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DNC Commission Blasted for Not Backing Open Primaries

Mon, 2017-12-11 18:39

DNC Commission Blasted for Not Backing Open Primaries

New York – Today Open Primaries, a non-partisan electoral reform organization, condemned the Democratic Party’s Unity Reform Commission (URC) for its inaction on opening primary elections nationwide.

The URC was established at the 2016 Democratic Convention in response to voters’ frustration with the 2016 election season and the conflicts between supporters of candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton. It was tasked with offering recommended rule changes to the DNC Rules Committee ahead of the 2020 presidential primaries.

“73% of Democrats (and 70% of all Americans) want open primaries. The DNC has the legal authority to open up the presidential primaries in all 50 states. But the Party leadership on its “Unity Reform Commission” isn’t listening to them or the rest of the country and, as a result, today has missed a historic opportunity to make the Democratic Party more democratic,” says John Opdycke, president of Open Primaries.

“No wonder 45% of Americans, including 50% of millennials, now identify as independents. The political parties, time and time again, ignore the voters – 26.2 million of who were shut out of the 2016 presidential primaries – in favor of insider and special interests. The Democratic Party is not only ensuring that the 2020 presidential primaries will be as rigged against the voters as they were in 2016, but they are losing an entire generation of voters as well.”

He adds, “The time has come to take these decisions out of the hands of the parties. The American taxpayer pays for the primaries, but isn’t in control of their own elections. What does it say about the state of our democracy when you can’t vote for who you want in America today?”

Open Primaries presented the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission with over 100,000 petition signatures —urging the Democratic Party to adopt open primaries in all 50 states ahead of the 2020 primary season.

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Photo Credit: Mark Van Scyoc / shutterstock,com

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RNC Member Applauded for “Standing Up to Party Bosses” on Roy Moore

Mon, 2017-12-11 17:46

RNC Member Applauded for “Standing Up to Party Bosses” on Roy Moore

RNC Committeewoman Joyce Simmons of Nebraska resigned her position with the party in protest of its continued financial support of Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Moore is facing multiple sexual assault accusations from women who said he pursued them when they were just teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Independent Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist applauded Simmons for “standing up to party bosses.”

“Thanks to Joyce Simmons for standing up to the GOP Party Bosses,” says Krist.

“In case you missed it, she resigned today from her post as Nebraska GOP National Committeewoman in protest of the committee’s financial support for Roy Moore. Government should represent ‘We, the people’ – not the Party Bosses or those who can buy access to power. Principle over partisanship.”

All eyes will be on Alabama tomorrow to see who will win the special election for US Senate, Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones.

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Partisan Story of the Week: Did Roy Moore Accuser Forge Yearbook?

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Don’t Be Fooled: DNC Will Continue to Rig the Primary

Mon, 2017-12-11 14:53

Don’t Be Fooled: DNC Will Continue to Rig the Primary

Source: TYT Politics

News broke over the weekend that the DNC Unity Reform Commission (URC) — a way for the Democratic Party to essentially police itself — announced a number of non-binding resolutions to show how the party should change its presidential nomination process.

Among other things, the URC proposed significant cuts to superdelegates, passing a resolution that calls for the elimination of about 400 superdelegates. Further, many of the remaining superdelegates would be tied to the voting results of their state.

Remember, former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz admitted in an interview on CNN that superdelegates existed to protect party-anointed candidates from grassroots challengers.

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DNC Chair: Superdelegates Exist to Protect Party Leaders from …

"Unpledged delegates (superdelegates) exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists." – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Fair?

Posted by Independent Voter on Saturday, February 13, 2016

US Sen. Bernie Sanders would win some states and still come out with less delegates because the superdelegates in the state already committed their vote to Hillary Clinton — superdelegates like former DNC Chair Howard Dean.

@D_Born @BernieSanders Super delegates don't "represent people" I'm not elected by anyone. I'll do what I think is right for the country

— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) March 5, 2016

On the surface, the URC’s resolutions sound like a big win for Sanders supporters and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. They didn’t get everything they wanted, but calling on superdelegates to be cut that significantly is better than nothing.

But some progressive groups caution their supporters not to buy into the news just yet.

 

“The Democratic Party told us everything that we needed to know when it reminded us that as a private corporation, it can pick its candidates in ‘cigar filled back rooms.’ In other words, the primaries are a charade, designed to create the illusion of choice,” states the Movement for a People’s Party.

Read More

The Movement for a People’s Party, formerly Draft Bernie for a People’s Party, is a group of progressive independents and former Bernie Sander supporters who believe that a progressive revolution will not happen within the Democratic Party.

Instead, they believe progressives should unite and form a new party, not to compete with the Democratic Party, but to replace it entirely.

The group released a press release over the weekend, pointing out that all levels of the DNC — the executive board, the bylaws committee, and even the URC — are comprised of the very people who rigged the primary process in 2016, and could easily do it again.

The group states:

“The corporate lobbyists, Clinton loyalists, and beltway consultants control the Democratic Party’s rules, and progressives are completely at their mercy. They can change them, then change them back. They can make them worse. They can ignore them. They can outright ban Bernie from running at any minute by requiring presidential candidates to have been a registered Democrat for four years prior. What kind of revolution puts itself completely at the mercy of the establishment that it seeks to overthrow?”

“There’s nothing complicated about restoring democracy to your primary. If the Democratic Party was whatsoever concerned with the legitimacy of its elections, it could have approved changes at its Philadelphia convention (in July 2016) or at any subsequent meeting of the DNC,” notes Nick Brana, founder and director of Movement for a People’s Party.

He adds, “The party has opted to endlessly delay and mislead people who are clamoring for real change.”

The DNC did indeed argue successfully in federal court that as a private organization, they can set whatever nomination rules they want, change them on the fly, and even ignore them if they want. The court ruled that voters cannot turn to the courts to rectify any perceived injustice or violation of their rights in the nomination process.

The party has opted to endlessly delay and mislead people who are clamoring for real change. Nick Brana, founder of the Movement for a People's Party

The political parties pull out all the stops to maintain firm control of their nomination processes and do what they can to prevent popular grassroots challenges from emerging and challenging what the party leadership wants.

Just ask Ron Paul how he was treated by the RNC. Rules were changed at the convention itself to prevent Paul’s growing popularity from upsetting Mitt Romney’s ascension to the GOP nomination in 2012.

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The headlines on the URC’s proposals are certainly optimistic:

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Politico

But remember, the resolutions proposed by the URC are non-binding. They have to be adopted by the DNC rules committee, by the DNC membership, and some of the resolutions would require state parties to get behind them and changes to state law — like the implementation of automatic voter registration.

The URC is an easy way for the DNC to say, “Look, we are doing something,” but considering that the party continues to argue for its right to hand-pick its presidential nominee if it wants, it appears to be an effort just to quiet those calling on the party to change.

