Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Friday, August 31, 2012

Harry Kresky: A Cautionary Tale For Electoral Reformists

The Hankster reprints here in full NYC attorney Harry Kresky's brief article concerning Richard Winger's $243,279.50 attorney fees for anti-"Top Two" lawsuit.

Harry Kresky is councel to and Chair of Election Law Committee of New York County Lawyers Association. He blogs at Legal Briefs and publishes regularly on Huffington Post.


Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News and a longtime advocate for the rights of minor parties, has, along with several others, been held liable to pay $243,279.50 in attorney’s fees after losing a lawsuit brought to invalidate California’s new “top-two” primary system, adopted in a June, 2010 referendum.  I understand that a motion for reconsideration has been filed, and I am hopeful that this penalty will be vacated so that Richard’s important work in the area of electoral reform will not be crippled.
This unfortunate situation is a cautionary tale for those of us who seek to advance the cause of electoral reform through the courts.  
Richard and I have worked together for many years in various efforts to open up the electoral process and level the playing field for independent voters and minor parties. We differ strongly on the issue of top-two.  In Richard’s view, top-two hurts minor parties by limiting the candidates on the general election ballot to the two highest vote getters in a non-partisan primary election in which all candidates and all voters, regardless of party affiliation, participate on an equal footing.  Candidates are permitted to list a party preference.  Under the traditional system of party primaries, still operative in most states, each qualified party, major or minor, is assured that its candidate will appear on the general election ballot under the party’s name. 

For independents like me, top-two is a positive reform because it allows independent voters (who are more often than not barred from party primaries) to fully participate in the electoral process, and it breaks the hold of the parties on the candidate selection process. 
In their efforts to defeat this reform, through the courts and otherwise, Richard and other minor party activists have, in my opinion, allowed themselves to be used by the major parties. The parties, major and minor, have opposed the top-two system.  In California, the Democrats and Republicans decided it was best to allow the minor parties to play the more active role both in the media and in the courts.  And since the adoption of top-two by a substantial majority (53.8 to 46.2 percent) of the voters, the major parties have worked to discover how to use the new system to their advantage, while Richard and the minor parties in California have continued to litigate against it. 

In continuing down this road, they ignored warning signals that they would not only reach a legal dead end, but that there might be adverse financial consequences for lawyer and client alike.  The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld top-two as constitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a further challenge after the Supreme Court ruled.  The efforts of Richard and his attorney to enjoin the implementation of top-two also failed.  
The lawsuit in question tried to parlay two minor issues, neither of which had legal merit, into a wholesale attack on the top-two system.  The issues were whether a candidate could list as a party preference only the name of a qualified party, and whether top-two made write-in votes impossible.  By lack of merit, I mean that the Courts had already ruled that neither of these was a constitutional right that state legislation had to respect.  They are questions of public policy, with arguments on both sides.  Furthermore, these alleged defects in top-two can be easily remedied by the legislature. 

Despite all of this, Richard and his lawyer went ahead in their effort to overturn an important pro-democracy reform that the voters of California had supported.  There are lessons here.  They have to do with what you can and can’t accomplish through the courts, and what warning signals you must heed, as an attorney or a litigant, in the electoral arena. 
Perhaps most important, particularly for independents, we must not allow ourselves to be used by the major parties to prop up a partisan political arrangement from which more and more Americans are disaffected.  Did Richard believe his alliance with the major parties would provide legal and financial cover, despite the weakness of his case?  We all have something to learn from these unfortunate events.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - August 29

It's not too late: What should Obama do to appeal to independents? Step out in favor of structural political reform!

Must-Reads for the Rabble-Rouser (By Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair/Just My Type) Jacqueline Salit’s Independents Rising (Palgrave Macmillan) surveys the political impact of the grassroots groups stirring up trouble on both sides of the mainstream.

