Reader’s Forum — Mike Marthaller

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang & the Forward Party
*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask
A Virtual Discussion Hosted by Politics for the People and Open Primaries
Wednesday, January 12th at 3pm EDT
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Red Flags as I reflect on the book FORWARD: Notes on the future of our Democracy


Mike Marthaller

As I’ve been reading Forward I have also been rereading Plutarch, Lives and essays; watching hours of Andrew Yang’s various YouTube discussion; and taking advantage of the many excellent YouTube historical presentations that supplement and reinforce my years of reading and life experiences much of it in a time before “Social Media.”

I have been reflecting on my own 80 trips around the sun and my experience in the military, federal and local government, small businesses, aviation, trucking, instructing, safety, law enforcement, corrections and efforts to offer others an opportunity to break old cycles of hopelessness, poverty, loss of self-reliance and violence.

 I reflect on my facing mobs intending and attempting to kill me because of my race or political beliefs and on my time as an elected official. 

I also reflect on my journey to become a “peace ambassador” with the realization that opening a listening dialog, both nationally and internationally, seems a key to avoiding the destruction of another revolution. Revolutions that destroy the opportunities for peaceful, well thought out evolution. Evolution that minimizes the Oh S—, quick fix unintended consequences when change is driven by fear.

I reflect on my long view of tribes, civilizations, religions, species through the various ages or stages, from hunter gathers, agriculture, industrial, information, that have risen and fallen. I ask WHY, what seems a common thread?

I come to several conclusions, although “nature” regards equal opportunity, key word opportunity, as a survival imperative. We somehow seem to reach a critical mass where we lose sight that equal opportunity also involves, no it demands, personnel RESPONSIBILITY. 

Although Mr. Yang points to the many issues we are again facing in our efforts to survive in this new world I nowhere see him acknowledge that government, who he wants to correct our challenges, or that businesses, churches, civic and social organization, political parties are composed of INDIVIDUALS, individuals programed to survive in the world as it is or is becoming. Individuals who are often fear driven to avoid the consideration that survival requires equal opportunity based on our natural gifts and free opportunity to contribute to the whole.

He often discusses the loss of jobs due to AI and the inability to retrain large numbers to “code.” He misses or avoids the uncounted good paying jobs currently begging for workers in the trades, jobs that at least the next generation will not be replaced by automation.

The “becoming” should raise a question, many questions at what point does the law of nature require us to consider are our efforts actually offering a necessary hand UP or are we prolonging the inevitable with hand OUTS. 

I consider as I read Mr. Yang’s many options and conclusions the old saw “the devils in the details” one of the details is a failure to ensure each individual has an equal opportunity to rise or fall. We would be well served to discuss just what rising or falling actually means to our species survival and to recognize that the whole must include the various choices of Individuals and groups within the whole of humanity. 

Do I see the 3rd Party, open primaries and ranked choice voting as a Tool? Yes, but unless we acknowledge that we are ALL Individuals who have a responsibility to work and contribute to the whole we are again doomed to fail?

Although Basic income has a great sound and is currently popular, I have not seen any discussion on how Mr. Yang sees our future 1, 5, 20 years in the future. Are we doomed to repeat the cycles of revolutionary change, boom and bust? I have seen no discussion on exactly what “money, Bit Coin, etc.” is. 

No discussion that in the final analysis, “money” is simply a trust-based trading media for the necessary means of basic survival, i.e. food, water, shelter.

We must have discussion on the effects the concept of a guaranteed income has on the necessary survival imperative to compete. We must discuss the many markers telling us a hungry world has come to our doors and has become successful even as WE, Americans are led to believe “Racism” is preventing success.

I would value the opportunity to sit and discuss with Mr. Yang but as I read his book, I wonder how much time he has given to studying “The Wisdom of the Ages.” Has he considered that “We, civilizations, cultures, have been here before?” 

Has he considered how his youthful experiences have colored his views of a broader biological reality? 

Peace and prosperity through responsibility.

Mike Marthaller is retired from the military, a peace activist, a City Councilmember from rural Washington, and active with Braver Angels.