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How 2.4 Million Washingtonians Were Robbed of Their Votes

Mon, 2017-12-11 11:09

How 2.4 Million Washingtonians Were Robbed of Their Votes

A headline like this would probably bring an alphabet soup of federal agencies into the state. That did not happen.

What did happen when over 2.4 million American citizens’ votes were nullified? Four thousand dollars in fines. That translates to $0.00055 per vote. That is what happened when four “faithless” electors in Washington state voted against their constituency.

The term “faithless elector” is used when a state’s presidential elector casts their ballot against the vote of their constituency. The record number of faithless electors for any given presidential election prior to 2016 was one. That record was shattered last year with 7 total nationwide.

Draw what conclusion you choose, three of the four in Washington state voted for the same candidate, actually crossing party lines to cast their ballots.

Washington has 12 electoral votes, and, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management (as of April 1, 2017), an estimated population of just over 7.3 million. Simple division reveals that each Washington elector’s vote carries the weight of over 609,000 American citizens.

Whether or not these electors, personally, agree with the voters, their responsibility lies with the constituency they represent.

Shockingly, according to the government’s archived Electoral College site:

“…There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by state law and those bound by pledges to political parties…”

Thirty states, plus the District of Columbia, require electors to vote in accordance with their constituency’s vote through state laws. A glaring problem with that is only six of those states cancel a faithless vote, and only five provide any penalty for this action against American voters.

The record number of Electoral College ballots cast against the popular vote could give leverage to those who would do away with the entire electoral system, and the democratic republic that is America, in favor of a true popular democracy. Such a response would be devastating, and, fortunately, would require an act of Congress.

The Founding Fathers warned of some of these dangers. Ben Franklin said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”. And, Thomas Jefferson added, “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.”

Clearly, though, our system needs some kind of reform. These seven faithless electors could be just the beginning of an electoral revolution that could see larger numbers in 2020.

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Don’t Let Partisans Distract You From These 3 News Stories

Mon, 2017-12-11 08:30

Don’t Let Partisans Distract You From These 3 News Stories

Read our centrist recap for the week below. We shine a light on the spin and useless stories from the Left and Right and detail what you should focus on, before people can pull wool over your eyes.

What the partisans will focus on and you should avoid:
  • This week, just like last, and for a few weeks to come, both sides are going to be finger pointing and attempting to prove the other side is worse than they are. After all the sexual misconduct in Congress and politics, the parties will attempt to make the claim that the sins of their own are less than the sins of their opponent. Both sides will attempt to show you that their wrongdoers are remorseful, and continuously point to their apologies, but the apologies are weak. This article tells it well: The Utter Failure of Male Apologies in 2017.  The bottom line is power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We’re seeing what an unbridled two party system can do to our political system. The two parties elect people based on power and loyalty not on policy and morality. America, it’s time for a change.
What you should focus on:
  • Avoid focusing on the apologies from those who’ve committed sexual misconduct, but do focus on those leaving their office due to it. So far, Representative John Conyers (D – Michigan) has chosen to retire, effective immediately, and Senator Al Franken (D – Minnesota) and Representative Trent Franks (R – Arizona) have announced their resignation.
  • President Trump’s administration has announced it’s going to let a waiver on the Jerusalem Embassy Act expire, setting in motion the U.S. embassy’s move to Jerusalem. This could have major impacts across the Middle East and Northern Africa. By moving the embassy to Jerusalem President Trump is fulfilling one of his campaign promises, but he’s also threatening stability in an already shaky region and may be destroying any hope he had of brokering peace. A great article (written days prior to the Trump Administration announcing intent to move the embassy) on the background behind the embassy’s location and how to move the embassy can be found here. You’ll notice the “worst-case scenario” is quite interesting…
  • California has been battling the worst forest fires in the last decade for a week now. The fires have forced the evacuation of over 100,000 people and destroyed over 800 structures. Currently, around 9,000 firefighters work to contain the blazes. This article shows good ways to donate and help those in need in California: How You Can Help Fire Victims in Southern California

After catching up on the events of the week, check out what Independent and Centrist political candidates and organizations did by visiting our Independent Action post located here.

© 2017 by Free Wheel Media. The article originally published on FreeWheelUs and has been republished by request and with permission from Free Wheel Media.

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Don’t Blame Social Media for America’s Division; Blame Our Elections

Mon, 2017-12-11 08:30

Don’t Blame Social Media for America’s Division; Blame Our Elections

In the wake of a toxic presidential election and bitter partisan divides in Congress on every major issue, Americans are rightly wondering what has happened to our ability to rise above politics and do what’s right for the nation. Social media is a convenient scapegoat, with its echo chamber that can make all news seem “fake” if differing from what our friends think

But blaming social media is a classic case of shooting the messenger. It wrongly assumes partisan polarization didn’t exist before Facebook and that mechanisms to communicate don’t always offer both promise and peril for seeking truth and solving problems. It also redirects our energy from what’s really broken: winner-take-all voting, vote-for-only-one rules with simplistic binary choices that don’t work in modern America.

Let’s break this down. First, our history with polarization dates back to the clash between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Slavery acted as an increasing wedge such that when Abraham Lincoln was elected, he won a majority of more than 50 percent of the popular vote in 15 states, but no votes in eight Southern states. The Civil War unsurprisingly started soon after.

In the late 1800s, partisan-driven voting records in Congress were very similar to what we see today. Those divisions lessened over the 20th century, particularly from the New Deal through the 1970s, but that era of more bipartisanship and overlapping ideologies across the parties created a false impression that this has been our norm.

Blaming social media is a classic case of shooting the messenger. It wrongly assumes partisan polarization didn’t exist before Facebook. Rob Richie, Executive Director of FairVote

Wedge politics grounded in use of race, gender, and culture increased division once again. By 1994, when Republicans ended a 40-year unbroken chain of control of Congress by Democrats, nearly all voters began putting partisan labels over individual character in deciding how to vote.

In 1997, more than 90 percent of congressional districts leaning to one party were held by that majority party. With fewer general elections in play, the power of primary voters grew — creating a vicious cycle that makes each party scarier to the other’s backers.

This, of course, wasn’t due to social media. Some people likely were wringing their hands at the impact of the printing press and Martin Luther’s Bible or pamphlets like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” that built support for the American Revolution. The newspaper industry in the 19th century often found readers by entering the partisan fray, and cable news programs for years have created 24-7 opportunities to feed at the partisan trough.

But fundamentally, means to communicate are just that: ways for people to share information. Whisper campaigns likely plagued our cave-dwelling ancestors, but that doesn’t means language was wrong. Books and pamphlets can divide us, but also have had massively positive effect on human understanding. The same goes for television, cable networks and radio.

