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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 13, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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marcus weisberger covers defense spending for defense one and you can follow his reporting online on twitter and at defense one. we thank you for being here this morning. that will do it for this morning, we hope your back tomorrow morning at 7:00 est for more of your calls and comments. details ahead on c-span. >> the house and senate are back today following their spring recess. the house meets at 2:00 eastern
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with both scheduled for 6:30 eastern. irs oversight later in the week. the senate comes in as well at 2:00 p.m.. speeches until 5:00 p.m.. the confirmation vote at 5:30. they may return to the human trafficking bill. live coverage of the senate on c-span 2. the third republican, senator marco rubio of florida will announce his body 16 presidential candidacy later today at 5:30. earlier today we spoke with a political reporter who talked about the announcement and where it is taking place. [video clip] >> we are joined by mark computer on the line -- marc caputo on the line, joining us to talk about the announcement of marco rubio. tell us about the setting and the expected teams that marco
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rubio is going to talk about -- expected themes marco rubio is on to talk about. >> the freedom tower built in the 1920's in downtown miami. really iconic building. he was named the freedom tower in recognition of the fact that in the 1960's it was used as what became called it the alex island of the south -- the ellis island of the south. he is using this as a launchpad to announce that he is running for president. marco rubio them of being the son of cuban exiles, it fits within his narrative of being the "american dream candidate." stagecraft is good. whether campaign craft will be good enough to get him across the finish line will be another matter. >> how is he going to position himself early against the announced candidates? >> rubio up to now has been
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largely a candidate of ideas and biography. in many respects, his echoes to president obama back in 2008. his exact campaign strategy and tactics will not necessarily say. i have heard the speech a few thousand times. it is very effective. he talks about how he is the son of a maid and a bartender and how when he goes to high dollar fundraisers he will see in the back of the room a bartender and think back to his father's struggles and how he is the the film at of the american dream. -- the fulfillment of the american dream. a similar speech he gave at the rnc. as for where he will position himself, it almost seems like all lanes. he has a little bit of tea party, a little bit of establishment.
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i would not say much of a libertarian alliance. maybe if you strike saying all lanes. in many respects, his campaign success is premised on the idea that jeb bush has too many structural deficiencies to cross the finish line. scott walker might not be able to make it either and that he almost rises by default. we're going to have to see how that plays out. host: your piece in political what were you writing about? guest: how a candidate got to yes. when rubio looks and his advisors look at his history and trajectory, it was more like what is the reason not to run. they could not find one. the best reason would be to stay in the u.s. senate and run for reelection in 2016. florida does not allow you to run for two offices on the same ballot. rubio is not a fan of the u.s. senate. like the institution and
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procedure -- and prestige but it really does not do anything. this is not the most attractive place for him to stay. rubio has his main residence in west miami. he did not move to washington. if he does move from west miami to washington, he wants to move to the white house. host: mark caputo covering the story. you can follow his reporting at politico.com and on twitter. thank you for the update. >> senator rubio plus candidacy announcement scheduled for 5:30 eastern today. we are planning live coverage depending on the activities in the u.s. house. onto a discussion on efforts to change the american election process and the future independent movement. the attorney who passed the open attorneys law in california.
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independent activists and political consultants from around the country take part. jekyll and sale it moderates the event -- jacqueline saling moderates the event. >> i have the pleasure of introducing our distinguished panel here. let's welcome back to the stage paul johnson. [applause] >> next is rob richie. he is the executive director of fair vote since its founding in 1992, which is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for nonpartisan redistricting reform. and establishing a national popular vote for president. he is an inspiring and out spoken advocate for some
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important political reforms. really great. [applause] next to rob is a dear friend and colleague, michael hardy. michael is an attorney, since 1988. he is a leader in the movement for social and criminal justice for many many decades. he is the founder of the national action network and serves as executive vice president and general counsel to the national action network. please welcome michael hardy. [applause] >> next to michael is chad peace, from california. chad is an attorney and the president of independent voter contact media llc. he was one of the leaders in
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the successful effort to pass top too 2 our open primaries in , california. [applause] we thank him for that. he is the national legal strategist for and partisanship.org, and bringing a very important lawsuit in the state of new jersey. he is also the managing editor of ibn. [applause] the final two gentlemen at the end are homeboys. [applause] so to speak. [laughter] >> harry is counsel to independent.org and has conducted landmark litigation
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, protecting the rights of independent voters on the issues of primary reform. in 2002 he served on the new york city charter revision commission, an appointee of mayor michael bloomberg, which considered the issue of nonpartisan elections for the first time. he is also a legal advisor to end partisanship new jersey litigation. he won dismissal of a lawsuit that tried to dismantle south carolina's open primary system. harry kresky. [applause] >> last but not least, john updike is the president of open primaries, founded in 2014 after being incubated for many years. open primaries advocates for open and nonpartisan systems and
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participates in the building of state, local, and national primaries coalition. john was formerly the director of development for independent voting.org. we have been around the world together and continue to do so. john updike. [applause] >> ok, welcome. thank you all for being here. and joining in this conversation. here is where i want to start. why should the american people care about political reform? put in a slightly different way, what is going on? what is the state of play and affairs that makes it the case that the american people should focus on, concern themselves, and become involved in issues of political reform? open it up to the group. >> i don't mind starting. i think they are concerned about
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political reform if you look at voters. can everyone in the back hear me? ok. they are concerned. look at voter registration. a large segment of the population is giving up on the the two parties. they have become disgusted with what they see. they are disconnecting and disassociating. the reason that they should be concerned about architectural reform or structural reform is because as those voices leave the party, we are leading a more distilled ideological needs inside of both of them, that now is increasingly insisting on not compromising with the other side. that is having an effect on us congressionally and our ability to get people who have different points of views to sit
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down and work together for the common good. the purpose of e pluribus unum, we are losing it. >> i think what the mayor says and what we heard this morning underscores the point that grounded in the fact that the way elected officials are behaving is not just personal quirks and characteristics. it is incentives that are flowing from the current rules we have. some people rise above that, but the general pattern of behavior is grounded in structures and rules that they are responding to the incentives within those rules. and acting in a certain way. that if we don't change we will see the same behavior. we are in a time of necessary
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change, when we have had certain regimes and facts about the american people that have been evolving and changing. but we have old rules and structures. they don't mesh together. if we don't change enough and -- if we don't change and update and modernize rules we are just going to get into a cycle of problems, that are bad for the country. >> one of the interesting experiences in the wake of the oregon campaign for top 2 was that open primaries did a set of focus groups. we got shellacked in the election. we got just under 33% of the vote. yet, in these groups, six out of 10 democrats and republicans and seven out of 10 independence said, we want the top two open primary system.
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my first reaction complexion -- perp lection. we just had an election on that and we lost. here we are revealing the depth of support for these fundamental structural reforms. in a series of conversations and thinking about this, part of what occurred to me was that people care deeply about reforms. what they want to make sure is in some ways, the "we." they want to see a fighting, real diverse coalition of people that are committed to making it happen. i think our challenge is not promoting political reform. i think our challenge is promoting ourselves, promoting the movement. showing the american people that they can trust, they can trust that we can move forward on that. because they want it. [applause] >> if i can explain where i'm
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coming from, a successful effort in california, we changed with a fundamentally different approach. what people did not understand in california we started more than a year before the election doing nothing other than voter education. it is not about us. it's about the way we elect our representatives. if you put it in a historical context, we had direct primaries to get the selection process out of the back room. where we have gotten today, we have gotten to a process where we had 10% political participation across the country. we have 50% of people don't feel represented by either party. but the first stage of our process is one conducted not for the purpose of electing representatives for all of us. the stated purpose in the law is to elect somebody who best represents those political parties. you don't have to run a poll. you don't have to talk to people. just walk into a restaurant. everybody recognizes it.