***

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Reader’s Forum — Dr. Jessie Fields

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang & the Forward Party
*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask
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Notes on Forward, a book by Andrew Yang


Dr. Jessie Fields

Political innovators outside of the two party political system working to break it open, who give voice to the experience of ordinary people and seek to transform politics on behalf of those people are vitally needed in our country today. Andrew Yang is one such innovator. His book Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy is a book of clear reflections that is divided into three parts: the first part is experiences and insights from his presidential campaign, the second is on the interrelated problems facing the country and the third is all about solutions.

Essential questions about our country are raised in the introduction, “Democracy by a Thread:”

How did it come to this?

What happened to our belief in the future?

And, most important, what can we do about it?

We read again of the failed and woefully inadequate government response to the pandemic while simultaneously steeped in levels of crisis of the latest surge of the latest Coronavirus variant now spreading in the United States and around the world, ongoing economic and climate devastation, police brutality and racial inequality. It is strangely steadying to stay with this book which interconnects all these and gives direction and hope for what can be done.

A central theme of Yang’s on which he ran for president is the “ongoing dehumanization of our economy” against which he has been a stalwart promoting and implementing trials of universal basic income.

He writes,

We have allowed our economy to become punitive and inhuman for millions of Americans. The pandemic and its aftermath have made it more inhuman still.”

American workers have not shared in the gains of the high tech economy, while vast fortunes have been built.

The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay rose from 20 to 1 in 1965 to 271 to 1 in 2016.”

Many are working long hours and multiple jobs to survive.

As I see it, the ongoing inhuman economy started way before automation and way before the pandemic, even before 1619. Many writers such as Princeton University professor Matthew Desmond trace our nation’s peculiarly brutal version of capitalism to slavery.

Andrew Yang has pushed for universal basic income and a human-centered economy. As he points out in the book, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for a guaranteed minimum income. Speaking in 1967 in his address to the convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta Dr. King said,

We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other….Now our country can do this. John Kenneth Galbraith said that a guaranteed annual income could be done for about twenty billion dollars a year. And I say to you today, that if our nation can spend thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God’s children on their own two feet right here on earth.”

Unfortunately there is a huge gap between what the American people need and policy a majority of Americans agree we should implement on the one hand, and the policies that emanate from our electoral and governmental systems on the other.

To begin to address this gap Yang promotes structural reforms of ranked choice voting and open primaries to enable dramatic new approaches. In response to decades of partisanship, failure and dysfunction more and more Americans have become independent voters who are not Democrats or Republicans. Enfranchising all voters including independents to participate equally in all elections including the pivotal primary elections is essential to transform policy to meet the real needs of the American people and to close the gap between the people and our government.

As I speak with patients and family members and weigh the risks and benefits of new Covid-19 treatments in patients with underlying medical conditions I long for us to create wholistic policies and practices in which all aspects including medical care, housing, education and economics are grounded in the health and well-being of people and communities. This is why I am an independent.

I look forward to the Politics for the People conversation with Andrew Yang on January 12.

Dr. Jessie Fields is a physician practicing in Harlem, and a Board member at Independent Voting and Open Primaries.

***

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Reader’s Forum — Jennifer Bullock

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang & the Forward Party
*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask
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Jenn Bullock (L) and Stephen Bouikidis (R)

Crises require transformation, of how we do it all…

Thank you, Andrew Yang! Running for President of the United States and then for Mayor of NYC with a commitment to honesty, humanity and integrity is no small feat. Thank you for speaking out publicly on the critical need for structural reforms in our political and election systems in order to address the crisis of our democracy. Thank you for inviting the country to join a new party that advocates for needed structural reforms. And thank you for writing Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.

As a long time political activist fighting for Open Primaries in Pennsylvania with Independent Pennsylvanians and as a psychotherapist deeply concerned about our mental health, individually and collectively, I so appreciate your strong advocacy for open primaries as well as the mental health needs of our citizens. Your personal stories were so moving, inviting us all to be regular humans together as we try to move through many difficult circumstances.

Just like we cannot address fundamental issues of education, health care, the economy, etc. without structurally transforming how our political system works, I wonder if cultural, relational, emotional transformation is also required (how do we build together with our disagreements? How do we incentivize innovation and the courage needed to try something new? How do we replace cancel culture with generous curiosity culture?)

