Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Diary of an Independent Voter: What They Say About Us and Why They’re Afraid of Us

Author: Gwen Mandell
Created: 27 February, 2018
Updated: 17 October, 2022
4 min read

On Monday, March 12 at 8 pm ET, hundreds of people will dial into Independent Voting’s national conference call. Jackie Salit, president of Independent Voting, hosts these calls, and I wanted to extend a personal invitation to you to join me on the call.

I’ve had the honor of organizing these calls and invite thousands of independent voters (and independent-minded Americans) to join me at what I think is one of the most important ongoing political events in the country.

The conference call takes place four to five times a year and is an opportunity to gather with other activists from every area of the country. Many have been active in their communities for some time; others are on their first call.

Attendees participate from the comfort of their homes (or wherever they may be) by dialing in. I love hearing person after person announce their name and state, a reminder of the variety of voices on the call.

The March 12 call, titled “Diary of an Independent Voter: What They Say About Us and Why They’re Afraid of Us," comes at a moment when there is growing recognition that independents are a potential source for change in our political system and the political establishment is clearly keen on keeping independents inside a partisan box.

The minute the latest Gallup Poll was released announcing that 42% of voters identify as independent, one self-proclaimed expert, Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, tweeted that independents are not really independents -- they’re leaners or hidden partisans.

Independents rarely get asked WHY we decided to become independents.

Jackie Salit is a national leader who holds a unique location in today’s political life – she is a strategist, a coalition builder, a writer, and a leader of a broad network of independent activists who have a reach and influence in communities around the country.

Perhaps you’ve gotten the opportunity to read Jackie’s monthly column in IVN or her recent paper, “Finding Otherness: A Blueprint for an Independent Conversation in 2020,” where she explores the challenges and controversies in the independent and reform movements.

You can check out some of her past calls here.

Conference call participants often submit thoughtful political questions in advance that shape the discussion. (You can submit yours when you register for the call here or email it to national@independentvoting.org)

I love the way Jackie goes to the heart of these questions as she weaves story after story about how the independent movement is developing tools to expand our reach. She reports on the activity of independent activists across the country and provides an inside glimpse at some of the partnerships and developments that are taking place to empower independents as a new national political reform movement takes shape.

It’s a stark contrast to what dominates in the culture of politics today, which is often exclusionary, polarizing, and partisan.

Tiani Coleman, president of New Hampshire Independent Voters and IVN Editorial Voice, shared her experience of the call. She said:

These calls bring us together as a movement, as we’re inspired by a unifying vision. They help us formulate ideas for new ways of tackling challenges and keep the big picture ever present, as we take specific steps to strengthen our democracy. They also give us the opportunity to ask questions and hear about successes happening across the country.”

Steve Hough, director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries, was one of Jackie’s guests on a recent call and will be co-hosting the March 12 call. Steve has been leading a year-long campaign, testifying, petitioning, writing letters, and lobbying the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (a commission mandated to convene every 20 years) to consider a proposal to allow Florida voters to vote on top-two, nonpartisan elections.

Here’s his take on the call:

Since becoming a member of Independent Voting, I have enjoyed interacting with other independents, on the state and national level. There are many benefits of membership for independents, like myself, but a highlight is Jackie’s conference calls. Her longtime work in independent politics gives her a unique perspective on the role of independents in today’s political environment, and I always enjoy hearing what’s on her mind in a more personal setting.”

And Al Bell, activist in Independent Voters for Arizona, from Peoria, Arizona adds: Jackie’s calls are akin to returning to port after a long journey. My growing personal network and I get refueled, refreshed, refocused, and reconnected for the next leg of our long independent voting rights journey.

The discussion about who independents are and how we figure in changing the system is a critical one right now with everyone grappling for answers. IVN is an important political platform for this discussion. It is meeting the very broad and deep desire for political news and dialogue that is something OTHER than “which party benefits more from X?”

Readers of IVN, in my view, are part of a historic paradigm shift that is happening in American politics and the creation of a new kind of political culture. I feel very close to that and look forward to a call that continues to look at all of the exciting options on the table.

To join the conference call on Monday, March 12 at 8 pm ET click here. Submit your question for Jackie Salit when you register or by emailing it to national@independentvoting.org.

Disclaimer: The publication and promotion of this article was paid for by Independent Voting. If you are interested in publishing sponsored content on IVN, please contact us at contact@ivn.us.