Peter White Shares a Trio of Poems

Peter White is a long time activist in NH and a member of NH Independent Voters.

th_022Peter told me that he has been writing political poetry for a few years now and hopes “…to turn it into protest songs for the times!”

The first poem is new for P4P readers this year. You may remember the two poems that follow from last year.

 

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INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE HERE TO STAY!

Hello everyone we’ve come to say

Independent Voters are here to stay!

Get up off your couches and join our way

And together for our Nation we will save the day!

 

We’re sick of the baloney the two Parties feed us

While their bosses on Wall Street are stealing with no fuss!

Our government is corrupt and a real mess

It is putting our democracy to the test.

 

We the People must rise up and start to lead

To demand what is right and what we really need:

Representatives that work for us instead of corporate greed

Who refuse PAC money, have integrity, and know how to read!

 

The US Constitution is what they should know

And the Bill of Rights is what makes our Country glow.

Open primaries are needed so our movement will grow

Until the PEOPLE SHALL RULE instead of the dough!

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BANK BAILOUT BLUES

by Peter White

Chorus: I’ve got the bank bailout blues, I’ve got the bank bailout blues, those big bad bank bailout blues, too big to fail bailout blues.

 

Step right up if you’re rich and greedy

The government will treat you like you’re needy.

If you own a big bank and want more money

The politicians will treat you right, honey!

(chorus)

If you need some health care you’ve got lots to pay

Because big pharma and insurance crooks got more say.

We need Medicare for ALL to make the system right

And We the People we got the might!

(chorus)

Obama said he would bring us change

But he and the Democrats are more of the same;

They keep waging war for Empire to help the rich

All that killing for greed is such a b b b shame!

(chorus)

Now we got Trump to lead the way

And those billionaires got even MORE say!

The Republicans are in charge of Congress now

And it’s time for We the People to give them Hell!

(chorus)

Those bailouts for Wall Street were a bunch of baloney

To say that it helped Main Street is a story that’s phony!

I’ve got the bank bailout blues and they won’t go away

Until the 99% lead the way!

(chorus)

POWER TO THE PEOPLE RIGHT ON!    (3 times)

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WHY I OCCUPY 

Why I occupy

Let me tell you why

I am moved to really try

By a love force I cannot deny!

 

Every day I’m glad to be here

To see all the beauty and cheer

Unfortunately I can also see clear

And know that the End Game is near.

 

The Occupy movement gives me hope

That We the People will stop being a dope!

Humane change is possible if we cope

With politicians who are as slippery as soap.

 

The two Parties are a corrupt duopoly

They help the rich control their plutocracy

We cannot have a democracy

If more people are into a jockocracy!

 

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

They get higher and mightier as we go lower.

Most elected Democrats and Republicans cower

To the ruling elite who have economic power.

 

We can teach the world to sing

In imperfect but loving harmony

With peace on earth being our symphony

Helping our neighbors in our community.

 

We each have a role to play

We have the freedom to have our say

We can live in the light and lead the way

To occupy our government and overcome some day!

 

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

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I Worried

2018 National Poetry Month PosterA Poem selected for National Poetry Month by June Hirsh. Here is what June wrote about “I Worried” by Mary Oliver:

I’m new to Poetry–I love the sensibility, the ordinariness and the decency of this poem–it’s sweetness and kindness touches my heart. It gives me my humanness and an honest way to be in the world.

junehirsch soloAs a life long political activist–to be kind and forgiving–to have compassion for myself and for others–to have our lives and live our lives as giving human beings is everything.

Otherwise, the growing poverty, the pain in the world we live in, would be unbearable. Lets sing together and cry together–and together, change the world.

I Worried
by Mary Oliver

 

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

 

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

 

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

 

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up.  And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

 

 

Reminder:

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

The Secrets of Mary Bowser is our new Politics for the People Book Club selection. 

Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

 

 

The Poetry Hunt by Caroline Donnola

 

Roque Dalton, a renown poet from El Salvador (1935-1975) said in his poem titled “Like You,”  “I believe the world is beautiful and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.”  (Jessie Fields submitted the full poem for your blog a few years ago.)  It turns out that hundreds of well-known poets, and probably thousands of lesser known ones, have written 12495942_10207847865062060_3320784175264629657_opoems about poetry.  This is fascinating to me because poetry is often seen as esoteric or alien or worse.  But what would the world be like if everyone was encouraged to write and read poetry?  Why is it a valuable activity?  What is it about writing poetry that encourages philosophizing?  These are questions that interest me.  During the past year I have written several poems that explore the activity of writing poetry.  Here is one.

 

The Poetry Hunt

 

The right word,
The best word,

The heartfelt word—
We poets hunt,
And then we hunt some more.
Should it be beacon or fire?
Passionate
Amorous
Or simply desire?
And if the shoe fits,
Must we wear it?
Or should our foot be handsomely shod?
No poet is an island.
We are weaving around and about
In all the world’s history,
In a dance with every poet we ever loved.
We are part of the main.
We have Dickinson’s passion
Donne’s power
Shakespeare’s breadth
Langston’s pain
Edna’s sensuality
Roque’s love.

The right word,
The best word
The heartfelt word—

And then all the words

Get flung together, conjuring
Longing
Remembrance
Newness
Joy
Rage
Comfort
Unity
As we join together
In our quest to cherish
Each other’s poetry.
The chance to be together
In a world we’ve created
From dust and air
From history, imagination
And yes, from Words.
Writing poetry

Is like making soup—
We swish together
the basic ingredients
Then toss in a pinch of
The unknown-
Our wishes, hopes
Secrets and dreams.
And then, there it is
Like a miracle—
Words that have become a poem,
And that poem
Becomes part
Of something wonderful,

A world that is filled

With our heartfelt words

Because poetry

Is spilling out of everyone

Every day

Even on the days we forget to

Say it out loud.

 

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

Politics for the People Celebrates National Poetry Month

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

April is National Poetry Month and over the next week, we will be celebrating the role of political poetry in our lives.  Please send me your favorite political poem—and that might be a poem you have written—to be included in our celebration. [You can submit your selection to me at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com.]

Today, we’ll kick off with a poem by Pablo Neruda.  I love Neruda’s work and have since I read my first Neruda poem in high school.  Recently, a friend shared “Keeping Quiet/A callarse” with me, a beautiful contemplation that I had never read.

neruda

 

Keeping Quiet / A callarse

Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fisherman in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could perhaps do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

-By Pablo Neruda

-from Full Woman, Fleshy Apple, Hot Moon
-English translation by Stephen Mitchell

 

Reminder:

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

The Secrets of Mary Bowser is our new Politics for the People Book Club selection.  Hope you will pick up your copy of the book today. 

We will be talking with author Lois Leveen on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.

 

Next Selection–The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Secrets of Mary Bowser Bk Cover

 

Author’s Note

This novel tells the story of a real person, Mary Bowser. Born a slave in Richmond, Virginia, Mary was freed and educated in the North but returned to the South and became a Union spy during the Civil War. Like many ordinary people who choose what is right rather than what is easy, she did extraordinary things.

Few details about Mary Bowser are known today. In the nineteenth century, little effort was made to record the daily lives of most slaves, free blacks, or women of Lois L alternateany race. The scant facts about Mary Bowser that survive cannot tell us what we most want to know: What experiences in freedom would make her risk her life in a war she couldn’t be sure would bring emancipation? How did this educated African American woman feel, subjecting herself to people who regarded her as ignorant and even unhuman? How did living amid the death and destruction of America’s bloodiest war affect her?

The Secrets of Mary Bowser interweaves historical figures, factual events, even actual correspondence and newspaper clippings, with fictional scenes, imagined characters, and invented dialogue, to answer these questions. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived at the same time as Mary Bowser (and who, in the style of the period, often said man when today we would say person), I believe that the crises of an individual life can shed light on national crises. The novel tells the story of one woman’s life—but it also tells the story of a nation torn apart by slavery, and brought back together by the daily bravery of countless people like Mary Bowser.