I want to share an older blog I wrote when Obama was at the end of his presidency that asks our politicians, policy makers and media to develop a nuanced concern regarding our mental health: When we advocate for increased access to mental health care, we need to also consider the quality and kind of mental health care that actually helps us transform. This blog was written before Trump and COVID, so even more relevant today in my opinion. Perhaps when you are in the Whitehouse, you can hire me and my colleagues to collectively lead your newly formed Department of Mental and Cultural Wellness so that we can not only work to transform the way our corporations, media, politicians and elections operate, but also transform how we practice mental health, wellness and how we live and build community together.

Our nation is mentally ill … we need a new conversation on mental health folks!

Mass shootings, daily unnoticed violence everywhere, un-neighborly neighborhoods, poor health delivered by the most expensive health care system in the world, the divide between the haves and have nots expanding, and so on…

We are in dire need of new conversations and new solutions.

I am a psychotherapist who is part of a community of therapists, clients, activists who are committed to offering high quality, humane therapy services for all.

We are Social Therapists. We create therapeutic communities for emotional and social growth.

The conventional conversations we hear in the institutional halls of mainstream psychology and mental health treatment centers do not sufficiently explore traditional assumptions of what mental health is and how to treat it. The norm has been to place emphasis on the individual who “has something inside that is wrong,” and to underemphasize the fact that individual people are a part of a social fabric in a world that is not well.

Typical conversations we hear in the media on mental health tend to focus on ensuring greater access to services, without sufficiently attending to the quality and kind of care people might receive once access is improved.

Social therapists do not view mental health as a medical dilemma, but rather, as a cultural, social, and developmental task of supporting people to grow emotionally and relationally. We take the “do not stigmatize / do no harm” posture very seriously, and will not relate to other humans as broken, or label them as mentally ill. We reject the conventional medical model Doctor/Patient hierarchy. We also reject diagnostics, and the goal of getting “maladjusted” people to “adjust.” Interestingly, this creates space for both client and therapist to partner together in shaping the help clients need and want. This approach helps clients develop as leaders and creators of their lives.

The devastation of poverty, discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization of people who are struggling in a world that is not well is of great concern to the Social Therapy community. We practice a group therapy approach where clients are helped by partnering with one another, and with the therapist, to develop emotionally. Clients are active participants of the therapy, and are supported to be builders of their lives. In this way, we differ from conventional therapies, have a different approach to the whole concept of what mental health is, and how to develop health in our world.

You can’t solve problems using the same tools that helped to create them. Question the status quo. Ask new questions. Do something new with others. Our nation…our communities need our help.

Jennifer Bullock is the Director of Independent Pennsylvanians, which is a proud founding member of the PA Open Primaries Coalition. She is a social therapist practicing in Philadelphia.

***

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Reader’s Forum — Steve Hough

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang & the Forward Party
*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask
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Steve Hough

Like most Americans, I was introduced to Andrew Yang when he ran for president as a Democrat. As an unlikely candidate for the position, he attracted a large following by speaking to those whose jobs will be eliminated due to ever-increasing automation. Combined with the number of middle-class jobs having already been lost, his vision of the future was fertile ground for planting the seeds of a “Freedom Dividend”.

His presidential bid provided him a national platform and the name recognition to continue having an impact. As he told supporters after dropping out of the presidential race, “Together we will continue to do the work and move this country forward, because the Yang Gang isn’t going anywhere.”

While such a proclamation might be considered standard fare for the usual politician, Andrew Yang was not a politician. He had never held public office. Was it just something one says to comfort the foot soldiers after losing a battle?

It wasn’t long before he was in the political spotlight again, having announced that he was jumping into the race to become the next mayor of New York City. The presidential race was in the rearview mirror, but his role was still fresh in the public’s mind. He was considered an early frontrunner, but he was handicapped by COVID and a Democratic machine that rolled along unabated.

New York City used ranked choice voting in the Democratic Primary for the first time, and it turned out to be a very competitive race between Eric Adams and Kathryn Garcia. Adams, the ultimate winner, also became the de facto Mayor-elect as any Republican candidate would present token opposition at best in the general election. That being the case, over one million independent New Yorkers and every Republican were virtually denied a voice. Regardless of which party dominates a particular area, that is no way to foster a sense of true representation in any election.

Would his failed bid to become Mayor of New York City be the last we heard of Andrew Yang? No.

It wasn’t long before he announced he was becoming an independent, publishing a new book, and forming the Forward Party. When I heard the news, I was excited that someone like him was joining our club, but I also had reservations. I wanted to know more.