  • Independent voters are a growing part of Arizona's electorate (by Rebekah L. Sanders, The Republic) From June to the most recent count on Aug. 14, voters opting for no party preference ticked up 1.5 percent, or 18,757, to nearly match Republicans' 1.25 million registered voters, according to figures from Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office. Democratic and Republican registrations grew by less than 1 percent. Jacqueline Salit, president of the independent-voter advocacy group, said more voters are turning away from the two major parties because they don't feel their views are represented… She champions the Open Elections/Open Government initiative in Arizona as a way to get more independent voters, who historically have low primary-election turnout, to get more involved. [ALSO SEE OPEN PRIMARIES BELOW]
  • Opinion: Obama’s best argument for reelection (By Lanny J. Davis, The Hill) Obama would enhance his chances to win the crucial undecided independent vote by endorsing the bipartisan recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission — increasing revenues through closing tax loopholes, cutting spending and undertaking entitlement reform.
  • Romney readies final stage of campaign (By Christian Heinze, The Hill) Disgruntled, undecided independents voters are ripe for the picking, yet many haven’t made up their minds. According to the TPM aggregate, Romney is leading Obama among independents, 43 percent to 41, but he has the chance to go much higher, thanks to Obama’s low approval rating with the group.
  • Floridians voted for Obama in 2008, will again in 2012 (By Dava Castillo, AllVoices) In 2008 the “no party affiliation” (NPA) outnumbered the Independents, with NPA at 1,957,049 and Independents at 272,313, which is quite a spread according to the state of Florida voter profile. While some are saying focus on the Independents, if the numbers resemble 2008 the NPA is where the undecided voters are located. This, however, is an unwieldy demographic, and Independent/no party affiliation voters swing between parties depending on which candidates they think will serve their interests. But they also don’t vote as often as people committed to a party, which is all the more reason for the Democrats to work at the grassroots level in key counties to make sure people are registered and can get to the voting booth in November.

  • Open-primary suit headed for hearing (by Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic) But in the complaint to be heard Thursday afternoon, attorneys for the Open Elections committee argue the staffers validating voter signatures made errors, such as disqualifying people for not being registered voters when they actually are. They also fault the formula elections officials used to determine if there were adequate signatures. In all, the campaign attorneys argue they have 4,900 more signatures than necessary to gain a spot on the ballot.
  • Will the Open Primaries initiative be on the Nov 2012 ballot or not? (video) (by Pamela Powers Hannley, Blog for As of mid-August, Open Primaries was back on the ballot, until this week, when Maricopa County said that there were an extraordinary number of bad signatures. The latest news is that the Open Primaries/Open Government folks have filed a suit to get the initiative back on the ballot. Supporters claim that Maricopa County erroneously rejected.
  • Open primaries could encourage more competition (Yuma Sun) The state's high court ruled last week that the open primary system met constitutional muster. A lower court had said it was illegal because it contained two separate proposals, which is not allowed under the Arizona Constitution. The Supreme Court said that is not the case. Now it turns out the legal dispute may not matter anyway. Questions are being raised by county election officials about whether the initiative has enough signatures to be put on the ballot. The outcome will not be known until the signatures are all verified.
  • Open primary would force political shift (By Today’s News-Herald - Nogales International) An open primary would make the process more straightforward. It would also tend to tone down the long primary campaigns based on party purity and force candidates to consider how best to show they can represent their whole constituency.

GOP voters get 12.45 percent of Colo. letters questioning citizenship (IVAN MORENO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Colorado Springs Gazette) U.S citizens are among those who received letters from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler questioning their right to vote, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday… The vast majority of registered voters who received letters were Democrats or independent voters. Of the nearly 4,000 letters, 1,566 went to Democrats, and 1,794 went to unaffiliated voters. Another 486 letters were sent to Republicans, which equals 12.45 percent of the total.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jackie Salit on 'Independents Rising' with Lenora Fulani in Harlem

What are the three things that independents can do to make a critical difference that the future is calling for?

Jackie Salit speaks about the independent movement and her new book Independents Rising (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) at Lenora Fulani's 'Interviews With a Black Independent', a monthly series coming to you from the Harlem State Office Building.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Number of the Day

This month in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, finally recognizing the right of women to vote.
"Through the activism of suffrage organizations and independent political parties, women's suffrage was established in the newly formed constitutions of Wyoming Territory (1869), Utah (1870), and Washington Territory (1883)."
Initiated at the Seneca Falls convention in 1848, pursued for a lifetime by Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and many others, electoral equality for women was obtained on 18 August 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment.
Well done, Sister Suffragettes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - August 22

Mickey Edwards Urges Congress, Before Party Affiliation Be 'an American First' (PBS News Hour with Judy Woodruff) Mickey Edwards, former Republican congressman, rails against political division in Washington in his new book, "The Parties Versus the People." Edwards talks to Judy Woodruff about his suggestions to reform party hostility and create "one congress serving one country. [SEE VIDEO BELOW]