—Lois Leveen

 

Lois will be my guest on the Politics for the People conference call on Sunday, June 3rd at 7 pm EST.  So, get your copy of The Secrets of Mary Bowser and start reading today.

Lois also wanted to invite those P4P members who would like an autographed copy of the book to purchase your book from Broadway Books, an independent bookstore in Portland, OR.  You can order your book  and when you are in the check out, there will be a comment section that says: “Use this area for special instructions or questions regarding your order.” You can request an autographed copy or if you would like a more personal message, you can make that request here as well.   

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POLITICS for the PEOPLE

BOOK CLUB CONFERENCE CALL

With Author Lois Leveen

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

SUNDAY, June 3rd @ 7 PM EST

***

 

Greg Orman Tonight on Politics for the People

Imagine if we had a country where Independent voters and Independent elected officials held just as much sway in Washington as Republicans or Democrats. The way Washington is governed and the way candidates approached elections could change forever.”  —Greg Orman

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Greg Orman and Cathy Stewart @ Unite America NYC launch 2/18 

Tonight at 7 pm EST, Politics for the People will be talking with Greg Orman, the independent candidate for Governor of Kansas and the author of A Declaration of Independents: How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream.  

Join the conversation

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#

 

Below is my Politics for the People column from IVN this month about Greg’s book.  Give it a read and call in this evening for an interesting, in-depth conversation.

“Declaration of Independents”: A Candidate’s Scathing Indictment of Two-Party Duopoly

Independents and the political establishment are keeping a close eye on what is happening in Kansas this year. Greg Orman, a successful business leader and entrepreneur, is running as an independent for governor of Kansas in one of the highest profile independent gubernatorial races in the country.

In 2014, Greg made national political headlines in his first independent run. He challenged incumbent Senator Pat Roberts in a race that was neck and neck. The Democratic challenger, Chad Taylor, dropped out, recognizing that Greg had a better opportunity to win. Greg earned 42% of the vote, not enough to win.

He went on to write, A Declaration of Independents: How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream, the current selection of the Politics for the People (P4P) Book Club.  Orman will be my guest on our Book Club Conference Call on April 15.

Although they create the illusion of competition, duopolies compete against one another while working together to suppress outside competition.

Greg Orman, independent candidate for Kansas governor

This important book is part memoir, reflections on his 2014 run for the Senate, a scathing indictment of the two-party duopoly, and an assertion of the need for a “vibrant independent movement –- one that includes officeholders elected as independents.”

As we head toward our conversation with Greg, independents are reading, discussing and writing about his book on the Politics for the People Reader’s Forum. As P4P member Maureen Albanese writes, “Mr. Orman’s book is a conversation starter…We need to talk to each other without the prison of political parties.”

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Greg and meeting his wife, Sybil. They are a dynamic and dedicated team as the book makes clear.

In one of my favorite chapters, “My Path To Political Independence,” Greg shares his history. He talks about the impact of his parents’ divorce when he was 5 and writes how he “learned to consider my folks’ respective point of view with an open mind and an empathetic heart,” which he takes to be central to his independence.

Many P4P members were touched by Greg’s story and have been sharing their own.

Steve Richardsona founding member of the Virginia Independent Voters Association who serves on IndependentVoting.org’s national Election Reform Committee writes, “I think each of us can relate to Greg’s journey to political independence, whether our trip has lasted just a few years or over fifty.”

The book makes the case that the two parties function as a duopoly, and:

“In some ways, duopolies can be worse than monopolies. Although they create the illusion of competition, duopolies compete against one another while working together to suppress outside competition. They define the parameters of the game – and then rig the rules of that game to keep others out.”

A major focus of the duopoly is, as Greg puts it, “squeezing out Independents.” Greg outlines the ways the system is constructed by the duopoly to marginalize independent candidates and independent voters.

Orman is at his best giving us a detailed indictment of how the two-party system by design is incapable of solving problems, and how partisanship has become “weaponized” to win elections and lead the American people to believe all politics and policy are binary.

