Reader’s Forum–Sue Davies

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Sue Davies on a recent trip to Antartica

Thoughts on A Declaration of Independents

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

by Greg Orman

I very much enjoyed reading A Declaration of Independents and Greg Orman’s very detailed description of the failings of the two-party system, his characterization of independents and our important role. Breaking the duopoly of the two-party system is critically important to the future of our political process.

I have been active in the independence movement since 1986 and founded New Jersey Independent Voters (NJIV) in 2016 when I moved to New JerseyIn New Jersey, we have 2.4 million registered independents—more than the Democrats (2 million) and Republicans (1.2 million)All of the statewide and most of the local elections are decided in the primaries. But, independents cannot vote in the primaries unless we change our registration to one of the parties. We have a lot of opinions in NJIV and many ideas about amplifying the voice of independents. Some of our members want to work through Democratic country committees and others are interested in trying to take over the Republican party, some work with the Green party and others believe in no parties. We have conservatives, liberals, progressives, moderates. All agree that we should not be paying for a political process that excludes us as independents. 

Book ImageReading the second chapter, “My Path To Political Independence” had me thinking about my own path over these many years. I grew up in a Republican area of Long Island. During our mock presidential debate in sixth grade, I was the only student in class supporting George McGovern. In high school, I attended every School Board meeting. I thought it was undemocratic to not have a student representative on the Board and campaigned (unsuccessfully) for that throughout four years of high school. 

On to college, where I majored in political sciences and was active in women’s, gay and lesbian, peace and anti-nuclear weapons and other progressive causes. In 1981, I did a summer internship in Washington with the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition, bi-partisan, regional association of democratic and republican senators from 17 states. My job was to analyze the economic legislation being proposed, included the efforts to create urban enterprise zones and the Reagan tax cuts. I came out of that summer disillusioned with electoral politics and determined to make change outside of the electoral process. For the next five years, I threw myself into progressive grassroots organizing. I helped organize unions at my first two jobs, went to Nicaragua to help build a school (during Iran-Contra), was active in anti-poverty efforts, started the Philadelphia women’s newspaper and was one of the founders of numerous progressive groups including ACT-UP, NJG (Jewish-Lesbian group), Women’s Pentagon Action and other peace and anti-nuclear efforts

After a number of years, I realized that there were limitations to what could be accomplished without an electoral component. At the same time, I was not willing to become a democrat. I thought the party (and the whole political process) was corrupt and was co-opting the political causes I believed in.

In 1986, I met Dr. Lenora Fulani and Dr. Fred Newman. They were co-founders of a number of organizations, including the New Alliance Party (a progressive third party). In 1988, I worked on Dr. Fulani’s presidential campaign and ran as an independent for statewide office in PA. Many of my longtime progressive partners attacked my efforts and voted for a pro-life candidate solely because he was a democrat. I loved traveling the state and campaigning for Dr. Fulani, bringing people who were left out—African Americans, Latinos, gay and lesbian, poor and working-class people of every color—into the political process as independents. I had discovered a new path.

Over the past 32 years, I have run as an independent in Pennsylvania, New York, California and Massachusetts and managed a number of independent campaigns. I have personally spoken to thousands of people from all walks of life, creating new conversations and new ways of being together. I am proud to be building a place where all voices can be heard. 

Greg Orman and I have taken different paths and ended up in the same place.  We can speak to and hear each other. And, that’s what I most love about being an independent.

Sue Davies is a longtime independent activist and the founder of New Jersey Independent Voters. Your can follow NJIV on Facebook . For the past 30 years, Sue has been a senior nonprofit executive in New York and New Jersey and now serves as an Adjunct Professor at NYU. When not organizing in New Jersey, Sue is often found traveling the world (www.travelforlifenow.com).

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POLITICS for the PEOPLE 

CONFERENCE CALL with GREG ORMAN

Author of

A Declaration of Independents

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

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th @ 7 PM EST

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#

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Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

One thought on “Reader’s Forum–Sue Davies

  1. Dear Sue,
    thank you for sharing your story, you are truly an example of what democracy should be about. i am so impressed that at such a young age you had the clarity of a mature adult and that despite the political system, you have accomplished so much. Onward!

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