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the parties are not serving us. the fundamental thing we have to do is not a promotion of ourselves. i am sorry to respectfully disagree. it is to educate the people around us. this is not about independent voters. it is about all of us, and having a system that represents every individual voter. that is not members of the democrat party not members of the republican party not independents. it's everybody. the right to vote derives from citizenship, not from joining a political party. it is that principle that we should be promoting. [applause] >> i would say that the american people have to care about political reform. we are being locked out, left out, killed, denied, and given nothing. we have a generation of people that are essentially going to be worse off than the generation before them, in so many ways.
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if you look at that -- in new york city, for instance, there was a report recently that showed new york has one of the most segregated public education systems in the country. many urban areas are more segregated today than they might have been right after brown versus board of education. you look at jobs, the unemployment rate. people were talking about it earlier today, the wealth gap. all of that on some level becomes a function of government. when government is defined as two parties, then you have to begin to look at the structural issue there and say, what is happening, and how come people are not allowed to participate? i think we have to figure out, there is a way for you to participate, and we are going to show you how. [applause] >> i found the panel discussion
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this morning both very helpful and very painful, because there is not just a need for cultural change, but really since the 1960's, there has been a huge cultural change in this country. but the political system is still operating as if none of that happened. we elect the first black president with a new coalition and lo and behold for the next , eight years it is politics as usual. americans are unhappy. americans want things. our political system simply doesn't allow changes that are actually happening on the ground, among the american people, to manifest themselves in government and in politics. something has got to give. [applause] >> let me see if i can tie together some of what was said
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here in this first go around and see if we can push in a little harder on this. paul says, one of the things driving the country towards political reform is the mass exodus of americans from the two parties, creating this huge new group of independents. that is leaving the parties in a situation where they are more controlled by narrow interest, by organized interests. given the power the parties have, that is setting up a dangerous situation. chad, you are talking about the importance of an overarching political principle, tied to the history of this country. including all of the difficulties we have had in fully realizing it, but namely that every american should have the right to participate in a political process without being required to join a political
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organization, and that is the premise we operate from. michael, you talked about what is actually happening to people in this country as a result of a decaying and corrupt political system, that we need to reform the system because of those things that are going on. so, i hear these things. and i embrace all of them. this raises the question for me, are we tying these things together enough? do we have to tie them together, from a organizing point of view, from a political point of view from a coalition-building point of view? how do we connect these things? does connecting them make the movement more powerful? i would be interested in hearing your thoughts. >> i think it does, jackie. if i may, i think two, maybe three, no, i guess four years
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ago, you and dr. newman did one of your talk sessions at this conference. the point dr. newman made during that discussion, you know, out of all the things we could organize around, democracy and in a way, politics and reform, is one of the most difficult. there are so many sexy issues out there to organize around. but politics is a difficult one. therefore, it takes a certain amount of courage, if you will to do that, to go into that. because it's not easy. it's not sexy. so i think, when you think about that, then connected to the tradition -- at least of progress in this country -- i come out of a movement that is deeply engaged in social justice.
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we believe in the traditions of dr. king, so we just came out of the celebration of 50 years of selma. of course, selma -- i think the gentleman, i forget which state -- he quoted johnson's speech when he decided they would move in the congress. congress, by the way, did not want to pass a voting rights act, to vote to pass it by saying that our cause is just, the time is now, we shall overcome. i think when people saw selma and saw the organizing that went into bringing that issue to the forefront of the stage of america, then people felt yes, this is a reform we need. and they felt they could be a part of it. we got the reforms. as difficult as it may be, we have to have the courage to do the things that may be necessary
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to make this kind of reform sexy to the american people. [applause] >> that story was a perfect segue into why we cannot disconnect all this. it was only a year before the civil rights act that the supreme court said you cannot preclude someone from voting in the democratic primary on the basis of race. it was one year before the civil rights act. what the court recognized there, was that the only meaningful avenue of participation was to the democratic party at that time. so the effect on governance, what it does and is doing in california right now is the top two is forcing accountability across a broader spectrum of people. we have just as many democrats and republicans in the california legislature today because the change was not about party. it was about who they are accountable to. when you start the first phase of the project, now they are accountable to
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african-americans, and now in 2014 they are accountable to everybody. you get legislators that are acting in the best interest. of each other. i don't think you can disconnect the legal apparatus from the legislative apparatus, to the real-world facts on the ground. today, i think we have a serious situation. frankly, it's not that the representatives don't want to listen to us. it's because they cannot. the moment they act in everybody's best interest, they get primaried. >> one of the interesting things that is helping to tie all this together, the actions of the parties themselves. for the past 20 years, the parties have engaged in an assault on states that have open primaries, to convince the court that they are private associations and should have the right to prevent people who have not signed on the dotted line and joined them to participate in primary elections.
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i lawsuit says if they are private associations, why is the state funding and paying for their primaries? second, a fascinating case argued in the supreme court, out of arizona. all good things and bad things come out of arizona. [laughter] >> arizona's state legislator -- state legislature sued a redistricting commission that had been established by a referendum to remedy the horrendous gerrymandering that takes place in arizona and elsewhere. state legislator sued the commission. the supreme court agreed to hear the case and the state legislature took the position that because the constitution said only the legislature can decide matters pertaining to congressional elections, not the people. what ties this together, hopefully, people will begin to
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see that this is a matter of sovereignty. if people do not govern, if that is not the source of power, if the legislature can say, issues that go directly to the people can be nullified by the courts or the legislature, then the very fundamentals of democracy are called into question, and that is what can tie all this together. [applause] >> if i can add onto that, the importance of that discussion is at the core. if you look at the case law, how it developed in democratic party v. jones, the state of california tried to open up a partisan-based system, and the court in that case said that the state cannot infringe on the right of a private political party and force them to accept independent voters into their primary. what is unique about the case harry and i are working on in
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new jersey is that the state of new jersey, instead of saying, taking the side of the voters, has literally put itself in the position of the parties and said, we are going to reject this party based on the argument that the political parties have exclusive rights to the election process. it is a very interesting development, and we are going to get decisions on each side of the aisle across the country. that is an important point. they really replace themselves from the will of the voters. >> there is a history of people being mobilized around these issues. often tied to new developments with candidates and politics. in 1912, teddy roosevelt who had been a republican president, ran as a third-party candidate, bull moose party. actually came in second and it really shook up politics and a lot of ways. brought a lot of issues associated with the progressive
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era and it was not an accident that we changed the constitution a few years ahead. direct election of senators. that is a process issue. we had not been able to elect senators before. women's suffrage. the 1860's was a tumultuous time, but also the rise of a new party, with abraham lincoln. out of that, we have process issues including the 14th, 13th, 15th amendment, african-american suffrage. many of the constitutional amendments have been about suffrage. process issues can rise to that level. it also is often associated with candidates and people, independents, third parties. our founding cochair was john anderson, who ran for president in 1980 and was a representative of a republican party that left him and change direction with ronald reagan.
