Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America

Overview

A revealing look at how independent voters have been upending the political establishment for thirty years – and how they’ll decide the future of American politics.

 

In a political system where two parties reign supreme, 40% of Americans consider themselves neither Democrats nor Republicans, but independents. Independents elected President Barack Obama in 2008 and then, in a seeming reversal, gave control of Congress to the Republicans in 2010. But who are these ...

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Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties, and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America

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Overview

A revealing look at how independent voters have been upending the political establishment for thirty years – and how they’ll decide the future of American politics.

 

In a political system where two parties reign supreme, 40% of Americans consider themselves neither Democrats nor Republicans, but independents. Independents elected President Barack Obama in 2008 and then, in a seeming reversal, gave control of Congress to the Republicans in 2010. But who are these independents?  Angry moderates?  Frustrated ideologues? The base for the third party?  Reformers or revolutionaries?  Jacqueline Salit has spent 30 years as an insider in this growing movement of outsiders.  She recounts the little-known history of this volatile force as old political institutions and categories are becoming irrelevant – even repugnant – to many Americans. An architect of unorthodox left/right coalitions within the Perot movement and Reform Party, and manager of Michael Bloomberg’s three New York mayoral campaigns on the Independence Party line, Salit explores how these unclaimed voters are not only deciding elections, but reshaping the political landscape.  With a surprising cast of characters – from the famous to the unknown – Salit argues that the failure to heed this movement against partisanship (and even parties) puts political careers at risk and damages essential features of American democracy.  She reveals how independents underestimate their own power and how they can make the most of their newfound moment in the sun. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Given the upcoming presidential election, Salit’s earnest and informative book is sure to be consulted by those trying to understand the enigmatic and influential independent voter. Independents first spilled into the mainstream with the 1992 presidential campaign of Ross Perot (who garnered 19% of the popular vote) and have been a driving source of politics ever since. Salit, president of IndependentVoting.org and publisher of The Neo-Independent magazine, details the history of independents from Perot to Bloomberg and into the age of Obama. Covering both national and regional concerns, the book is strongest when it demystifies the movement itself. As Salit emphatically illustrates, independents are not motivated by ideology but, rather, by a desire to reform the current political system. Such reforms would include opening up primary elections and the end of partisan dominance. Salit often touts her credentials within the movement, but her closeness to the story serves to highlight the book’s weaknesses, which include the sometimes defensive tone, bland anecdotes about lunch meetings, and confusing accounts of political infighting. Regardless, the book gives necessary voice to voters who are fed up with partisan politics and desire change. Agent: Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Independentvoting.org president Salit (co-author: Talk/Talk: Making (Non) Sense of an Irrational World, 2010) discusses independent voters in this "honest and unvarnished account of events, personalities, and contexts in the formative decades of what I feel certain will turn out to be a century-defining dynamic." The independent movement began to grow in the 1970s when Fred Newman launched the New Alliance Party in an attempt to beat back the bipartisan election process. The party gained acceptance among minorities and progressive whites, groups who felt they had been shut out of the system. In 1988, Leonora Fulani, the party's presidential candidate, was slated on the ballot of all 50 states--not only the first woman, but also the first African-American to do so. As the NAP expanded, their influence was felt in both local and national politics. Eventually, Fulani and Newman joined Nicholas Sabatine to form the Patriot Party, which was absorbed in California by the Reform Party. As the quest expanded across the country, the candidacy of Ross Perot really put the independent movement on the map. Salit managed Michael Bloomberg's mayoral race for the Independence Party, proving that they could be a great influence in politics. Two other significant instances in which independent voters displayed their power were the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 congressional elections. As she explains the pitfalls of political life, the author demonstrates her expertise in the fight to give nonpartisan voters a more potent voice in the democratic process. Fighting against the strong political machines of a two-party system may seem Sisyphean now, but Salit's story of how well they've done so far inspires hope that one day they will succeed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230339125
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 993,151
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline S. Salit is the president of IndependentVoting.org, the country’s leading strategy and organizing center for independents, with chapters in 40 states, and the publisher of The Neo-Independent magazine. Her political commentary has appeared in countless publications and she has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, CBC, PBS, FOX and CSPAN.  Salit is also a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated radio program The Fairness Doctrine and produced Talk/Talk with the late public philosopher Fred Newman.  She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

1 1992: A Year of Awkward Contradictions 15

2 Populism vs. Centrism: The Complicated Birth of a Third Party 31

3 Against Ideology: The Right Wing's Brief Encounter with the Independent Movement 49

4 From Party Building to Anti-Party Building 67

5 Bloomberg's Dilemma, Part 1 85

6 The Power of Fusion 115

7 Bloomberg's Dilemma, Part 2 129

8 The Parties vs. the People 161

9 Black America and Independent Politics 185

10 Up for Grabs 197

Acknowledgments 209

Notes 213

Bibliography 227

Index 231

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2012

    How partisanship disenfranchises non-partisan voters

    While the large and growing influence of independents in elections is well known, it is not understood - especially by those most invested in the electoral system as we know it. As the author explains, this is because independent voters are placed into categories that serve partisan purposes. What independents really want is what those in power are least willing to give them - a voice in the electoral process. However, this book does not dwell on philosophy or political science. It is a chronicle of two decades of encounters with bipartisan opposition to open primaries and other reforms that would invite participation of voters who are unwilling to commit to an ideology defined by politicians. Salit is as inside the outsider movement as one can imagine. Her story spans the Perot years and an intense recent decade of hardball politics in New York City. She explains how even billionaire and three-time NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg found it very difficult to overcome the resistance of entrenched partisans. Independents who read this book will acquire a better understanding of what needs to be done and encouraged by successes of other independents around the country. Others will see why appeals to independents as centrist or "swing" voters may seem to have worked but perpetuates alienation of millions of voters.

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