Independent Voters Alliance (IVA)
A Minor Change in Political Concept, But Profound in the Positive Ways Our Lives Will Be Affected
Principled Non-Partisan Politics
A Worthy Rhetorical Strategy
By Rich Stevenson ©September 24, 2005
Interim Acting Chair of the Hamilton County IVA
Political reformers have an extreme disadvantage in the rhetorical fight to influence the American electorate. To win, political reformers must change the concepts that have maintained power for the two-party monopoly for the past 200 years. Power over the media is a means for the Ds and Rs to maintain rhetorical control. The two parties individually own the two most basic words related to our form of government.
Stolen Words: The Democratic Party owns the word “democracy”. The Republican Party owns the word “republic”. They control this basic rhetorical ground simply by using the “concepts” to name their parties. They have “owned” those words basic to our concepts of our nation for at least 150 years. Small “d” and small “r” uses of the words are automatically related to the parties of the same name in the minds of every American citizen. Those two words are stolen from the American people. Those parties are incorrectly seen as the embodiment of those two words. Neither party is truly democratic or republican. (Top of Page)
The American political landscape is quite empty of honest rhetorical content without the correct use of fundamental words like “democracy” and “republic.” Use of the word “independent” as a political concept is one current rhetorical battleground for the minds of the American people.
Since independents John Anderson and Ross Perot made dents in the concept of a solid 50-50 split of the American electorate, the two parties have tried to own the word “independent” using their overwhelming media influence. Scores of D and R candidates boldly claim to be “independent.” They rhetorically infer personal distance from the widely distrusted two party system. With media cooperation, the two parties fight for ownership of the word “independent,” as well as the words “democracy” and “republic.” Before 1980 the parties claimed all Americans as supporters of one of the two parties. They claimed a bipartisan 100%. The few admitted non-supporters were rhetorically painted as un-American, disloyal, and unpatriotic. (Anderson was up to 28% in the polls and got up to 8% of the 1980 Presidential vote. Perot was up to 44% in the polls and got up to 21% of the 1992 Presidential vote.)
After Perot, the Ds and Rs were forced to admit 20% points not dedicated to either party. But those voters were not ever admitted to be “independent” by the two parties or by the corporate and public media. They were variously characterized as “swing voters” or “unaffiliated,” up for grabs by any D or R candidate. The latest rhetorical gambit is the “dislodged” voter unhappy with one or both of the two parties. The implication again being that voters need to be won back to cast a “correct” two-party system bipartisan vote. Many states do not allow the use of the word “independent” to register to vote. [For example, 2005 attempts to gain the right in KY.] Other states call registered voters not registered as Ds or Rs some version of “unaffiliated,” correctly implying that they are outside the powerful bipartisan political system. No affiliation means no connection to the parties in power. Correct. The rhetorical battle over ownership of the word “independent” continues.
The Ds and Rs effectively weaken our rhetorical control over the word “independent.” With their dominant control of the corporate and public media the Ds and Rs will continue to control the rhetorical definition of the word “independent” as they see fit. So what rhetorical options are available to an intentional political mass movement aiming to end majority control by the entrenched and powerful D and R political elite?
To have any chance, rhetoric must be created that is owned completely by an intentional political mass movement. The movement must be intentional and capable of involving a majority of the electorate. The word or words used must have a rhetorical basis that cannot be co-opted by the Ds and Rs. The words must have some aspects of familiarity to ease acceptance by the electorate. The words must have a general positive connotation.
One word that meets all of the required characteristics is the very familiar word “non-partisan.” This word can be used to regain rhetorical ownership of the word “independent.” Each independent voter can be redefined as a “non-partisan independent.” The compounded concept can be used to name the entire movement. “The Non-Partisan Political Movement.”
Ds & Rs cannot logically own the word “non-partisan.”
The Contrast can be made between “non-partisan” and the existing “bipartisan” system. “Bipartisan” can become rhetorically equated with monopoly, with inability to solve problems, and with legislative warfare. “Non-Partisan” can become equated with reason, problem solving, and legislative cooperation. The only rhetorical choice available to the voter can become a vote for a “non-partisan” or a “bipartisan” candidate. Two “bipartisan” choices are only one more choice on the ballot than in a dictatorship, such as in the old Communist Soviet Union (Russia). If two “bipartisan” parties are in collusion politically, voters effectively have only one choice, and are ruled by a political dictatorship. It seems to me that we have total bipartisan collusion in our corrupt two-party system.
If we help elect any D or R through a fusion scheme, we have locked the fox in the henhouse. If we adopt fusion as the “independent” strategy to apply in every state, we have merely signed a pact with every D or R fox. Minor party and independent chickens are in every “fusion” henhouse to guard the fox against dangerous “independent” chickens. “Are you an independent who supports the Democrats or the Republicans?” becomes the most relevant rhetorical question in fusion situations. Why vote if an “independent” merely favors one type of fox, a Democrat or a Republican? What is in it for an independent voter, the metaphorical chicken? The fox eats the chickens.
Moreover, in the 43 non-fusion states there are no “independent” or other ballot lines to use to quantify the number of votes delivered to a “fusion” candidate. No meaningful political influence can be gained by untraceable “independent” votes. In any of the seven fusion states, use of minority ballot lines to elect Democrats or Republicans sustains the bipartisan monopoly ability to elect candidates to a vast majority of all public offices throughout those seven fusion states and by other means in the non-fusion states.
George Washington can be pointed to as the first non-partisan. A revolutionary hero and the first President of our country, Washington spoke against the establishment of political parties in his farewell address. The Federalist Papers also contain much rhetoric against the establishment of political parties. The anti-party (anti-partisan) content of the Federalist Papers has been suppressed by or ignored by the press and the two parties. Our founders are on the side of non-partisan government to suppress the influence of special interests. We can use our founders' rhetoric to support the non-partisan independent movement.
To have any chance of success, participants in the non-partisan political movement must exhibit the same resolve against the corrupt bipartisan two-party monopoly system that our founders exhibited against “the British Crown.” Like our founding Revolution, the non-partisan movement must be based upon the principled objective of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for every citizen. Or, in other words, we must seek liberty and justice for all in a more democratic republic for our people. Every participant must mutually pledge to each other “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
We do not know what desperate measures the Democrats and Republicans will use to fight the overall non-partisan political movement. Have no doubt; they will fight to maintain control of the most powerful nation in the world. They will have a difficult time defeating majority participation in a widely popular intentional non-partisan political mass movement. Our strategic advantage is in our right to vote. As long as we have the right to vote we can create a way to win representation for our people.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Framing new concepts to create and define the rhetoric of the 80% non-partisan independent voter majority is the first step. [Framing is a rhetorical strategy used and perfected by Karl Rove, a Republican, to reshape public opinion on value-based voting issues.] Our non-partisan independent majority has existed everywhere in our country since the 1960s when President Richard Nixon recognized the non-partisan phenomenon as the “silent majority.” Any reasonable political alternative can win the hearts and minds of the disaffected American people. Nearly all of us hate partisanship, to include the collusive “bipartisanship” practiced by our current two-party political dictatorship.
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rls/September 24, 2005
edits 07/24/06, 09/17/06,
10-03-06, 12-25-06, 03-05-08, 09-25-08, 03-23-09,