Democrats No Longer

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I’m a registered Independent.

OK, OK. I know there is no such thing as an Independent designation, just unaffiliated.

Unaffiliated. Indecisive. Indifferent. Uncommitted. Uninvolved. Fence-sitter. Don’t care.

A truly perverse bit of political framing.

I hope my occasional contributions to the local debate (CitizenWill , OrangePolitics, SqueezeThePulp, the Daily Tar Heel, the Chapel Hill News) and my willingness to take principled, though sometimes unpopular, stands on local issues demonstrates a small measure of care and commitment.

For years I’ve worked to elect Democrats. Dropped a few bucks here and there for a few of their more worthwhile national candidates. Sat polls for the local Orange County party. Contributed oodles of time to their and other affiliated organizations’ efforts to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). No plans to stop those efforts anytime soon.

But I am no Democrat (I was once). And I am no Republican (never have, never will be).

Heck, don’t try to graph my position on the one dimensional line passing through the Democrats Right to Republicans…. I, like many other local folks, exist outside these parties calculus.

I don’t know why three folks chose this week, from the many other recent weeks of Democratic disappointment, to ask me how to switch their party affiliation.

Maybe it was the recent reversal on Iraq or just the steady dissipation of last November’s promise.

Why me? I’m certainly not trying to “recruit” Independents. Sure, I haven’t been reserved in expressing my dissatisfaction with our local Democrat US Representative. They each knew of my efforts to open the local political scene to Independents via non-partisan elections and other voting reforms.

And I’ve been quite open about my status.

When, during my 2005 run for Town Council, a few local political operators counseled quiet discretion – suggesting talk of my non-affiliation would lead to a loss of stalwart Dem votes – I countered that to do so would not only be against my own tenets but promulgate the ruinous myth that folks are only capable of selecting representatives that fall along a one-dimensional political axis.

They might’ve been right. I did lose.

There is safety in numbers. Yet change springs from the outliers. And in today’s United States, it isn’t too far from “united we stand, divided we fall” to “deru kugi wa utareru”.

If you would like to lose your affiliation, either Republican or Democrat, or register to vote under any flag, the procedure is easy:

  • Review the instructions here.

    If you wish to change your party affiliation, you must complete either a Voter Registration Application Form (downloaded from address above) or complete the reverse side of a Voter Registration Card that has been mailed to you and return to the Board of Elections. All changes must be either postmarked or received in the Board of Election’s office at least 25 days before the election.

  • Download the registration form here [PDF].
  • Emancipate yourself from either of the two currently recognized parties.

Scared? You don’t have to go totally “cold turkey”. You will still be able to play some of the old game, for instance voting in either party’s primary. Initially, in many ways both large and small, you’ll feel stuck on the sidelines – constrained to vote for choices you wouldn’t have made, for flavors as close as Pepsi to Coke.

At first you might feel a little light-headed drifting above our current political Flatland. Navigating the multi-dimensional political reality we all currently occupy, whether we appreciate it or not, without the constant tether of partisan loyalty is heady stuff. Don’t panic! After a while, the relief of free agency sets in.

Still, though shorn of your party’s old baggage, paralyzed by its intransigence no longer, you leave one burden for another.

Sorry. Independence doesn’t mean “indecisive”. It doesn’t mean “uncommitted” And it certainly doesn’t mean “don’t care”.

SxSWi: Inciting Self-Organizing Mobs for Local Progressive Activism

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

I submitted a panel proposal for Austin’s South-by-Southwest Interactive (SxSWi) 2007 titled Inciting Self-Organizing Mobs for Local Progressive Activism

Educated and opinionated, netizens are a fractious bunch. Rarely does on-line irritation translate into “real-world” local activism. With the proliferation of no-cost, net-based infrastructure and the power of the “long tail”, why do so few arm themselves on-line to battle off-line? Or even run for office? Join us in discussing how to rouse your local mob, tap their collective wisdom and promote progressive change.

SxSW is a combined music, film and new media technology (‘blog, vlog, podcast, social networks, etc.) conference spread over nearly two weeks. Local ‘bloggers Ruby, Kirk, ae, Fred, Henry went last year and, I believe, there was total agreement that it was fantastic.

SxSWi organizers have setup a system to let the public at large vote (10 at a time) which panels they’d like to see. I’ll be headed down South next March in any case – working on a panel, though, would be gravy.

Here’s the link if you want to help select the 140+ featured panels.

Voting ends ominously Friday, October 13th.

By the way, Fred has a proposal titled The Long Tail of Identity:

As we embrace social technology, the consequences of sharing our identities on the web are unknown. How will our social network profiles or weblogs affect our future possibilities? Does a search engine or archive really have the final say about who we are online? In the panel, we’ll discuss practical and theoretical approaches to online identity management, how our identity is perceived, and what innovations are serving our yet-to-be-defined identity needs.

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