at making the system work again, whereas she argues that the political party system has out-lived its usefulness and needs to be replaced by a post-partisan system that allows full participation of all citizens at all levels.

"Restoring a 'center' rests on the supposition that the existing institutions and power relations can and should be restored. Independents, in contrast, are searching for ways to develop the political system in accord with changing times. . . . Independents, organized without being a third party, are battling for structural reforms that loosen the grip of parties on government and politics."

Independents decide elections
Salit offers statistics to demonstrate that it was independents, in states where they are allowed to vote in primaries, who gave the major party nominations to Barack Obama and John McCain, and who then broke predominantly for Obama in the general election, seeking to install a post-partisan president.

When Obama failed or was unable to deliver that post-partisanship, it was then the independents who enabled the Republicans to take control of the House of Representatives in 2010. And independents are expected to cast the deciding votes this year as well.

Describing independents as a "becoming-organized force for a genuinely postpartisan politicial system," Salit argues that, "the political power of independents rests in being outsiders, in not being attached to any party, major or minor. This movement-in-the-making changes the political environment by changing the rules of the game."

But that power to decide elections has not yet been translated into representation.

"Some might say that independents, the 40 percent of voters not fully integrated into the political system, are simply the next group of Americans to be unfairly excluded. In other words, the demand for equality for independents should be seen as a classic civil rights issue."

With more and more voters abandoning the political parties, decades of political organizing by independents may well be bringing us to the cusp of a new era in politics. But it won't be quick or easy, as the parties rightly see this struggle as one that is, for them, a matter of life and death. If the American people want their power back, it is up to them to take it. It surely won't be given freely.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Live Blogging Jackie Salit's National Confrerence Call for Independent Voters

Tuned in early tonight for Jackie Salit's conference call, featuring Mickey Edwards --

One of my favorite parts of these every six-week calls is the roll call. So many activists, so many states!!!

Intro by Nancy Ross,

Mickey Edwards, author of The Parties vs The People, How to Turn Democrats and Republicans into Americans, guest.

JS -- magnetic title, represented Oklahoma in Congress, speaks out about partisanship. Met at 225 Broadway at the CUIP offices, kindred.

So welcome to Mickey Edwards!

ME -- thanks

JS -- Provocative question: you have said that Americans have tried to take back their government but have not succeeded in using elections to do that.

ME -- We elect some group over another, doesn't work... I believe in the market system, not about the candidates, not about the voters, however -- closed primary primaries, when the candidates run for office, they are not thinking of the larger picture; focused on the narrow subset of primary voters.

We need broader choices. Only in our elections do we see private clubs proscribing our choices. Open market. Completely anti-democratic. Parties: take it or leave it! I just couldn't stand it anymore!

JS -- tell us about your experience in Congress. Share why you decided to run for Cong and what happened when you got there?

ME -- I had a vision when I ran. Belonged to a political party, but when I got elected, I crossed a magic line, supposed to represent the people. However everything was straight part line in voting within the Congress. Not sitting as Americans deciding theses issues. Was involved in committee negotiations. Members commit to party line before the vote. Party leaders run the process. That bothered me. Another example, redistricting -- Jackie, I'm a Republican -- won in a Democratic district. They redistricted me. Oklahoma City district was cut way up to Kansas and over to Arkansas. Looked at the Constitution. Constituents need to know the representative.... I'm from the City, don't know much about farmers and ranchers, their representation was not there, however it somehow benefited the party in power.

And by the way, nobody said in our governmental structure that reps should be divided according to "aisles" according to party.

JS -- The rigidity of the political system that hurts us -- winner take all. What do you say to people who say that that kind of rigidity is necessary for our kind of political system?

ME -- Yes, that works for prior systems, however, our Founding Fathers decided we wanted a citizen-directed form of government. Parliamentary systems are very easy to measure. But we rejected that form. We wanted a system of representation that speaks for the actual people in the districts.

JS -- Mickey, was it hard (emotionally) to write this, to take this position?