Young Voters Becoming More Independent (By Eric Sharp, IVN) If the major parties want to survive they are going to have to play a different ball game. But judging by how the Republican Party establishment has responded to Ron Paul’s revolution within the party to bring libertarian and independent policies to the forefront, the GOP is not yet ready to accept the new political paradigm.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Independents' Greatest Hits

2012 Presidential Election: Who Are the Independents That Will Determine the Election?

Hey-Ho Hanksteristas! This week's attacks in the mainstream media/academia against independents gave me pause. I thought about Fred Newman, my long-time friend and colleague, who died last July. Newman was the leading political strategist behind and architect of the current US independent political movement. I thought about the increasing psychologicalization of politics and the inherent politics of psychology (and every other field of study, for that matter!)

It seems rightful that as more and more Americans identify as independents (aka quitting the parties) the existing powers and institutions that be, including the ubiquitous corporate American press, would conduct studies to prove that independents are not really independents. After all, that's the function of established institutions -- maintain the status quo.

There is a vital and growing independent movement in the country (I highly recommend the historical account from Jackie Salit in her new book Independents Rising -- a down-to-earth primer on the history of the movement.

Not only are Americans increasingly declaring their disassociation from the major parties, in fact seems they don't like parties at all!

Bring it on!

  • Dem registration down in key states (By CHARLES MAHTESIAN, Politico) A new report on voter registration trends finds that Democratic voter registration is down by more than 800,000 since 2008 in eight key battleground states. GOP registration has also declined — but by only 79,000, a tenth of the Democrats’ losses. Meanwhile, registered independents are on the rise, increasing their numbers in those states by nearly half-a-million.
  • Just How Independent Are Independent Voters? (Sam Sommers, Professor, Tufts University, Huffington Post) New research just published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that Independents may not be quite as independent as they claim they are. Across a series of studies, researchers at the University of Virginia presented respondents with different policies to evaluate and examined the extent to which political affiliation colored their perceptions.
  • Obama’s costly investment not yielding new voters (Brian C. Mooney, Boston Globe)
  • In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada — tossup states where direct election-year comparisons could be drawn — the numbers are striking. Democratic rolls increased by only 39,580, less than one-tenth the amount at the comparable point in the 2008 election. At the same time, GOP registration has jumped by 145,085, or more than double for the same time four years ago. Independent registration has shown an even stronger surge, to 229,500, almost three times the number at this point in 2008.
  • Few Voters Are Truly Up for Grabs, Research Suggests (By REBECCA BERG, NY Times)  “There is so much pop psychology surrounding swing voters, but there is very little evidence that there are key demographics in the population that are inherently swing voters,” said John Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University... Part of the difficulty in identifying swing voters derives from confusion about the term “swing voter” itself. These voters might describe themselves as “undecided,” for example, or as “persuadable.” Often, they call themselves “independents,” although many who identify that way are not. Myths about the behavior of these voters are pervasive and persistent: For example, that undecided voters break for the challenger as Election Day nears. (Data have shown this is often not the case.)
  • Will the real independents please stand up? (Phys Org) Psychological scientists Carlee Beth Hawkins and Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia decided to use a tool called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT, to explore the unconscious biases that churn deep inside the Independent mind.

Democalypse 2012 - Cockblock the Vote - Ohio's Voting Laws (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) Stewart calls for nonpartisan elections after flap with Ohio partisan voting hours. [SEE BELOW] Fewer citizens voting doesn't enhance democracy, but it does secure the power of the parties...

Independents Rising and The Parties Versus The People: Bring It On!

Author Sees Improved Discourse As Key To 2012 Presidential Election Outcome (By John Ostapkovich, CBS PHILLY) “I think independents are looking to see whether the president or his opponent are going to give voice to this central issue in American politics today, which is overcoming political partisanship,” she says.

If you have not already picked up a copy of Jackie Salit's new book Independents Rising, time's a-wastin'! And you can read Hankster chapter by chapter reviews here, here, and here -- and stay tuned for more! Utah League of Independent Voters [on Facebook as Utah League of Independent Voters] founder Randy Miller and I are the relay team, and watch for Independent Kentucky's [on Facebook as Independent Kentucky] Chairman Michael Lewis's review of Chapter 8...