I began following him on Twitter and, after hearing him speak on several podcasts, I bought his book. Thankfully, I was then prepared to help counter the backlash. It was swift and unrelenting in those early days following the announcement. He was branded a traitor and accused of wanting to spoil elections for Democrats. Third parties had no place in American politics. Obviously, these folks had not read his book or listened to the numerous interviews where he prioritized the need for electoral reforms.

I don’t know how many times I posted quotes from his book in response to someone attacking him on Twitter. It was exhausting, but I wasn’t alone in pushing back against detractors. There were many others willing to join the fight in defense of a new way “forward”.

I have referred to Andrew as the “James Brown” of politics. For the past few months, there seemed to be a new interview almost daily. In those interviews, he always made a point of acknowledging those who came before him but, in my opinion, he is currently the hardest working man in the electoral reform movement. When you’re hot, you’re hot.

I welcome Andrew to the fight and thank him for agreeing to join the book club for a discussion about his ongoing efforts. May we all feel a little sexier in the months and years to come.

I know, the plumbing of democracy is not sexy. But fixing things is sexy.”

Yang, Andrew. Forward (p. xvii). Crown. Kindle Edition.

Steve Hough is a lifelong independent and became an activist for political reform after retiring as an accountant. He is the director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries.

***

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Andrew Yang’s Third-Party Aspirations

In the Oct 21st, 2021 issue of the New Yorker, Isaac Chotiner sat down with Andrew Yang to discuss his vision for the Forward Party. We hope you will give this Q&A a read, and be sure to join Politics for The People and Open Primaries on January 12th at 3 pm ET for a virtual discussion with Andrew Yang. You can CLICK HERE TO RSVP!

By Isaac Chotiner
October 21, 2021

The entrepreneur turned politician makes the case for his new project, the Forward Party.

Andrew Yang, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has never held elected office, became a household name when he ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 Presidential election. After dropping out of the race in February, 2020, he set his sights on the mayoralty of New York City, and briefly led the Democratic primary polls before losing the nomination to Eric Adams. This month, Yang declared his next pivot. As he published a new book, called Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy, he announced that he is starting the Forward Party, which he hopes will break the “duopoly” dominating American politics.

Forward is both an account of Yang’s campaigns and a manifesto for his new party, which he believes should focus on advancing structural changes to the political system, such as open primaries and ranked-choice voting, and on lessening extreme partisanship. “Energy and passion won’t accomplish anything if all efforts are pitted in opposition to each other and the political system is designed to reward inertia,” Yang writes. “It’s the system itself that needs to be amended.” He also assures voters that they can maintain their current affiliations while joining his new party: “There will be Forward Democrats and progressives, Forward Republicans and conservatives, Forward independents and unaligned, and so on.”

I recently spoke with Yang by phone about his new book and his plans for the Forward Party. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we also discussed what he learned from running for office, how you can be a Democrat or a Republican and a member of his new party, and whether a third party can help American democracy.

You write about what being a politician does to your head. Can you talk more about that?

I started running for President as a relatively anonymous civilian, and that had some struggles attendant to it. I would say, “Hey, I’m running for President,” and people would say, “Of what?” or something similarly dubious. Then we gained steam and momentum, and the entire organization sprang up around me. In that environment, you wind up being something of an instrument, where people will say, “Hey, now you’re going to do this interview. Now we’re doing this event. Now call this person.” It’s a massive adjustment for, I would say, just about anyone.

I tried to say in the book that these experiences are probably not conducive to the development of a lot of the qualities that we want in leaders. I think most people would agree that the level of scrutiny that attends this process is probably discouraging a lot of excellent people from running. I think it’s more likely to impact certain groups that are probably going to be subject to even more scrutiny—women come to mind for me.

I also thought you were hinting in the book that it does things to your ego and makes you think of yourself in a certain way.

What I was hinting at is that it would make you a much worse manager. Your function is to get in front of a TV camera all the time. You’re probably not being super attentive to the needs of your team or figuring out what the interpersonal dynamics are. When I ran an organization, I spent a lot of time, for example, interviewing every hire. When you’re a candidate, people get hired in various locations and you meet them after the fact. I think that the process of running will end up eroding both management skills and empathy, and turn people more into avatars where they’re serving their new marketplace, and the new marketplace is going to be a set of TV cameras.