Greg writes: “[B]oth parties lead us to believe that there are only two answers to any problem. Generally, these answers have been hyper-distilled to such an extent that they’re troublingly simplistic.”

Many political professionals said if Greg had run as a Democrat or a Republican in 2014 he would have won the Senate seat. Greg has this to say:

“Most people say that in modern politics, winning is everything. But my view is that how you win is important too. If you get elected by talking about issues and opportunities, you have a mandate to go get something done. If you get elected by tearing down your opponent, you have a mandate for further hatefulness and partisanship.” 

Michelle McCleary, a veteran independent activist and the President of the Metro NY Chapter of the National Black MBA Association shared her take away:

“I applaud Mr. Orman for having the courage to run for office in a race that he was unlikely to win. In a grossly competitive country like America, ‘losing is for suckers’ and should be avoided regardless of who gets hurt or what gets destroyed. In my more than thirty-five-year history of activism in student, political and professional organizations, I have stood next to, supported and worked with ordinary people who knew that it was unlikely they would be giving the victory speech at the end of election day, but who gave everything they had because it was the right thing to do.”

I am very glad that Greg is in this race this year and who knows, Kansans might just be ready to have an independent Governor.

I hope you will join me on the Politics for the People Book Club talk with Greg Orman on April 15 at 7 pm EST. As you can see, the P4P readers are thoughtfully engaging with Greg’s book. I can guarantee our conversation will be thoughtful and give us an inside look at the Kansas gubernatorial race and explore the critical issues and controversies raised in Greg’s book.Visit the blog for call in details and pick up a copy of A Declaration of Independents today.

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POLITICS for the PEOPLE BOOK CLUB

CONFERENCE CALL

With Author GREG ORMAN

A Declaration of Independents

How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream

TONIGHT

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th @ 7 PM EST

Reader’s Forum: Five Readers Weigh In. Call with Author Tomorrow

Book Image

 

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Greg Orman’s book is absolutely right on and just a great book. This is the best book I have read on Independents. He really is able to put into words how a lot of us Independents feel and why we became Independents.

Page 10 makes an excellent point and it is so true that both parties make us feel more different and divided than we really are.

Page 27: What Government should and shouldn’t do for the poor.IMG_2134

Page 41: We are polarized.

Page 78: Constitution is a quilt of political….

Page 103: Parties certainly have gate keepers, me and Cynthia Carpathios were kinda talking about that the other day. It is tough to get to elected officials as an Independent.

George Trapp describes himself as active voter who has been on both sides of the aisle and chooses to be an independent.  George volunteers with Independent Voice of Ohio.

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I really enjoyed Mr. Orman’s book “A Declaration of Independents.” It reminded me of how our political identities can be formed by our parents. My father was a proud union member who truly believed in the legislative process. The Democrats were the “party of the people.” Slowly I began to realize that both parties were the parties of big business and special interests, and we needed to build an alternative. I remember the first time I Martavoted for an independent candidate. I tried to convince myself that a third party vote was not a wasted vote. Up until election day I was still conflicted about pulling the lever for Walter Mondale or for an unknown independent candidate. The irony is that I did waste my vote. It was my first time voting in New York City. On these pre-World War I machines you are you pull the lever, vote, and then pull the lever back. I pulled the lever twice and lost my vote. I guess that’s how I dealt with my conflict.

I liked the point Orman makes about duopolies . We have many in this country not only in politics: in the media, in business. They give us the illusion of competition. But they really serve individuals to keep their jobs, sell their products and get re-elected. Looking forward to the call.

Jessica Marta is an independent activist with Independent Voting and the New York City Independence Clubs.  She lives in Manhattan is an Adult Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

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ramonI want to express my appreciation to Greg Orman for letting us ride in his journey for independence. In particular, page 96 Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots the first 2 lines defines it all.  “THE ONLY WAY FOR OUR COUNTRY TO ADDRESS THE POLITICAL STALEMATE GRIPPING OUR NATION IS FOR A REAL MOVEMENT OF INDEPENDENTS TO TAKE HOLD.” When I read that I understood that Greg Orman knows what its like for the struggles of the independent movement.
This book became very personal to me. Cannot wait for the conference call.
Ramon Pena lives in New Jersey and is a long time independent activist.

