Led by Independents, not parties,
we have a path to follow in reclaiming our governance.
It is in your best interest to read this book because the two major political parties believe they own your vote. They are dead wrong. The revolution to get your vote back is underway. Read this book and help get our votes exactly where they belong: with each voter. The secret is to change the election systems to get leaders who believe that. It is none too soon.
Our intentionally dysfunctional party-centric governance is sabotaging the Great American Experiment, first by simply not delivering responsive solutions and secondly by discrediting our entire American enterprise. We desperately need to replace most members of Congress with men and women who actually want to govern instead of wielding partisan wedges so they can look busy while accomplishing very little. Finding those new leaders is impossible at the scale necessary as long as the party duopoly controls the process—and as long as that process rewards dysfunction. This book is written for those who care enough to find those leaders.
The insights reflected here are built on the shoulders of a great many perceptive political leaders going back decades who understood that the party duopoly was just not responsive to our leadership needs. While not named, their presence haunts these pages and lends to them a credibility the authors bring to life.
We speak endlessly of the divisiveness that dominates the public square these days. Differences of opinion and belief are endemic to our society; that is not the problem. Denying their existence and silencing dissenting voices are the killing forces. Differences are both essential and unavoidable. What is optional is whether we will operate a political system dedicated to honestly bring different priorities and visions to workable resolution. Currently, the answer is “no.” We need “yes.”
The authors make a powerful case that our “broken” political system is actually working exactly as intended. It desperately needs to be broken, exactly opposite the typical phrasing we hear. That clarity in perspective drives their ideas about how we can unravel the current governance debacle.
The authors approach “breaking the system” with a business competition and economics perspective. This mentality underpins their analysis as well as their prescriptions. It opens up some intriguing practical options.
The authors document what some of these options look like; they also describe changes in the election process and the practice of legislating that can once again serve us. They offer a coherent basis for evaluating different versions of their preferred election system that are already providing experience—or soon will be.
The current wave of experiments provides insights on how we can change legislators’ behavior by appealing to a different breed of politicians entirely—and enabling them to behave differently when elected. Congressional ineptitude does not have to be permanent.
All members of Congress will be replaced eventually. Why not evolve an electoral system that enables members who are willing to risk excellence, expose themselves to understanding their constituencies, and honor the long view? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to feel regret that someone is stepping down instead of relief?
The authors describe how the business concept of competition can be adapted to the distinctive arena of governance to stimulate excellence and achievement rather than divisiveness, mediocrity, blatant waste, and failure. They present their arguments by subjecting the non-performance of our legislators to a disciplined examination that contrasts sharply with the party duopoly perspective we have come to view as “normal.” In fact, it is congenitally abnormal, as they document.
There is much more work to be done in “breaking” the system that has mutated into a leadership miasma. One is to thoughtfully test the results and effectiveness of the emerging models of electoral reforms, such as totally open primary elections, top two/three/four/five elections, approval voting, ranked choice voting, and variations on these themes. Objective review, achieved by a broadly representative mix of analysts, will be needed to: 1) properly assess what does and does not work best and why, and 2) generate refinements that will improve performance. We have an unprecedented opportunity to realistically fine-tune our best approaches to getting the leadership we need.
The experiments are now underway. They come, not from the parties, but rather from the world of Independent Voters. The political punditry, news media, and party autocracies have consistently failed to understand why almost half of registered voters in the U.S. declare themselves independent of the parties, who these Americans really are, what motivates them to renounce party rigidity, what we can learn from these patriots, and why it matters.
Some of the most informed commentators on our party-induced malaise still do not grasp why Independent Voters are key to breaking the party stranglehold on our governance mechanisms. Yet, that sector of the political universe is generating the breakthrough experiments from which we now have the opportunity to learn so much. We learn here what some of those experiments are. We need to know even more about the Independent Voting movement that promotes a rebirth of the Great American Experiment by fostering effective voting. This book is a superb “launch point” for exploring the people and the organizations waging this battle for years and that are now getting real traction!
I end with one personal entreaty: let humility prevail in this endeavor. The enemy of humility is arrogance, with which our political arena overflows. The opposite of confidence and capability is not uncertainty and incapacity; it is arrogance. That’s one thing we don’t need as we seek to reinvigorate the Great American Experiment. Perhaps, in due course, even the parties will come to grasp that reality.
Al Bell lives in Peoria, AZ and is an activist with Independent Voters for Arizona. Al served on Independent Voting’s Eyes on 2020 National Cabinet, working to get the 2020 presidential primaries open to independents across the country.
Politics for the People Zoom Call
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Sunday, October 4th
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