With social media, it’s easy to spread lies, draw followers with inflammatory tweets, and hear only one side of a story. But the reverse is also true: it’s easier to expose lies, share thoughtful comments, and look for alternative views. It’s easier to come together and organize, whether in Cairo or Chicago.

What’s really dividing us is winner-take-all, binary politics. It’s easy to believe America’s voting rules have to be that way. But they don’t. More Americans are breaking out of vote-for-one limitations with ranked choice voting, as used in cities with more than 2 million Americans and likely in for most of Maine’s biggest elections next year.

You’re no longer limited to supporting one candidate with ranked choice voting. You can indicate backup second and third choices. If there’s a majority winner, that candidate wins. If not, the last-place candidate is out, their ballots are added to voters’ next choices, and the tally continues until one candidate wins more than half the votes. That means we can have more choices without dysfunctional outcomes and reward candidates who reach out to more voters.

As proposed in the Fair Representation Act, we can also change winner-take-all. Without changing the Constitution or size of Congress, the Fair Representation Act would create bigger districts electing more than one person and establish ranked choice voting to enable as many people as possible to help elect someone, including those in the minority.

One-party domination would end literally everywhere.

Having November elections always matter and electing more Manhattan Republicans and Oklahoma Democrats would create new opportunities to work across the aisle.

Social media has its downsides, but let’s support those seeking to make it work. And to really heal our broken politics, let’s get to the core problem: our broken voting rules.

Editor’s note: This article originally published on Inside Source, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN. It was republished with permission from the author.

Check Out This Counterpoint

Social Media Has Destroyed Political Discourse in the US

Read More

Read More Articles by Rob Richie

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / shutterstock.com

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Partisan Story of the Week: Did Roy Moore Accuser Forge Yearbook?

Fri, 2017-12-08 14:30

Partisan Story of the Week: Did Roy Moore Accuser Forge Yearbook?

Video Credit: ABC News

ABC News conducted an exclusive interview with Beverly Young Nelson, one of eight women accusing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when she was a teenager.

Moore continues to deny these accusations, claiming they are a malicious attack on him and his Christian conservative ideology.

During her interview, Nelson describes her experiences with Moore, what life is like for her after the accusations went public, and her thoughts on Moore getting elected.

One part of the interview was quickly capitalized by some media outlets — Nelson made an admission about the yearbook signature that was being used as evidence of Moore’s fraternization with her when she was younger.

Beverly Young Nelson, one of the women accusing GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, tells @GMA it “sickens” her to think what might happen if Moore is elected. https://t.co/wuEGWr0kng pic.twitter.com/lcp5OY4x3A

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 8, 2017

Nelson says that notes under Roy Moore’s alleged signature and message were made by her, but said “he did sign it” and the message was all him.

Conservative-leaning websites like Fox News and Breitbart jumped on this almost immediately.

Source Breitbart

Source: Fox News

This is an extremely sensitive issue. It deserves due diligence. What do we know? What was actually said? Is there credibility to the story?

Here are headlines from other news outlets:

Source: The Hill

Source: Business Insider

These headlines might not be as attention grabbing as “forging the yearbook,” but they are closer to what Nelson actually said, and they are not designed to fit into a certain narrative.

What’s more important: The accuracy of the story? Or how much attention can be drawn?

Here’s a quick definition:

forge / fôrje / verb: Produce a copy or imitation of (a document, signature, banknote, or work or art) for the purpose of deception.

So does this count as forgery? There doesn’t seem to be clear evidence to support this claim.

What’s clear is that the mass media has gotten too caught up in taking a side in this election. They either want to produce stories solely designed to discredit Roy Moore’s accusers or they want to do all they can to portray Moore as a monster.

This is a headline the liberal-leaning website Huffington Post is running with:

Source: Huffington Post

What Moore said was that Putin may be right on his opposition to same-sex marriage. You might disagree with it, but the intent of the headline and subhead is to spur outrage with the Russia investigation still ongoing.

Or how about this one?

Salon.com

That is based on an interview he did over the summer, yet the headline is from Friday, December 8.

Left-leaning websites want you to think Moore is a racist pedophile, while right-leaning websites want you to think he is the victim of a malicious political scheme to derail his campaign.

What gets lost in all the noise is where the truth lies. Are media outlets more concerned about influencing an election or are they concerned about giving their readers the story they need?

Just days before the special Senate election in Alabama, it seems clear that the answer is the former, not the latter.

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Most Bizarre City Council Testimony You Will See This Year

Fri, 2017-12-08 13:18

Most Bizarre City Council Testimony You Will See This Year

Above is video from a Los Angeles City Council meeting, where “activist and house party enthusiast” Chad Kroeger makes his impassioned plea to LA officials to stop a potential ban on house parties within the city’s jurisdiction. It may be the most bizarre (and humorous) city council testimony you see all year.

With all the tumultuous partisan politics out there, it’s good to take a break and have a laugh.

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Memphis Officials Betray the Will of Voters

Thu, 2017-12-07 18:02

Memphis Officials Betray the Will of Voters

On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council voted to place a charter amendment on the November 2018 ballot to repeal ranked choice voting (RCV, locally called “instant runoff voting”) for electing most city council seats.

Ignoring a remarkable show of support for RCV captured in this television news story, the council disregarded its citizens’ wishes.

The will of Memphis voters is clear. Nearly ten years ago, citizens overwhelmingly voted by 71 percent to 29 percent for a charter amendment establishing RCV. Local election officials have yet to implement RCV, but this year a new Shelby County Administrator of Elections, Linda Phillips, announced that she was ready to implement in 2019.

With RCV on the cusp of its first use, the council’s action to have another referendum on the matter is a particularly stinging slap in the face to voters. Notably, the council also this week started the process to add a third term to the city’s term limits law that would affect several incumbents who otherwise will need to leave the council in 2019.

Nearly ten years ago, citizens overwhelmingly voted by 71 percent to 29 percent for a charter amendment establishing RCV. Rich Robinson, FairVote

It’s easy to measure how  people of Memphis support instant runoff voting.

First, the charter amendment vote was overwhelming – more than seven-in-ten voters approved.

Second, in recent weeks, the city council has been contacted hundreds of times with phone calls, emails and postcards by citizens who are concerned that the will of the people is being replaced with a misguided action by the city council.

For an hour at Tuesday’s meeting, many members of the public faced the council, stepped up to the microphone and made their displeasure of the repeal known — with barely anyone supporting the council.

“That was the most shameful and offensive thing I’ve seen in my whole life,” said Brad Watkins with Mid-South Peace and Justice.

“I’m equally concerned that the heartbeat of Memphis is on life support,” said Earle Fisher with Memphis Grassroots Organization Coalition.

“A lack of good faith on the part of our representatives,” said University of Memphis professor Steve Mulroy. These three were quoted in a news report from WMC-TV, which was among several news outlets that covered the meeting and the press conference by supporters that followed it.