And by the way, The Hankster has a Facebook page too -- hope you'll like it!

Can we fix a hyper-partisan Congress? (By Mickey Edwards, Special to CNN) It surprises me still to hear people express amazement at the hyper-partisan nature of Congress and its resulting inability to deal collectively with the nation's problems. In a constitutional system that places most of the federal government's real power with the peoples' representatives, that is a serious problem.

Former Congressman Mickey Edwards is a lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also a vice president of the Aspen Institute and director of the Institute’s Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership program. His new book The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans is in stores and online now.

Edwards and Salit were featured guests at Cathy L. Stewart's Politics for the People monthly forum both last April talking about their books. Video snipits below. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Voter Registration Down, Independents Up, National Scene -- Look At the Independents

What's up? Independent voter registration and identification. What's down? Partisan politics and partisan registration.

  • CNN Poll:Obama Expands Lead To 7 Points, Independent Voters Cool On Romney (Kyle Leighton, TPM) “Among independent voters, the poll indicates President Obama has a 53%-42% lead,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told “The president holds a nine point advantage among women voters and a smaller six point edge among men.”
  • Ann McFeatters: Watch the rise of independent voters (Newsday) A record number of us now say we are political independents, swiveling our heads right and left as we watch the Democrats and the Republicans try to govern -- and fail. Forty-four percent of Americans insist they are neither Republican nor Democrat, according to Gallup polling. That is about 9 percentage points higher than surveys showed at the same period in 2008, the last presidential election year.



Arizona Open Primary Appeal: Independent Should Not Have to Pay for That

OpenPrimary Appeal Reaches Arizona Supreme Court (By Kymberly Bays, IVN) “If the initiative passes, it is entirely up to [the political parties] how they would like to run elections. They can gather signatures, set up online voting, hold a convention,” says Open Government committee member and co-author of the Open Elections/Open Government Act, Karen Schroeder. “The key point is Arizona independents should not have to pay for that.” “1 in 3 Arizona voters are independents. It’s very unfair to expect those voters to fund partisan primary elections,” she adds.

IndependentVoters Rule Congressional District 9 - Arizona's newest district (AP, KFYI Phoenix) At 34.6 percent of the roughly 362,000 voters in the district, more are registered as independents than either Republicans or Democrats. About 34 percent are listed as Republicans and 30 percent are listed as Democrats.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Independents Rising Chapter 2 review

In 1992 I was not a seasoned independent grassroots organizer, but I knew a thing or two about knocking doors and building a movement. I was 20 years old and serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, coincidentally that is the 'Mormon' church to which Mitt Romney belongs, and no, I won't be voting for him, but that is another story*.

My parents and their friends and community were basically conservative Republicans. I was young and naive. I believed what I had heard---I had little or no exposure to any contrasting political views and I was focused on theology. I would not say I was skeptical. I wouldn't say I believed all the rhetoric I was exposed to, but I did feel like there was a home team under constant anti-American attack. Perhaps I was a well-trained partisan. Even in my bitter-about-the-war years, I defended the Utah Legislature in conversation over their 2000 gerrymandered redistricting plan. Corruption in my mind was unique to liberals in far off places like Chicago and New York. I don't know entirely how my eyes were opened, but I'm glad they were and I'm certain Jackie Salit and Nancy Ross had something to do with it.

I recall just a few thoughts of my political thinking in 1992:
  1. I remember thinking (perhaps due to Perot raising it to the fore) that debt was an omnipresent issue that the two parties were powerless to overcome.
  2. Something, anything new (seeds of independence?), even Jesse Jackson might represent a "new face" approach that was needed. I wasn't an ardent supporter of that, just open to the idea. I was doing a lot of listening in the months and years running up to November 1992.
  3. I remember thinking how unconscionable it was that my missionary companion from Oregon was a supporter of that 'pot smoker' Bill Clinton. Boy have I done a lot of growing up since then!
Nancy's introduction to this chapter by chapter project says "This is your story, our story--the story of the rise of independents". I have read a number of fiction and non-fiction thrillers with great anticipation of 'how it ends'. But it is surreal as I read through this narrative of independent history. I remember that past, our past...our present. It wasn't that long ago and it is how I arrived here. I know how this book ends before I've read it! The compelling draw is what will fill the pages of the subsequent sequels.