ME -- (chuckles) Frankly I was angry. How could it happen that people have all these experiences and yet we are locked into a party that tells us we have to do this or that on behalf of the party.

JS -- Many people on the call probably believe that open primaries would make a difference, Open Primaries Top Two won in California...

ME -- The primary system was progressive, democratic in the beginning, but the people in California and Washington State proved that we can change this. However, the Speaker of the House doesn't have to be a party leader. Look at Canada. You could have Colin Powell be the Speaker of the House. Or you could have the Speaker get 60 percent of the House.

Why do you have Speaker staff Dems and Repubs issuing policy papers?

JS -- 40% of Americans consider themselves independent, what do you think about the influence of independents?

ME -- The revolution is already underway! When Scott Brown got elected, people said, how did that happen in a Dem state? Well, because of the independents.

It's a matter of confrontation! Get people together to demand whatever you need and. This is about private clubs. That's what the parties are.

When I was in office, I had a lot of town meetings where I was confronted with voters who refused to accept a partisan excuse.

JS -- What do you think about Barack Obama and his independent coalition that won the White House, gets there and is faced with the partisan trap? What does he say?

ME -- He wanted to govern as a non-partisan, but misunderstood the partisan system. He proposed things that you might be able to forge a compromise around. But Nancy Pelosi said no -- WE won the election, here's the agenda.... [talks about talking with students about separation of powers - executive, legislative, judicial...] His heart was in the right place, but he misread the partisan politics of the job.

JS -- Yes, that provides insight to what's happening, and to the American people, and to The President: I love that you used "Parties vs. The People" -- your message really speaks to the sentiment of independents and the independent movement.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Big Change at Americans Elect!

Americans Elect is preparing a first attack on the two-party system!

Friends of Political Reform!

Americans Elect has entered a new phase. First, it has gained ballot access in around 20 states, and the momentum to have it in the rest of the states is unstoppable. They have a sterling legal team hard at work in every state. All the rich investors are in. Their money has been committed to creating the asset. Now the roots are firmly in the ground. Now, AE is a $30M asset waiting to be used. Any organized group can grab it and use it to put one of their own on 50 state ballots.

Secondly, the investors have laid off most of their paid staff. They are intentionally giving the process over to whomever volunteers to take on the responsibility. Any organized group can become volunteers and rule by democratic means. That is what the Ackermans intended from the beginning.

As organized and purposeful volunteers, we can make Americans Elect a first attack on the two-party system! If this succeeds, we will be a threat to that system in every state in 2014 and 2016. If we can unite third parties and independents, and agree on one candidate, we can take over this asset.

This is NOT about policy. So what if a former Dem and a former Repub are the first candidates nominated by AE? So what if they are “centrists”?

Policy is not the key issue in this pregnant moment. Remember, in the 1930s Communist Mao Tse-tung joined forces with his arch-enemy and capitalist Chiang Kai-shek to fight the Japanese invaders of China. These two leaders had their priorities straight – first defeat the common enemy, then go back to fighting over how China should be governed.

Read more at Internet Voting for All

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist:
CEO, The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund
Twitter: wjkno1
Author: Internet Voting Now!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cathy L. Stewart Hosts Jackie Salit and Mickey Edwards at Politics for the People Event April 27


Jackie Salit is president of, the country's leading strategy and organizing center for independents.  She ran all three of Michael Bloomberg's campaigns on the Independence Party line, and is the author of the forthcoming book Independents Rising which explores how independents are not only deciding elections, but reshaping the political landscape. 
Mickey Edwards is the Director of the Aspen Institute Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership and was a  member of Congress from Oklahoma from 1977 to 1992.  He has written critically about the partisanship embedded in both our electoral system and in Congress itself, issues he explores in his upcoming book The Parties vs. the People

        The Parties vs. The People  

Friday, April 27, 2012
Baruch College

William and Anita Newman Conference Center
151 East 25th Street, 7th Floor

to Register:  Click here
Train: 6 Train to 23rd Street

For more information, please call (212) 962-1699   
or visit