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he had an important place in the discussion, and i think we need people like them on the ballot. a conversation we need to have when we get to what the reform needs to be to achieve the ideals we want, is that we have to make the general election in november representative and matter, and we need to make our representative assemblies representative and matter. that means rescuing the general election, along with the primary election. [applause] >> one thing i think about about your question of connections, i think about george washington. as he is leaning -- as he's leaving the office warning the , country, don't let there the official connectors. stay connected yourself. don't let there be parties, and about four and a half hours
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after his speech made their way around the country the parties were embedded and we had a partisan election in 1800. part of what i think about is the importance of recognizing how our very understanding of connecting has been so shaped by the parties. it has been so overdetermined by how the democrats connect people, and how the republicans connect people. and they do it in this very sophisticated, slick way that plays off mutual benefits but also antagonism. it is very pernicious. so part of what i'm personally very excited about, this movement, this conference, is the opportunity to connect in ways that do not mean we have to fit together perfectly, or smooth over things or end any disagreement. i love connecting in ways that do not resolve our
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disagreements, but use them creatively. it is so important, and that is what this movement is doing. [applause] >> early on chad and john had a slight disagreement. i would say that i think they are both right. here's why i think they are both right. chad is talking about, really, all politics is local. people make a decision because of how politics affects them personally. knowing that you are empowered or not being empowered under a current system has a big effect on how people vote. but make no mistake, people giving money from the outside or being involved from the outside can have an effect as well. in our case in arizona, the koch brothers spent $2 million at the end of our election. we were up about 70%, and that money had a detrimental impact on our ability to be successful, because they raised doubt, and the doubt was just enough.
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afterwards, we found the public still supported the measure by and large, but the doubt caused them to vote against it. what john was talking about, the connection about the national party, the national group, the parties really came about because of national politics national political leaders trying to create grassroots organizations. as a modern technique, a modern device at the time to try to expand their influence. if we are going to be successful as a group, if we are going to be successful moving this effort forward, we definitely have to have a national base that talks about why it's important from a national standpoint that gets other players engaged in a national level, to take part and help finance it. and oftentimes, to also described to the public why that's happening. why is it that people like us are engaged in a campaign in oregon, or a campaign in illinois?
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the only answer is because what unifies us is what is happening in our congress today. what is happening in our national political level. oftentimes the efforts that move these open primary systems forward are focus on the legislative process. we need to focus them on the dysfunction happening nationally, and why they should matter to them from an economic standpoint, a job standpoint as well as from a national defense standpoint. >> i would just add, again circling back to the mayor's point. i also think at the end of the day, you ask, can we make reform popular with the american people? i think people in general become excited about things they can really, truly participate in.
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i think part of the connecting that has to go on is the connecting that has always gone, on in some respects. i mean, you have groups and organizations that are doing the legislative work around voting or doing the creative work around building new coalitions. and i think we have to also bring in sort of the social movement aspect to it, that people are gathering for a reason. to confront the institution that is stopping them from being able to progress and prosper. and i think that if you can imagine what it would mean somehow, if you really thought about voting, voting really has to be a social justice right. it has to be something that you are so passionate about, and the people are so passionate about that the idea that they cannot
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participate in a meaningful way is something that they are going to go hit the barricades on, metaphorically. practically, how do you bring organizations together to make that kind of social justice movement happen which would make everything happening in the courts, in the discovery rooms in the concept rooms, all come together to bring the kind of opportunity for change that the american people need. [applause] >> let me ask the question, to build off of what you are saying and also to refer to a comment that rob made at the beginning when we talked about the importance of modernizing the electoral system. i want to ask all of you a question about, this is maybe a question about modernizing, not
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just political machinery or the design of elections, but maybe this has to do with modernizing or, post modernizing for some people, concepts. that are at the core of what we are doing. i'm thinking about the issue of choice. michael, when you talk about voting being a social justice concern. it seems to me that part of what you are raising and that is not just having the right to vote and being able to exercise that vote, but having meaningful choices along the way. now, the question of choice in my opinion gets reduced to a set of low-level -- we need to have
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more candidates on the ballot, or whatever. not to make an argument against having a bunch of candidates that is actually one of the strength of the top two primary system. it lets the voters choose the two finalists. maybe this is a philosophical question, more than anything else. what is choice? how do we think about that? how do we think about that politically? how do we think about that legally? how do we think about that inspirationally? what is it, what is it now? >> we had a national election in the midst of times when we have a lot of problems on the table. about 36% of eligible voters felt their vote was worth casting and went out and did it. 64% did not. of course, a lot of people were not registered in the first place. that's another problem. but that was the lowest turnout in a midterm election since 1942. in the primary elections, open
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primaries and close primaries alike, we have the lowest turnout ever in more than half of our states. the sense of choice being that people feel there is a meaningful reason to participate, that the choice they make matters to their lives. it's not just a matter of having a mix of candidates, though that is essential to what we need as part of the mechanism of our reform. it also means they have to believe that it matters. choice has to have meaning for impact, and quite literally it has to be more than one. i have been kind of alluding to mechanisms without saying things, but i will use as an example of what i think is a meaningful choice. if the state of maine, i knows and people from maine here, next year we will vote on whether to have ranked first voting in the
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-- ranked choice voting in the november election. they had a series of elections for governor where they have choices, more than two people running. the last 11 races for governor only two were won with more than half the votes. there has been an up with a -- there has been enough of a strong third-party movement there, that with different rules they would have had more winners, but of course angus king won as governor and later as senator. that puts stress on a system with they can only vote for one, so a movement has come up for ranked choice voting. if my first choice finishes last, my ballot goes to my second choice. if my first choice is a weak candidate, my ballot is to go to the second choice. so that candidates have more incentive to talk to more people. they not only need your first choice, but they need your second choice. with that statutory change, we have expanded the opportunities for voters to consider different choices, and for the candidates
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, create a whole new incentive where they have to treat everyone as a swing voter, because everyone can have a first and second choice. this shows how mechanisms can connect to meaning and choice. [applause] >> i will try to address what i see as a philosophical kind of choice question. in my mind at least, the problem with a choice -- and americans have lots of choices. you go to the supermarket and have 37 different kinds of cereal. the problem with choice is as we have been led to understand it, it relates to the american people as consumers. the political process does that. with the consultants, the ads, the primaries. but americans rarely have the opportunity, and have been disorganized from the choice or the creative activity of what
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kind of a political process we want, what kind of a society do we want, what does our democracy need to be in 2015, what happened to the promise of the obama election? so maybe we have to revisit the issue of choice, and transform choice or change choice into the activity of people working to create something new together. [applause] >> in light of mr. johnson's observation, maybe i stepped over a crack that was not quite there. what i meant, was that we have to resist the danger of becoming another choice, another partisan affiliation. that this is somehow
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independents versus democrats versus republicans. in terms of choice, why i say it is grounded in education is that we need to understand there is a difference between this republican, that republican. there is a difference between your party affiliation, and the choice should be whether the voter or the person representing the voter is looking at individuals for what they represent, not just a party affiliation. >> i find it so interesting. we don't represent just independents. we represent the majority of people having a choice. you have 435 districts in congress today. 400 of them arguably are not competitive, meaning the decision is made in 400 of 435 in the primary, where the majority of voters have no choice whatsoever when you get to the general election. this is about giving more voters a choice in the system. today, it has become effectively a tyrannical system. it is a system where a small group of interests can go and
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control whoever the majority party is. and by controlling the majority party, they alleviate the choice the rest of us have in a general election. [applause] >> i think in that respect that you want people to i guess learn that they have some choices. so it makes me think of harriet tubman. i mean, harriet tubman said, "i could have freed 1000 more slaves, had they known that they were slaves." you could say the same thing about all these voters, locked out in different ways, refusing to join any party because they feel like it is not a choice. we have to somehow convert that. to say, you know what, there's an underground railroad that can take you to the homeland. [applause] and we have got to build that, and make it happen. [applause] >> all right.
