Reader’s Forum – Leah Clifford on The Independent Voter

Diving into Independents in American History, Chapter 2

By Leah M. Clifford

The Independent Voter delves deeply into not only the current state of politics through the eyes of the independent voter, but also tells the tale of how partisan politics have been undermining our democracy ever since the founding of our nation. This book examines the political party history of our nation, beginning in the 1880s, and creates a map of how political parties have fought for control over the past 130 years.

Understanding how we arrived at the current political climate today requires knowledge of our history. It is crucial to understand how enduring political institutions have consistently eliminated independent candidates and stifled the emergence of new parties. Millions of newly freed slaves struggled to integrate into society during and after the Reconstruction Era, which included participation in politics. The Populist movement got its start with the emergence of new parties like the Liberty Party and Greenback Labor Party. African Americans were not the only ones fighting against the political establishment. Women and poor white communities began to organize as well. Because the parties of the time were unable to meet their needs, marginalized groups from this era serve as excellent examples of how to organize and create systemic change.

This is a common theme in American political history. The Independent Voter explores this story moving to the Great Depression’s economic collapse, then shifts to the civil rights movement, bringing us to the contemporary political climate. We observe the same pattern of conflict amongst the Democrats and Republicans, who also exclude and obstruct any “outsiders” from bringing about constructive change.

The Independent Voter demonstrates the steps that Independent Voters are taking to end this entrenched duopoly. Independents are uniting and repositioning the discussion to show that we are not an outsider group. Although the media and influential Republicans and Democrats try to minimize or misrepresent us as “hidden leaners,” we can see that Independent Voters are increasingly becoming the majority, and we are fed up. This book serves as both a historical overview of Independent Voters and a reminder of the growing demand for an Independent political upheaval of the US duopoly.

Leah Clifford lives in Saratoga Springs, NY and is an Administrative Assistant at Independent Voting.

Join Cathy Stewart for a Virtual Conversations with Thom Reilly, Jackie Salit and Omar Ali

The Authors of The Independent Voter

December 7th at 3 pm ET.


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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