When you look back on your run for mayor of New York, what do you think your campaign got right and what do you think it got wrong?

I think, early on, we got right that a lot of New Yorkers wanted to be able to enjoy our city and wanted a degree of positivity in reopening. Then, as the campaign progressed, the focus turned much more to public safety, which wasn’t something that people associated with me. We’re very proud of the fact that we got more individual donors than any other candidate in history.

The book puts forward a lot of ideas, like ending the revolving door in Washington, and introducing an “American Scorecard” that would measure “societal health” in ways that go beyond economic indicators. More broadly, what is it that the Forward Party would accomplish?

The Forward Party is trying to realign our representatives’ incentives to line up more with ours, the general public, rather than the most extreme and activated partisans, who right now have disproportionate influence on whether someone is going to come back to office. One senator said to me something that I think maybe we’ve sensed, which is that issues are sometimes more valuable to a political party if they’re unresolved than if they’re resolved. What she meant by this is that if you have an unresolved issue, then you can get people very angry or excited about it. You can get people to donate to fight the other side. If you were to resolve it, then those catalysts go away. In this environment, because extremity is so disproportionate, you’ll actually probably pay a price if you compromise. Those are the incentives as they currently exist, and they’re driving us crazy.

You use the word “duopoly” in the book. When I hear that word, I associate it with Ralph Nader, who used it to say that the two parties were too close together ideologically. Are you saying that they’re too close together ideologically?

I think that there are different issues attendant to each party. It is a little bit overly simplistic to just say, “Hey, the extreme dominates,” because it makes it seem like it’s symmetrical, and it’s not precisely symmetrical.

Not precisely.

I do have a different critique, which I think is suggesting that corporations have undue influence over both parties. When I talk about the duopoly, in many ways I’m talking about the structural fragility of the system that we have. If you wanted to make a system that was resistant to authoritarianism, you would have more than two parties, definitively. Our Founding Fathers were anti-partisan. John Adams expressly feared two great parties that would just clash and clash. If you do have only two parties and one of them succumbs to authoritarian leadership, then there are very, very few safeguards, because the incentives are for everyone in that party to fall in line. If you wanted a more resilient system, you would have five political parties, or seven political parties. Then, if one party succumbed to terrible leadership, it’s a problem, but it’s not an existential problem the way it could be here in the U.S.

If, as you say, one party were to succumb to authoritarianism—and we do have a two-party system, which, at least for the moment, is not capable of being changed—would there be some danger of weakening support for the non-authoritarian party?

I think that there are these two tracks one could be pursuing. One would be electoral success, in the way that we currently look at it, and then the other would be institutional improvements and a strengthening of the system to make it more resilient, sustainable, and genuinely lowercase-“d” democratic.

I believe that the second path is imperative, and that’s why the Forward Party is going to be pushing for open primaries and ranked-choice voting in various states in 2022—to try and unlock more of our leaders from their incentives. This is not hypothetical. If you look at Senator Lisa Murkowski, in Alaska, she was the only Republican senator who voted to impeach Donald Trump and who is also up for reëlection next year. Her approval rating among Alaskan Republicans stands around ten per cent. This is a clear sign of why Republicans are so loath to defy Trump. One of the reasons why Senator Murkowski made this decision, in my view, is that Alaska last year got rid of the closed-party primary and now has a top-four primary and ranked-choice voting, where Senator Murkowski can take her case directly to the Alaskan public. That gives her a fighting chance. If we were to do that in more states around the country, you would see many more legislators act independent of party leadership, and that could be the difference between democracy surviving and civil unrest.

You say in the book that democracy “hangs by a thread,” referring to the 50–50 Senate. You seem to be implying that, if the Senate were in Republican hands, then democracy would be endangered. If democracy is hanging by a thread, if Democrats are barely in control, then it almost seems like insuring that Democrats remain in control is crucial. I wasn’t sure how the Forward Party fits into that.

The Forward Party’s mission is to try to reduce the perverse incentives that are threatening to tear the country apart. Again, I think that there are different approaches one could take, but I do think that far too little attention is being paid to reforming our institutions so that they are more genuinely representative and less subject to authoritarian impulses. I do remember that part in the book, and the fact that our government is right now so evenly split is to me a sign of just how tenuous things are.