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something else i wanted to ask you about. this comes off of a comment joan made on the panel this morning where she referenced very briefly, she was referencing some dialogs she and i have been having over the last year about what she termed "panic" in the progressive movement. she was saying, and she referenced this earlier, a concern of hers is that progressive minded people are panicked. that causes people to act in defensive kinds of ways. one of the issues that we had found over the years is that
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some of the strongest opposition to democracy reform, particularly with respect to the primary system itself, comes from progressives. people who are at least historically, politically associated with being pro-democracy. and in the forefront of opening up political justice. at least in the most recent period, they have been against some of these kinds of initiatives. that bring more voters in. i would be interested to know what each of you think about maybe some of your experiences have been, how you might account for that. also, ask that in part, as a progressive myself, i'm concerned about this position within the progressive movement. i would like to find ways to impact on that.
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and to bring them along. in this democracy movement. i was interested to hear how you see that and how you feel about that. >> if the goal of open primaries is to bring people together, in arizona, we had opposition from the democratic party and republican party. [laughter] the one area they could agree on. here is what is interesting. in arizona we didn't have a single roll off. they're all republican. the legislature is overwhelmingly republican. it is a tough race for them. but, you'll find the interest groups would prefer to have a magnified voice. i don't see interest troops as necessarily evil.
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i think all of our interest groups, including mine, come in conflict with common interests. it is a natural thing that happens. their concern is losing control in the power structures that they understand. it is a natural instinct. they have been in those parties for a long time. they have built up loyalties and friendships within those parties. they are so based in it, that to get them to step outside of it is difficult. the only success i have found, if you go and talk to a hispanic elected official, who wins in a hispanic district, because the district is gerrymandered, to convince that person to go to an open primary is very difficult. but if you go to the people who elect him and say, are you winning anything? how are you doing on education or health care? how are you doing on poverty reforms? we have bills that are anti-hispanic, anti-black, anti-gay. what are you winning? the answer becomes a very
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different answer. the progressives, the people when they start looking in our state at what they are losing because of close to system, it is an easy change. but not for the groups that represent them. their power comes to them from the power of -- that is in place in the parties today. [applause] >> one of the attitudes that i've come across frequently when engaging with other progressives and democrats is a philosophy that has been expounded over the last couple of years within the democratic party progressive circles. mainly the demographics are mainly in our favor. the country is becoming more
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people of color, younger, more immigrants, more latinos. we simply have to wait here, and they will come to us. speaking as a progressive, i think that is such a problematic politic. that plays right into the hands of the far right wing. it leaves people paralyzed, in a position where they have to advocate against structural reforms and against changing the system. the underlying message is if we just wait for the country to become 2% more latinos, then we will start winning elections, is keep the system to same. keep it rigged because it will work in our favor in a couple more elections that is such a bad politic for progressives. to say that they know it is
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rigged and we want to keep it that way because eventually it will help us. that drives me crazy. we have to challenge it. [applause] >> we don't realize that the right wing, left wing, up wing don wing, is part of the aim that will never be successful. if we view this as a movement for progressives or the right, i have very close ties to a lot of adamant libertarians. what is my message? that the ultimate right to vote derives from the individual. you should look at candidates as the individual. it is a democrat message libertarian message, republican. i think we shouldn't look at it as this is somebody's movement to get there. this is about all of us and how do we have a better way for us to come together and form a government that resolves the
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natural differences within all of us. [applause] >> in terms of the panic issue i think that -- i don't care what you say, a lot of people -- you can criticize barack obama. but there are millions of people, in particular african-americans, who felt like their world changed when barack obama was elected. he's not going to have another opportunity to run again. this nation has been different as a result of barack's election. now the question is, as we approach 2016, how do you avoid not being completely marginalized? because at the end of the day, and you guys who are much more
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expert in this part of it than i am at the end of the day, we would not have had barack obama but for the open primaries that existed, had a closed primary system he never would have won the election in 2008. so if that with any progress and i firmly believed it was -- i certainly think it created a new foundation for where we can go as a nation in terms of forming a more perfect union -- i think we really have to think about how we make these things work. we will have some sort of choice in 2016. americans will be electing a new president. i think we have to make sure that all of the voices that are eligible that can participate, have the most possibility of
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having a voice. that means having a voice in the choices that end up as the choice for the american people. >> i want to pick up on that choices of the choice be a key point. some of the proposals have moved quickly without necessarily bringing together people beforehand to say, are we actually putting the reform on the ballot that can bring us all together. paul, if you are, moving forward in arizona, worried about people opposing you, now is the time to bring them together. now is the time to say, are there ways we can make this proposal bring you in? specifically on the top two primary, there are different ways of doing it. before one takes one approach, look at a way that might bring as many people as possible. there are different approaches. one example is louisiana. their model has put everyone on the ballots in november.
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everyone gets to the november ballot whoever wins, you have . whoever wins, you have the majority runoff afterwards. it is one that put everyone on the november ballot, so it doesn't feel like it takes something away. those kinds of conversations the right time to have them is when you are making a proposal. you never get everyone, but you might get more people by bringing people in early. [applause] >> harry? >> i think a challenge to the left in this country is to be less concerned about outcomes and more concerned about democracy. i think a big problem for the left, and i think americans understand this, the left does not trust the american people.
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they are afraid that without guidance or control of the party, that things that the left considers important, like safety net, despite the fact that the safety net doesn't keep people very safe -- might be taken away. but i think the obsession with outcomes keeps us on the defensive. keeps us locked down and doesn't give the american people the opportunity to express their decency, to express their passions and concerns for fairness and everybody. on the beaches at normandy, you didn't know whether the guy standing next to you is democrat or republican. it did not matter. we have to really give up wanting to control outcomes and invite the american people as a whole into the process of deciding what kind of a country they want.
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[applause] >> one of the dangers, from our experience, is once you are successful with an initiative after work just started, you just created a new legal situation for yourself. there are people in this room was spent a lot of independent money defending the system which we believe is an enormous process of getting them to think of alex's in terms of people and not parties. one of the dangers in bringing a lot of people to the room will have an idea of how to construct something is you construct something that can be challenged politically, because somebody like the koch brothers can challenge a small part of it. they will find the weakest part. after it is past you can go to , the courtroom and they will challenge just a small part and find the weakest link. part of it is understanding from
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the front that you have to be disciplined, to not look for the best possible answer. you have to look at the possible answer you can sell to the people, that you can resist opposition from somebody like the koch brothers. or whoever it is opposing it. then, that is narrow enough that you can defend it in the courtroom. luckily we defended top 2 against three different lawsuits. one is still ongoing. there is a long process before we get efforts passed in other states that are bulletproof from all the different opposition that is going to come. >> i think that is spot on. the very first issue we have to look at is legal issues. directed had the u.s. and state constitutional muster. we had seven lawsuits on our record. the second thing is, you need to poll. simpler is better. the last time we had libertarians opposed to us, what
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is interesting is our group and their group genuinely disliked the existing system. we both believed it should be nonpartisan. but we got into the weeds on the exact detail of how it works. i'm not sure how to completely pull out of that, but i do know that when you start dividing up your majority, you are no longer a majority. [applause] jacqueline salit: let's open it up to the floor. if we can have lights and microphones in the front. and i invite you to offer comment or question to the panelists. we'll start over here. >> hello. i'm from florida.
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i'm running for u.s. senate in 2016. [applause] i actually came here today because i'm going to run as an independent. i came because we need a support system behind us, strong enough to help us. some of us do strategize. i like a lot of the people -- i believe in ordinary people. that is what this country was built on. that is the reality of it. people are hungry out here. they want layman terms, they are open to ideas, but i think the way we present it to them makes a difference. they have to feel a part of who we are. i connected with the libertarian party also, because in florida for charlie crist to come out of the republican side to the independent side and get 28% of the votes in a swing state.