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As a long time builder of the independent movement, 30 years, I applaud Greg Orman for having the guts to challenge the bi-partisan gridlock in Washington that permeates across the states in the Blue-Red paradigm. In working on various campaigns over the years have learned that candidates will give lip service to certain political reforms important to independents but ultimately cave to the pressures of the two parties.

It appears that Greg is running to challenge the system to be more inclusive to open the 14947948_10209598211565790_78427255916291282_ndialogue in order to solve tough issues. In the past many opponents of the independent movement have said, “ What do you mean challenge the system and have it be more inclusive?” They will go on to say that independents do not stand for anything. The two-party paradigm is designed to pit groupings of people against each other that disagree on critical issues rather than bring them together to create new solutions.

Greg does a good job in describing measures that can open up the process and break the gridlock. In his book he speaks about the corruption of Gerrymandering, refers to the two-party game as a “duopoly”, the rigged primary process, partisan media and failing campaign finance rules.

Greg’s campaign is timely. Besides giving praise to Greg I am delighted that 43% of the voting population now consider themselves independent and proud to support the youth leading the – March For Our Lives – movement. According to recent research by the Pew Research Center: Millennial voters continue to have the highest proportion of independents of any generation.

Just as Greg is reaching out to all voters Democrats, Republicans, third parties, and Independents the young people leading the powerful March For Our Lives movement are reaching out to everyone. The White leaders from Parkland, after the tragic shooting, stated they need to support inner-city youth where gun violence has had them staring down the barrel of a gun for many years.

Naomi Wadler, an 11 year old leader, who spoke at the DC rally on March 24th said she was onstage to represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper. In my opinion, the powerful youth leaders such as Naomi along with independents such as Greg are all working to include everyone in new and different ways that are not tied to the Democratic or Republican parties.

Howard Edelbaum is active with the New York City Independence Clubs and is an Accounting Consultant.

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This is an outstanding and very timely selection. Greg’s book is sitting on my shelf of 20 DSC_7664indispensable books related to independent voting and the movement’s intersection with the degraded political environment that we seek to rescue from itself. Greg Orman is one of the brightest lights on the scene and I am delighted that: 1) he is running for an important public office,

2) his book is now on our P4P agenda, and

3) I now have a reason to reread it after over a year’s lapse, rather than simply referring to it in bits and pieces when some new incident triggers a quick return to the book to see what Greg had to say on the subject. I look forward to a refresher course on the great American mind of Greg Orman.

Al Bell lives in Peoria, AZ and is an activist with Independent Voters for Arizona.

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POLITICS for the PEOPLE BOOK CLUB

CONFERENCE CALL

With Author GREG ORMAN

A Declaration of Independents

How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream

TOMORROW

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th @ 7 PM EST

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#

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Reader’s Forum–Tiani Coleman

20170318_conf_187

Greg Orman, who almost unseated a deeply entrenched incumbent as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, and who is now a promising independent candidate for Governor in Kansas, shares some vital insights in his book, A Declaration of Independents:  How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream.  Not only does Orman informatively expose details about the crushing control the two-party Duopoly holds on American politics, but he does so with unique credentials, and with a vision for how we can return power to “we the people.”