By fighting this common sense reform and clinging to its current system, the city council is signaling that it’s okay with making voting more inconvenient for its citizens. Rich Robinson, FairVote

Mulroy, a former Shelby County commissioner, leads Save IRV Memphis, a group of local activists and electoral reformers who believe that RCV will open up local elections, give a stronger voice to voters and ensure more fair electoral outcomes and regularly updates its growing Facebook group.

Other groups supporting the effort include the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, the Memphis League of Women Voters, Shelby County Democratic Party, AFL-CIO Labor Council, Tennessee Young Democrats, Democratic Grassroots Council, Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter Memphis, Memphis ACLU, Amalgamated Transit Union, Memphis for All, University of Memphis College Democrats, Indivisible Memphis, and Together We Will West Tennessee.

By fighting this common sense reform and clinging to its current system, the city council is signaling that it’s okay with making voting more inconvenient for its citizens. When a candidate does not reach a majority in an election — as happened in a 2015 council race — a runoff is conducted.

History has shown that there’s a tremendous drop-off in participation between the general election and the runoff. This factsheet shows just how dramatic turnout decline has been in recent runoff elections in Memphis.

Furthermore, instant runoff voting will generally save taxpayers around $250,000 each city election year. It’s been said that you might not be able to put a price on democracy, but you can put a price on wasteful decisions made by elected officials who are trying to avert the will of the people.

The citizens of Memphis clearly want instant runoff voting. It’s a shame their elected leaders are turning their backs on them.

Editor’s Note: This article, written by Rich Robinson, originally published on FairVote’s blog, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

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Photo Source: Memphis Flyer

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N.M. Candidate Launches Campaign to Open Primaries and “Fix Our Democracy”

Thu, 2017-12-07 16:01

N.M. Candidate Launches Campaign to Open Primaries and “Fix Our Democracy”

New Mexico entrepreneur and horse trainer Jarratt Applewhite could make history in the Land of Enchantment. He is running for State House District 50 as an independent, and if he wins he would be the first person elected to the State Legislature with no party affiliation ever and the first non-Democrat/Republican since 1914.

Applewhite launched his campaign this week, stating that he is running on two things in particular:

  • He wants to bring back the Estancia Valley, and
  • He wants to fix our democracy.

Partisan control of redistricting, discriminatory ballot access laws, closed primaries… all of these are issues that Applewhite wants to fix. Voters are fed up with the current system, but are denied alternative choices because of the system in place, so they don’t participate — especially younger voters.

“What is underneath all of this is that power corrupts, and the political parties have power and have corrupted the democracy they control,” said Applewhite, in an interview for IVN.

Applewhite says he has been involved with legislative efforts to make state elections fairer and more transparent for decades. He has even been involved with organizations like Good Government New Mexico — of which he was a board member — and New Mexico Open Primaries.

Applewhite resigned from the board of Good Government New Mexico, explaining that he is more of an activist and there should be some separation between nonprofit good government organizations and lawmakers/political candidates “in order to avoid any appearance of collusion or impropriety.”

Bringing Back the Estancia Valley

One of the biggest issues that convinced Applewhite to run was how his House district was “shamefully redrawn after the last census to make it a safe Democratic seat.”

Applewhite says the House district had been the center of the state’s farm and ranch district encompassing the Estancia Valley. However, state lawmakers divided the community, took out some of its major cities, including the city of Estancia itself, to include Santa Fe suburban areas and stretched it to include parts of multiple counties.

The district even includes areas that are separated by a mountain range — the Manzano Mountains

“I have to travel 120 miles down the interstate to campaign in parts of my district,” Applewhite explains.

The irony, Applewhite says, is that if he is successful in fixing the boundary lines of District 50, he will draw himself out of his district — something he is ok with.

“I am not looking for a political career. I am looking to make a difference,” he said during his interview.

Fixing Our Democracy

Redistricting reform is just one of the three major pillars to election reform that Applewhite is running on. He also wants to enact open primaries.

“In our current sorry state of affairs, the primary election is the only opportunity for voters to weigh in, as the winner of the primary is often unopposed in the general election,” he says. “Party primaries are increasingly dominated by insiders with extreme views. Moderate voices within our parties have almost no influence.”

The third pillar of Applewhite’s campaign is ballot access reform.

Again, there has not been a state representative outside the major party apparatus in 103 years. What’s more, current ballot access requirements discourage independents from running.

What is underneath all of this is power corrupts, and the political parties have power and have corrupted the democracy they control. Jarratt Applewhite, independent candidate in New Mexico

“In the 40 years since the courts forced New Mexico to allow independent candidates to run, only 16 candidates have been able to get on the ballot — through 2014 there had been 1,638 races!” Applewhite says on his website.

New Mexico, according to Applewhite, has more unopposed seats than any other state — so there is a clear opening for an independent or third-party candidate to run. However, an independent needs to get ten times the number of signatures a major party candidate needs to run and has less time to campaign.

Applewhite says he and his supporters “are punished for not being partisan,” and he will “work hard to even the playing field for all voters and for all candidates.”

New Mexico Open Primaries commented that Applewhite is the first of several candidates the group will endorse over the next few months, citing the need for more candidates like him.

“It is critical for a well-functioning democracy to provide voters more choices,” says Bob Perls, president of New Mexico Open Primaries.

“When voters see mainstream independent candidates representing ideas and values reflective of 80 percent of the voters, they will quickly look beyond the two major parties for leaders who can solve problems. For too long the two major parties have been focused on winning the next election rather than building broad-based coalitions that can solve our wicked-complex problems. New Mexico needs candidates of good will committed to representing the voter, not the party and Jarratt certainly fits that description.” – Bob Perls

The Bernie Sanders Model

In terms of fundraising, Jarratt Applewhite is applying the Bernie Sanders model to his campaign. He refuses to accept money from PACs, businesses, lobbyists, and will only accept individual contributions up to $200.

All of this is specified on his website, along with a promise that his campaign will not distribute personal information. He wants voters to know that if they donate to his campaign, they will not get solicitations from a candidate three states over, like what happens with major-party candidates.

Applewhite knows he faces an uphill battle. However, he is optimistic that if he is elected, he can help drive real change that will improve representation and elections in New Mexico.

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Atlanta’s Partisan Machine Dupes Voters to Score Narrow Victory in Mayor’s Race

Thu, 2017-12-07 10:57

Atlanta’s Partisan Machine Dupes Voters to Score Narrow Victory in Mayor’s Race

With just the right amount of grease applied to its gears, Atlanta’s partisan political machine reversed momentum in the race for mayor and defeated independent Councilor Mary Norwood by 759 votes out of more than 92,000 cast, according to the unofficial count.

The winner, Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms, is the hand-picked successor of outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed, whose administration is under FBI investigation. Bottoms defeated Norwood with the help of a last-minute infusion of cash, an estimated $200,000, from the Democratic Party of Georgia.