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i'm asking you all, i know i need your support. this is about a movement. i would like to know, where else can we go as candidates and independents. democrats and republicans don't they blackball us in the media completely. any suggestions as to what we can do it anybody who want to help me, please give me your card. [applause] >> just a brief word on that, it is great that you are running in and great that you are raising the issues that you are raising. here is a 15 second training. when you run for office, you have to make clear that you're running for office as an independent to change the way the system works. you are not putting yourself forward as the alternative to the democrat and republican, but
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you are running to represent the people in the people's desire to change the system. >> yes, and it is the greatest fight. i was on the ballot in 2014. they come with a lot of money, they pay everybody off. this is an emotional thing. 2016 is going to be nasty across the board. that is why i am saying that we need to prepare because my thing is, we have to get back to americans. if there is a candidate over here that is going to do what i think they are going to do, i will vote for them. i don't vote for parties, i vote for people. that's what i say all the time, it is about the people. i don't hear anybody talking about the women, abuse, the children. i hear poverty, but all those are core issues.
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those are issues we have to deal with if we will motivate the people to see what having a choice is about. i am a fourth-generation black american. my grandmother died at 122 years old in this country. she was a slave. it is very important to me, when i talk to people in florida, around the country, i hear people are hurting out here. you guys can make a difference but you have to strategize and feed us the information that we need to take to the people. [applause] >> my name is jim and i am proud to be from philly. i have a question from chad. if i heard you correctly, you said that the top two won't necessarily change who gets elected but it will change the way they behave because they will be accountable to all the people. i know it is early, but have you really noticed a significant
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change, or do they then go back and caucus with their parties and vote along party lines anyway? >> i would say it is not only significant but beyond our wildest expectations. you can spend a day in the capital and talk to any legislator and it has fundamentally changed. they actually go out and have a drink together now. they are talking to each other. nonalcoholic drink. but yes, it is fundamentally changed. i have met with several members and it is not a question in their minds. the whole atmosphere in the capital has changed, it has gone back to a real government structure. the facts on the ground in california are pretty self-evident, that they are actually dealing with problems. i think it has changed. [applause] >> this has been a great discussion. i admire each of you so much , you all are doing a great job. i could probably talk about this all night.
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this is my passion, this topic. i listen to so many great things being said and i am listening to you and you are all saying the same thing and yet you are somewhat trying to do something different. you are talking about how we to need to bring people together and how we need to be not about outcomes and how this needs to be a movement that starts from the people. a lot of times reform comes about, but it is actually the establishment that is doing it. like the tea party, for example, was actually a hijack of the establishment just trying to have a new manipulation of people. we watch this happen throughout everywhere. i think that it is very important that as we try to create this nonpartisan primary type of reform, that we really do spend that time amongst the people and we really help them understand what the issues are and help them create what type
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of nonpartisan reform we're going to have. i am deeply concerned about just pushing the top two. i understand that it is a lot easier, it is simple, it is easier to explain. i understand that it accomplishes the basic purpose but i don't think it will bring the people along because nobody trusts each other in this country. the only way they will feel like we are about them and are trying to just push our agenda, we have to make them feel that we truly want to give them a voice. we truly want everything all person in this country to have their voice heard. we don't care about the outcome we are for the people. i think things that robert richie is trying to do, even though it might be tricky, i think we really need to have a serious discussion about things such as ranked choice voting because i think those things will really help people understand, hey, my vote matters
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, if i go vote, i can really indicate what my first choice is, and what my second choice is, and all these different candidates that are usually just fringe candidates can suddenly make a difference in the election. these kind of things can really help people feel like this is their movement. even if we ultimately end up doing top two, i think it is really not the best system even if it is better than we have. [applause] >> chad will not agree with me on this, but i think we are in a fight with two major to radical parties. i think we welcome any state at any time, any reform that goes against the powerful parties whether it is top two, top three, ranked choice voting, defunding primaries. every piece that you can take out of them would move the
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american people forward. [applause] >> i just want to say thank you for those remarks. just because it hasn't been said, it's like listing reforms it should be said. i just want people in this room to know, when we were talking about congressional elections it is by statute. we have winner take all district elections, that is a statutory decision. we can go to proportional representation systems that can be candidate base, a nonpartisan setting. we, by statute, congress could pass a statute to put everyone into a competitive election with a good chance to have an elected
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candidate, and not just cracked the red and blue in the wall. i think having those conversations about what we want to do is terrific. we are doing it right now. [applause] >> hi, my name is dan. i am the cofounder of the independent voter project in california. also, co-author of the talk to primaries in california. [applause] first, i would like to make a comment about what we have seen as a result of the open primaries in california. i worked in sacramento. i'm around the legislator every day. i have been associated with the legislative process in california for 40 years. i began as a district representative for and assimilate men in 1934. the thing that has changed the most in california is the behavior of legislators. it doesn't make any difference
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what parties they were elected to represent. the first time that the top to open primary was held in california in 2012, the result was a super majority of democrats in both house. you are think, based on that that would have been a more liberal, antibusiness, type of legislator. in the first session, 27 of 28 job killer bills were defeated in the legislator. willie brown, a well-known african-american former speaker of the house, called the california legislature the most moderate legislature he has ever seen. i was asked the question last night, a couple of gentleman from florida asked me, why did you win in california? i gave a rather complicated answer but i could have said that we were lucky.
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the fact of the matter is that we were lucky. when we started the process of developing an open primary initiative in california, we started in 2006 and we were not on the ballot until 2010. early on in the process, we did a series of focus groups, and the first fortunate thing happen for us. we did these extensive focus groups, and we were not quite sure when we looked at the results what they meant. what we did was we took the transcripts and the tapes from the focus groups and gave one set to a republican pollster and said, look at these and give us an analysis. we took another set and gave them to a democratic pollster and asked him for an analysis. what we got back was two completely politically correct
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analysis from the pollsters. the democrat gave standard democratic answers, the republican gave standard republican answers. what i say when i say we were fortunate and lucky, what that did for us -- we looked at each other and said we have to give , up all of the political instincts that we have developed in the last 40 years as campaign political consultants. we no longer worked with political consultants on the campaign. as we move forward, we took a different perspective. we stopped fighting political parties and concentrated solely on the rights of voters. and when you lose, i think one of the reasons that you lose is you get caught up in this process of being against the political parties. when you do that, you start playing and fighting the battle on their terms on their turf.
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if you do that you will lose. my advice, having gone through this in california, my advice is, the focus has to be on the individual voter. elections are not about political parties. elections are not about candidates. elections are about the rights of individual voters to choose the people they want to represent them. we have allowed in this country, the political parties to completely take the process away from voters. not only do they control who gets on the ballot, but take a look at the presidential election next year. >> can i just ask you to wrap it up? >> the political parties across the country determine what days the political primaries are held in each state. that ought to tell you everything you need to know about where we need to go. thanks. [applause] >> thank you to all the panel,
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thank you to jackie. i was just thinking about the importance of the question you asked about choice. i think it is a very profound question. from my point of view, one of the issues -- dr. newman used to say, those who make the rules, rule. we are involving the american people in the process of changing the process, having the ability to determine how we vote, how we elect people, certainly, it is beyond the simple act of voting. obviously it hasn't happened our movement is trying to get that under way in the think we are doing that. i think we are doing a good job. i just wanted to add that i agree with not putting things in terms of the two parties. i think this issue of choice is also a cultural issue, a social issue, how we come together, how
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we have conversations and build together. one of the things that is important is that we not frame our discussions so much rent around issues -- it is hard to do that -- but around people's lives and how they live and what is happening to our people in our country. we talk about the issue of gun controlcontrol and needing to talk about the young people and not dealing with how the party frames issues, because the way they frame issues has to do with how they try to win elections. there are a lot of innovative programs i have a great honor of working with and approaches in education, and i think it is important to get those approaches out. the two parties will not allow for that. we, the people, have to participate in those discussions and bring forth innovative ideas as well as including everybody
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in those conversations, which i think is important. [applause] >> my name is pam lewis. i was thinking about a lot of things in the panels. can a social crisis solved democracy? can we make political reform with the american people? i was thinking about how when you ask somebody where they are and they tell you they are lost, or they say they don't know where they are, or that they have lost their mind, and i think americans are lost. i think about the communities i grew up in as a young woman. i grew up in st. louis and kansas. in st. louis, i grew up in an all black community, and in kansas, and all white community.
