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Independent Voting's President Jacqueline Salit's Past Views on Political Parties

Published on July 30, 2011, by in General.

Between January 1984 and December 1994, the New Alliance Party published a weekly newspaper, “The National Alliance.” During the entire period of the newspaper’s existence, the masthead listed Jacqueline Salit at the top of the roster as “Executive Editor.” Today, Salit is President of Independent Voting, which holds itself out as the leader of independent voters in the United States, and which teaches that political parties are harmful to society.

In the January 26, 1989 issue of “The National Alliance”, there is a letter to the editor which criticizes the Soviet Union for holding elections in which only one party, the Communist Party, was allowed to compete, although the 1989 elections were giving voters a choice of Communist Party candidates to vote for. Following the letter there is this response:

“The Alliance replies: You raise an important question, especially since we consider democracy the cutting edge issue in America today. Our response requires looking at just what a political party is.

If you asked most people, they would probably answer that it is a group of people who share certain political beliefs and meet certain organizational requirements so they can try to run candidates for elected office. But we get a much deeper understanding by looking at how political parties came into being historically. For parties as we know them in fact only came into existence with the growth of capitalism.

They were first created to represent the interests of emerging classes. In Europe, there were parties of the landed gentry, parties of the capitalists, parties of the peasants, and finally parties of the working class. Small splinter parties have come into existence and sometimes won parliamentary representation, but all parties have a class character.

In the US, the Democrats were the party of the southern slaveholders straight out. The Republicans were the party of the northern industrialists. The working class had no party of its own to operate on a national scale, and most working people backed the Republicans during the Civil War and long after on the grounds that wage slavery was better than chattel slavery. After the war, the Democrats joined the ranks of the capitalists.

The working class made a great effort to create its own party – the Socialist Party – but it was repressed during World War I for its opposition to that war and faded away thereafter. The next attempt – by the Communist Party – was bought out by Roosevelt in the New Deal. Thereafter, the US has functioned under a one party – capitalist party – system. That one party has two major factions – the Democrats and Republicans – to be sure, and individuals have the formal right to form as many parties as they want.

But the sad fact is that – as a result of lack of access to the ballot, the media and big money the capitalist parties control – the vast majority of the American people are excluded from the political process except as extras in a Miller beer commercial: “Less filling! Tastes great! Less Filling! Tastes great!”

Thus the fight for democracy which Lenora Fulani and the New Alliance Party are leading is the fight for the working class majority in this country to have its own party.

As for the recent developments in the Soviet Union, we find them very exciting. It is true that the Soviet Union is a one party state, but that one party is the party of the working class. The Soviet Union no longer has a capitalist class and thus there is no basis for having a second party – unless it is a party committed to restoring capitalism. Let there be no doubt, the restoration of capitalism is unacceptable to the Soviet people.

The serious issue facing the Soviets is the expansion of mass participation within the Communist Party. That they are now to hold national multi-candidate elections is a dramatic development, the result of Gorbachev’s decision to mobilize the people to energize the Soviet economy.

There is absolutely no reason to revive the Cadets or the Mensheviks, either in spirit or in fact. Those parties lost their right to exist during World War I, when they supported the tsar sending hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers to the slaughterhouse to influence who would play the leading role in carving up Africa – Germany or England and France.

You do note that parties which advocate the murder of ‘sections of the population who are different due to race, sex, religion, national origin, disability or sexual orientation’ should not be allowed. Agreed.

But how about parties which support policies they know will lead to mass starvation in the Third World, the random murder of civilians by contra bandits, and the mushrooming of homelessness, poverty and racism here in the U.S.?

This is not to say that we advocate a one party system dogmatically. Obviously a multiplicity of parties can only advance democracy in America today. And even in a society organized by the working class, there are pushes and pulls within the class over race, sex, strata, sexual orientation, etc., and it is not inconceivable that there could be more than one working class party. History will tell.

We would like to go a step further, however. NAP has constituted itself as a political party out of necessity – to engage the capitalist parties on their own terrain. But why not have a non-party system? Just for the record, the US Constitution makes no mention whatsoever of parties.

Under a no-party system, candidates would run with public funding, and put out their positions through free and equal time on the major networks. The voters would elect those candidates who most clearly articulated their own social vision. That is exactly now Nicaragua ran its 1984 presidential election.

