Friday, January 28, 2005

The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

It is my duty to inform you that as of today, January 28, 2005, the St. Mary's College Nonpartisans have officially suspended all operations and become an inactive organization without members or leadership.

In a letter to the Exec Board, Ben Porter, our illustrious President, presented the case for disbandment thus:
Exec. Board Members,

I believe that we have arrived at a juncture where the continued existence of the St. Mary's College Nonpartisans is neither feasible nor prudent. We do not presently have sufficient support (even here on campus) to continue to function in a productive fashion. The overwhelming response to the nonpartisans has been a preference for a stagnant system of partisan political conformity. Sadly, I believe that the College Nonpartisans should be allowed to slip away into the ranks of inactivity. I am hopeful that at some point in the future the nonpartisans will be revived in a time of need.

I am proud to have served as both president and vice president of the College Nonpartisans. I am proud of the accomplishments of the past three years because no matter how small we have had an impact. I continue to be proud of my continued personal commitment to our nonpartisanship. Perhaps though, nonpartisanship is best practiced on a strictly personal level or over lunch than in a formalized club no matter how informal it may be.

Thanks for a great run,

My response was as follows:

Ben's put the point eloquently, and I don't have much to add. Like Ben, I have served as both President and Vice President of this organization, and I'm enormously proud of the work we've done. An idea in Ben's and my head became a fleeting but full-fledged movement for independent thought in politics through the work of all of us dedicated souls. That's not something that happens every day. I'm honored and humbled by the commitment of all of you; it's just time to move on.

Remember, Nonpartisanship is not a club or an event, it's a way of life. Every one of us and of the people who've been associated with us -- Aaron Samet, now in the Army but still a Nonpartisan in spirit; Bob Lewis, out fighting the county commissioners on principle; Bob Auerbach, fighting for change he will never live to see but that is the driving purpose behind his life -- is still a Nonpartisan, and I suspect will always be one. All you have to do is think for yourself; and once someone has tasted the opiate of freethinking he can never go back, never.

Nonpartisanship is a battle against conformity -- a battle that will never end. I have been privileged to share that battle over the past three years with some quality
warriors. Go forth, and remember.

Jeremy Young, signing off

And Chris Toft, our Secretary since the founding of the club, weighed in:

Sadly, I must agree. Nonpartisans had essentially become the exec board, and sometimes Joe [Rieu]. I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to meet you all, and feel we were effective in getting the message we desired out. Should minds change, please let me know, as I'd be happy to be onboard again.


In closing, I will only say: this group of great idealists here lays down the gauntlet which we have carried, nobly and with honor, for the past three years. We leave it to others to complete the work we began, if it is ever to be completed. This webpage will remain active as long as Blogspot decides to continue to host us, and my e-mail address can still be reached with questions or comments; but I will not update the page any longer, nor will I most likely check it again. It will remain as an archive of documents and ideas that, should anyone else choose to take up our task, will help get you started on the great hopeful journey into the unknown.

If anyone wants a souvenir copy of our newsletter, e-mail me and I'll send it to you. If you want thoughts or comments on Nonpartisanship, I will likewise be glad to oblige. Otherwise, our chronicle ends here.

In your service,

-- Jeremy Young

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Nonpartisan soapbox rant

Yesterday (12-4-2003) in the early afternoon around 12-3 the was a Soapbox rant held on the campus center patio. ... I wrote the following soapbox rant on Nonpartisan issues and spoke it loudly in the direction of many prospective students and their parents. I did not say I was officially representing our club -- I spoke as an individual -- but I got good feedback from the other Coalition for Progressive Change members there. -- Stephanie.

I am not a Republican. I am not a democrat. I am not a member of the Independent Party, or any other third party. I am a Nonpartisan. A Nonpartisan is a person who does not feel that either of the major parties in this country adequately describes their political viewpoints. And while I myself am registered “Unaffiliated” many who do not prescribe to the ideals of either major party do register as members of a third party that they feel more accurately represents their viewpoint. I encourage more people to register with a third party if they do not feel that the two major parties represent them; but that is not enough. In this country where despite the fact that 396,951 people - 14% of this state’s population are either registered third party members or “not-affiliated” we cannot vote in the primaries. Does a country that allows 14% of the population of a state to not have a voice in elections that determine our options for presdient sound like a democracy to you? The problem with America today is the our two party system does not give everyone a voice, it ensures that America is not truly a Democracy. A quote: “The alternate domniation of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” This was not spoken recently as you might think; it was uttered by George Washington during his Farwell Address in 1796. If the fact we’ve had problems with Two party dominance since our countries inception scares you as much as it does me, if you are angry with the fact we are not the democracy we market ourselves as to the rest of the world, you might ask, "So what should I do?" You should think for yourself independently of what I or anyone else tries to tell you, You should become civicly engaged: become politically informed, and VOTE, you should if you agree with my assesment of the exclusiveness of the two party system advocate for third party politics and third party candidates, and above all you should think with vision about how you want our country to be and spread that vision to others.

-- Stephanie O'Brien

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Nature of Change

The nature of change is gradual but continuous. We have promoted change. Nonpartisan movements are not sweeping across the country but we have made a difference and had an impact. If only one person reads our theories and agrees or is even moved to act then we have created change.

America is not ready for nonpartisanship. Nor is nonpartisanship ready for America. But there will come a time when the vast majority of Americans are moved to action and nonpartisanship will be there for them. And at such a time we dedicated few will propel our little idea to the national stage. The election of 2004 appeared to be the sort of national crisis that could do this. It was not. Something else will happen and when that wake up call comes the nonpartisans will be ready to heed it.

-Ben Porter

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Nonpartisans: What's Next? You Decide.

[Promoted from downthread and edited to reflect more options. Please respond today!]

You've seen our site. You've heard our idea (several times, actually). Now it's time to organize.
Nonpartisanship is a small movement concerned with making big changes in American society. As such, we've got to start small. Here are some ideas that have been put on the table.

1) Continue posting on the blog and publishing a newsletter and write a form letter-to-the editor to be sent to major and minor media markets, spreading the word through word-of-mouth. (This is the easiest alternative and requires the least effort; conversely, it will also have the smallest effect, as our failure so far to get blogrolled on the major political blogs shows.)

2) Form a Nonpartisan League through, an online tool used to organize local clubs in many different cities focused on similar goals.

3) Work local; run a candidate for St. Mary's County Commissioner, or push a bill to get the County Commissioners elected through Instant Runoff Voting. (There actually might be some support for this latter proposal, given that one of the Democratic Commissioners expects to fend off a strong Green Party challenge in two years.)

4) Contact the Center for Voting and Democracy and affiliate with them, or convince them to fund a paper/book on the history and merits of Nonpartisanship. (They are located, fate would have it, in Maryland.)

5) Attempt to form other college chapters by acting as recruiters, traveling to campuses (we'd have to be paid for, of course) and starting up other clubs.

Please let us know in the comments which of these alternatives you prefer. Or just sign in so we know who you are. Basically, use this as an open thread. We're tired of venting. Now it's your turn.

-- Jeremy Young

Hello Again, Mr. Anderson

Jonathan Singer gets a wonderful interview with John Anderson, 1980 Independent Presidential candidate and founder of the Center for Voting and Democracy. Anderson's still the best voice out there for nonpartisanship, as these quotes make clear:

I think we need multi-party politics in this country. We have a Constitution that Gordon Wood and other students of American history have very aptly described as an anti-party Constitution; it was a Constitution against parties. Madison deplored factions, and faction to Madison was simply synonymous with party. They knew all about parties; they had the Conservatives and the Whigs back in the 18th century.

I think we need to get away from the idea that American politics forever and a day must be dominated by the same two parties that today hold control. I would like--I repeat--to see the growth of a strong multi-party system in this country to introduce new ideas, new energy, and I think bring with it a much broader participation by people of different walks of life that see some futility in the kind of perennial jousting that goes on for advantage between the two old parties. ...

I think once that idea got into the minds of the American people, they would some point in voting for that Independent or Third Party candidate even though he might not initially be able to get a majority, because they would not be wasting their vote. Their second place choice would count in the recount that would take place when he failed to get that majority when the votes were first counted.

So I think with that introduction into the political mix of the idea [of Instant Runoff Voting] that it is feasible to vote for an Independent or Third Party candidate--I repeat myself, I know, but for emphasis. Once they get the idea that they can do that and still not really throw away a ballot (to cast a vote that really didn't count for anything), then I think the Independent movement, or a Third Party movement, could begin to get a respectable showing. They wouldn't get a majority to begin with, but they would get vastly more support than they're now able to draw in the present two party context that we're locked. As time went on, I think the idea of a multi-party system would become just a very logical thing to advance towards.

Bravo, Mr. Anderson. What will we do to support these noble words with deeds to match? Comment on the post below to respond.

-- Jeremy Young

Monday, November 15, 2004

Another Nonpartisan Manifesto

[Note: This manifesto, the first ever written for the College Nonpartisans, was penned by our then-Treasurer, Timothy Hemphill in April 2003. It is presented here in revised form because it clearly presents the similarities between the two major political parties and monopolistic corporatism. -- Jeremy Young]

THE PROBLEMS: Malaise, disillusionment, apathy, exclusion, no choice.

THE CAUSES: exclusionary party politics, in-built two-party system, anti-competitive/monopolistic political practices.

We, thinkers of wide and profound thoughts, have a solution. We do not know the answers to all problems, nor do we pretend to always know the right answer to all political and economic problems. We do know, however, how to find these answers, and how to create and protect a good, just, and lasting peace.

We recognize that the world is a constantly changing, dynamic, chaotic system. We recognize that political and economic structures must and should change along with the world they govern, even while explicating core moral and ethical principles. We believe that the best way for government to foster and protect life and liberty is to be flexible and honest. This calls for political structures that allow for and respect alternative viewpoints in the civic discussion.

A civic forum that allows for radicalism, challenge, and change is a prerequisite to a strong, robust society. Over time, institutions are smothered by thick layers of dogma. Core principles and visionary movements are covered and obscured by the passage of time and the miscalculation of history. We believe that for a political system to be truly effective and efficient, it must constantly challenge itself, it must be under constant attack, it must listen to its critics and skeptics. To solve the problems civil society is confronted with requires activity, forethought, and vision. It is that vision, that overarching review and renewal of society, that we seek to provide.