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what those communities had in common is that we believed in america. when i go back to those communities now, no one believes that. i think we are lost. we have lost our kilter. i was thinking about that and about american centrism. if we can opportune eiza on that and use the social crisis to try to make people realize what democracy is. organize around america being great again and building democracy and organizing all americans around that, because middle-class affluencet people are lost too. i think we can make it sexy.
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i think we are. i'm excited about that possibility. i wanted to share those thoughts. i want to thank you. [applause] >> sir? >> my name is matthew gonzales. my question is what do independents have in mind about education reform? many students, and myself, feel oppressed. that's something i had in mind. >> thank you. can you speak to that, on the panel? >> i think the definition of independent is independent thought. for somebody to speak on behalf of other movement that is supposed to represent as all individually as independent, we can't have ideas on reform that
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binds the movement. if they are going to have a movement about voting rights, it has to be about one thing. the right of the individual to vote and be treated equally in the process. that will lead to representatives to decide issues like education. >> the issue of education is -- i know best from new york city -- it has become terrible. it has become one of the most partisan political footballs. in which the teachers union can play a dominant role. the city council is a vast majority democrat whom we defeated in the primary. we've got to do something about that. [applause]
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>> i cannot speak for what is going on throughout the country, but overwhelmingly the public in arizona thinks you should spend more on education and it should be reformed. we have one party that thinks you shouldn't spend any extra money. in fact, they want to spend less money, and another party that doesn't want reform, so the public cannot get what they want. they cannot get a proposal that allows them to have both. >> i want to echo what chad said. i think part of what we are talking about is at the end of the day, education is one of those things that government ends up controlling. government becomes defined by the people elected to those positions. how do we broaden that so you get people in those positions who really care about the things that are happening in education and the achievement gaps and the
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fight over charter or public. you have to have people who and really care about the students and want to do the reforms necessary, but you have to get the institution out of your way. you need the people there who can do that. [applause] >> my name is betty eastland. there are about 43 million people in this country considered disabled. that are on disability, almost half are due to mental illnesses. but we don't have a voice in any party anywhere. we have no one who represents us. i'm not asking for representation. i'm asking when are we going to be brought to the table to represent ourselves. where is our voice?
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[applause] i don't think people are capable of representing us. i heard a phrase called behavioral health. my behavior is not a problem. [applause] i think we need to start thinking about this as a global problem, a health problem. and we need to really talk about it and listen to people dealing with these illnesses, who are dealing with the realities of a stigma that leave us jobless that leave us out of the educational system, that leave us having our children taken away at much higher rates than other people. i will have my voice heard wherever it will be heard. thank you. [applause] >> just to offer a comment on
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that i think what you are raising about a set of women's issues that you are not concerned about bringing out in your campaign, these are not issues. these are what human life is about. we have a political system that has lost the capacity to respond to humanity in human ways. [applause] what we are trying to do, in bringing about reform, is create a system that can do that. that is what the movement stands for. that is what the fundamental principles are. i appreciate your statement. thank you. >> that was so eloquent. i don't want to add the mechanism on top of it, but i will. which is, when only one person
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represents you, you get winner take all where dangerous perspectives or minority opinions or those in the minority have a hard time getting representation and millions of people can lose out from that. if you crack that open, so more people are representing you and allow 20% to represent each group of five, then you crack that wall. we have to have that conversation. thank you for those remarks. >> i am here from atlanta , georgia today. i am active in the georgia independent voters. many of us will go back home where a few of us collaborate on the initiative for political reform. what is one action item you suggest we do at home in grassroots organizing? what is your call to action for those of us in the audience? [applause] >> anyone want to speak to that?
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>> i will say quickly every state has their own rules and structures that can be examined. there almost needs to be a toolkit to examine them. maybe that's something we should work on. georgia does have runoff elections in november so that an independent can run strong and no one will call them a spoiler. if they are put in the spoiler role there is a runoff. think about running. look at your primary system. we need to come up with the toolkit to make it easier to do. >> i also think you don't need to know in the sense of go knock on 10 doors and ask that question to 10 people and go to a local meeting and engage. i really think in some ways the
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environment in which that question is going to be answered is much bigger than rob and i and all of us. it has got to be to engage local dialogue, and you can lead that. >> i think what i would say is you have to start by speaking up. you have to start by being engaged, by talking about the things you care about. what you find, as you do that, is you will find other like minded people. as you find other like minded people, you will start to find like-minded groups. at the end of the day it's going to have to be a compromise on a local basis. the journey of a thousand steps begins with one. the one great thing i believe exists in this country is our ability to create change. it's much more likely in a state where you have the initiative and referendum process i think 30 states do.
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with that process you have the , ability for the people's voice to rise above the legislative and political interest voice. again it starts with organizing, , getting involved, talking with other people, or social media. >> maybe one other suggestion since we are all giving suggestions. let's start a chapter for the book club in georgia and have you be the chief organizer. [applause] >> thank you. good evening. i'm ashley bruno. i agree that clean air, clean water, and clean food are basic fundamental important things. let's just say recently my last
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two recent facebook posts say "partnerships for independent power." it says to sign a unity letter to stop the keystone pipeline. i looked at them juxtaposing themselves, and then i saw a bridge. on the issue of how can we make independent power a hot topic, it's what is our stance on independence from oil, gas nuclear, and how can we merge these issues? on the forefront of wanting to conserve our resources, we are knocking on doors. we are getting signatures from people where we are getting a thousand people in front of the
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governor's mansion to shout and say we are angry. let's get 300,000 people in new york city to show them we have a voice and are angry, get we have to lobby with these people who don't care. we have to get to the root of the problem. if we can elect people who care, we don't have to spend so much time chasing them around, seven sabotaging their political and social arena until they say, we care. a lot of times, they don't. i think that is a step in the right direction. if we can reform how we actually elect our leaders, then we can actually work with people who care about the issues. i am thinking independent power for independent power. [laughter] [applause]
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>> my name is freddie. i am from oregon. i go to the university of oregon. i worked with the independent voters of oregon on the proposition 90 campaign. the doctor said something i was thinking about. she said something about getting rid of the myth that people can make a difference just by voting. i would like to build on top of that by saying if people think , they can make a difference simply by showing up twice the year and checking a box, it's never going to happen. all of the major reforms have passed because the people have gotten together and fought for it. [applause]
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the gentleman, the second from the end, spoke about the difference between president obama and candidate obama. i personally believe that candidate obama was the right guy at the right time. the difference between the people shows that no matter who you put in place they are to some degree corruptible by the system in place. [applause] the problem with candidate obama and president obama, and so many other dichotomies like that is the people that got him there, once they got him there, they said, we did it. it will be ok. we did not stick around. we did not hold his feet to the fire. the squeaky wheel got the grease.