The Democratic Party sent several mailings to predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Atlanta with literature claiming that Norwood is a Republican and a supporter of Donald Trump. Neither claim is accurate.

Norwood identifies as a “progressive independent,” and has said publicly that she voted for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Voters do not register by party in Georgia.

In 2009, Norwood lost the Atlanta mayoral race to Reed by only 714 votes. A poll released by WSB-TV last Friday showed Norwood with a 6-point lead, but that was before Democratic Party mail pieces hit households in south and east Atlanta neighborhoods.

Bottoms’ win, like Reed’s narrow victory in 2009, was made possible by Atlanta’s partisan political machine, an unholy alliance between wealthy special interests, primarily developers and government contractors, and the city’s political establishment that is backed by the state Democratic Party.

Establishment figures and their family members have long been reported to have profited from this alliance financially. Bottoms, who is also neighbors with Mayor Reed, was attacked during the campaign for drawing two government salaries, including as the joint city-county recreation director.

Bottoms' win...was made possible by Atlanta's partisan political machine, an unholy alliance between wealthy special interests...and the city's political establishment... Kyle Bailey

Bottoms was awarded that position by Reed, who fired the incumbent to create the job opening for her.

A number of Democrats who supported Norwood took to social media to denounce their affiliation with the party following its decision to spend money against Norwood in the nonpartisan election, especially considering the other partisan races contested in the state and the special U.S. Senate election in neighboring Alabama.

A sampling of the literature pushed out by the Democratic Party of Georgia falsely attacking independent Mary Norwood as a Trump supporter.

 

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Kyle BaileyIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Alaska GOP Kicks Lawmakers Out of Primary for Not Putting Party First

Wed, 2017-12-06 18:00

Alaska GOP Kicks Lawmakers Out of Primary for Not Putting Party First

The Republican Party of Alaska is sending a message to its own: If you don’t put party first, you can’t run in the primary.

KTVA reported that the party recently voted to change its rules to kick three Republican lawmakers out of the primary for forming a coalition majority with Democrats and independents.

Ironically, the state GOP says it has the authority to do this because of a lawsuit the Democratic Party won against the state in October. Democrats challenged a state law that requires candidates running in a primary to be a registered member of the corresponding party.

Republicans say the superior court’s decision in favor of the Democratic Party also means they have the right to exclude any candidates they want. Stay tuned for more developments on this story.

It’s important to note that the rule change needs to be approved by the Alaska Division of Elections. Rule changes for the primary were due in September, so the board may not approve it or may rule it violates state law.

Read the full story here

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IVN NewsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Gallup: Independents Overwhelmingly Oppose GOP Tax Plan

Wed, 2017-12-06 16:50

Gallup: Independents Overwhelmingly Oppose GOP Tax Plan

An overwhelming number of independent voters oppose the GOP tax reform plan, Gallup reported Tuesday. A slim 25 percent of non-affiliated voters say they support the tax plan, while 56 percent say they disapprove of the current bills.

Predictably, partisan voters divided up along party lines in the survey, with 70 percent of Republicans in favor of their party’s efforts. Meanwhile, only 7 percent of Democrats feel the same.

Because of the weak support from Democrats and independent voters, overall support among U.S. adults is low. Only 29 percent of all respondents said they approve of the proposed tax reforms.

A significant number of respondents were also undecided or had no opinion at 16 percent overall.

Independents made up the most of this group with 19 percent of independent voters saying they had no opinion. (14 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Democrats had no opinion.)

As The Hill points out:

“Public uncertainty about the GOP tax plan is largely concentrated among independents and Republicans, a sign that support for the plan could still grow if the GOP can convince holdouts in those two groups. Nineteen percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans told Gallup they didn’t yet have an opinion of the tax plan.”

Tweaks to the bill to win over independents and some undecided Democrats and Republicans may be difficult in a Congress that has just set the record for blocking the most debate and amendments to bills of any Congress in history.

This prompted Justin Amash (R-Mich.) – who supports the GOP tax bill – to call this Congress “really broken.”

Mass disapproval for the GOP tax bill may also be related to initial Republican promises that their tax plan would not raise taxes on any middle-class taxpayers, followed by backpedaling and an admission that their plan would raise taxes on some middle-class income earners in an apparent bait and switch.

Republican leaders said they “misspoke” when they promised no tax increases on middle-class taxpayers.

But we cannot overlook another likely explanation for the public’s reaction to current tax reform efforts.

More voters than ever before are not affiliated with either of the two major parties, and thus are less likely to support legislation simply for partisan reasons. Instead, they are more likely to consider the merits and flaws of a bill without letting partisanship affect their judgment.

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W. E. MessamoreIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Actual Malice – Conyers to Condit: You’re Being Setup on Levy Case

Wed, 2017-12-06 16:48

Actual Malice – Conyers to Condit: You’re Being Setup on Levy Case

The explosive FoxNews report that retired Rep. John Conyers, who stepped down on the heels of allegations of sexual misconduct, had “inside info” into the disappearance and murder of former federal intern Chandra Levy is not news to attorney and author Breton Peace or former Rep. Gary Condit.

The two collaborated on the true crime political thriller “Actual Malice” that was released last year and centers on the Chandra Levy case and the false implications that Gary Condit had anything to do with her disappearance and murder.

Rep. John Conyers summoned Gary Condit to his congressional office and told Gary he was hearing that Gary was being set up Actual Malice

Following the Conyers story on FoxNews, Breton Peace told IVN, “In the beginning of the investigation, John Conyers summoned Gary Condit to his congressional office and told Gary he was hearing that Gary was being set up.”

This is documented on page 84 of Actual Malice, available at GhostMountainBooks.com

That Conyers conveyed this information to Condit was troubling enough, but the fact Conyers was head of the Judiciary Committee raised a host of questions.

In the interview with IVN Peace noted, “In writing the book it was tragic the amount of incompetence and corruption in law enforcement. In fact, the DOJ acknowledged prosecutors couldn’t re-convict M13 gang member Ingmar Guandique for Levy’s murder because the original investigation was so wrong on so many levels. They apologized to Gary, but I’m not sure an apology from the DOJ, the law enforcement group that tried to frame you for murder is worth much to the Condit family or to anyone, really. As far as Gary’s concerned the people responsible should be held to justice, but he also realizes now that the only institution inside the US Government that is immune to accountability and justice is the DOJ.”