We believe that a strong civic community, unperturbed by perceived obligations to powerful financial or ideological interests, is essential to ensuring that government does its job and nothing else. Only strong-willed and independent politicians have the gumption to resist powerful special interests, to resist the temptations of bribery and political back-scratching, to resist corruption. Only independent politicians have the force-of-will and courage to go against the tide, to oppose inflexible, dogmatic philosophies. Only independent politicians have the ability to keep the government’s excesses in check. Only independent politicians have the foresight and force of vision to cut through years of political accumulations to the heart of things. In other words, only independent politicians can truly lead.

When a modern politician “leads,” he is really the follower; he is the one being led. He is being led by the “platforms” and blind policy traditions that characterize the party system of government. He is not being led by “the people,” or by his own principles, or even entirely by self-interest. He is being led by the Party, an impersonal, amoral, abstract entity that exists only to survive. It feeds on ideology and dogma. It has no respect for humans or other living things, for liberty or for justice. The Party’s natural tendency is monopolistic, parasitic and expansionary. It is a perversion of the perfect Darwinian creature, blindly seeking the death of all creatures that do not directly serve to further its own existence.

When it comes to the slight, limited forms of “radicalism” allowed in the current political system, what might otherwise be potent political might is channeled into tightly controlled, limited, truncated channels. Radical thoughts are only allowed if they happen to fall into the simplistic dualistic universe of political thought the parties have propagated. These false dichotomies and one-dimensional constructs are more destructive than many people realize. So, one is either “for” or “against” affirmative action; there is no flexibility. There is no room to be for one form of affirmative action but against another. Choice and intelligent proposals are eliminated and ignored. The contributions of many innovative and reasoned thinkers are discarded; the contributions of large financial entities, however, are given high priority. Other nations’ and cultures' policies must be forced through this narrow ideological censorship. New ideas are integrated into political life only grudgingly. Nothing can be allowed to challenge the parties’ polarized, limited world.

This is not to say that parties are entirely evil, nor that all politicians that are members of parties are necessarily corrupt, ineffective, weak-willed, or blindly beholden to their party or its traditions. Too, there can be great variety in parties. There are a few common arguments justifying the existence and extent of the party system, and some of these arguments are compelling enough to support the existence of parties. None of them is compelling enough to support extensive government control, regulation, and restriction of parties, however.

Ostensibly, the goal of democratic government is unanimity in legislation, policy, and action. Since this is in practice nearly impossible, we make do with notions of levels of consensus- plurality, and various degrees of majority. We require higher levels of majority for what we consider to be the most important and major decisions, such as amendments to our Constitution. An argument raised in favor of a restrictive, simple party system is that it allows for and helps ensure majority rule, instead of rule of pluralities or coalitions of minorities. In other words, with only two parties it is supposedly easy to elect a president or other politician with over fifty percent of the vote. Other types of political decisions are made with a similar "consensus" as compared to a multi-party system; for example, a legislative committee might be composed of four Democrats and five Republicans, ensuring that whichever viewpoint eventually wins out, at least four out of nine people will support it (in general).

The problems with this argument are manifold. The first and foremost is that, in the opinion of the Nonpartisans, the need for this "consensus" does not justify government intervention. Although unanimity is the goal, consensus should be accomplished by debate, compromise and leadership- not government fiat.

Secondly, our notions of plurality and majority supposedly manage and ensure consensus- a nine-person board requires five votes to pass an ordinance whatever the political composition of the board members. The "consensus" supposedly created and enforced by a party system is only a veneer, an illusion, that serves to mask over and ignore alternative viewpoints and the views of political minorities. When there are only two or three major parties, the dominant views of each party are often the only views ever heard in the public debate; or, rather, the only views ever seriously considered. Given our rights of freedom of speech and of the press, a great many views are advocated- but since most of them have no political representative, they are generally ignored in the thinking of important decision-makers. Political minorities are forced to choose the lesser of evils as their representative in government- often, the lesser of a very small number of evils.

A serious flaw with the arguments for a government-sanctioned party system on consensus grounds is that, even with the party system, consensus is often not reached. Bill Clinton was elected with less than fifty percent of the vote- twice. Even when majorities are reached in the modern political climate, they are very often bare majorities. In Congress, majorities are now preserved only through a handful of votes, meaning that "consensus" often means only fifty-one percent of the vote. Is this somehow superior to a party-less or multi-party system?

Another primary argument in support of parties is that they serve a public good in ensuring "stability." But what is stability? Stability in politics really is concentration of control and power into a few hands, whether elected or not. The people elect their representatives, who appoint or vote amongst themselves for their political leaders (for example, the chairman of the Democratic and Republican National Committees). Because the people cannot choose people outside of the parties, they are forced to choose from among those who the party heads decide are "loyal" or politically viable- who then appoint or elect the party heads! The result is that the same types of people, sometimes even the same individuals, control the political climate for years and years. Their stale ideologies, which may have once been relevant and constructive, are now out-of-date and obsolete. Yet these men (and rarely women) stifle new modes of thought, or even old ones that they are opposed to, by their very presence. Party hacks crowd out independent and independent-minded politicians. In other words, stability equals stagnation. Dynamism, one of the core principles that democracy is based on, is killed by "stability."

There are numerous direct effects this monarchy-like succession and pseudo-nepotism has on our society. One is that it causes corruption, or at least the appearance of corruption- which is the same thing. The quick quid pro quo is rewarded by appointments to be Secretary of Defense or the candidacy for County Comptroller. Men who are guilty of direct, real corruption are given leadership positions because the Party provides for all.