And that – due to having an explicitly one-party system in which elections are candidate vs. candidate rather than party vs. party – is what the Soviet Union is moving towards.”

21 Responses

  1. natural born citizen party

    the “independent’s party state committee of new york” — an independent nominating petition nominating committee will not count signatures of enrolled members of any ballot access party on their filed independent nominating petitions.

  2. Thanks for this essay. I never would have seen it otherwise. I’m a New Yorker and am vaguely familiar with the New Alliance” people and Fulani, but didn’t realize they had this well-developed historical sense of themselves. Useful, thanks.

  3. Rick

    Interesting read, to say the least.
    Thanksa for the info.

  4. Demo Rep

    P.R. and App.V. — regardless of the LOW-LOW-LOW attention spans and election systems intelligence of lots of folks in the U.S.A.

  5. From IndependentVoting.org:

    What is CUIP & IndependentVoting.org and what is its mission?

    “We are a national strategy, communications, and organizing center working to connect and empower the 40% of Americans who identify themselves as independents.

    Our mission is to develop a movement of independent voters for progressive post-partisan reform of the American political process.

    We do not aspire to be another special interest.

    Independents seek instead to diminish the regressive influence of parties and partisanship by opening up the democratic process. Independents in the CUIP networks are creating new electoral coalitions such as the Black and Independent Alliance, supporting new models of nonpartisan governance and striving for the broadest forms of “bottom-up” participation.

    With the size of the independent voting bloc growing, the barriers that limit independent participation have become even more glaring.”

    We have pushed the concept of Open Primaries and voting for the candidiate. With many hits and misses, I hope we can eventually develop the formula to make this work.

  6. #6, CUIP & Independent Voting won’t answer my question, when I ask them if they are trying to improve things for independent candidates. Maybe you could find out.

  7. CUIP & Independent Voting won’t answer my question[s], when I ask them if they are trying to improve things for independent candidates ………….

  8. Robert Winn

    Jackie Salit has always styled herself as the head of a political party. What independent voters actually are is something quite different. Independent voters were the voters created by the writing and adoption of the Constitution of the United States. There were no organized political parties in the United States until the election of 1800, and political parties were very unpopular in American government until that time because Americans blamed political parties in England for starting the Revolutionary War through high taxation. They specifically discussed starting a “partyless” government at the Constitutional convention and decided in the end that the best way to deal with political parties was to make no mention of them.
    Presidents George Washington and John Adams both counseled against the formation of political parties. By the administration of Adams it was too late. Alexander Hamilton had started the Federalist Party, and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison organized the Republican-Democrat Party to oppose the Federalists.
    Independent voters, the voters created by the writing of the Constitution, were excluded from participation in the government as candidates by election laws at state level which made it impossible for them to be elected. For instance, in Arizona, the state where I live, in order to run for office as an independent voter, I must obtain more than five times as many nomination petition signatures than a Democrat or Republican. This obvious violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is consistently upheld by party appointed federal judges. It would be foolish for independent voters to take it any higher because at the present they are being denied a right they have. If the Supreme Court rules on the matter, they have lost their right. But anyone who can reason at all can tell that registering as an independent voter does not mean that the person who does register in that manner is no longer subject to the guarantees of the Constitution and federal laws like the Voting Rights Act. It just means they are being denied rights that they have.
    Independent voters do not need to get panicky. They are now the largest voting block in the United States. The best efforts of party politicians to stop independent voter registration have failed. In Arizona, where they passed legislation to take the option to register independent off from the voter registration form in 2005, there was an immediate drop in independent voter registration because citizens thought they could no longer register as independents.

    2000-2002 107,715
    2002-2004 165,771
    2004-2006 26,384

    As citizens of Arizona learned that they could still register independent with a voter registration form that told them they must be members of political parties, the rate of independent voter registration rose almost to its former level, and independent voters just passed the numbers of Democrats in Arizona and will soon outnumber Republicans because both major parties are losing voters in Arizona.
    Once independent voters outnumber both parties, they can start to elect legislators who will once again establish free and open elections to replace these party-controlled elections of today. Until that happens, we can expect party politicians to enforce the letter of their un-Constitutional election laws.

