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

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’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.




With Author GREG ORMAN

A Declaration of Independents

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




Jerome Charyn Shares his P4P Experience

I was delighted to take part in the Politics for the People discussion group concerning my novel, I Am Abraham.  I think it is critical that a book club has its own political point of view and also a passion for politics as something that is alive and that continues to grow.  Art and politics are often intertwined; actually, all writing is a political act.  Every single sentence we write has a political slant.  And a novel told in Lincoln’s voice cannot help but breathe politics.

I was quite pleased that my novel was the book club’s first selection of 2015.  All the questions asked were quite impassioned.  Novelists are not extraterrestrials.  Each one of us shares many of the same weaknesses and strengths, and an ear for the music of words—otherwise we could not read.  It’s syncopation that drives a narrative.

Participants in the discussion all seemed very curious how I was able to write the book in Lincoln’s voice.  It wasn’t daring.  It was an act of will.  I had to become  Lincoln, to embody his gawkiness, his poetry, his sexuality, his shrewd sense of politics, and most of all, the music of his voice.

An author taking part in a book club discussion often learns as much as the participants, since he or she has to articulate what was on other people’s minds.  I had prepared no answers.  I was out there in the void with all of you, trying to pull words from the dark.  I hope my music—and Lincoln’s—entered all our ears. And I want to thank Cathy and everyone involved for allowing me to learn more about Lincoln with you.

—Jerome Charyn

Highlights from Book Club Conversation with Isabel Wilkerson

Many thanks to Isabel Wilkerson for joining us on the Politics for the People conference call this past Sunday!  We had an energizing, rich and thought provoking conversation about The Warmth of Other Suns.  You can listen to the full call at the end of this post.  (Note: if the links do not appear in the email version of this post, just click on the email to come to the blog.)

I wanted to share three sections of our conversation.  I hope they will inspire you to listen to the full call.  The first clip is my introduction of Isabel and our opening conversation.

Isabel Wilkerson (l) and Cathy Stewart

Isabel Wilkerson (l) and Cathy Stewart


In my opening question to Isabel, I asked her to talk some about her 15 year process and how she selected Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling and Dr. Robert Joseph Pershing Foster to be the central characters through which we experience the Great Migration.

She conducted an extensive interview process, meeting people at AARP meetings, senior centers, clubs, etc and shared that she selected these three people

“…who together compliment one another so well.  You get a sense of the socioeconomic differences between them, you get a sense of the different circumstances under which they left and more importantly you get a chance to, hopefully fall in love with people, or get to know these people who were flawed in human, deeply human ways but did a very brave thing. In that way, I think they are people anyone can relate to.”


Jessie Fields

Dr. Jessie Fields

As Politics for the People blog readers know, Dr. Jessie Fields has been keeping copies of The Warmth of Other Suns at her office in Harlem to share with her patients, as many of them were participants in the Great Migration.  Below is Jessie and Isabel’s back and forth from the call.



Jessie asked Isabel the following question– “It seems to me that entrenched poverty and social isolation in the inner city have become the new Jim Crow. And that there are still great journeys for the country as a whole to make for African Americans to fully enter the mainstream of America and your book, the Warmth of Other Suns, can help us all to make those new journeys together.  What do you hope people will discover and take away from the book that can be of help for the challenges that we face today?”

In her response Isabel said,

“…one of the things that I had hoped would come out of this book is that people would discover by experiencing both the hardships, the heartbreak, the courage and the fortitude of the people in the Great Migration, they would also see and connect with the fortitude and the heartbreak and all that went before them that their ancestors may have experienced if they came from other migration streams.  And that they would also see that ultimately we all have so much more in common that we have been led to believe.  That means that if you can cut through the divisions and the socioeconomic larger forces that have torn people apart in this country…all of these forces, the larger caste system as I describe it in the South and also a caste system that formed in the North, particularly after the migration was underway.  These divisions separated us in ways that we have yet to recover from.  In fact, maybe never have actually truly dealt with.  I would hope that people could see one another in these stories….”


Dr. Omar Ali

Dr. Omar Ali

Dr. Omar Ali joined the call from Columbia in South America, where he is vacationing with his family.  Give a listen to his exchange with Isabel exploring the similar experiences of participants in the Great Migration and other immigrants to the United States and also the unique experience of the African American community.

Two comments Isabel made in this part of our conversation stand out for me:

“The common experience that all poor and underprivileged migrants experience is first arriving and being seen as the other, arriving adn being resented and feared upon arrival.  Also coming in with the same desires, hopes and dreams of making it it in this new alien place….Around the world there is a turning against, a fear of people who are immigrating….” On the unique experience of the African American community and the Great Migration: This was “…the only group of people who actually had to act like immigrants to be recognized as citizens in their own country…. These were not people relocating from one job to another.  These people were actually seeking political asylum within the borders of their own country….”

For those of you who would like to pull up a chair and listen to our full conversation with Isabel, here it is!  Enjoy.

In closing, I want to share what the judges of the Lynton History prize wrote about The Warmth of Other Suns:

“Wilkerson has created a brilliant and innovative paradox: the intimate epic…. In powerful, lyrical prose that combines the historian’s rigor with the novelist’s empathy, Wilkerson’s book changes our understanding of the Great Migration and indeed of the modern United States”

The Politics for the People book club certainly agree!