As far as Gary’s concerned the people responsible should be held to justice, but he also realizes now that the only institution inside the US Government that is immune to accountability and justice is the DOJ. Author Breton Peace

Peace mentioned that when Guandique’s 2010 conviction for Levy’s murder was overturned because of mistakes by the US Attorney’s Office, he was told by FBI and DOJ officials that they think DOJ decided to dismiss the re-trial and deport Guandique to El Salvador, in part, because a new trial would require DOJ to confront two things they hadn’t in the past. Peace said, “First, this time they’d have to confront the incompetence and corruption of the original investigation rather than rely on jail house confessions and second, Guandique’s lawyers would hammer the DOJ on the mistakes in the original trial including the fact that US Attorney Amanda Haines was then under internal investigation. In other words, the DOJ’s decision to dismiss was at least to some degree made to save its own face and people inside it. That’s wrong and tragic on a lot of levels and for a lot of victims.”

CAPITALIZING ON LEVY CASE

“For a year and a half Gary knew about corruption in law enforcement. People inside the DOJ were leaking to him warnings that things weren’t right.” – Actual Malice

According to Peace, corruption concerns were highlighted by conversations Gary had with folks like retired Rep. Conyers. In another conversation, Rebecca Cooper, then with ABC News, told Condit that Andrea Mitchell, a reporter with NBC News, relayed to her that members of the Metropolitan Police Department led by Terrance Gainer were bragging about putting Condit in jail. Cooper called Gary to warn him.

For a year and a half Gary knew about corruption in law enforcement. People inside the DOJ were leaking to him warnings that things weren’t right.

Those early, and inaccurate whispers, became the basis for the full-fledged scandal that engulfed Condit’s congressional seat.

BLACK CAUCUS TOLD GARY NO

The Chandra Levy scandal broke on the heels of the Bill Clinton sex scandal. At that time the Congressional Black Caucus supported Bill Clinton but as for Gary Condit, the Caucus refused to get involved saying “they weren’t going to get out in front of a sex issue a second time.”

At the time, Rep. Conyers at a news conference said, “every time an elected official waxes pious, you find out that his closet is full of skeletons.”

MARCH 6, 2002

On the night of Gary’s election defeat he told the press, “There are some things in life that happen to you that you just can’t explain.”

Breton Peace says that was a loaded statement from Condit, who had records that established corruption inside law enforcement but no recourse in 2001.

Peace said, “I think that was Gary’s way of saying some really bad stuff went on that he knew about but if he talked about it then people would think he was seeing black helicopters. It’s much less Hollywood than that – but it’s also much more sinister, damaging and wrong.”

ACTUAL MALICE

Actual Malice  was released in 2016.

Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

The GOP Tax Plan: How It Impacts You vs How It Should

Wed, 2017-12-06 15:27

The GOP Tax Plan: How It Impacts You vs How It Should

On Friday, December 1, 2017, the Senate garnered sufficient votes to pass their version of tax reform legislation. Previously, the House had already passed their plan for tax reform.

At this point, the two plans will need to be reconciled before a final bill goes to President Trump for approval.

Critics of the legislation claim that it has been rushed already without consideration for the long-term consequences the bills could bring. Regardless of what happens during the reconciliation process, millions of American lives will be impacted.

Here’s what this pending tax legislation could mean for your bottom line, and the direction reconciliation should take in order to truly give the biggest tax break to the largest number of people.

Pending Tax Changes: The Basics

The biggest changes under the proposed legislation impact health care and higher education.

Under the Senate plan, the individual mandate would remain; however, the penalty for failing to have health insurance would be reduced to zero.

Critics of removing the penalty cite the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that approximately 13 million Americans would lose insurance due to healthy people failing to obtain insurance without the threat of penalty, driving up costs for sicker individuals who have no choice but to purchase coverage.

Supporters of eliminating the penalty state that it is absurd to further penalize individuals who can’t afford health insurance in the first place.

Under the Senate plan, the individual mandate would remain; however, the penalty for failing to have health insurance would be reduced to zero. Kate Harveston, IVN Independent Author

Another area of potential health impact is the House’s proposed measure to eliminate the medical expense deduction.

Critics, most notably the AARP, state that the repeal of this deduction in effect creates a “health tax” on those with chronic long-term conditions that are costly to treat.

Under the Senate measure, not only does the deduction remain, but those claiming the deduction will be able to claim expenses in excess of 7.5% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) as opposed to the current 10% limitation.

Higher education students will also be impacted.

Under the House bill, graduate students receiving tuition waivers would need to claim the amount waived as income, even though it does not add anything to their disposable income.

In addition, the House bill eliminates the deduction for student loan interest paid. The results of this could mean low-income graduate students paying high amounts of tax on income they do not actually realize and establish a higher hurdle for low-income individuals pursuing a higher education.

Both the House and the Senate bills increase both the standard deduction and the Child Tax Credit. The House plan increased the Child Tax Credit to $1,600; the Senate, $2,000.

Under the House bill, graduate students receiving tuition waivers would need to claim the amount waived as income, even though it does not add anything to their disposable income. Kate Harveston, IVN Independent Author

However, both bills also eliminate the personal exemption, currently $4,050 per each individual in the household.

The result?

Households without children or with older children who no longer qualify for the CTC could see a reduction in benefits.

Even families with young children who qualify for the credit could see little benefit given that they’d sacrifice the personal exemption for a slightly higher, if refundable, credit.

A Modest Path Forward

During the reconciliation process, committee members will be tasked with hammering out legislation that stands a better than average chance of meeting the approval of both legislative bodies.

With Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and White House, a major change to the tax code appears not just likely, but inevitable.

With this in mind, legislators must carefully consider the needs of all Americans, not just those most able to donate to their causes. A reasonable middle ground can and must be found that will at least minimally satisfy the needs of the majority.

On the surface, the Senate bill appears less extreme in all aspects other than the repeal of the individual mandate. Even here, reason and common sense must prevail.

With Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and White House, a major change to the tax code appears not just likely, but inevitable. Kate Harveston, IVN Independent Author

Without doubt, many Americans have been impacted by a further penalty for failing to carry health coverage they cannot afford in the first place.

However, as a full repeal of the mandate would lead to many individuals desperately needing care without the means to afford it, reducing the penalty to zero must remain an option for only the neediest taxpayers.

Likewise, a full repeal of the health care expense deduction unjustly impacts seniors, many of whom are already living on fixed incomes. Should any repeal of this deduction be considered, exceptions should be made for those over the age of 60 and younger individuals suffering from chronic and costly diseases.

Taxing graduate students on income not actually realized seems as absurd on the surface as charging a penalty for not being able to afford health insurance.

Likewise, eliminating the student loan interest deduction at a time when the cost of higher education is skyrocketing at 2 ½ times the rate of inflation seems unnecessarily cruel, especially given that even entry-level jobs nowadays require a college degree.

Legislators face tremendous pressure in trying to present a bill to President Trump in advance of the upcoming holidays.

However, given the lasting impact this legislation will have on millions of Americans, a hasty rush to push a bill through is myopic in the extreme. Given time, care, and sufficient debate, a reasonable tax plan can actualize.