What do you mean?

I understand what you’re driving at, Isaac. I obviously went to Georgia to try to help win those Senate seats. I believe that Democrats having control of the government would enable us to solve problems in a very difficult time for the country.

You say in the book that you could be a member of the Forward Party and a Democrat, or a member of the Forward Party and a Republican. Can you say more about how that would work?

Well, if you were to say to someone right now, “Hey, switch your party registration,” you’re asking them to potentially disenfranchise themselves in much of the country. We’re very practical. It’s a popular, inclusive movement. If you think that we need to reduce the polarization in our country and improve the incentives that our leaders are subject to, you should rally around open primaries and ranked-choice voting, and elevate candidates and officials who are for this upgrade. I feel like many Democrats would be very excited about this, as many Republicans would be excited about this. The state that has already implemented this is a red state, Alaska. This is an inclusive, popular movement that will require people of every political alignment.

So the idea would be to get Democrats and Republicans to sign up for the Forward Party’s agenda, not to run candidates in the Forward Party to challenge Democrats and Republicans?

Having someone run on the Forward Party line would be deeply impractical in the vast majority of districts around the country. We’re going to be supporting candidates who support these principles. I’m sure the vast majority of them are going to be running as Democrats or Republicans, because that’s much more realistic.

You talked earlier about the incentives in our current politics to be extreme. I’m wondering whether you think that that’s true of the Democratic Party. If you look at the last three Democratic Presidents, you have Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. If you look at the person you lost to in New York, Eric Adams, he is nobody’s idea of a radical leftist or someone who’s on the extreme in American politics. It seems to me that the Democratic Party, by and large, is still choosing candidates firmly within the mainstream. Do you sense that that’s not true?

I think, when you have a big race that’s nationwide, certain candidates still command a bigger share of the vote. The incentives that I describe in the book extend beyond the political incentives. It’s also the fact that we have cable news channels that have separated us out into ideological camps, and then social media pours gasoline on the whole thing and makes inflammatory content much more attention-grabbing and rewarding. One of the things I found in my campaign that we’re all familiar with now is that the most effective fund-raising e-mails from political groups are the alarmist ones, that act like the world is going to end if you don’t give them ten or twenty dollars right now.

You say that democracy “hangs by a thread.” I may agree with you, but that’s pretty alarmist, right?

You were asking about whether you have incentives to be a bit more sensational, and I would say yes, of course you do. I happen to believe that alarm is warranted right now. If you look up, you see that we can’t take anything for granted. One of the things I’m saying to folks on my podcast or book tour is that at this point in American life everything is on the table. What I mean by that is that whatever dystopian nightmare scenario you can think of, you should think that that’s a real possibility. Anyone who doubts that just needs to rewind to events of the past months, and realize that we’ve already been subject to events and scenes that would have been unthinkable just a few months prior. We should be regarding this as an all-hands-on-deck situation, where nothing is taken for granted.

You have said that thinking the other side is evil is bad. You also say that the Republican Party has brought us to the precipice of a real democratic emergency. How do you reach those people?

Almost seventy-five million people voted for Donald Trump, including family members of mine. The first mistake in my mind is to somehow lump such a massive group of people into a particular ideological mold. The fact is, if you sit down with people, they have very, very different perspectives and outlooks. One of the things that I’ve found in my thousands of conversations with Americans of every alignment, in small towns and big cities, is that if you approach someone and you’re not using coded language, and you present your ideas in a way that’s genuinely open, then people will give you a hearing.

One of the core values of the Forward Party is grace and tolerance. We’re not here to judge you or demonize you. Our enemy isn’t other Americans. Our enemy is a system that’s going to turn us against one another. There are a lot of Republicans who hear that and say, “That’s exactly what I’d wanted someone to express to me.” If we get beyond the current opposing camps, you can reach people of every background.

How do you think Joe Biden is doing as President?

I think Joe has done what he could. I think he’s taking a lot of heat for things that weren’t necessarily in his control. It’s just a tough time in America, and a lot of people are struggling and suffering, and I think there’s going to be a difficult position for a lot of folks who are in charge of various institutions that Americans feel aren’t able to deliver. That problem is, in some ways, bigger than Joe.