Chapter 2--Populism versus Centrism

Centrism is a meaningless abstraction. Those are my words not Jackie's. My local political conditions will partially illustrate this.

Candidates in Utah are screened through a caucus / convention system and if they score high enough, a primary election is avoided. This arrangement has become a practice that can be manipulated and misused. There are voices within the parties and even more voices without calling for an end to the caucus / convention / closed primary system. Party leaders of at least the Democratic and Republican parties predictably support the current arrangement. If centrism is vaguely defined as somewhere between left and right, is it squeezed out when the parties are in unison as in this example? Is left / center / right even relevant to an electoral equity issue?

Chapter 2 chronicles not ideological positions as problematic, but ideology generally as problematic and this often includes 'centrism' as the obstructive ideology of 'centrists'. This is the stark contrast and the chapter's namesake of populism versus centrism.

Populism is power to the people through pro-democratic institutions without a bias or preference as to what the voice of the people might say. Centrism is an advocacy of ideological noise not (a) pro-left or (b) pro-right, but (c) for bipartisan centrist middle. It is ideologically oriented. Populism is institution oriented.

*A story that I'd be happy to tell those who are interested. Drop me a line--

Sunday, August 12, 2012

BOOK REVIEW, Jeffrey Freeman: Background for Escalating War with Iran by Dr. David Crist

BOOK REVIEW: The Twilight War

Guest Post by Jeffrey Freeman

    The Twilight War:  The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran (The Penguin Press), is nothing short of fascinating. With its many twists and turns, it reads more like a well-written novel than historical non-fiction: Revolution. Counter-revolution. Invasion. Infiltration. Shia versus Sunni. Iraq. Lebanon. Israel. Syria. Saudi Arabia. Plot and counter plot. It’s all laid out with clarity of purpose.

    Its author, Dr. David Crist, is uniquely qualified. In suit and tie, he is an historian and advisor within the Department of Defense. In uniform, he is a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, having deployed in the first Gulf War and the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban. He grew up in the military, his father now a retired four-star general. Crist is not only an academic but has been a boots-on-the-ground soldier with Special Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    He is also one of the best interviewers I have ever watched in action, able to ferret out closely guarded information. In the ten years of compiling the background for the book, he conducted interviews with more than four hundred people, many of them senior officials in various U.S. administrations.

    The book delineates with intricate detail U.S. and Iranian positions from the 1950’s to present day. It is endorsed by men such as Pulitzer Price author Thomas E. Ricks and General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Retired), former commander of Central Command.

    As Crist makes clear, Iran is an important world player for three reasons:  it controls the Gulf of Hormuz, through which passes one-sixth of the world’s oil; it is set on a policy of energy independence by developing nuclear power; and it considers itself a major, perhaps the major power in the Middle East, not an idle boast for a nation that traces its roots back to the Persian Empire, predating Christ by six hundred years.

    As Crist also points out, the potential for bringing the war out of the shadows and into a full-scale calamity is immediate and very real.

    This book is essential for anyone wanting to fully understand the complexities of US-Iranian relations. It is a must-read for all decision-makers and decision-influencers in Washington and Tehran.

Jeffrey Freeman is political independent and a retired Army colonel who spent nearly half his career inside the Washington beltway. He is the author of four novels, the most recent being, We Were Warriors Once. He is a five-time awards recipient from Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge.

Sunday morning ACME comic

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - August 10

  • Independents Rising, by Jacqueline Salit (By Kymberly Bays, IVN) Where Salit’s book is most interesting is the anecdotes of independent successes and failures. A deeply entrenched member of two decades of independent movements, she gives insider accounts of campaign activities, deals and negotiations.
  • Book Review: Jackie Salit’s “Independents Rising” (Posted by Nancy Hanks, The Moderate Voice) Are you among the 40 something percent of Americans who consider themselves political independents? You will appreciate this new book by Jacqueline Salit, president of, long-time activist and strategist for the independent movement. I urge you to rush to your local bookstore and read this smart, witty and engaging look at American politics in 2012 from an outsider’s inside take.

Q&A with Jackie Salit, president of

June 1, 2012 
Jackie Salit
Jackie Salit
Jackie Salit, a leader in the independent movement and author of INDEPENDENTS RISING, Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America, was recently interviewed by Joseph Garcia, communications director at Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

Salit is president of and managed all three of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns on the Independence Party line. She also was a leader in the fight for nonpartisan elections in New York City and consulted with leaders of the coalition that passed Proposition 14, the Top Two Initiative in California that will be in effect this year. 
Salit recently was in Arizona, which could decide in the fall whether to also adopt the top-two vote-getter system for elections.

