Why I Believe Black America Should Embrace Political Independence – Jarell Corley

by Jarell Corley

More and more, the Black community has become collateral damage in today’s politics. As much as we’ve gained from our close association to the Democratic Party, I fear we’ve lost even more. The moment Black America became a guaranteed block of voters for Democrats, was the moment our “special” relationship became one defined by broken promises and lopsided compromises that leave us patiently waiting for reforms that never come. If we are to truly empower our community, we must form new coalitions, separate from the two-party system, and join hands in an independent movement for electoral reform.

Read the full Blavity article here.

Americans mourn while politicians remain paralyzed – David Cherry

By David Cherry

May 14 – Ten Black shoppers are shot to death at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket.

May 24 – Nineteen children and two adults, most of them Latino, are gunned down at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Two mass shootings. Ten days apart.

In the nearly 10 years since the Sandy Hook massacre, we have seen 49 people from the LGBTQ community killed in Orlando in 2016; 60 people killed and 411 people wounded, most of them white, at a concert in Las Vegas; and 11 Jewish people killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. The victims are diverse and include every race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation in America.

There are too many more mass shootings to list in this space. All of the mass shootings follow a similar pattern:

1. Shock and sadness at the first word of breaking news.

2. Live coverage from the media to present the accurate number of casualties to their viewers.

3. Calls for our elected officials to take action.

No. 3 never leads to action. Because it can’t. America’s politicians operate in a broken political system that rewards partisanship and punishes collaboration. Republicans running for office in closed Republican primaries can’t be “shamed” into changing their positions on gun safety legislation. In fact, supporting this type of legislation guarantees they will be defeated in a primary challenge.

Read the full Fulcrum article here.

For the people, not for the parties: Open primaries empower African-Americans – Dr. Jessie Fields

By Dr. Jessie Fields

The black community is being told, in many different ways, that its interests are synonymous with protecting the two-party system in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. Is that consistent with empowering African-Americans in today’s world? With 42 percent of Americans now identifying as independent, many people, myself included, feel that blind loyalty to the Democratic Party is not an option.

Read the full Washington Examiner article here.

Democrats’ reforms don’t go far enough for African Americans – Dr. Jessie Fields

By Dr. Jessie Fields

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised, the first piece of legislation in the 116th Congress was House Resolution 1, which includes a package of voting reforms.

It’s a smart move for the speaker. She recognizes the public appetite for reforming our broken political system. The American people have moved “unrigging the system” to the center of the political conversation and Congress has promised to respond. This is positive.

But do Pelosi and other House Democrats understand what’s truly needed to unrig the system? We all watched Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) verbally battle President Trump over the government shutdown and the president’s request to fund a southern border wall. Shouldn’t the Democrats be taking steps to tear down walls and make government work for everyone by championing democracy for all?

H.R. 1 is incomplete because it fails to recognize important changes within the broader electorate and ignores structural changes such as open primaries that would empower millions of African-Americans, and many millions more Americans, to fully participate.

Read the full article on The Hill here.

The democracy reform and Black political agendas must become aligned – Dr. Jessie Fields, Darryl Gray

By Dr. Jessie Fields and Darryl Gray

While Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden is, of course, the main event in American democracy this week, there are new conversations taking place in Black politics looking beyond this year toward important changes in the relationship between Black empowerment, electoral reform and the Democratic Party.

Since the Gary Convention, the historic 1972 gathering of 8,000 Black leaders in Indiana, the dominant electoral strategy for Black empowerment has been to elect African Americans through the Democratic Party. This strategy has been successful at increasing the number of African American office holders, including the first Black president. But it has been less successful at impacting living conditions and political power for the Black community as a whole.

Diverse African American leaders are opening up conversations about this. It is not yet a full blown debate. The “elect more Black Democrats” approach still dominates. But there is a conversation emerging, fueled by an ascendant Black Lives Matter movement that refuses to be subsumed into partisan politics as usual.

The the full Fulcrum article here.

How Open Primaries Empower Communities of Color – Dr. Jessie Fields

By Dr. Jessie Fields

This November, Florida voters have the chance to expand the voting rights of all registered voters by supporting “All Voters Vote” — Amendment 3…

…Amendment 3, which is on the Florida ballot this November, will establish an open, primary for state offices, ending the exclusion of 3.5 million independent voters — including hundreds of thousands of people of color — from voting in primaries. This system is not new. It is currently used throughout Florida for municipal and many county elections.

After it was enacted in California, the Black legislative caucus grew by 50%, the Latino legislative caucus grew by 25%, and voter approval of the legislature grew from 14% to 42% — all in just eight years. It’s a system that is fair to everyone, empowers communities of color and allows all voters to vote for any candidate. Prominent civil rights attorneys, including Michael Hardy, the executive vice president of the National Action Network, believe that open primaries are the next chapter in the fight for voting rights.

Read the full article on IVN here.

Half the people reading this likely identify as independent voters


Read this Commentary in The Orlando Sentinel by Florida Fair and Open Primaries Director  Steve Hough:

“In a monthly survey, Gallup asks voters whether they consider themselves a Republican, a Democrat or an independent? Their March 2023 survey revealed 49% consider themselves independent.

With these kinds of numbers, why are independents ignored and denied full rights of participation in the electoral process? It’s likely due to a follow-up question asking whether the voter leans more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Without delving deeper, this allows political scientists and pundits to erroneously conclude that we are not truly independent. I’m a lifelong independent, and I’m sure I’m not alone in taking offense.

As the director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries and a Florida task force leader for Veterans for Political Innovation, I interact with people who have discarded their longtime party affiliations and young new voters who are registering without declaring a party affiliation. We are a military-friendly state, yet half of military veterans maintaining a nonpartisan stance after serving cannot vote in our primary elections. I believe there’s a better explanation for the phenomenal growth of self-proclaimed independents than to suggest that we are being deceitful….”



Can Independents Be a Bridge Over Our Partisan Divide?

Insightful piece on the role of independents by Thom Reilly, co-director with Jackie Salit of the Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy at ASU

Our findings show that independents have social networks that are structurally different from those of partisans. Specifically, we found that both Democratic and Republican respondents were more likely to frequently talk about politics with independents than with members of the opposing party.”

Read the article in Gathering.Com