  9. Phil Sawyer

    That is a very interesting article even if it is dated in several ways. The primary factor is, of course, that the Soviet Union is no longer around. Now days, due to the continued corruption and oppression in Russia, there are no strong parties of opposition; even the Comm. Party (abbreviated to get past the Yahoo! censors) there is not in a good position to challenge the establishment.

    By the way, in 2006, I never received a renewal request for CUIP’s “The Neo-Independent”; consequently, I let subscription lapse on 12-31-06. I missed reading Jacqueline Salit’s editorials after that.

  10. natural born citizen party

    #9
    in NYS it took 7 years — 2003 –(after successful state and federal litigation) to have the voter registration form changed finally last fall (2010) — but enrollment lock-boxed for another 12 months — to better inform the non-enrolled voters that they could in fact be invited to participate in primaries (certain statewide offices of the so-called Independence Party of NY.

  11. Phil Sawyer

    Even though the article by Jacqueline Salit is very old, there is another comment that I would like to make. Ms. Salit wrote that “most working people backed the Republicans during the Civil War and long after on the grounds that wage slavery was better than chattel slavery.” I do not think that that is correct. She might have written that “most working people [in the north] backed the Republicans” but even that might not have been entirely true. There were many people in the north (from the proletariat and other classes) that were against the war. Do we really know, now days, how many people were for the war and how many were against it?

  12. Demo Rep

    #9 NO parties in the 1796 Prez election ??? — after Washington had had enough of the robot party hacks — going back to at least 1765 – Stamp Act Congress.

  13. Richard Winger

    #9, Chicago uses non-partisan elections for all its city office elections. I don’t think Chicago is a model of good government.

    Political scientists who have studied non-partisan elections in large big cities, and compared those cities with other big cities that use partisan elections, have generally concluded that special interests are more powerful in the non-partisan cities.

    Nebraska uses non-partisan elections for its legislature, but I don’t think Nebraska is governed significantly better than South Dakota or Iowa, neighbor states which have a lot in common with Nebraska.

  14. Robert Winn

    Demo Rep

    No, there were no organized parties in American government until the election of 1800. Even Hamilton and Jefferson were talking about not having parties. Hamilton once became very upset with Jefferson during the administration of Washington because Jefferson was accusing him of starting a party. In 1765 there were parties in the colonial assemblies, but they were English parties, the Whigs and the Tories. British Loyalists took the name of Tories in the Revolution, and there was at least one American military organization during the Revolutionary War which called itself Whigs. But the idea of political parties was particularly unpopular immediately after the war. The contention between Jefferson and Hamilton escalated into the formation of political parties in the election of 1800.

  15. Robert Winn

    Democrats, the pro-slavery party started by Jackson and Van Buren, were extremely popular in southern and western states and very prominent in midwestern states. A Democrat, Stephen A. Douglas, defeated Lincoln for the United States Senate from Illinois. From their beginning, the Democrats portrayed themselves as the party of the common people.
    When Stephen A Douglas was nominated for President by the Democrats at their convention, the Democratic Party split into southern Democrats, who backed Breckenridge for President, and mainstream Democrats, who backed Douglas. This enabled Lincoln to be elected with only 40% of the vote.

  16. @ #7 and #8

    I’ve asked people at Indy Voting what their position is regarding actual Independent candidates a couple times. They were somewhat evasive, but stated outright that they do not endorse candidates. They are much more focused on the rights of Independent voters, rather than candidates as such. But it should be clear that some Independent voters are also Independent candidates for office. Though Independent Voting does not endorse any candidates, they leave a fair amount of leeway in that regard for their various state affiliates. You might consider contacting any of the state affiliates for information in that regard. For instance, their Colorado Chapter was founded by Joelle Riddle, who switched from Dem to Indy a couple years ago and, so far as I know, is very active in reforms aimed at Independent candidates.

  17. #17, thank you for asking them.

    What really hit me was that Independent Voting’s web page celebrated a “victory” when a California court upheld a law that no one is permitted to have the label “independent” on the ballot for Congress or state office. How can a group be pro-independent candidate and then be happy when an independent candidate can’t use that label on the ballot?