And what happens when none of the dominant party ideologies mesh with yours? Some would say that is your problem, and it is- but what if none of the major parties match up with the majority of people? A majority of Americans support medical marijuana laws, and a sizable portion of the population supports decriminalization of marijuana. Yet, politicians from both major parties still continue to suppress such legislation, even when passed by voter referendum. Particularly egregious examples of this suppression is Attorney General Ashcroft's attack of California and Oregon state law allowing medical marijuana and physician-assisted suicide, both passed by voter referendum. Whatever you believe about these laws, you cannot deny that a majority of people in those jurisdictions want them on the books; and even if you believe that Ashcroft's actions were right and just and within his governmental authority, you must admit to the power that Ashcroft has to deny the will of the people- an unelected official (who had previously lost an election to a dead man), appointed by a politician who couldn't even get a plurality of the popular vote and who lost the electoral vote in Oregon and California.

We, the Nonpartisans, want to return politics to a personal level (and to “the people”). We are fed up with choosing the lesser of two evils. We are fed up with small men controlling our destiny. We want to be able to choose someone we truly believe in. We want to elect fiery supporters of liberty and justice, whose visions extend past the next election and whose values and beliefs are clear, compelling and powerful. We want our votes to choose a champion, a person of intensity and independence, a person who has the courage and honesty to FIGHT for us, to FIGHT for what is worth FIGHTING for.

The current political system is betrothed to the Parties, to those vampiric beasts, and we’ve had enough. We want a divorce! We want politicians betrothed only to themselves and their constituents. We want free and independent politicians, expressing the will of the people, not the Party’s will to life!

THUS: We exist in part to weaken and destroy the entrenched, inflexible, often corrupt party system. The Parties have ruled for too long.
Such monstrous creatures have no place in a good and just political system. While we think that people can and should be able to organize themselves freely to achieve their political goals, this is not what the party system allows for. The formal party system exists for no reason except existence itself. The Democrats and Republicans have granted themselves a political monopoly, which brings with it all the problems of a business monopoly. Political “stability,” i.e. stagnation, is achieved, but at a high cost. There is no incentive to innovate, no incentive to change and grow and adapt to the political, social, and economic realities that confront us all. A business monopoly creates inefficiency, and most importantly it prevents the creation of new and better products. The party system is the politics of the pack- the all-powerful, pervasive pack.

We want state sponsorship of any party to be eliminated. While our political inclinations range from libertarian to conservative to communist, we the Nonpartisans all agree that the government should not prop up the current parties while blocking, restricting and marginalizing alternatives. We advocate this as a general principle, coupled with a set of specific policy, and polity, changes that we believe will result in greater honesty, justice and respect for freedom.

--Timothy Hemphill

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Here's What I Think

I don’t believe in much. But I do believe firmly in the concept of the individual, the idea of independence and the freedom of choice. My problem is organization and organizations. By its very nature, organization is the control or influence of one individual over another. This level of organization exists as the most basic conglomeration of human beings. From the dawn of knuckle-walking this sort of organization has been the foundation of “human” society and interaction. Granted, this has served us well as a species, but the inherent flaw is the limitations that it imposes on the individual. Today, choices abound, but these choices remain limited by the pressures, needs and existing systems of interaction. It is virtually impossible to be completely individual or independent, except in isolation. Who, though, is capable of existing in isolation? I have relished the thought that I might be able to exist in this manner. I have repeatedly been proven to be profoundly mistaken. Thus, the aims of my interaction and in the specific case of the interaction within this organization are to allow for the maximum possible amount of individualism. I wholeheartedly believe that all interactions, be they political, social or otherwise, should be based on the individual. People as individuals have the potential to be wonderful or frighteningly terrible. However, the phenomenon of groupthink and the cushion of association provided by groups allows for a great negative potential seldom possible on an individual level.

By making the individual a nameless, faceless, number it is far easier to kill, maim, fail to consider, or slowly poison to death the individual. The loss of the individual is especially prevalent today. Organized groups of people kill countless men, women and children in the name of freedom. Every individual ingests countless poisons and carcinogens that, were they targeted at one person by one person, would be considered murderous. In organizations of people it is far too easy to interact on the dangerous level of organizations. I do not know if it is possible for a truly benevolent, good natured, individually concerned organization to exist. Far too often the organization is concerned only with the organization’s specific interest. The obvious fact that we are all human and therefore all essentially equal is often lost in this capacity. The modern nation-state is the epitome of this sort of lacking.

The only logical way to solve this problem is through an existence of individual, unorganized, independent self sufficiency and dare I even say: personal anarchy. By making the individual responsible and self sufficient, the power of one individual over another is eliminated. This is not to say that people should exist in isolation. Quite to the contrary, people should exist as a community -- a community in which one individual helps another. Hunter-gatherers of the past operated partially in this way. I am not saying that we should all be hunter-gatherers, although if to be so is the choice of the individual he or she should do so. Instead I say that we should live in the way in which we want, provided that it does not impose on the natural rights of the individual. These natural rights I believe are the rights to exist, and to exist in the way in which the individual desires. Now, one might think that I am neglecting to account for necessities of reproduction and child rearing. However, I am not. In fact, I believe that the family unit (whatever that unit might be) should be the core of the individual’s existence.