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it happens to be the tea party. they were louder than us. that has affected the obama administration. my fear is a lot of what we have been talking about today is setting things up so people can show up two times a year, check a box, and hope it works. if these types of reforms pass it's going to be because of this, because of people showing up getting together and making , it happen, but if we pass reform and put the right people in place and don't stay on top of them, they will get corrupted by the system. there is no reform we can pass that can create a hands-free democracy. that is what i would like to staay. we need to stay involved.
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[applause] >> i would simply say that i think there is a difference between being constrained and being corrupted. i think what it shows is nothing happens in a vacuum. i think it was a step forward having elected obama and they elected him into a constraining process. whatever changes could occur had to occur in that structure. i think what people are trying to do with this movement is to ensure the process doesn't remain a vacuum, and you can open that up and change it throughout.
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>> i think it is so important. i'm 70, so i forgot the exact words. i will paraphrase. it won't be so eloquent. the activity of the american people self organizing to take the democracy back is transformative in and of itself. we cannot go to sleep after that, but that might wake us up. [applause] >> i think i want to move on. i'm going to run this discussion until 4:30 so the folks at the mic are the speakers. we are going to close off after you. >> my name is sarah, and i am from kentucky. i want to say first i caution alienating the tea party, the
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republican party, or the democrat party. as a republican, i am just as disenfranchised as you are living in a county where only democrats run. they are decided in the primary. i don't have a voice either. you know don't alienate people , to that extent. it is nobody else's fault except the american people. we are the ones that got us into the situation in the first place. second, i have a question about proposition 14. i did some research on it. i'm nervous -- anyway. wasn't it also one of the most expensive primaries in recent years? and are you planning on putting any methods in place to stop it from being whoever buys the most media wins? that is what we got right now. i don't see -- even though,
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california, and like the lady said, it is not going to work the same in every state. what is the next step to ensure that the people are being heard and not just 75% of the voters so they will just click the button of what they hear the most. are you planning on making the next step? >> i think that's a good question. you can't disassociate what is happening in politics from what is happening in the media. when they report on not increasing voter turnout in california they fail to report , everywhere else in the country it has dropped off. when they talk about more money being involved, they don't talk about more competitive elections and more votes matter. of course you have to spend more money because there are more voters at play. they talk about it.
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the one thing i find fascinating about california's primary is that we have the largest black caucus in the history of california. three black people got elected who did not have the democratic party endorsement. guess who educated us that we have the largest black caucus? the media. >> arizona does not have an open primary, and we had the single largest election in terms of spending as well. why? dark money rules have changed the game in terms of money that is going to be spent. we are going to try some initiatives to try to curb it. i will tell you the supreme court left that pretty clear. the question you ought to ask is would you rather that money be able to influence the system through a primary system where they can have a much greater
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influence to moving your candidates towards an extreme or one where every voter gets to vote in every election? i feel much safer with the latter. [applause] >> one last point on voting and money in politics. it is used in about a dozen cities. minneapolis and oakland and portland, maine. one consistent thread is candidate spending the most for mayor are losing. they are running a more traditional campaign. the scrappy orier candidates who ultimately win our ones who do a grassroots campaign. second or third choices you really need to win in a competitive race. you don't win with a 30 second tv ad. there is no magic answer to money and politics, but there
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are ways to reduce its impact. that seems to be one. [applause] >> my name is william. i am from brooklyn, new york. i have two quick questions. as we move forward with ballot initiatives and legislative initiatives, i'm wondering if there is a possibility of combining the runoff with proportional representation. the other question i have is sender chuck schumer of new york has come out in favor of open primaries of some sort. >> sure. >> i don't mind addressing that. earlier, i mentioned a need to simplify. i don't think that means top two has to be the ultimate decision. i think we should have other
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systems and we see if they work. our lawsuit, we had an oral argument on tuesday. we had an amicus brief explaining different systems. what we need is a discussion about the electoral process itself and to go into the discussion knowing that none of us have the right answer or the best solution because very few solutions have been tried. how would we know? >> an example, the louisiana's us system, where everyone goes to the november ballot. if it is a legislature, you have more than one person winning. if you are electing people to the state legislator, instead of one see, you may have three. everyone would vote a rank choice ballot. that is a statutory change. that is an example of how they fit together.
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>> a question on the schumer campaign that the gentleman asked, yes senator schumer wrote , an editorial punished during the summer, which came out very vocally and strongly in support of the top two over primaries, and then he never said another word. we decided, in the new york operation, let's remind him of this position that he took. there has been a campaign run in new york over the last several months where thousands of new yorkers are signing on to a letter to senator schumer, calling on him not only to lead the effort to bring the top to open primaries to new york, but in particular to have the democratic party make a decision to open its primaries in new york to all independent voters, something senator schumer is in a position to do because the party could do that without having to go to the legislature or any such thing.
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how many signatures? >> over 7000 signatures. >> there you go. people can sign at the open primaries table. please do on the way out. >> the congressional lobbying of the new york delegation. >> thank you very much. there has also been a series of meetings to push them to follow the lead of their senior democrat leader with regards to the top two issues. we continue to push the issue from the bottom up. >> greg dorsey baltimore maryland. the question is inspired by the acronym. committee for a unified independent party. my question is as we try to define the future of the
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independent movement. i would like an answer from everybody, including you jackie. are we trying to think about defining a new third party that is going to have policy and platform and eventually rank and file and maybe more power? and it would be easy to get a voice because of the money that would go with it, or might we retain that independent spirit and take as heterogeneous parts scattered through the country loosely affiliated through the country but retain the freethinking spirit? the question would be where do you see the future of the independent movement as far as infrastructure? [applause] >> i will back it up first. i am speaking just for myself, not for the movement. i think becoming a party is the single worst idea we could possibly do. [applause]
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i don't want any organization controlling my way of thinking. none. nor do i want the other candidates to be controlled by it. i want the voters to have a right to listen to me and make a decision as to who they would like to have. i would like all the voters to be involved in the process. i think there are things the independent movement can do. clearly it can be helpful in , changing the structure so more people can participate. i think it can help in education. i think having more candidates running is a good thing. my guess is, early on in the system, what those candidates will do is they may not win, but they can change the debate. somebody mentioned teddy roosevelt. teddy roosevelt lost the election, but he changed the outcome, much like rush limbaugh did when he ran against bill clinton. he made ill clinton talk more about fiscal issues because of
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what he had done in the campaign. having an independent candidate running for president that was talking about the importance of allowing all people the right to vote and that the right to vote comes from the voters maybe is the catalyst that begins to help move the change forward. helping independent candidates i think that is a good idea. endorsing independent candidates , i think that would be a terrible mistake. we are trying to get more people a choice and that is what we should be doing as an organization. [applause] >> one minor correction -- it was ross perot. >> i'm sorry. >> 1992. >> i said rush limbaugh. [laughter] >> i think that we need to have a flowering of association. this is a room of people that
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feels connected, or seem to be a lot of connection as independents. it is not like no one wants to be connected. it is ok to be connected to people. i think that to be rigidly boxed in democratic/republican, that is not good, but if we can have a balance that allows association to be shown, to connections to be shown, that you can call it a party, but it is not rigid and that brings people in and makes people feel connected. i think there is a whole conversation to be had about how that can be put into our politics. watching states that i have talked to -- it starts, and you have a certain number of characters where it says you can say what you are connected. you can say your association. people are very creative about
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that. whatever they feel connected to. i think that if we move that direction and allow more choices on the ballot, where we have a ring choice system to accommodate that choice, i think we can have a politics that brings more people in. >> go ahead. >> the committee for a unified independent party, which was the founding name of our organization, was created in 1994 in the context of the creation of the national reform party, which grew off the perot run in the reform party came 1992. together, basically as a left-center-right coalition of independence who were working to form an national party to use it to leverage against the standard behavior of political parties. we had a beautiful, experimental period from 1995-1999, into