Audio: Q&A with Jackie Salit (32:33 running time)
MI Briefing: Top-Two Proposition: What Nonpartisan Elections Could Mean for Arizona

What Are Your Favored Electoral Reforms? (By Damon Eris, IVN) Primary System Reform: In the vast majority of states, primary elections are the means by which the Democratic and Republican parties nominate their candidates for a given office, and in states with closed primaries (roughly half), only party members may cast ballots in those elections, thus disenfranchising millions of Independent voters across the country. Why should tax payers be forced to subsidize an internal party process that they are prohibited from participating in? The solution here is rather simple: primary elections should be open to all registered voters or they should not be publicly funded. If the parties desire to maintain closed primary elections, they can privately fund these elections themselves. Surely, their corporate sponsors would be willing to supply the necessary funding, as, in many cases, they already own the major parties’ candidates.

  • Letter: Inequality exists for independents (Albany Times Union) I am pleased to see the Times Union has adopted my long-held opinion of "one ballot line per candidate" ("Third-party shenanigans," Aug. 3). The editorial makes reference to the petition process but fails to emphasize the inequality that exists between candidates who are truly independent and those who belong to parties recognized by the state.
  • The third-party candidate who could derail Mitt Romney (By Scott Bomboy, CONSTITUTION DAILY in Philadelphia Inquirer) With Mitt Romney needing Virginia - especially if President Barack Obama can take Ohio or Florida - Goode could become the little-known spoiler in the national election.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

All Things Independents Rising (Jackie Salit's new book)

In case you missed it, The Hankster is very excited about Jackie Salit's book Independents Rising, published by Palgrave Macmillan and on bookshelves as of yesterday. Below are some of the reviews streaming in! Congrats, Jackie!

  • Speaking on behalf of the independents (By Jacqueline Salit, Constitution Daily) The recent Supreme Court health care decision was striking in many ways, but perhaps most of all, for its dramatic separation of constitutional and policy questions. If the decision was in any way a bellwether, it might be that in these times, the best outcomes are produced when process and policy are distinguished from one another.  As was evident in the outcry over Justice John Roberts’ unexpected turn, making this distinction can disrupt partisan convention–and that’s a good thing!
  • Kirkus' Review: INDEPENDENTS RISING (Kirkus Reviews) president Salit (co-author: Talk/Talk: Making (Non) Sense of an Irrational World, 2010) discusses independent voters in this “honest and unvarnished account of events, personalities, and contexts in the formative decades of what I feel certain will turn out to be a century-defining dynamic.”
  • Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America, Jacqueline S. Salit. Palgrave Macmillan, (Publishers Weekly) Given the upcoming presidential election, Salit’s earnest and informative book is sure to be consulted by those trying to understand the enigmatic and influential independent voter. Independents first spilled into the mainstream with the 1992 presidential campaign of Ross Perot (who garnered 19% of the popular vote) and have been a driving source of politics ever since.
  • Jackie Salit's Independents Rising: A Review from the Trenches (Nancy Hanks, The Hankster) By January of 1992, I was a seasoned national field organizer for a budding independent movement. I had been slogging away with colleagues in small teams, knocking on doors and setting up tables on street corners and on college campuses from Philadelphia to Cleveland to Chicago since 1986, to raise money and build a base of independent-minded Americans in support of legislation that would have made it easier for independent candidates to get on the ballot.
  • Independents Rising: Third Party Politics In America (EXCERPT) (Huffington Post) Michael Lewis is an imposing man. Six-foot-six, 340 pounds, barrel-chested, he looks like someone who could crush an opponent without even a sideways glance. Lewis played semipro football in his younger days. Today he is married, with two young daughters, and has worked as a prelitigation specialist in the financial credit industry. It’s a business that Lewis feels uncomfortable about.
  • Book Review: Independents Rising by Jacqueline Salit (Nancy Hanks, The Hankster) From the first words of Jackie Salit's upcoming book Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America (out in stores on August 7, pre-order from Amazon) "For Sema/ Fiercely Independent" to the last "...George Washington warned 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.' The American people want that power back. That's why independents are rising," this intimate, open and powerful portrait of the past two decades of the American independent political movement struck a deep chord with me.
  • Catana Barnes on Independents Rising (Politics for the People) “Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America by Jackie Salit is an intimate account of the independent movement that only an insider can provide. This book enlightens readers about the history, trials and tribulations and successes of independents as well as the continuing struggle for making lasting and meaningful reforms that empowers all voters. The stories about the grassroots organizers and organizations are very motivating and makes me proud to be a part of the independent movement.”
  • Book review: Independents Rising, by Jacqueline Salit (By: Ken Bingenheimer, 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.
  • Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America, Jacqueline S. Salit (MacMillan) A revealing look at how independent voters have been upending the political establishment for thirty years – and how they’ll decide the future of American politics.
  • Jackie Salit: Independents Rising (Philadelphia Weekly) Political Pundit Jacqueline Salit recounts the little-known history of the independent political movement, exploring and attempting to define exactly who independents are and what their impact on the current political system is. WHEN Saturday, October 13, 2012