STAY TUNED, I will be announcing our next selection soon!    


The New York Times, Independence and Me

Today, the New York Times published a letter to the editor I wrote.  My letter was triggered by an editorial the Times wrote on May 6th about the Independence Party.

My letter and their article is below–Hope you will give both a read and I would love to hear your thoughts.

The New York Times

The Opinion Pages | LETTER

The New York State Independence Party

MAY 14, 2014

To the Editor:

Re “Independent of the Independence Party” (editorial, May 7), calling on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York to reject the party’s endorsement:

I disagree about how the state Independence Party survives. It’s not because of “confusion” among voters. It’s because of complicity by the two major parties.

The Democratic and Republican Parties — each in its own way — supported, enticed and rewarded the corruption of state Independence Party leaders. The only resistance to that corruption came from the pro-reform New York City branch of the party, which had helped to elect Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and pursued nonpartisan reform at every turn.

Oh, well. If the point is that parties breed corruption, maybe it’s time to get rid of parties, period.

New York, May 7, 2014

The writer is chairwoman of the New York County Independence Party.


The New York Times

New York’s Independence Party survives on confusion. Many who sign up with the party think they are registering as independent voters, unaffiliated with any party. Instead they are unwittingly contributing their names to a bizarre and fractious political group that endorses candidates from the two major parties. The Independence Party should lose its prime place on the state ballot, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo could make that happen by rejecting its endorsement this year.

Rob Astorino, a Westchester County Republican running in the governor’s race this year, has said he will not seek or accept the Independence Party nod. Mr. Cuomo should now do the same. Any party needs 50,000 votes or more in a governor’s race to stay on state ballots for the next four years. The Independence Party would certainly reach that critical number if the Cuomo or Astorino name is on its line.

Mr. Astorino, who once courted Independence Party leaders to help him win as county executive in Westchester, has finally decided the party is “part of a very corrupt system. They don’t stand for a thing other than jobs and for themselves.” The party has been very good at getting candidates like former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to donate money and run under the Independence Party banner. But its ideals are confused, at best.

The Daily News in 2012 interviewed 200 New Yorkers who signed up as Independence Party voters and found that 169 of them thought they were not joining any party at all. Mr. Cuomo could end this charade. If he refuses to allow his name on the Independence Party line, the party could disappear.

New York’s voting system, which allows a candidate’s name to appear on several party lines on the ballot, is archaic and confusing. Last year, Mr. Cuomo proposed repealing the 1947 law that allows minor parties to give their ballot lines to nonparty members — usually candidates running in the two major parties.

At the time, he said the system encourages “corruption and the appearance of corruption.” He was right, but he did not champion reform aggressively. He could help end this bad practice by saying no to the Independence Party line this year.

Welcome C-SPAN Viewers !

You may have just seen my Politics for the People event on C-SPAN where my guests, former Congressman Mickey Edwards and President, Jackie Salit discussed the role of independents in U.S. Politics.

Let me hear your thoughts on this critical topic in the comments section below.

In 2002 I founded Politics for the People as a  free educational series for independent minded New Yorkers and I’m thrilled to be “taking it national” with a Blog, a Book Club for independents and now this  C-SPAN broadcast.

So, sign up at right below the “Follow us via Email” heading.  You’ll receive updates when new posts are made to the Politics for the People Blog and join my Book Club for independents.  We’re about to make our next selection which we’ll discuss together in a national conference call in June!

Independently Yours,

Cathy L. Stewart

PS – Jackie Salit and Mickey Edwards both have forthcoming books which are available for pre-order  from your favorite online bookseller.

CSPAN Coverage Tonight at 10:30 pm ET

Jackie Salit, President of, former Congressman Mickey Edwards and I at Friday’s Politics for the People.  (Photo: Beth Brown)

This just in from CSPAN:

CSPAN will be airing Politics for the People tonight at 10:30 pm ET.  The program will reair at 11:30 pm PST, that’s 2:30 am ET.

I hope you will tune in, and then send me your comments.

Meet Linda Killian, Author, The Swing Vote

Note: Linda Killian will appear at the January 26th, 2012 Politics for the People class in Brooklyn, NY.  Details and directions below.

From Macmillian

Washington journalist Linda Killian is the author of the upcoming book The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents—a forward-thinking examination of the independent centrist voters who will decide our next national election—as well as The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution? which was praised as a “fair, thoughtful, and eminently readable account” of the anti-Democratic 1994 election and the outcome of Republican control in the House of Representatives.

Linda Killian is a journalist and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has been a columnist for Politico, U.S. News & World, and Politics Daily. She has also written for The Washington PostThe New Republic, and The Weekly Standard, among other national publications. Her previous book was The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution? She lives in Washington, D.C.

* * *

“Linda Killian does a great job of not only examining the importance and historic role of those Independent and moderate swing voters who live between the partisan and ideological forty-yard lines, but she examines their mind-sets as well. What makes swing voters tick, what swings them and why?  An understanding of swing voters leads to an understanding of the volatility and the turbulence that drove the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections and will likely drive 2012 as well.”

—Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report and political analyst for NBC News

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