We all know that New York City is not cheap, let alone travelling from the other side of the country, but we were primed and ready for a fine weekend of events. The theme: “Partnerships for Independent Power.”
Friday evening kicked off the weekend with a cocktail reception hosted at the newly developed “Open Primaries” office in Lower Manhattan. It was a pleasure to meet Open Primaries President John Opdycke. I do believe his first words to me were, “What do Open Primaries mean to you?” — you could certainly sense his passion.
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With enough people crammed into this small office space — enough to make the local fire chief cringe at the maxed out occupancy limit — we spiritedly, and with excitement, had many brief but meaningful discussions.
Saturday was the main event. Gwen Mandell and Nancy Ross from IndependentVoting.org opened the conference with an efficient but uplifting introduction to the day. It was a nice surprise to have a “video greeting” clip from Angus King, the independent senator from Maine, which he had recorded specifically for our event.
Next, IndependentVoting.org President Jackie Salit was introduced and she set the stage for the day’s discussions. Jackie then introduced the panel for the first major discussion, “Can Democracy Transform Social Crisis,” which included Joan Blades, Lenora Fulani, Tio Hardiman, and Paul Johnson.
After a midday break, we began the second half of the day with IndependentVoting.org’s own Cathy Stewart moderating a segment titled, “Organizing from the Bottom Up.” Jackie Salit then introduced the panel for the second major discussion, “Can We Make Political Reform Popular with the American People,” which included Michael Hardy, Paul Johnson, Harry Kresky, John Opdycke, Chad Peace, and Rob Richie. We adjourned the day around 5 p.m.
Sunday morning I had the honor of attending a small group brunch and discussion at a private residence in Upper Manhattan. It was nice to be in a small room with no more than twenty others passionately discussing and debating our personal points of view with regards to the weekend and how we, “the Independent Movement,” may come to influence state and federal political infrastructures as a whole.
No two of us thought exactly alike, but we spoke with passion, we listened with concern, and we left the apartment with new ideas and newfound friends, and I found that very refreshing.
Looking back, I offer three main takeaways from the weekend:
- Developing Open Primary systems for all levels of government was a theme spoken by people from all states and from all organizations. This is a cause and a fight that starts right now; New Jersey today, your state tomorrow.
- This truly is a state-by-state process; when crossing an imaginary line on the ground, rules and regulations change greatly, and each plan of attack will be unique.
- These will be battles won, or lost, within lawsuits and litigation; the more people that stand up and apply pressure to their state and federal representatives, the more pressure that will be felt by the judges and their gavels.
So, to summarize the weekend, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of us — that is to say nonpartisan Americans — that have woken up, stood up, and activated. We are a conglomerate of unique players in unique places with unique ideas and unique points of view, and we are learning how to organize and we are learning how to communicate.
Nonpartisan America is here, nonpartisan America is now, and nonpartisan America will reshape the political landscape in America.
Photo Source: IndependentVoting.org