You write, “Our systems won’t amend themselves. The need for real change is clear, but change won’t come easily. The time to build anew is now.” How should people who hear rhetoric like that differentiate it from all the other rhetoric that they hear, which is very similar? I know you say this is a new party, a third party, but it also sounds a lot like what Americans are used to hearing.

We’re trying to get people focussed on the system itself and whether it’s set up to line up with our interests, or whether it’s arranged in a way that’s going to turn us against one another. I think that’s the big difference with the Forward Party, the sense that it’s the system itself that needs to be restored and rejuvenated. Just a process change to open primaries and ranked-choice voting would make legislators more reasonable and rational overnight. This is a movement to try and make America more reasonable and reasoned. Right now, unfortunately, no one’s rewarded for that. We’re getting rewarded for making people crazier and turning us against one another.

As you say, “Let’s move this country of ours, the one we love and will leave to our children, forward.”

I’m a parent, and I’m not proud of the country we’re leaving to our kids.

And so your advice to people is: stay a Republican or stay a Democrat but also join the Forward Party?

Yeah, that’s right. If you are not in one of those two parties and you wanted some new party to emerge, open primaries and ranked-choice voting can make it much more possible.

Do you guys take positions on issues such as gay marriage and abortion?

Well, we have six big principles that we champion: open primaries and ranked-choice voting, universal basic income, fact-based governance, a human-centered economy, a modern and effective government, and grace and tolerance. We’re all human, we’re all in this together. Those are the big principles.

So people who are sick of the normal political rhetoric should know about this six-point plan and try to move the country forward?

Amen. Let’s do it. We don’t have unlimited time.

***

Join us Wednesday, January 12th
at 3pm EDT
For the Politics for the People
and Open Primaries Virtual Discussion
With Forward Author Andrew Yang
CLICK HERE TO RSVP!

***

Why your representatives don’t represent you – On Yang Speaks

On October 29th, Andrew Yang sat down with The Politics Industry author Katherine Gehl on the podcast Yang Speaks. They discussed the lack of connection between our elected officials serving the public interest and getting re-elected; Gehl and Porter’s application of business principles to politics; and the latest innovations in political reform. Gehl received a 2021 Anti-Corruption Award from Independent Voting and is the founder of the Institute for Political Innovation.

Watch the full interview in the video below.

And if you would like to learn more about Katherine Gehl and The Politics Industry, check out the Politics for the People conversation with her here.

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Join us Wednesday, January 12th
at 3pm EDT
For the Politics for the People
and Open Primaries Virtual Discussion
With Forward Author Andrew Yang
CLICK HERE TO RSVP!

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Andrew Yang: Why he’s quit the Democratic Party to launch Forward Party, discusses new book

On October 18th, Andrew Yang appeared on the Bay Area’s local ABC7 News program Getting Answers to discuss political polarization, open primaries, ranked choice voting and third-party politics. Watch the interview and read the accompanying article below.

By Kristen Sze • October 22, 2021

When he joined [Getting Answers], Yang said it’s time for a middle-ground, common sense viable third party that represents the majority of Americans. He believes our current system and election process are producing more partisan candidates and widening our political polarization.

“The only way we’re going to get the polarization under control is if we change up the two-party dynamic that right now is leading to dysfunction and clashes. Eventually it’s going to lead to unrest, and even conflict and violence. So my goal now as the founder of the Forward Party is to present a new way forward that’ll actually enable different points of view to emerge, and make it so it’s not a zero sum game anymore.”

The Forward Party advocates for open primaries and ranked-choice voting as solutions. Yang points out that Congressional members are re-elected at a 92% rate despite consistently low approval ratings for the legislative body. He cites the growth of “safe” districts as a problem. 83% of districts are currently very red or very blue, and members’ job security “is centered around trying to please the most partisan voters in their district and their community… To win a ranked-choice voting election, I need to be on it 50.1% people’s ballots. If I cater to the extreme, I’m probably going to turn off someone else. It should diminish negative campaigning and make coalition-building more of a norm.” Yang praises California for having open primaries, as well as the use of ranked-choice voting in some of our elections, including Bay Area mayoral races.

In addition to election reform, Yang’s Forward Party advocates for “human-centered capitalism,” built around enacting a federal Universal Basic Income. Giving every American adult $1,000 a month was Yang’s main issue as a presidential candidate, and he continues to believe that is one way to include everyone in an increasingly automated, high-tech economy. Yang says the current employment-related benefits incentivize Americans to not work, since working would reduce or remove those benefits.