Some have said that the problem is that the government is exercising too little control over people. I say that it is exercising too much. When the power of one individual to control another is removed there can be no oppression. However, the realities of the present are the present realities. In the face of these realities, the only solution that makes sense to me is to maximize the individual in the present system.

--Ben Porter

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Welcome to the Nonpartisan Revolution!

You have come here from many different locations, for many different reasons. Some of you want to know how to take our country back; others want to change America into a nation where liberty is valued above all else; still more of you are simply curious about what Nonpartisanship is, why we advocate a radical reform in American electoral politics, and what you can do about it. Ladies and gentlemen, you have come to the right place.

My fellow Americans, the time has come to acknowldge the inescapable truth that our political system as it now stands is not democracy. Instead of seeking representation by true leaders, we are forced to vote for the lesser of two evils out of fear that the greater evil will otherwise win. Instead of standing up for their constituents, our elected officials are quickly cowed by partisanship and become cogs in the double wheel of two mindless and monolithic political parties whose only goal is to maintain their own position in power. The two-party duopoly is eating up America, destroying us through a culture of fear which makes us wary of expressing the independent spirit that distinguishes us as uniquely American. Unless it is checked by a popular movement, the two-party system will slowly bargain away the American dream in exchange for power and control.

Who are the Nonpartisans? We are not Democrats. We are not Republicans. We are only Americans -- those who want to act like Americans again. We are citizens who believe we can do better than the mush fed us by the two-party duopoly. We are thinkers who think our minds should be free of mindless partisan pandering. We are free people who want an opportunity to express our freedom at the ballot box and have it matter.

What do we advocate? Instant-runoff voting, an election procedure which will prevent future generations from having to choose between supporting the candidate they like and opposing the candidate they fear. Abolition of the Electoral College, a system of choosing our President which keeps the candidate with the most votes from winning the election -- an idea totally opposed to any reasonable conception of democracy. Ballot access reform, which will allow every American entry into the political process. Campaign-finance reform, which will limit the participation of monopolistic special-interest groups in political decision-making. And most important of all, eradication now and for all time of the two-party system whose only goal is to perpetuate itself and to keep the American people out of American government.

What will we do about it? For starters, we will use this website as an informational clearinghouse about the weaknesses of the system. We will talk and argue and organize and gain in strength as people begin to listen to our cries for liberty. And they will listen: for Nonpartisanship underscores everything that the American people are crying out for in their government and in their leaders -- an all-encompassing vision, a charismatic courage, a bravery of expression that transcends politics to become true leadership. Then, when we have the ear of a multitude of Americans, when we have a national movement on our side, we will push for reform of the American system of politics by supporting reformist candidates, by pushing reformist bills and amendments, by advocating Nonpartisanship in the halls of our government.

Until the time of our strength, our goal is to build a movement capable of reclaiming America through electoral reform. We will found Nonpartisan organizations all across America (a detailed plan for such a network will emerge on this site within the next week). We will spread the word at county fairs, in information booths, on street corners. We will continue to use this website as an organizational tool to support all our other efforts.

So if you want to see America revitalized, join our cause. Post comments on this site. E-mail us with ideas. Write up position papers. Organize Nonpartisan groups in your community. Above all, never give up hope in American liberty or in the wisdom of the American people when allowed to express themselves in a free manner.

I await your response.

-- Jeremy Young

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Nonpartisanship: A Brief Personal Reflection

There exists in our contemporary sociopolitical structure a tyranny of the majority which stifles the very ideals of freedom and independence upon which our government and country were founded. This form of tyranny is unlike others in that it is not directly enforced by government leaders, but rather by the opinion of the citizenry. It is through the force of majority opinion that dissent against the norms of political organization us kept down. While technically free to dissent from and protest established norms of political behavior without government impediment, the dissident instead faces the foe of common opinion. When he goes against that he is threatened with social excommunication and censure. This is a force potentially as strong as any other form of tyranny in stifling the independence and freedom of expression.

This tyranny is perpetuated in and by the structure of our current party system. The idea of a two-party system has become so ingrained in our society amongst the majority that any attempts to branch outside of it are instantly dismissed. This dismissal is tied to the assumptions and complacency of the majority with the system as it stands now, and the tendency of individuals within the majority to act in accordance with others opinions rather than their own. The individual feels that without the backing of the majority, the cause of change and subversion is worthless. Attempts at change disrupt the flow of sociopolitical norms, even if these changes are good, and the majority feels threatened at this prospect; thus, the perpetuation of a dual-party system in the United States.

The recent phenomenon of “bipartisanship” is an example of how opinion is becoming more homogenized because of the majority. It is the current political fashion to be “centrist” so as to appeal to the largest possible majority. People in both parties are holding increasingly similar political ideals. While this is a good policy for getting votes, it is one that stifles the political debate in our nation, and merely perpetuates norms, good and bad, making it even more difficult to make and real progress in solving the problems faced by our country.

It is the aim of the Nonpartisan, though, to look beyond the majority and see that quality of ideals is not determined by the numbers of people who hold them. Advancement is made through dialogue and debate of different issues, not pandering. While it is impossible to remove the influence of the majority from democratic government, it is the Nonpartisans' aim to loosen the confines of that majority, and open it to more dynamic modes of thinking. In this way, the Nonpartisan hopes to enrich the ongoing debates in our society and provide it with a fuller range of options, not limited by the scope of party agendas.