As a previous Republican-party insider in Utah, a state where Republicans dominate, I can relate to Orman’s description of politics in Kansas, also a heavily Republican state.  Orman mentions how partisan-controlled politics has forced candidates to take the most extreme views and duke out their chief battles in party primaries (since the general election outcome is usually a forgone conclusion).  I found the following observation by Orman to be particularly revealing and important:

“[I]n our current crisis, moderates are partly the authors of their own misfortune.  I’ve long held the view that moderates in both parties are the victims of the rule rigging and negative campaigning that they themselves have historically supported.  They made the assumption that if it was good for the party, it was good for them as incumbent officeholders. . . .  [They] helped to create an environment that was ironically hostile to them.”  (p. 106)

By definition, “moderates” are supposed to be more reasonable, more rational, less ideologically partisan, more mainstream – thus, less extreme.  They’re supposed to be the types of people who are able to find common ground with the other side.  However, the “moderates” failed America.  They lacked the political courage to “do the right thing.”  They became the entrenched establishment that was ever too happy to rig the rules in their favor, ever too comfortable engaging in cronyism, ever too eager to use their position for permanent career advancement, ever too entitled to not create a permanent class of elites that shut out most of America.

But, “the party people,” rather than blaming lack of ethics (abuse of power), have blamed moderates’ willingness to compromise on complicated issues; they’ve cynically denounced independent rationality itself.  Things have now become so highly polarized and partisan that “moderate” is a bad word for parties, and “moderates” are facing extinction in our party-controlled government.  The saddest part in all of this is that Book Imagedespite moderates’ concerns about the current state of things, very few have stepped forward and admitted their folly; they’re not actively working to right the ship they’re responsible for damaging.  As they lose re-election, they blame the extremists – and then they settle into a lucrative lobbying job.  They certainly can’t fathom working to reform a broken system – that would be too radical.  And nearly none of them will risk reputation and loss of money prospects to run as independents and/or publicly support independent candidates.

So major kudos to Greg Orman, someone who has been willing to put everything on the line and be a real leader.  He understands why our government isn’t working, and he’s willing to do what it takes – despite the naysayers who might call him “a spoiler, dishonest, or just plain crazy.”  Orman understands that the only way to fix things is for competent people of conviction who don’t see everything through a partisan lens, to step up – outside the current partisan system – and offer their independent minds and spirits at the solution table; after all, regardless of which side in our duopoly wins, “[w]e haven’t seen any fundamental changes in the [negative] long-term direction of our country.”  (p. 274).

I was struck by Orman’s example coming from research by the Bipartisan Policy Center, wherein on education reform proposals, “Democrats preferred ‘their party’s’ plan 75 percent to 17 percent.  Yet when the exact same details were called the ‘Republican Plan,’ only 12 percent of Democrats liked it.  The same dichotomy was present among Republicans.  Only independents answered the question irrespective of which party label was put on it.”  (p. 144)  Orman gets it:  “policy positions [are] not driving partisanship, but rather partisanship [is] driving policy positions.”

With attitudes such as George Will’s indicating that it’s less important to upgrade the “intellectual voltage” in the Senate than it is to get one more Republican elected (or Democrat, depending on who is speaking), we know we’ve lost any semblance of putting country first, but are simply trying to help our team win at any cost.  I’m heartened by Orman’s common sense approach of working to understand all points of view around an issue, and looking objectively and creatively to find solutions, embracing diversity of thought and intellectual conflict “as a way to get to the right answer,” calling upon all of us to be willing to change our minds as new information informs us that our prior position was incorrect.  This is what it means to be independent of partisan boxes and think for ourselves.

Orman points out that we would never allow our sports teams to shamelessly rig the rules of competition such that the same two teams always make it to the World Series, and yet we have allowed Republicans and Democrats to do this in U.S. politics.  It’s time for Americans of good faith everywhere to “cast off the heavy collar of partisanship,” (p. 255) be willing to take bold risks for our country – not only when we have nothing to lose, but especially when we have “everything” to lose – and create a better America for future generations.

Tiani Xochitl Coleman is a mother of five, a graduate of Cornell Law School, and president of NH Independent Voters.

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POLITICS for the PEOPLE 

CONFERENCE CALL with Author GREG ORMAN

A Declaration of Independents

How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th @ 7 PM EST

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#

***

Reader’s Forum–Lou Hinman

 

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I like A Declaration of Independents very much.  Here are a few thoughts about it.

On the liberal establishment’s apoplexy over Trump:

“Don’t blame the voters.  Blame the two political parties.  This is not a moment of time that appeared out of nowhere.  It’s a byproduct of decades of neglect, the social result of a pampered political class that ignores festering national problems while putting its own interests ahead of the nation’s. Americans are desperate for something different.”

I would add: In electing Trump, the voters have laid their hands on the only tool available to them for fighting back against the political establishment.  Since this voter Book Imagerebellion is not going away, those who think Trump is not up to the job of building a new American consensus should get busy and help break the tyranny of the duopoly that keeps us from having more and better choices.

On the question of “competition” between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party:

“Although they create the illusion of competition, duopolies compete against one another while working together to suppress outside competition.  The define the parameters of the game – and then rig the rules of that game to keep others out.”

This is what Katherine Ghel and Keith Porter have called “oligopolistic competition” in their Harvard Business School paper “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America”.

On winning:

“Most people say that in modern politics, winning is everything. But my view is that how you win is important, too.”

Yes, how is at least important as what.  The winning-is-everything view (like the view that independent candidates are “spoilers”) puts the interests of the political parties and the duopoly ahead of the interests of America.

There are also a few points on which, respectfully, I tend to disagree with Greg.

He seems to suggest that polarization of voters is a one of the causes of gridlock.  I’m more inclined to think that polarization is partly an illusion fostered by the duopoly and its supporters in the media, and partly a result (rather than a cause) of the duopoly’s corruption of our political process.

It’s an illusion in that it disregards the 42% or more of voters who don’t identify with either party.  It thus implicitly upholds the have-you-quit-beating-your-wife logic of pro-duopoly political “scientists” who assert, with a straight face, that there are no independents!

It’s result (rather than a cause) of gridlock, because when voters have been disempowered by the duopoly, they are vulnerable to being manipulated by it.  When people are powerless, they can be ruled easily by fear.  As Greg notes (quoting Ezra Klein):  “What parties need to do to keep you loyal isn’t make you inspired.  Rather, they need to make you scared.”

I also think that Greg tends to conflate independents with moderates.  This is perhaps natural, because formation of consensus (as Greg otherwise makes very clear) is the very essence of a healthy democratic process, and this is precisely what the duopoly is unable to do.  However, the idea of “moderate” appeals to a notion of a political center, and a left/right paradigm which is itself defined by bipartisan collusion.

So, for example, I think there is a good chance that single-payer health insurance would be supported by a majority of Americans.  In the left/right paradigm that is defined by the duopoly, that would be left-of-center.  But that distorts the situation, because the possibility of single-payer, like many other possible solutions to important problems, has been ruled out of the conversation by the duopoly.

In the last chapter, Greg says:

“While millions of Independents find the Republican Party too far to the right and the Democratic Party too far to the left, being an Independent doesn’t necessarily mean being a centrist. Yes, millions of political moderates yearn for a third option. What truly sets us Independents apart, however, is not ideological. What sets us apart is that we don’t let the duopoly do our thinking for us.”

Yes!

Greg’s proposals for reforming congress are great (“An Independent Agenda” Chapter 12).  But congress can’t be reformed without first empowering America’s independents!  In his independent run for Governor I urge him to make this empowerment itself the cornerstone of his campaign.

Lou Hinman lives in New York City and is an activist with IndependentVoting.org and the New York City Independence Clubs.

 

***

POLITICS for the PEOPLE 

CONFERENCE CALL with Author GREG ORMAN

A Declaration of Independents

How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th @ 7 PM EST

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#

***

 

 

 

Reader’s Forum–Dr. Jessie Fields

Jessie Fields

The book, A Declaration of Independents, How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream by Greg Orman is a thoughtful analysis of the political crisis that faces our country and the role that independent candidates such as Greg Orman can play in breaking the two-party stranglehold. The author is a Kansas businessman and political independent who ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 and is now running for Governor of Kansas. I enjoyed reading the book and learned a lot from it, however I discuss in the second half of this article areas in which I differ with the author.

In the chapter An Independent Run, Orman recounts one of many important conversations with voters: early in his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senator during a meeting with a group of local leaders that included a retired schoolteacher, a Democrat who initially “was skeptical why any Democrat should consider supporting an Independent. When the conversation turned to education policy…,” Orman spoke about “the New American Paradox” his belief “that it’s harder than ever for the average American to get ahead and, yet, paradoxically easier to do nothing with your life.” He went on to discuss the summer slide for low income kids, “High income kids simply have access to more enriching opportunities during the summer, while lower income kids tend to regress, leading educators to conduct remedial lessons during the first weeks of each new school year…”  The opportunity to participate in the American Dream has never been fully available to all Americans.

The conversations between people of different parties and different points of view are examples of the vital role that independent campaigns can play in bringing people together. One of the barriers in the way our politics is set up is that people from different parties seldom have the opportunity to dialogue in a nonpartisan environment in which it is possible for people to listen to each other.

This example was of great interest to me because of my involvement in supporting new approaches to education and youth development for poor youth and communities through the All Stars Project (www.allstars.org) and also because I believe that dialogue between ordinary people from different backgrounds and across the political spectrum is vital for a truly representative democracy. Public policies can only be helpful and effective for people if they are not mediated by political parties. Matters from education and housing to health care and public safety become political footballs in the hands of the parties.

I think the following statement by Greg Orman is very important.

I believe that in framing possible policy solutions as “either/or” choices, both parties leads us to believe that there are only two answers to any problem. Generally, these answers have been hyper-distilled to such an extent that they’re troublingly simplistic. At that point, they become litmus tests. Even worse, they are made into labels that harden a false choice into a single word: “pro-choice” or “pro-life”, for example. Even on that ideologically and morally charged subject, the great majority of Americans have nuanced views that wouldn’t pass muster with party gate-keepers.

I very much appreciate the author’s careful analysis of how both of the parties distort matters of consequence to our country including fiscal policy, Medicare, social security, and immigration reform.

A major theme of the book and of Greg Orman’s independent political advocacy is “Problem Solving, Not Partisanship”, a mantra on his bus tour through Kansas. “There’s no requirement for an Independent to engage in empty games to support a particular political party. Independents can focus exclusively on solving problems.”

He speaks about how he and his wife though both have lived in Kansas many years, (his wife having spent her entire life there and he having lived there for over two decades) “were constantly acquiring new information about the people I wanted to represent in Washington and gaining new and deeper understanding of their needs.”

Though I agree with much of the book I cannot subscribe to the author’s equation of the Constitutional Convention compromise that allowed slavery as similar to or the other side of the position of advocating for states’ rights in the following passage from the book:

Some might agree with DeMint and insist that sometimes it is better not to compromise – and point to the Constitutional Convention to make this point. Papering over the differences on slavery only forestalled resolution of this great moral dilemma, ensuring that untold millions lived in bondage and forcing the question to be resolved on the battlefields of the Civil War at great loss of life. It’s a fair point, and not a new one. Nineteenth century abolitionist firebrand William Lloyd Garrison celebrated Independence Day in 1854 by burning a copy of the Constitution, which he labeled “a covenant with death and an agreement with Hell!” “Similarly, certain conservatives would claim that when the Constitution failed to recognize an explicit right to state nullification of federal laws a great wrong was committed.”

Slavery was a violation of the first sentence of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 Abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and others argued that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were anti-slavery documents. I agree with them. The Southern Democratic Party states’ rights position against civil rights and voting rights for African Americans was not an ideological counter point to liberal views it was a violation of the principles of human equality that are fundamental to our nation.

One of those principles that independents are advocating is that every voter should have an equal right to participate in all stages of elections and that no American should be required to join a political organization as a condition for voting. The function of the independent movement is not to help the parties work better together but to lead in the movement to revitalize our democracy so it works for all of the American people.

Dr. Jessie Fields is a physician practising in Harlem, a leader in the New York City Independence Clubs, and a board member of the All Stars Project and Open Primaries.

***

POLITICS for the PEOPLE 

CONFERENCE CALL

With Author GREG ORMAN

Book Image

A Declaration of Independents

How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th @ 7 PM EST

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#

***

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