The job legislators face now should not be how quickly they can get the job done, but how they can best provide a true tax break for the majority.

Read More Articles by Kate Harveston

Kate HarvestonIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Doug Jones Hits Roy Moore: The Most Racist Mailer Ever?

Wed, 2017-12-06 13:19

Doug Jones Hits Roy Moore: The Most Racist Mailer Ever?

A new mailer is gradually making its rounds on social media allegedly from the Doug Jones for Senate Committee, in the special US Senate election in Alabama.

The focus is on current sexual assault allegations against Republican Roy Moore, but does the mailer go too far?

Per source in AL, here’s the new Doug Jones mailer. Ostensibly, it’s meant to up black turnout. pic.twitter.com/tyX1fppj5h

— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) December 6, 2017

It’s no secret that partisanship in elections and in US politics is at an extreme, but Jones’ committee appears to have taken it to such an extreme as to evoke race where it doesn’t belong in order to hit a nerve with certain voters.

Decide for yourself what you think:

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Thomas A. HawkIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Still Broken: VA Wastes $90 Million in Overpayments to Middlemen

Fri, 2017-12-01 18:13

Still Broken: VA Wastes $90 Million in Overpayments to Middlemen

In September, in what seems to be just the latest in a string of financial issues for the VA, the Inspector General of the VA released a memo detailing $90 million in overpayments to the middlemen who process payments to civilian providers contracted to provided care to America’s veterans under the VA Choice program.

In 2014, at the inception of the VA Choice program, the VA paid nearly $10 billion in no-bid contracts to two payment processing services, Triwest Healthcare Alliance and Healthnet Federal Services.

In exchange for this $10 billion, these two companies were supposed to verify that charges were valid and shouldn’t be billed to private insurance, and then — if no issues were found — pay the doctors in a timely manner and bill the VA.

The VA would then verify that the middlemen had done their jobs and cut their checks. But, according to the IG’s memo, that’s not what happened.

For a number of reasons, long wait times and subpar care among them, the VA Choice program has been very popular. Because of this, the VA got behind in conducting their audits, prompting providers to start screaming that they weren’t getting their payments timely enough.

This caused corners to be cut, and eventually led to a change in 2016 in the way payments were processed. It was changed to more of a “bulk payment” type system. But within this system, there was much less oversight happening in favor of speedy payments.

For a number of reasons, long wait times and subpar care among them, the VA Choice program has been very popular.

“Making accurate and timely payments in the Choice Program has proven to be a significant challenge for VA,” the memo said.

The IG’s memo went on to detail issues within the VA’s payment system, problems that persisted even after the department employed new, and presumably costly, claims software, called Plexis Claims Manager, designed to cut down on these costly errors, though the system still requires a significant amount of manual work.

“VHA’s claims payment activities are similarly burdened by lack of automation, multiple systems that are not integrated, and a significant amount of manual work… In addition, non-VA providers do not have visibility into the status of their claims… Overall, the high reliance on manual processes slows payments activities, introduces potential errors (e.g., lost claims and misrouting of claims), and introduces waste into the process,” the memo said.

Even under the change in 2016, audits were still supposed to be conducted to ensure that there was no waste, fraud, or abuse. Nearly two years later, no audits have begun. The VA said they would hire a private contractor for this, but this has yet to happen either.

It’s worth mentioning that Healthnet Federal Services also processes payments to civilian providers for Tricare, the military’s health insurance system.

Triwest Healthcare Alliance did the same until 2011, when allegations of rampant fraud cost them the contract with Tricare and forced them to pay $10 million in settlement to the Justice Department.

Triwest is currently under investigation for wire fraud and misuse of government funds unrelated to the overpayments detailed in the VA IG’s report.

The payment processing services are required by law and by the conditions of their contracts to repay any overpayments that they receive; however, it is unknown when this money will be repaid.

It is expected to take several months for authorities to determine the appropriate repayment process, and determine any potential claims for damages that the government may have against Triwest Healthcare Alliance or Healthnet Federal Services.

While it’s common knowledge that waste, fraud, and abuse is a significant problem within the government, this matters more now because in October, VA Director Shulkin went in front of Congress and asked for more money to pay the costs of civilian medical care for veterans, saying the program would run out of money before the end of the year.

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Wendy InnesIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Angus King on Tax Reform: “Calls To My Office Running 50-to-1 Against This Bill”

Fri, 2017-12-01 13:51

Angus King on Tax Reform: “Calls To My Office Running 50-to-1 Against This Bill”

Independent US Senator Angus King was brought on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Friday to talk about the GOP tax reform bill scheduled to be voted on. King says the process for moving the bill forward has been the “worst ever.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” King says. “On this huge bill, this huge impact, do you know how many impacts we have had on this bill? Zero! Nothing! Nada! Zilch! We’re talking about voting on it today, Joe — We don’t even know what the bill is. As of now, no one can tell you what is in this bill.”

He later added, “We’re not looking before we leap off a 30-year cliff.”

King believes the GOP is rushing the bill because the more people find out about it, the more they realize how terrible it is. He said calls to his office were “running 50-to-1 against this bill.”

Watch the full interview above.

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IVN NewsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

What The Media Can Learn About De-Legitimizing White Nationalism

Fri, 2017-12-01 12:52

What The Media Can Learn About De-Legitimizing White Nationalism

For the past few days, the liberal media has been going haywire over a New York Times profile of a white nationalist. The Times was forced to issue multiple responses to accusations that they were normalizing white supremacy, and even retroactively altered the title of the article in response to public pressure.

I initially decided to steer clear of the controversy and avoid the piece, but after reading The Atlantic’s December cover story on Andrew Anglin — one of the alt-right’s most prominent leaders — I decided to circle back and see if I could identify any major semantic differences between the two pieces.

Why was it that these two articles — that sought virtually the same goal — garnered such disparate receptions from the general public? What lesson can be learned about the media’s coverage of far-right hate groups, and how can journalists effectively cover the rise of fascism in the United States without aiding and abetting it?

If you compare the two articles, they have almost the same structure and flow. Both pieces attempt to cast an alt-right provocateur as a scourge with little more than a recounting of their life story and a detailing of the author’s interactions with them.

The difference is that the Atlantic writer, Luke O’Brien, went to excruciating detail to color Anglin with his own fraught past. The most powerful moments of the piece flow naturally from the emotional resonance of fairly objective anecdotes — not from the type of pontification that we typically see from mainstream pieces about the alt-right.

The Times piece, which sought virtually the same effect, felt shallow and empty — like there was no deeper symbolism and nothing to be inferred beyond the author’s words or the picture he paints of a fairly average man who happens to believe in a violent and destructive ideology.

The Atlantic piece portrays Anglin as a paranoid and demented man with somewhat of a god-complex, but goes to great lengths to demonstrate his complexity and detail the crucial, and often sickening moments that turned a young liberal vegan into one of alt-right’s scariest and most masterful trolls.