--Kathleen Frana

Monday, November 08, 2004

Downward Spiral?

The United States has at arrived at a time of great need. The inadequacies of our political system have never been as clear as they now are. Many across the country are disillusioned and disenchanted with the results of the recent party dominated election. The election was determined by a single state- Ohio and those of us in Democratic “safe” states such as Maryland realize that our votes did not make a bit of difference. The same of course holds true for those in Republican safe states, though they don’t seem to be quite as upset about their disenfranchisement.

The corporate fat cats now hold more power over the future than ever before. The CEO of Diebold (the company responsible for such things as pay for print and the electronic voting machines) and a staunch Republican is rumored to have promised the election to George W. Bush. Regardless of whether or not he actually did deliver, something delivered America into the hands of “more of the same.” Conspiracy theories aside the most widely accepted factor in steering us in our present direction appears to be the issue of moral values. Clearly terrorism, the threat of a draft, and the jobs of millions of US citizens are secondary to whether or not two men are allowed to kiss. This is dangerous and a clear path to disaster. The fact that we are so secure and but yet so stagnant that we are most concerned with government advocated morals is a herald of impending disaster. It is not the government’s job to dictate morals, nor is it the right of any individual or group of individuals to attempt to dictate the morals of others. I am a practical anarchist. I am a personal anarchist. I believe that a government that attempts to dictate morals is an unjust government, violating individual freedoms.

In my vision of an ideal world individuals would have maximum freedoms through maximum self sufficiency. This is not my ideal world. Sadly, my ideal world is not possible but what is possible is an overhaul of the present political system. The time is at hand for the elimination of a monstrous two party duopoly to be replaced by a multiparty system, leading to the ultimate ideal of a no party system. The inadequacies of the present are clear and the time is ripe for change. Only through massive change will it be possible for the United States to remain a viable nation into the twenty-first century.

--Ben Porter

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Nonpartisan Manifesto

America is in a state of crisis. Social, cultural, and political forces conspire today as never before to limit our freedom of choice in everyday life. Thinking, articulating, and voting are virtually lost arts, too little practiced and too often ignored. Americans seem to have lost touch what matters most – our resilient and independent spirit that has defined us uniquely among nations as a people who value liberty above everything else.

Throughout history, there have been many instances of revolutionary political and social movements, of people questing for ideals, of politicians who transcended politics to lead their people in an enlightened manner. Laying aside the specifics of each movement, their main purpose has been to uplift people, to make them believe in something greater than themselves. Americans, jaded and overexperienced, have lost faith in the efficacy and value of these ideals. In short, resting in the false comfort of conformity and sameness, we have lost hope that the world can be made a better place through inspiration and change. It is time we learned to believe again in the ways and ideas that once made us great.

Most modern philosophies and movements teach simple survival. But there is one theory that goes beyond survival to get to the heart of human nature at its finest and to give Americans what they need most – optimism, renewal, and, above all, hope. It is a philosophy that connects all beneficial and enlightened concepts of governance by transcending them to discover the common spring from which they flow. The idea is Nonpartisanship; its goal is to liberate the American people from the restrictive social constructs in which they live, and to restore to them their rightful freedom of thought and action.

Since the founding of the Nonpartisan concept, various definitions of Nonpartisanship have been postulated. Some have argued that it is a philosophy of governance; others, that it is a political party; still others have viewed it as simply a way of looking at life. These concepts, too, can be underlain by a single definition. Nonpartisanship is made to encompass all other ideas through a series of four simple precepts. These precepts, taken together, form a coherent and empowering way of viewing the world in which we live.

1. Independent Thought

The first duty of the Nonpartisan is to think for himself. It is a simple but revolutionary concept that is surprisingly difficult to achieve in the modern climate. Countless societal pressures keep Americans in the servile position of ideological followers; we are not encouraged to think, but to act in concert with the behavior of others and with others’ idea of the societal good. The Founding Fathers granted us the right to liberty; social conformity threatens to take it away.
The Nonpartisan views the free consideration of ideas not only as his inalienable right but as his sworn duty as an American citizen. He believes that he is not to be indoctrinated like a child into the views and ways of others, but to pick and choose his ideas and customs as an adult. He enlightens himself by throwing off the shackles of social control and freeing himself to think and judge independently of all other people and belief systems. His liberty is not passive but active; he exercises it at every possible opportunity. In his entire life – in his relationships, politics, work, and worldview – he refuses to accept the ways and beliefs of others simply for ease or expediency.

Inherent in this precept is the idea of skepticism, the principle that one should not believe any idea unless it is supported with logical evidence or, more generally, unless it makes sense within one’s own system of beliefs. By rejecting pressure from peers, superiors, inferiors, or special interest groups in reaching any decision on an issue, by relying only upon facts and the wisdom of his own mind, the Nonpartisan ensures that any decision he reaches is uniquely his, and rests on the basis of his own system of ethics, beliefs, and logical argument.

The Nonpartisan is by definition an individualist, for he refuses to adopt the beliefs of any organized system or group. This requires distance from such groups, both physically and mentally. However, systems should not be uncritically rejected any more than they should be slavishly followed. The Nonpartisan examines each and every such system for the bits and pieces which he finds beneficial, and claims those pieces for his own.

2. Civic Engagement

Nonpartisanship cannot begin without a certain detachment from the world and from others. However, once the Nonpartisan has become separated from the world, he must plunge back into it and seek to better it. The Nonpartisan totally rejects apathy, for he is obligated by his beliefs to be critically engaged with the world around him. He accepts no part of it that he does not confirm within his own mind, but he leaves no part uncontemplated, and considers no part unchangeable. Thus, the individualist who refuses to follow society must also take an abiding interest in it; this is one of the syncretisms which render Nonpartisanship an all-encompassing philosophy.

There are many ways to become engaged with one’s society and community. The Nonpartisan must combat apathy in all its forms; he must continually seek to better his relationships, to heighten his creativity, to improve his experiences. However, the most potent and direct method of effecting constructive change in society is through government. The Nonpartisan must of necessity be politically informed, but he is not to act as jaded politicians act with regard to policy-making. Instead, he must apply thoroughly the precept of independent thought to his government – making decisions based solely on what would be the most beneficial for society, not on what is politically expedient for him or for anyone else.

The Nonpartisan, then, is a new type of politically informed citizen: one who does not simply choose between the imperfect and compromised political factions with which he is presented, but who pursues a governmental system which truly represents the totality of his ideals, goals, and beliefs. The Nonpartisan does not settle for canned, restrictive political ideas; instead, he recognizes that enlightened government can only be achieved through continuous, intelligent debate among an infinity of differing viewpoints, with every citizen taking part in the discussion.
In order to aid this process of meaningful debate, the Nonpartisan understands that all citizens need to be as informed as possible about the workings of their government. He serves as a clearinghouse of information about governance and politics, letting no opportunity pass without providing this information to his fellow citizens. This is, in a sense, the most powerful way for a Nonpartisan to better his society – by giving his fellows the knowledge they need in order to fight for their own ideals, just as he fights for his.

3. Third-Party Advocacy

The Nonpartisan advocates free consideration and idealized thought on matters of political import. In today’s political climate, however, independent thought and idealism are virtually impossible to express in any meaningful form. The obstacle is the two-party system, which has dominated American politics since soon after the founding of the United States.

The Democratic and Republican parties squash independent thought among their members and attempt to force out any and all partisan ideas which are not shared by party leadership. This is not to say that these parties are malicious; rather, they cannot survive or emerge victorious without insisting upon the absolute unity of their members. This unity, in turn, guarantees that there will be only two visions expressed at a national level: the Democratic and the Republican. Nay, fewer; for American political realities dictate that these parties act in a manner which will gain them power in the short term – a process which forces the parties to take only the politically safest actions, and to ignore all opportunity to present transcendent visions of governance. The two-party system, rejecting vision among its members and within its leadership, by its very nature squeezes all vision and freedom from the government of the United States.

The Nonpartisan is at all times an implacable enemy of the two-party system that now dominates America. He recognizes that America can do better than these two limp, restrictive entities which ignore the best solutions to problems in favor of those that are politically “smart”. He supports major-party politicians who break with their party leadership on a major issue of principle; third-party candidates and officials; and Independent political figures – all as a means of weakening the two-party structure which inhibits Nonpartisanship from taking root in the realities of government.

4. Vision

The Nonpartisan opposes politicians who bow to the two-party system. But what kind of politician does he wholeheartedly support? Simply put, the Nonpartisan hails any politician who unabashedly believes in none but his own beliefs, and is not afraid to express them to the world and to act upon them in the halls of government. Certainly he supports those leaders who agree with a majority of his own ideas of governance; but this ideological agreement is less important to him than ideological purity, honesty, and courage from his governmental representatives.

The viewpoints of Libertarianism and Progressivism are the yin and yang of political thought; they are diametrically opposed, yet together they encompass the totality of enlightened political discourse. Libertarianism believes that one governs best who governs least; Progressivism asserts that government has a strong role to play in the success of a nation. Most political parties and philosophies espouse one or the other of these ideals, or part of one of them; Nonpartisanship supports both of them in totality.

How can a school of thought advocate two ideas which are the exact opposite of one another? By advocating the basis which underlies both concepts. Progressivism and Libertarianism are both products of idealized political consideration. Each takes no prisoners, makes no compromises in its treatment of the political situation. In short, each seeks to govern society, not by simple situational coping and political deals, but by the light of a transcendent vision.

Nonpartisans may hold varied opinions, but Nonpartisanship itself seeks to transcend others’ opinions. It advocates vision in politics without specifying what particular vision should be adhered to. Instead, it is the Nonpartisan’s duty to promote all political figures who espouse a vision, while defining his own personal vision of government from a mixture of these two competing, but equally noble, philosophies.

The Four Precepts of Nonpartisanship outline a philosophy that merges the personal with the political in a quest for the betterment of oneself and one’s society. Independent thought, however, is a duty that transcends even the Four Precepts, which may be utterly rejected by a Nonpartisan so long as he is acting of his own free consideration. Anyone who follows slavishly any concept, even the Nonpartisan idea, falls afoul of the Nonpartisan mission.

For the Nonpartisan is a missionary, but he is not an evangelist of ideals; rather, he expounds upon a concept that underlies all ideals. While he may use conventional political means to support candidates for public office, he supports them only to further his goal of increased actualization of independent thought and inspirational action in society. Just as a Libertarian may support a Republican for philosophical reasons that run far deeper than the stated platform of the Republican Party, so a Nonpartisan may support any number of politicians on the grounds that they either espouse or indirectly further a part of his beliefs or of the concept of Nonpartisanship.

