Independents and Online Activism

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Despite all the advantages independent voters have — like never feeling beholden to a major party — we’ve historically had one serious disadvantage: finding each other. It’s not as if we had an umbrella organization that held annual conferences or nominating conventions; we’re independents, after all, and not exactly joiners by nature.

All that changed when God created the Internet. Don’t even try arguing with me about that; only God loves independents enough to create a system to make it easier for us to get together. And as a result, a genuine independent-voter movement is taking shape and gaining momentum all across the country.

Before my first online search for “independent voter” some years back, I did not know a single other independent — at least, not one who admitted it. Today I’m in contact with independents from New York to California and all those wonderful heartland states in between, all of whom I met online. The Internet has proven to be a lifeline to help us work together to bring about the political reform we believe the country needs.

One lifeline site for independents is The Hankster, a daily blog by longtime political activist Nancy Hanks, who posts brief summaries and links to news items of interest to independents. Nancy keeps us informed, while CUIP*, the organization behind the web site, keeps us connected. Through their web site, print magazine and monthly conference calls with independent activists across the country, CUIP has done more than any other group to promote grassroots activism and cooperation among independents. Before the growth of the Internet, CUIP’s database consisted largely of former members of Ross Perot’s Reform Party and other minor parties, but today many independents whose names have never appeared on any party’s membership roster have become part of this nationwide independent movement after finding CUIP online.  

When independents begin shedding their independent ways and actually start networking with each other, that’s news. The Internet is the perfect medium for us; we can meet other independents without having to physically rub elbows with each other. It’s much easier for us to remain psychologically independent by hanging out in cyberspace, but we feel empowered at the same time. Someday we’ll have enough clout to scare the daylights out of career politicians; the last thing they want is an unruly bunch of disgruntled, anti-establishment, nonpartisan types getting together and making life miserable for them. 

These are heady times for independents. And now that we can more easily find each other, there’s no turning back. For us, the power of the Internet lies in its ability to unite us in our work toward political reform — despite our wide-ranging and diverse views on all other political issues.

* That would be the New York City-based Committee for a Unified Independent Party, which long ago gave up on the unified party idea but didn’t give up on the name. 

Marcia Ford is the author of We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter.