Independents Rising Book Club Call

Last Tuesday, the Politics for the People book club network from across the country spent an hour talking with Jacqueline Salit about her book, Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-partisan America.  

If you missed the call, you can listen to the recording here.

ANTI-CORRUPTION-130We kicked off the call asking Jackie why she decided to write the book at this juncture.  Let me share a little of her response:

“It really came about because there was an increased attention being paid to independent voters, to the power of the independent  vote and to the future prospects of where this movement in the making might go.  Given that was happening, it was very, very important to write a book…that told the history of that movement from the inside.  So much, in fact 95% of what is said or written about independent voters is written or stated by beltway insiders, by political pundits of one kind or another and largely who we are and the things that animate or motivate us, and even actual events that have taken place in which independents have been involved are often just not accurately represented.  So I just really wanted to write a book that could set the record straight and could lay out in some detail how this movement has developed over time.

In a way there’s two things happening simultaneously.  One is that the number of independents in the country is growing, and now it’s at 40% or 42% depending on which poll you look at.  That’s huge, just absolutely huge!  But that mass of Americans is unorganized but the attraction of being an independent is growing.  And, at the same time though, there is an organized independent movement that has grown up over time, over the last 25 to 30 years that has a relationship to that developing but unorganized part of the population.  And so I tried to give a characterization in the book of  those two aspects of the changing conditions of American political life.  To really present a really unvarnished picture of what’s gone on in the independent movement.  It’s been very messy.  It’s been very unorthodox.  It’s been filled with risk, filled with blowback, filled with successes that we’ve had and also with efforts to derail us, or to contain us, or to take us over, or to point us in a particular direction rather than where we want to go.

So, I thought given the juncture that things had come to, and it was clear to me and I feel very positive about this, the story of independents and the future of independent voters was going to become much more of a factor in American political life.   We needed to have a book that came out of our history.”

Stay tuned for further excerpts from our conversation.  If you have a question or comment, please post it.

Populism vs. Centrism: The Complicated Birth of a Third Party

Tomorrow evening, Tuesday, January 8th at 8 pm EST the book club will hold our conference call discussion on Independents Rising.  Our guest will be Jackie Salit, the author and the President of

The call in number for the call is (805) 399-1200  and the access code is  767775#  .

I am looking forward to our conversation.

Today we hear from Brandi Martindale who shares some of her thoughts and questions after reading Chapter Two in Independents Rising:

Populism vs. Centrism: The Complicated Birth of a Third Party.  

Brandi is a graduate student in organizational psychology at Columbia University and a member of the Independence Party Executive Committee in Queens County.


Brandi Martindale

“Chapter two illustrates the political maneuvering used in the nineteen-nineties to establish the Reform party as one who served all people – namely inclusive to people of color, and to people from a wide range on the political spectrum. By forming the Patriot party on a Populist platform, in unison with the Reform party, Fulani, Newman, Sabatine, and other independent leaders were able to reject a Centrist perspective. When absorbed by the Reform party, the Patriot party brought with it a strong, long-lasting sense of inclusive bottom-up organizing. This chapter is a story of a successful organizational merger, speaking volumes to the strategy and strong vision involved in bringing the culture of one organization into another without losing the integrity of the mission, goals, or values that both organizations were founded on.”

Brandi’s Questions for Jackie:

Did the Perot/Lamm runoff for primary endorsement fragment and hurt the party movement, or conversely, did this conflict help to bring the dialogue of third-party-politics into more american homes?

A large portion of the American public is unaware that independent voters make up the majority vote – a contributing factor to Perot’s loss described in chapter two. Could increased access to information be a major tool empowering independent voters?

Throughout the formation of the Reform party, strong allegiances were formed while other relationships fractured. Is the level of interpersonal conflict that exists within political organizations an inevitable obstacle?

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