Why are more and more Americans declaring themselves ‘independent?’ Who are the independents, and what do they stand for? What does it mean to be a member of an anti-party? How do we transform a political culture which assumes that “if I’m right, you must be wrong?” Has Occupy Wall Street become trapped by “occupying?” Is development part of the political conversation?
These were some of the questions posed by the Institute’s Lois Holzman, Christine LaCerva and Rafael Mendez to Jacqueline Salit of IndependentVoting.org at a forum in NYC, Friday, Dec. 2. The conversation, which drew about 100 participants, touched on political culture and process, emotionality, democracy and development. Salit is a leading strategist, national spokesperson and since the 1970s (with the late Fred Newman) a chief organizer of an emerging movement of independents. She is the author of the upcoming, Independents Rising (June 2012).
Salit noted in her comments:
Americans are starved for dialogue on the developmental issues our country faces…Yet, both the subject and the form of political discussion remain highly controlled……Independents are those Americans who believe that this country is actually supposed to be a democracy. They’re Americans who express the need for an inclusive, democratic process in which we can talk honestly and openly about the issues we face……[Institute co-founder] Fred Newman had a profound capacity to give expression to how damaging it is for people to be kept outside [the political process] — not allowed to express their concerns and desires…He passionately articulated the importance of people having the opportunity to grow…And for that, I feel so supportive of the Institute’s activities which expand opportunities for development…