Why does Nonpartisanship matter now? Because Americans are being increasingly directed by our national culture to simply accept instead of to think. Because, despite all our technological advances, the American people have never been more ignorant about the society we live in. Because the two-party system has never been stronger. Because apathy has never been greater. Because Americans have never so badly needed a reason to hope.

Nonpatisanship is that hope – a dynamic syncretism of personal philosophy and political action that uplifts all those who follow its path. It is a radical philosophy that seeks to give America back to its citizens, intellectually, socially, and spiritually; however, it is also necessarily political, as it is the modern American political system which is its greatest obstacle to widespread acceptance. Thus, Nonpartisanship is a philosophy, and it is a program of political activism; but in its purest form, it is carried beyond both the intellectual discussion and the ballot box, and becomes a way of life.

-- Jeremy Young

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Nonpartisanship: America's challenge for the future

In the aftermath of what for many of us is a disappointing election, it is a good idea to take a hard and honest look at what went wrong. I would encourage us not to give a simple answer to this query, but to probe the deeper questions of the failings in our very political system.

It is tempting for Kerry partisans to argue that it was the electoral college system which gave the election to Bush; however, Bush won an even higher victory in the popular vote, scoring what even in a runoff system would be an outright win with 51% of the vote. Again, we could argue that too many people were disillusioned with the political process and did not vote; but voter turnout was higher than it has been in decades. We are forced to admit that the Bush Administration received a mandate on Election Night, a mandate for what Kerry ironically termed "more of the same."

Why was the President given this mandate? According to exit polls posted at, a plurality of Americans believed that the most important issue in this election was neither terrorism nor economy, but what the pollsters termed "values".

Of course, moral values are an important part of any vibrant, healthy economy. However, in the language of polling data, the term "values" is a highly conservative idea. It means narrow thinking on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and freedom of speech -- in short, restricting Americans' freedom to be Americans. Historically, all nations which have attempted to limit the liberties of their people have gone down to defeat and destruction. Yet in America, the greatest international superpower, not only the Republicans but the Democrats support many of these same restrictive provisions.

Why has the Democratic Party not combated these obvious weaknesses in the American character? It is because they have been focused for too long on winning by whatever means necessary, by putting forth the candidate who was the least offensive to the most groups instead of the one who was the most inspirational to the most people. The time has come to stop trying to win no matter what and start trying to win what matters: a sea change in American democracy which enables our best citizens, rather than our worst, to rise to electoral office.

While President Bush was winning reelection, another, very different man was running for political office here in Maryland. Bob Auerbach, a retired librarian, was running for Congress in the Fifth District, advocating more political parties, more choice in politics, more opportunity for intelligent debate of the issues which concern us all. Auerbach differs from the rest of us here at the College in one important way: he is fighting for reforms that he will almost certainly never see. Eighty-four years old and in imperfect health, Auerbach has not ceased his clarion call for a new era in American politics. Small good it did him in the election; almost bereft of any advertising or name recognition in the District, Auerbach won less than two percent of the vote.

The defeat of this noble American was part of a host of such defeats for liberal Congressional and Senatorial candidates. But even in this sea of disappointment, there were still some heartening signs for America. Fiery populist Democrat Brian Schweitzer of Montana boldly crossed party lines to name a Republican as his gubernatorial candidate and was elected governor of the mostly Republican state; Democrat Barack Obama spoke on national television about "the audacity of hope" and will be a United States Sentor from Illinois. But these glimmers of hope only serve to reinforce, not to contradict, the major trend: only where Democrats have broken from the attempt to win at all costs, only where they have made people more important than politics, have they captured the imagination of a people starved for leadership and vision.

Why does it always seem that we are choosing between two awful candidates who would both make horrible Presidents? Because the American two-party system forces us into such a choice. If America had real, inspirational government instead of petty, corrupt politics, we would choose among the best men and women instead of the worst to lead our country. We would elect not weak compromises, but strong and decisive leaders who could solve the problems of today and lead our country out of the stagnancy in which it now rests.

In a political debate held at St. Mary's College the Wednesday before the election, I was repeatedly heckled by several voters who wanted to know where Nonpartisans stood on issues instead of reforms. I answer them that they should not ask me where I stand on issues, but inquire who it is that decides where America stands. Right now it is the most narrow of Americans, rather than the most Americans, the most ideologically wishy-washy rather than the most thoughtful, who make that choice. The Democrats cannot change that; only Nonpartisanship can.

The challenge of our time is to realize that our choice is no longer between the Democratic and Republican Parties, but between true, meaningful electoral reform and a society dominated by the most dogmatic of ideological positions. The day of Nonpartisanship has arrived; Americans must now decide between the victory of intelligent democracy and the defeat of all that we hold dear.

-- Jeremy Young

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Welcome to a new way of thinking

Our nation is in a state of crisis.

As you read this, your liberties, indeed the liberties of all Americans, are being stolen. They are not stolen by the Patriot Act or by Roe v. Wade, but by the existence of two monolithic political parties which oppress us with their double monopoly on political thought.

Who are we, and what are we about? You will see in the near future. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the illusory freedom you think you have.

Soon, all too soon, you will learn you have none at all.

-- Jeremy Young