Here are my (2015) observations about the rise of independent politics in America. I see 5 trends:
- Independent Voters – Most are discouraged, disappointed and frustrated. Many are angry, many do not even register to vote and many more are no longer voting at all. They have given up believing that anything or anyone can change government and Washington DC. Nationally, about 43% of our voters call themselves “Independents” and in states such as Massachusetts the number is 54%. When people I talk with find out there is an independent movement with changes happening in almost all 50 states, everyone is surprised and a few begin to feel a little (very little) more encouraged about changing Washington DC for the better. Many say to me personally that they are glad someone actually has a plan to fix our broken government!
- The Independent Voting Movement – It will be no surprise to anyone that the rules regarding independent voters and the laws, rules and paperwork for independent candidates are different in every state and every US territory. The rise of the independent voting movement is taking shape as squads of activists and lawyers get petitions signed and lawsuits filed to open up primaries and general elections to independent voters and independent candidates. These groups are organizing in at least 40 states and many are associated with http://independentvoting.org. I understand well that I benefit from their hard work and that barriers to open elections are overturned nearly every day. There are different ways to make primaries, general elections and ballot access more fitting a democracy of the 21st century and this will be a topic of a future blog. For now, I want to say that the newsletter and web site http://ballot-access.org of Richard Winger -- America’s leading expert on the legal issues related to ballot access – is my go-to source for continuously updated information and news stories about how independent candidates can get on the ballot in all 50 states.
- Independent Parties – There are many non-traditional parties we already know about including the Working Families Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and the Tea Party. There are many other small yet growing parties in different stages of development such as United Independent Party of Massachusetts (http://www.unitedindependent.org) and the New Independent Party Iowa (http://www.newindependentpartyiowa.info).
- Independent Candidates – We are finding each other and offering support and sharing hard-learned advice about running campaigns outside the 2-party system. For example, the advice I’ve heard more than once is to carefully read and have a lawyer also read the directions for getting on the ballot state-by-state.
- The Media – The rising independent movement is the most under-reported story in politics today – though I predict not for very long. The mainstream media is well paid during campaign season by the major parties so they are not inclined to hear from independent candidates. For that reason, I was very grateful for the opportunity to speak on the Independent Voter Radio Show streaming live in Studio B at www.freedomslips.com.
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