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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Political Parties Waning - Independents Rising

While political parties are mired in ideology leading to gridlock, the percent of non-partisan voters is on the rise, says political innovator Jackie Salit.  

I enjoyed the opportunity to interview Ms. Salit today, while we shared our opinions about how to move our nation's political system out of entrenched "politics as usual". We discussed the efforts of Independents Rising, a movement dedicated to creating an election process untethered from partisan loyalties.  

Independents Rising acknowledges the growing numbers of Independent voters who are influential in determining the outcomes of elections. Nevertheless, the individual candidates, who represent the Independent voters, must overcome obstructive political processes, not to mention access to campaign money, before they can run for elected positions.  There's only a handful of Independent elected officials serving in government.

But, it's important to acknowledge the growing number of Independent voters by supporting candidates who represent the opinions of the general population.

As some political leaders in Washington DC refuse to compromise, just because "they can", it's time these concrete thinking partisans are replaced with people elected to share creative ideas about how government should care for our citizens.  

Salit is the President of IndependentVoting.org, the country’s leading strategy and organizing center for independents, with chapters in 40 states. Since 2005 she has hosted a bi-annual national conference for independents.  

A focus of Independent Voting is to build grass roots coalitions whereby states, like California, support a "top two" primary election.  In other words, to level the political playing field, the "top two" opens opportunities to candidates to run in primaries where voters can cross party lines.  In the general election, the top two candidates voted for in the primary will run against each other in the general election.  Indeed, this voter selection process will select Democrats, Republicans and Independents, but they'll be chosen by all the primary voters, rather than just by the political base of each major party.  One purpose of the "top two" process is to level the political playing field by opening up opportunities for more Independent candidates to run for elected offices.


Salit is dedicated to building coalitions of voters for the purpose of re-creating old political institutions and political categories, because the ineffective partisans are quickly becoming irrelevant—and even repugnant—to many Americans. 

Although Independent voters are growing in influence in general elections, they are not exerting their leverage with political partisans who elect candidates in primaries. It's certainly time to change this tired two party system, especially when a growing number of voters are, either, not enrolled or registered as Independent.

I look forward to following Ms. Salit's work and learning more about her grass roots efforts to build coalitions to organize a top two primary process in more elections.  

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