JACKIE SALIT ON FACEBOOK: (search Jacqueline-Salit)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

independents shelved!

PHOTO: Bryan Puertas
Jackie Salit's Independents Rising hit the book store shelves today! Congrats JS!!

Monday, August 06, 2012

HuffPo Excerpt from Independents Rising by Jacqueline Salit: Michael Lewis, Kentucky Independent

Just came across this wonderful excerpt From "Independents Rising" by Jacqueline S. Salit. Copyright © 2012 by the author and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd. posted today on HuffPo:

Michael Lewis is an imposing man. Six-foot-six, 340 pounds, barrel-chested, he looks like someone who could crush an opponent without even a sideways glance. Lewis played semipro football in his younger days. Today he is married, with two young daughters, and has worked as a pre-litigation specialist in the financial credit industry. It’s a business that Lewis feels uncomfortable about. “It’s hard to make a living off of other people’s misfortune,” he says in a gentle voice that seems at odds with his physical stature. He’d like to change careers. But the economy being what it is, it’s hard to make that change especially in a place like Kentucky, where jobs are scarce and wages are low.
Michael Lewis is an independent. When you talk with him, you realize that it’s as much an attitude, a posture, a sensibility, as it is a political position. He doesn’t like political parties; he feels they have too much control. He wants independent voters to have more political power. Kentucky is a “closed primary” state— meaning candidates are nominated through primary elections in which only party members can vote, not independents.
Michael Lewis is one of many players in the independent movement. He is the founder of Independent Kentucky, a fighter for grassroots democracy. Get to know him!


Jackie Salit's Independents Rising: A Review from the Trenches

By January of 1992, I was a seasoned national field organizer for a budding independent movement. I had been slogging away with colleagues in small teams, knocking on doors and setting up tables on street corners and on college campuses from Philadelphia to Cleveland to Chicago since 1986, to raise money and build a base of independent-minded Americans in support of legislation that would have made it easier for independent candidates to get on the ballot. I was part of a team of 50 or so organizers -- many of whom were using vacation time from their jobs -- who flew into Texas in the summer of 1988 to put Dr. Lenora B. Fulani on the ballot in one of the toughest ballot access drives in US history. We were doing the impossible in Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, California, Alaska, South Dakota, Michigan... making history. Fulani was the first woman and first African American to ever get on the ballot in all 50 states running for President. She ran as an independent.

So it is especially intriguing to me to take a step back and read Jackie Salit’s account in Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America. Indeed, it’s personal. And you don’t have to have been in the trenches to appreciate this story. This is your story, our story -- the story of the rise of independents. Where were you in 1992? What were you doing? What conversations did you have with friends and family? What small or big decisions did you make, and had been making for a long time, that helped create a nonpartisan pro-democracy voice in 2012 America?

REVIEW BY Ken Bingenheimer here

Jackie begins her story in 1992, a year of "awkward contradictions" as she calls it, borrowing the phrase from William Greider’s One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. In the context of an increasingly irrelevant left, and an increasingly centrist Democratic Party, a grassroots voter revolt was gathering force on the fringes.

