Is this the Rainbow We’ve Been Waiting For?

The culture of the independent movement has not permeated the American mainstream in the way, for example, that SpongeBob or Brangelina have. Not to worry. Avant-garde theatre, music and fashion first appear in out-of-the-way performance spaces or on the streets, often taking decades to filter through to Broadway or Dancing with the Stars. Likewise, the independent movement is creating its own outside-the-box culture in a variety of venues as we develop into a mainstream force. There is probably no more edgy American political/cultural performance than wearing a tee shirt. We had some great ones this political season. In South Dakota, which held one of the final primaries in the Democratic line-up, independents were barred from voting but wanted to make a point. Kim Wright of South Dakota Voice of Independents and family members put their plight out there in plain English.

George Washington Sheds a Tear

By the time you read this note, the 2008 presidential primary and caucus season will have begun. What a relief! Finally, the election is in the hands of the voters. So perhaps this is a good moment to pause and think about our election process and some much needed reforms which have been blocked or stalled at the borders of the partisan political domain. Oh no, you may be thinking. Not that again! Of course we need political reform – everyone knows that. But these issues just aren’t sexy! They have no glamour, no drama, no emotion. Political reform is dry. It’s not like money, sex and war, which excite our passions and compel our senses. Let’s be frank. Political reform? It’s a snore.

Barack Obama Real Deal or Just Another Democrat?

There is a lot of talk these days about the possibility of a major independent presidential candidacy in 2008. The speculation about such a run by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, for example, is a favorite topic for political writers and prognosticators, and I don’t exclude myself from that list. I even bought several domain names including www.mikebloombergindependentforpresident.or. I figure that if he does decide to run, he’ll have to call me to claim his website. We don’t talk much since my independent friends and I got him elected. Some days the talk is about Mike. Some days it’s about Senator Chuck Hagel. And some days it’s about an undeclared fusion ticket made up of a disillusioned (moderate) Democrat and a disillusioned (moderate) Republican who team up as independents to organize all the disillusioned people in America – albeit in a moderate way. Call me simple-minded, but I’m one of those people who find it hard to believe that a major disruption of the two-party paradigm could be construed as moderate under any circumstances: it would be far too radical a departure from the status quo.

The Saturated Center

I was busy reading the results of exit polls from the November 7th elections and glanced up at the TV. The story of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation was breaking and I put down my papers to digest the news. It certainly wasn’t a shock. A day earlier Americans had repudiated the Iraq war policy and given Bush and the Republicans, to use W.’s own term, a thumping. To save his presidency — and his party’s chances of holding the White House in 2008 — Bush had to show Rumsfeld the door. Everyone knew that, especially the politicians who’d lined up to call for Rummy’s head weeks earlier. It was an open secret that a thumping would lead immediately to a dumping.

Color of the Independent Movement

The color of the independent movement has been controversial since the very start. Though the media rendered an image of the angry white male to define the independent voter, beginning in 1992 – when Ross Perot first ran for the presidency – those inside the movement know the true story to be otherwise. The “radical white middle” and the disaffected black and Latino Democrat is an electoral alliance with the potential to rock the political world. Indeed, some would argue that it already has.

Back Road to the White House

Here’s a question I’d like to ask every independent in the United States of America: If there are so many of us (35% say they’re independents rather than Democrats or Republicans), why do we have so little political power? There probably is no one answer to this question. Actually, there may be 35 million different ones. Independents are like that. The Neo-Independent (whose subscriber base is somewhat under 35 million) was created to foster such a national dialogue. “Back Road to the White House” is a piece of it– at the level of independent leaders, activists and journalists. I’m eager for many more voices to join the conversation.

Associations with Einstein

2005 is the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s “miracle year” when, while working a day job as a patent clerk in Berne, Switzerland, he authored four papers: one on Brownian Motion, a second on the size of molecules, a third on light being composed of particles rather than waves, and a fourth which modified the prevailing theory of space and time into the theory of relativity. He was 26 years old.

Ralph Nader as Seen by Gore Vidal

In 1971, Gore Vidal wrote the cover story for the June issue of Esquire magazine, which announced: “Ralph Nader can be the next President of the United States.” In the article, Vidal fantasizes and proposes an independent run for the presidency by Ralph Nader in the 1972 election. At the time Vidal, who was co-chair of the New Party – an early (in contemporary history) experiment in independent politics – saw Nader as a “figure around whom those disgusted with traditional politics can rally, a point of hope, a new beginning in our tangled affairs.” Nader did not answer Vidal’s clarion call in 1971, though I suspect that today he may wish he had. A lot of Americans would gladly summon back the days when our affairs were merely tangled – not mangled, as they have so disturbingly become.

Unpopular Partnerships

I turned 50 last January. Many friends and colleagues got together and gave me a wild birthday gift— this magazine. They thought it was time for the independent movement to be part of the political conversation in America. Although the size of the independent voter bloc is huge — 35% of the electorate — its voice is small, diminished by the prejudice that independents are simply voters who can’t make up their minds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Independents have made up their minds about something very important. They’re independent! In spite of the overwhelming dominance of the two parties, a plurality of Americans — with very diverse views — choose to align with neither. That disalignment says something rather profound about how inhibiting and anachronistic traditional partisan politics has become, circa 2004.