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and during that time, we brought americans together from across the political spectrum and looked to bring other independent parties into a relationship with us, to build a broad, unified, independent party. one of the things that happened after about five years of existence was that the major parties came in in different ways. essentially wrecked to the reform party. one of the things we learned from that experience is that literally the form of organization that is a party gravitates in a particular direction that ends up deflating and depressing the very cause that brings people into independent politics in the first place. i am extremely sympathetic to paul's decision. -- position. after 2000, we made a shift away from party building to organizing in theg independent
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voters into associations that could leverage political power that could engage with the political establishment, including political parties, but without turning ourselves into a political party, because we found that culturally and politically, it made us to vulnerable to do that. we are creating new forms of expressing political power in this movement. i think there is actually, if you will, a unity between form and substance. that is what we are searching for. that is why we have been cautious -- we don't want to create anything that is premature or pre-decided or prepackaged, because this is a movement with a new vision in and new ideals and it has to have forms that can express it. [applause] >> i would echo. i don't think you can start with parties because i think the whole idea is opening the process. in order to change the process you have to be able to bring
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people into the process, and i think that is the voting cache. i think it opens the process so that people who feel like they can't participate can participate, and as paul said, once you get one person taking one step and collectively taking that step, than the structures that will support that will begin to naturally develop. >> thank you for your question. yes? >> hi, i am a community college student, and a student of dr. rafael mendez. [applause] my question is where does development fit in your reform? without development, we do not have a democracy. if we do not fit development
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into democracy, we cannot change the law. without changing the law, we cannot change the culture we live in that is passive and cynical. >> i think that something freddie said earlier speaks directly to that, that no reform leads to a hands-free democracy. that goes with the development issue. in my mind, development is the key issue. part of political reform is can you get the party's grip off the process for a moment, for a second? can you create some space for development? that is not a guarantee. there are lots of departments -- environments for development. it is an opportunity to create new coalitions. chad said this earlier, once you enact top two, that is when the
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challenge starts. not before. when the system is close down, the opportunities for development are nil. you open it up, and that is when we have to get to work and create the new conversations. i think it is a very crucial question. >> thank you. [applause] >> hi, i am rebecca feldman from new jersey. i want to thank you for doing this, for inviting me. i have learned so much today and i am so inspired and i have a practical question. i think political reform is popular with the american people. you have shown that with the surveys you have done. to connect with people, when they are listening, going to the polls, for the 30 some odd states that do have the power of initiative and referendum, better to pursue it in a presidential year? an off year? when -- do we know yet when that
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pivot point is -- is it about turnout and getting the right audience? can you tell us something about timing? >> i think the landscape might be different, and first, we should all thank rebecca for being a plaintiff in the case against new york state. obviously, it plays a huge role. we filed in the primary, which is counterintuitive and against the advice of a political consultant. i don't think we would have passed it. but consultants were saying this is a partisan primary. independent voters don't turn out. but we had done the polling to know that, with a lower turnout, all we had to do was communicate with a lesser number of nonaffiliated voters and we could do it while the party was
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sleeping. the institutional money wasn't going to come around until the general election. we actually said keep it on the ballot. we drove a campaign to voters that the parties don't talk to because it doesn't matter to them. the increased voter turnout by 450,000 that election, which was enough to margin a victory. [applause] >> i think the answer to that, chad is right, it has been very state-by-state. we in arizona can't put ours on the primary election day. what we do know is that in all off election years, the year when we elect our governor turnout drops by 20%-20 5%. what we know is that it is disproportionately young people, independents, and minorities.
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we can statistically show that. those are also groups we tend to do better worth in an open primary. but i don't know what exists in arizona for every state. i really do think that what chad provided and what his dad provided in california was the ability to be strategic, to look at it, to think about it, and to try to figure out a campaign strategy that would get them to a win number. at the end of the day, all that matters -- what do you win and what do you lose? at least the people we care about that are affected by these policies -- if we lose, we have done nothing. we maybe moved the ball a little. but you have to think about whether you are ranked voting or top two, whether you are on a primary or general election. what are you going to do to lose it? if you lose, maybe it was a small ripple, but maybe not enough to create the change that we want. >> i would only add one thing to those very good remarks, which
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is that study your yes vote and factor that in, because it may be different in different places. take some time to build support for it, like rushing can be seductive but it is usually dangerous. >> thank you all. >> yes? >> my name is katie byrne and i am a freshman at the university of north carolina-greensboro. in regard to jackie's earlier comment on progressive panic and the goal of the independent party being reestablishing humanity within a very politicized right, specifically with the queer and trans community, i would wonder how that is going to happen without a specific set of partisan things in regards to -- you can think of the lela alcorn act being put into place, but only after she killed herself. how is this going to help me as a queer person?
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how many more queer people have to die before real change is going to happen? the democratic party is failing queer people beyond the very agreeable point of gay marriage. we are very much left out of a lot of political movement. >> i might just get a comment from arizona's standpoint. in arizona, one session ago, we had a bill that got out of our legislature that said you couldn't do anything to stop businesses from being able to discriminate against someone for being gay. i can just about promise you that it would have lost in front of the voters, it would not have been successful. why the disconnect? because the majority of the
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legislator is elected by 4% of the people. they are captive to them -- they can't speak to the general electorate because they can't get reelected if they do. they have to speak to that base. then when you combine that with the caucus, where they become afraid, the moderate republicans become afraid of the more conservative ones, it becomes very harsh on minority groups. my answer is that the idea you have is good. they are things that are important. they are things that will motivate the public, like the martin luther king movement when it reached a broader audience. we are at the most risk dealing in an isolated room with a group of people who quite candidly don't put your interest as a priority. >> i would add one thing to that, which is that i think bringing the american people together around democracy and around taking control of our political process and asserting
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ownership of our government, our country, our political culture the way we wanted to organize ourselves as a society, means that we can't break out of a certain kind of atomization, or sometimes referred to as identity-based politics, where every group is looking at a situation based simply on an identity that they have been given. it allows people to come together and learn from each other. my issue with respect to the questions that you are raising is that i want all of america to understand by virtue of knowing and being close to and working alongside with. i want all of america to understand that the queer -- the issues that the queer
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community is dealing with. right now we have the political situation that doesn't allow that to happen. as you said unless there is a , tragedy where headlines are made, that is the only time we can break through. we can't allow that to happen. we have to have a political system and a political process that allows people to be who they are and work together to make america a better america for everyone. to me, one of the things that is most exciting -- and i have been a political activist since i was three -- is that we can do that, we can break out of issue orientation, identity politics and say, hey, we are going to come together as a country, we are going to come together as a people, we are going to make sure that justice is done for everyone, that everyone has the right to live the way they want to live, that everyone is protected to live the kind of life that they want to live, and we are going to build this country in such a way so that
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everyone can fulfill their individual and creative potential. that is what this movement is about. [applause] that is why i think that is why i think the democracy issue is your issue, i really do. >> just a point here there are two more speakers that came to the line even though i was planning to close t i'm going to let you guys speak but you're going to have literally 30 seconds to make a closing comment. >> independent voice in california again. i love the discussion we are having. and particularly given the folks who are up here, it's a little heavy on the kind of electoral tactical kind of discussion. should we do top two or should we do this one or that one. i would love if the panel could speak a little bit to how you understand the necessity of building a movement for independent political reform particularly in light o

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