“These rumblings did not register on most political radars. The big story in 1990 was that the Democrats had controlled the House of Representatives since 1948 (and always would) and that the Republicans controlled the White House (and likely would for at least another six years). It seemed to many observers that the century would wrap up without any major surprises in American politics. In 1989 political science professor Francis Fukuyama wrote an influential essay for the National Interest magazine called “The End of History?” Fukuyama projected that the collapse of communism heralded a new international order of liberal democracy and stability. America would be the world’s beacon and breadwinner. The world would now follow suit. Few saw beyond that ostensibly happy horizon.”

Independents Rising is a beautifully choreographed dance between what was being described by most pundits, journalists, writers, thought-leaders, et al, and what was actually happening on the ground.

“In 1992 Fulani entered the early Democratic primaries to promote her antipartisan pro-reform cause. She had been awarded nearly $650,000 in federal primary matching funds in December 1991...”

In October of 1991, I transferred from a two-month stint in Atlanta, Georgia to San Francisco, California. Arriving at 8:00AM, I was on the street with our team in Oakland by 10:00AM raising money to qualify Fulani’s ’92 campaign for federal primary matching funds. The streets of California were paved with gold for the independent movement in 1992. And in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, by late December I requested to come back to New York. I was tired. I missed being close to my kids in Philadelphia. I couldn’t grock the fact that the water was on the left -- that made no sense to my East Coast orientation, not to mention I was disoriented by the lack of grease, grit and grime of NYC. I wanted to see Fred Newman. My field director Cathy Salit called me to let me know that my request was granted and she had a favor to ask. Would I go up to New Hampshire for a month before coming home? I said yes and arrived in New York on New Years Eve in time for a party in Harlem before "shipping out" again -- briefly -- for points north. I was home, almost.

“The WMUR studios were locked behind a phalanx of Manchester police on January 19, the night of the debate. Former California governor Jerry Brown, the progressive challenger to the Clintonian Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) brand of “new politics," issued a statement calling for Fulani’s inclusion and criticized the party for excluding her... Fulani set up a mass picket ringing the studio, involving 400 protesters--some had traveled to New Hampshire from Harlem and many were Manchester locals. The temperature that night was a lip-splitting 12° F, but the protesters gathered at both entrances to the WMUR parking lot... Not long afterward, a shiny black SUV pulled up at one of the entrances.... Suddenly Clinton dropped to the floor of the back seat, shielding his face from view....  The Clinton camp told me it wanted to avoid any future run-ins of this sort, which were an embarrassment to Clinton. Clinton campaign coordinator Mitchell Schwarz set up a meeting with Newman and me a few days later in the coffee shop at the Manchester Holiday Inn...”

It was very very cold in New Hampshire in January 1992. And very very hot!

I hope you will read this book. Jackie’s statement on behalf of our movement is sharp and witty, and important. Enjoy!


Friday, August 03, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - August 3

OutFront Political Strike Team splits on Romney's overseas trip (CNN/Outfront Strike Team)

After a series of gaffe's made by Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney overseas, many are wondering whether Romney's overseas trip was a success or an epic failure.

Our OutFront Political Strike team weighed in on whether Romney would have been better off staying home.

Dr. Omar H. Ali:
No. In our largely he said-he said partisan-driven political culture, negativity will trump positive messages and efforts to create meaningful dialogue every time… The reason why so many people are abandoning their partisan affiliation (currently 4 out of 10 voters are now independent) is because of widespread and increasing recognition that the parties are more interested in winning (and keeping their offices) than creating healthy, meaningful dialogue for the nation's development.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - August 2

  • New Polls in Three Battleground States Show Obama Edge (By JEFF ZELENY and DALIA SUSSMAN, NY Times) While independent voters break strongly for Mr. Obama in Pennsylvania, a state that Mr. Romney has been trying to make more competitive, they are closely split in Florida and Ohio. Of the coalition that Mr. Obama built to win the White House, independent voters remain a hurdle, with a little more than half in Florida and Ohio saying they disapprove of his job performance.
  • Why Romney’s Pulling Back on PA Ad Spending Share With Friends (Keystone Politics) Pennsylvania women voters back Obama 59 – 35 percent, while men go 50 percent for Romney and 47 percent for Obama. Independent voters back Obama 58 – 36 percent.
  • POLL: President Obama reaches magic number with Florida voters - President Obama edges out Romney in Florida (Local 10 - Miami) Both candidates run strong among their own party’s voters while independent voters split with 47 percent for Obama and 46 percent for Romney.
  • ALSO SEE Miami Herald HERE

FULL Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times POLL DATA HERE