  18. Robert Winn

    I have said from the beginning that independent voters cannot copy political parties. Independent Voting has always appeared to me to be a sub-faction of the Democratic Party organizing independent voters to vote for Democratic candidates. They can do that to some extent because the Democratic Party has been using independent voters as a sub-faction of their party since 1800 when they locked independent voters out of participation in American government.
    What independent voters need to do to move the country forward is say, We are the voters who were created by the Constitution of the United States. That is why the best efforts of political party politicians to stop independent voter registration in recent years have been ineffective.
    Political parties, on the other hand, are self-created societies which seek special status for themselves in government. Americans should not vote for their candidates. It was a mistake when they did it in the election of 1800.
    The mistake is more obvious 211 years later. Party politicians have no clue of how to operate the government without borrowing money. As an independent candidate for President, I am the only one with a plan that will work. Here is my plan:

    Attn. Dept G
    Bureau of the Public Debt
    P.O. Box 2188
    Parkersburg, W.V. 26101-2188

    Send your political donations to this address instead of to party politicians. My last donation was for $40.00, and I received a nice little thank you note telling me that $3,763,000.00 had been donated in 2010. As you can see, party politicians are borrowing money faster than Americans are paying this debt.
    With regard to candidacy for office, all independent voters, regardless of political beliefs, should consider becoming candidates for office this election. We have the numbers to start putting a scare into party leaders.
    Let me define what an independent candidate is. An independent candidate is a United States citizen willing to serve in public office who meets the qualifications of residency, age, etc., for serving in that office. An independent candidate does not need to solicit contributions. An independent candidate does not need to spend money. An independent candidate does not need media exposure. (The two major parties pay the news media with money taken from public revenues not to talk to independent candidates.) An independent candidate does not need to get votes. An independent candidate does not need to get elected. In order to improve the government of the United States, all an independent candidate needs to do is to exist. George Washington said that all candidates for office in the United States should be independent candidates. George Washington was right.
    The people like voting for party personalities because they remind the people of royalty. Let the people vote for whoever they decide to make popular. The fact remains that this government will not work without independent voters. Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren launched a campaign to get rid of independent voters in the 1830’s. They were successful in convincing the American people that political parties like the one they had started, the pro-slavery Democratic Party, were necessary in American government. The result was the Civil War.
    If you want an explanation of why people are registering independent, I can tell you why. They are instinctively trying to avoid a Civil War. Civil Wars are always about money. In 1860, slaves were counted as money, which did not work out too well for the Confederate states.

  19. natural born citizen party

    Sotomayor (formerly USCA2C and now aka SCOTUS assoc justice) has said in USCA2C panel opinion:

    “New York’s Election Law allows any individual, whether enrolled in a political party or not, to sign an independent nominating petition for elected office. See N.Y. Election Law §§ 6-138 and 6-140 (McKinney 1998). The plaintiffs are registered voters, not enrolled in any political party, who wish to restrict eligibility to sign independent nominating petitions to non-enrolled registered voters.

    As for the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim, we find that the plaintiffs have failed to allege injury-in-fact and, therefore, lack standing to assert this claim. See Lee v. Board. of Governors, 118 F.3d 905, 910 (2d Cir. 1997). The plaintiffs did not allege, for example, that they had circulated or intended to submit a nominating petition for any elected office. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504

    U.S. 555, 564 (1992). Moreover, the plaintiffs did not claim that the requirements of §§ 6-138 and 6-140 eliminated their associational right to have their nominating petitions signed by whomever they choose or coerced them into allowing enrolled party members to sign their petitions. To the extent that the plaintiffs claim to be injured by the increased burden §§ 6-138 and 6-140 place on the non-enrolled registered voter by increasing the percentage of signatures they must obtain in order to nominate a candidate, removal of the requirements would not eliminate the burden because New York election law requires a specific number of signatures regardless of whether enrolled party members are allowed to sign. See N.Y. Election Law 6-142 (McKinney 1998). We reject the plaintiffs’ equal protection claim because the plaintiffs have not shown that they were subjected to any intentional or purposeful discrimination, see Gelb v. Board. of Elections, 224 F.3d 149, 154 (2d. Cir. 2000), or that they have been treated differently from others similarly situated, see City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985). Finally, the plaintiffs’ due process claim fails because the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that § 6-138 or § 6-140 causes something more than an unintended irregularity in the conduct of elections. See Gold v. Feinberg, 101 F.3d 796, 801 (2d Cir. 1996).”

  20. Christina Tobin

    Thank you for posting this Richard.

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