The Forward Party is current a political action committee, but it’s seeking Federal Election Commission recognition as an official political party. Yang says the Forward party will support candidates aligned with the platform whether they are currently Republican or Democrat, hoping to eventually run candidates under the Forward banner. He says his not worried about playing spoiler, as in siphoning off votes from one dominant party and handing the victory to the other dominant party. That is a traditional argument against third parties, and usually works against Democrats. But Yang says ranked-choice voting would mitigate that problem, and allow multiple parties to develop and thrive in the U.S., like in some European countries.

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Please join us Wednesday, January 12th
at 3pm EDT
For the Politics for the People
and Open Primaries Virtual Discussion
With Forward Author Andrew Yang
CLICK HERE TO RSVP!

***

Special event with Andrew Yang, co-hosted by Open Primaries

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang
& the Forward Party

*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask

On Wednesday, January 12th, Politics for the People will be co-hosting Open Primaries’ first Virtual Discussion event of 2022 – a conversation with Former Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang.

Yang has recently left the Democratic Party, started the Forward Party and started to advocate for structural political reform.


Now that I’m not a member of one party or another, I feel like I can be even more honest about both the system and the people in it.”

Andrew Yang

Yang has made it very clear that open primaries and ranked choice voting should be top priorities.

Please join us Wednesday, January 12th at 3pm EDT where our co-hosts, Open Primaries President John Opdycke and Politics for the People Founder Cathy Stewart welcome Andrew Yang to the growing independent political reform movement and do a deep dive into all things Andrew Yang. Grab a copy of FORWARD: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy today and bring your questions on January 12th.

You don’t want to miss this special edition of Politics for the People!
Register here today!

The 20th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards

On October 25th, Independent Voting hosted the 20th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards.

The hour long program also shines a spotlight on the growth and power of the independent voter at a moment when 41% of Americans refuse to define themselves through the political parties.

The event honored three significant innovators in the political arena — Each challenging the status quo in creative ways:

Katherine M. Gehl of The Institute for Political Innovation (IPI), Farhad Mohit of The Good Party and Gaby Cardenas of the Colibri Collective.

You can watch the full event below:

If you would like to donate to Independent Voting’s annual fundraiser, please go to independentvoting.org/donate.

If you want to stay connected with Independent Voting, go to independentvoting.org/newsletter-contact to join our mailing list and subscribe to our newsletter, The Hub.

And if you would like to take part in our leadership programs, please email national@independentvoting.org!

The 20th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards and a message from Frank Fear!

Please join Politics for the People host and founder Cathy Stewart for Independent Voting’s 20th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards!

Co-hosted by Stewart and independent activist Amikka Burl, this virtual event will be an inside look into the 45% of Americans who refuse to define themselves through the political parties, and the groundbreakers giving a voice to these independent voters.

Cathy Stewart
Amikka Burl

Tune in for this virtual event Monday, October 25th at 6pm ET to hear the new conversations and see the new activities and campaigns that are challenging the status quo of American politics from the organization that is winning recognition and respect for the independent voter.

The event will also present three Anti-Corruption awards, Cathy Stewart explains:

For twenty years the Anti-Corruption Awards have honored groundbreakers and change-makers in independent and reform politics. Some were famous, some were infamous, and some were people who never made headlines, but who made all the difference. This year, we’re honoring three outstanding innovators who are taking our movement to the next level.”

Amikka also shared her excitement for the event:

This virtual event is a fundraiser, so we’ll be asking folks to give to support this movement. And it’s also a spirit raiser. We all know that if you turn on the TV or check out social media, you see a lot of negative political commentary that goes nowhere and does nothing for our country. But, if you tune into our event, the Anti-Corruption Awards, you will see Americans working together from all walks of life to build something new, beautiful, and strong. So, we want everyone to tune in!

Register here!

The Anti-Corruption Awards will premier a new video —

What does America need to know about independents?

Independent Voting’s video was produced using dozens of videos submitted by independent activists and independent minded thought leaders from across the country. Frank Fear, professor emeritus, Michigan State University, shares his response with us below:

REGISTER TODAY for October 25th’s Anti-Corruption Awards!

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