Everybody talks about us in the third person, as if we — the independents – aren’t in the room. That’s because we rarely are in the room, except come election time when politicians on either side of the aisle need us.
We independents used to think we had to have a leader to guide us. There was Perot, Nader and Jesse Ventura, or more recently in Texas there was Carole and Kinky. They made a contribution, but their political careers got the best of them and they too began talking about us in the third person or not at all.
President Barack Obama? He spoke to us powerfully with his post-partisan message before election day, but since then hasn’t made an effort to reach out to us. Instead, his political crew made a decision to build Organizing for America within the confines of the Democratic National Committee, even when his campaign ground game guru, Marshall Ganz (a brilliant political organizer) advised him not to.
It’s the same old story. There is the rush to get elected. They tell us, â€œTrust us, we will include you.â€ Some of them even sincerely mean it.
Howard Fineman wrote in the latest edition of Newsweek about how the President can win back independents. Fineman says for independents â€œit’s all about process.” But then he goes on to quote budget hawk and moderate Democrat, Evan Bayh who says the President is, â€œto the left of the mainstream.” Does Evan Bayh or Fineman have any clue that most Americans either do not know the difference between politically left and right or simply don’t give a rip? This out-dated paradigm makes no sense to most independent voters who hold a variety of views on issues. For example, many Texas independents, though we are largely understood as conservatives, believe that the banks rule the world and they should be overthrown. That is a left-wing idea supported by the right-wing John Birch Society!
So here is my advice as someone who has been out there for 30 years walking the walk of independent politics. First, why don’t you just ask us? We want to be part of the political conversation in our country. We cannot be part of the conversation when our participation is choked off by unfair restrictions and regulations designed to limit competition to the two-parties like impossible petitioning requirements, government apparatus’ like the Federal Election Commission (3 Democrats and 3 Republicans) and Redistricting committees that have representatives from the two parties only. We need open primaries in all 50 states (one of the few progressive features of Texas elections) and the right to petition to place issues on the ballot (initiative, referendum and recall) at all levels of Texas government – not just municipalities Texans are limited to currently. Government should protect our rights to petition rather than participating in criminalizing such a fundamental right to organize in our country. Independents will never forget the Democratic Attorney General of Oklahoma’s recent criminal arrests of petitioners, which was thankfully overturned by the courts. And how ’bout those term limits?
Texas politicians naturally do things bigger and badder than most. That is why Texans desperately need the right to recall politicians at the state level. If Texans had the right to recall state officials, Rick Perry would have had to “get on down the road” years ago for his outrageous manipulations of state laws and state agencies to carry out the largest land seizure in US history related to Trans-Texas Corridor. Not long after the Governor pronounced the Corridor DOA (in large part because Republicans fled to the independent movement based on this issue), it became apparent the Governor was involved in covering up the fact that he allowed the execution of an innocent man (Todd Willingham). Our legislature would never impeach Rick Perry based on these â€œhigh crimes and misdemeanorsâ€, but you can bet that ordinary Texans would have pulled the political recall trigger if we could get our fingers on it.
I wish I could say these ideas are new. Perot in 1996 said that the problems in government are vertical not horizontal. In other words, the conflicts in America are increasingly between the few people at the top with the people at the bottom, who are the vast majority of Americans. In other words, the left-center-right paradigm that keeps ordinary Americans fighting amongst each other rendering us vulnerable to the manipulations of the parties and their corporate backers, was DOA 14 years ago!
The Massachusetts upset will pale in comparison to what Texas independents can do in the Texas gubernatorial where we have the opportunity to ‘recall’ Governor Rick Perry. That is why Independent Texans, the state’s only voter association seeking recognition for approximately 4 million independent Texas voters, is urging Texas independents to vote in the open Republican primary, to send Rick Perry down his toll roads once and for all. Watch for our endorsement shortly before early voting starts on February 16th. We can shop the ballot in November between the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian nominees. (Don’t forget to go to http://BootPerry.org/give-him-the-boot and give ol’ Rick a kick right) now and donate to our just cause!)
The American people that politicians and pundits like to banter about so much are in one particular way woefully culpable in the political predicament in which we find ourselves. We are like parents who don’t want to admit our role in raising irresponsible children. We vote for our â€œchildrenâ€ (or ignore them by not voting) – politicians in both parties – and we complain about them endlessly. Maybe American voters are ready for a new role in political life. That would be a change for sure. And that is one change that we, the people, can do for sure.