Reader’s Forum — Ben Rose

Ben Rose

Ben and Katie Fahey, founder of Voters Not Politicians

David Daley’s UNRIGGED acts as a bright ray of hope and a reminder in these uncertain times that the power of the people can always prevail, even against overwhelming odds. My perspective of the book may be a tad different from the experience most got from reading it, however, as I was actually there for some of the events described in the book. I was a volunteer with Voters Not Politicians in 2018 during the campaign to create a citizens redistricting commission, and I was excited to see how Daley’s perspective of the history of the movement compared to my own. It felt almost surreal seeing canvases and protests that I was a part of chronicled as if they were major events in the history of our democracy. As I read through the chapter more, I realized that I was not just a part of the book in the sense that I was also a part of Voters Not Politicians, but I was also literally at the same canvasses that Daley visited to research the book. I remembered walking through neighborhoods, eager to knock on doors and change minds, and then leaving to go to Zoobies tavern later that night and having a sense of camaraderie with the over canvassers, even though we all came from totally different backgrounds. After I wracked my memory and double checked the back jacket cover, I even vaguely recalled taking a picture of Daley with Katie Fahey in front of our “end gerrymandering” quilt.

Ben Rose (r) with a group of Voters Not Politicians volunteers he organized at East Lansing Public High School, 2018

Now, when I was first writing this review, I thought that personal anecdote of how I participated in the events Daley was chronicling detracted from commenting on the greater story of election reform Daley was hoping to inspire us with, but after a little bit of thought I realized that all the movements Daley talks about in the book are not comprised of some heroic fighters for democracy, but rather ordinary people who were tired of the American ideal of democracy being tarnished by corporate interests and toxic partisanship. When I was volunteering for Voters Not Politicians, I didn’t have any feeling of historic weight attached to what I was doing. I was just one of the many concerned citizens working towards creating more fair elections. I think most people share this goal of wanting to live in a society whose leadership listens to the people, but many just think it’s impossible. In particular, I hear this sentiment a lot when talking to my fellow young people. A lot of my friends in college and high school didn’t want to engage with politics at all, and the most common reason I hear is that they think their “vote doesn’t matter.” What I liked so much about the final chapter of the book, “Youth Saves the Day,” was that it showed a positive example of when youth voters are able to shift voting systems to restore their democratic rights and make their voice heard.

Ben is a sophomore at the University of Michigan and is planning to major in Environmental Sciences. He is a Community Organizing Intern with The People this summer.

Politics for the People Zoom Call

with Author David Daley

Sunday, May 31st


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

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