The Independent Voter is a concise, creative, and comprehensive story of how Independent voters, despite having grown in number to exceed those of either major political party, remain in the shadows. As my friend and fellow Virginian Damien Hughes noted in his post a couple of days ago, we have enormous potential energy just waiting to become kinetic – a force that transforms democracy in America. I’ve been politically independent for three decades now after Ross Perot woke me up in his campaign for President. As they say, it’s darkest before the dawn, and I’m not the only one who can see that despite (or maybe because of) some very discouraging events in the last several years, we are witnessing an awakening of sorts by millions of voters to the fact that they have the power to improve our elections and their foundation – the way we engage in political dialogue. This book is a tremendous and timely contribution to that effort because on the one hand, it is written for people interested enough in the phenomenon portrayed by the media to hear our side of the story, and on the other hand, it features extensive documentation of research to satisfy anyone skeptical yet open-minded enough to consider that it may be time to shine a light on our concerns and proposed solutions.
Members of P4P will not need convincing, and many of us have seen some or even most of the ideas in this book before. However, it offers a great reference for our ongoing efforts to inform and persuade other voters who have not yet declared their independence or seek solutions to problems they experience in their own states. I bookmarked a number of good quotes, but my favorite is the list in the Conclusion of Chapter 10. In response to the question, “How can we free American voters from the corrosive control of political parties?” the authors propose “separation between the institutions of government and the functions of political parties” by the following rules:
- Any and all offices that govern, adjudicate, or administer any aspects of the electoral process must be elected without party affiliation.
- Appointees must be independent of party designation.
- Any and all elections for public office should include all voters, regardless of their stated affiliations.
- No American shall be required to join a political party or organization as a condition of voting.
- No taxpayer dollars should be used for party business, including primaries, if the parties decide to hold them as a means of endorsing a candidate.
- No constraints on voter or candidate mobility should be permitted.
- Sore-loser laws, which are in effect in 47 states, and currently bar candidates from running as an independent if they lose a primary, should be abolished.
- Anti-fusion laws in place in 42 states that prevent polticial coalitions from forming, should be abolished.
- Any and all laws and regulations enacted by the parties to protect their incumbency, control, or advantage should be declared unconstitutional.
- Ballot access laws should be fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory against independents.
- Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (requiring federal government approval of changes to election law or practice) should be restored.
- Voter registration should be automatic and nonpartisan.
This is a very ambitious manifesto that I am proud to endorse. Our movement has been about four decades in the making, but as the book explains, the principles and events that justify these changes go back much, much further in our history. I hope this publication marks the beginning of our emergence from the shadow into the sunlight.
Steve Richardson is a founding member of the Virginia Independent Voters Association. Steve was a member of the Eyes on 2020 National Cabinet.