As O’Brien details his attempts to track down Anglin, he discovers nothing but a web of paranoia, a history of escapism, and a family unwilling to sell out its son to the media — all of which add great detail to the character of Anglin.

It’s common knowledge that a key tenant of the alt-right’s strategy is to garner agitated, hyper-partisan news coverage... so they can decry reputable news sources as 'fake news,' galvanize their supporters, and further embolden their hatred of all things politically correct. Jesse S.

O’Brien was careful not just to portray Anglin as a monster — with balanced and fairly objective prose — but to poke at some of Anglin’s ideological inconsistencies and shortcomings — instances that could provoke the alt-right into losing faith in one of its most powerful leaders. One walks away from O’Brien’s piece feeling nothing normalized about Anglin or the alt-right.

One cannot say the same of the Times piece. In its defense, editor Marc Lacey wrote: “The point of the story was not to normalize anything but to describe the degree to which hate and extremism have become far more normal in American life than many of us want to think.”

But don’t we all already know that? And hasn’t the media been proactively attacking the alt-right and other far-right groups for the past year-and-a-half?

It’s common knowledge that a key tenant of the alt-right’s strategy is to garner agitated, hyper-partisan news coverage — often focused on their polarizing leaders — so they can decry reputable news sources as “fake news,” galvanize their supporters and further embolden their hatred of all things politically correct.

They’ve continuously lied about the details surrounding altercations between their own supporters and peaceful protestors of fascism, and have reigned terror on virtually every journalist who grants them negative attention.

Even Luke O’Brien received threats from alt-right trolls while conducting research for his Atlantic piece.

And the media has responded to their provocations by vigilantly attacking everything their leaders say and do. Yet, aside from a few key victories, it doesn’t feel like this strategy has always had its desired effect.

As O’Brien acknowledges in his piece: “The more the liberal establishment chose to revile them, the more they embraced their role as villains.”

With this in mind, it almost felt like the Times piece was an overcorrection for how the liberal media has responded to white nationalist groups.

With the age-old accusation that liberal media outlets have a bias — originally promulgated by right-wing media but more recently hijacked by the alt-right — it would seem that the only way to disprove this narrative is with some good, old-fashioned reporting — no punditry involved.

Maybe that’s what the Times was aiming for. Regardless, it didn’t work, and it’s not an excuse for normalizing the experience of a known neo-nazi when millions of people are existentially threatened by the existence of hateful groups like the alt-right.

And where the Times piece fell flat is precisely where the Atlantic piece found its strength. By poking holes in the image of an alt-right leader — without invoking hysteria or projecting any sense of bias — Luke O’Brien made Andrew Anglin look like a pathetic sociopath, and the piece delivered exactly what it intended.

Maybe the rest of the media can learn a thing or two from O’Brien’s writing, and help de-legitimize the alt-right without further emboldening its hateful followers’ beliefs.

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Jesse SIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Ranked Choice Voting Scores Huge Legal Victory in New Mexico

Fri, 2017-12-01 12:33

Ranked Choice Voting Scores Huge Legal Victory in New Mexico

Reformers earned a big win Wednesday.

The ruling by Santa Fe District Court Judge David Thompson that Santa Fe must implement ranked choice voting (RCV) is the result of a lot of hard work and community activism by local supporters.

FairVote’s Maria Perez, a Santa Fe resident who started on the campaign last March, was tireless and determined to see her local government finally comply with the will of its voters, who overwhelmingly approved of RCV almost 10 years ago.

The judge ordered the new voting system to be in place for the city’s March 6, 2018 elections, now that the software for voting machines are certified and ready to go.

An open seat race for mayor has drawn five candidates, and at least two city council races have more than two candidates. More than half of the city’s last nine elections for mayor have been won with less than half the vote.

“This decision by the district court judge to order Santa Fe to implement ranked choice in March is not only a win for the voters of Santa Fe and the rule of law, but also for democracy in New Mexico,” Perez said.

“The people of Santa Fe have patiently waited for almost a decade for this moment, and we look forward to working with city officials to ensure implementation of ranked choice voting goes as smoothly as possible.”

“Now is the time to get to work,” she added.

“The 2018 elections will feature strong candidates vying for an open seat for the office of mayor. Based on the experiences of other cities with ranked choice voting earlier this year, it will likely be a positive and engaging campaign that will produce a mayor with majority support from Santa Feans.”

Teresa Leger de Fernandez, the attorney representing the petitioners, proficiently guided the winning legal fight. She’s the founder of Leger Law & Strategy, a social justice firm focused on impact litigation, financing, economic development and the public interest.

In March of 2008, Santa Fe voters approved a charter amendment to elect their municipal officers with RCV with 65 percent voting in favor. The amendment stated that RCV would be implemented as early as “March 2010, or as soon thereafter” as voting equipment is “available at a reasonable price.”

This decision...to order Santa Fe to implement ranked choice in March is not only a win for the voters of Santa Fe and the rule of law, but also for democracy in New Mexico. Maria Perez, FairVote

This year, such equipment became available for free, as the secretary of state has certified it for use in all New Mexico elections beginning in 2018.

Nonetheless, the Santa Fe City Council voted on June 28, 2017, and again on July 27, 2017, not to implement ranked choice voting until 2020, in spite of the clear language in the city’s charter.

On September 29, a group of Santa Fe citizens filed a petition in New Mexico district court to compel the city to comply with its charter.

In a recent op-ed experienced RCV administrator Caleb Kleppner noted Santa Fe “will have the easiest path to run a successful first use of ranked-choice voting in history.”

In reaction to the ruling, Santa Fe mayor Javier Gonzales tweeted the following:

“Ranked Choice Voting’s time has come, and I’m pleased Judge Thompson agrees. I’ve reserved comment while judicial process played out, but I remain eager to pursue an election that reflects the will of the people…. I know the Secretary of State is ready to help us execute an election where voters rank their choice and assure our next mayor has the support of the majority of voters.”

“We are thrilled at today’s ruling and happy for the voters of Santa Fe,” said FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie.

“The city will be using state-of-the-art voting equipment with a ‘turnkey’ solution to running these elections and we are confident Santa Fe will have the same kind of positive in electing its new mayor next March as Minneapolis did a couple of weeks ago. It is no surprise that the movement for better elections through ranked choice voting has greater momentum than ever.”

Santa Fe now joins 11 cities using ranked choice voting to elect city officers. Surveys of likely voters in these cities have found that a majority of those surveyed support its continued use in their city election.

In 2017, four cities held ranked choice voting elections, and all saw their positive and competitive campaigns lead to record surges in voter turnout.

For legal filings in the case and additional background, see this resource library.

Editor’s Note: This update originally published on FairVote’s website, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

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Photo Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

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