Join us at our next First Monday Forum, Monday, Nov. 1, 7 pm. Click on our Events Page on our menu. LIV's efforts grow out of the most significant rupture in the two-party system in the 20th century led by the guy with the Texas twang and his charts in tow -- that was our greatest Texas independent, Ross Perot. His most important contribution, we believe, was shared in the letter we sent to Andrew Yang, appended below. Perot dared to create a new political party -- the Reform Party -- which died in court short years. But, most people who change history will tell you they learned more from their failures than their successes. For the few of us still around, we learned that which is contained in this famous Perot quote above and shared with the new generation attempting to break through the two-party system.
Davy Crockett was a rock star in his time and famously without a "party hand-cuff." This coming Monday at 7 pm, LIV's First Monday Forum will be a strategy session focused on how candidates can un-cuff themselves from their party's orthodoxy for the 2022 election cycle. We'll discuss how to reach out to independent non-aligned voters, just as the candidate filing period opens on November 13th and ends in 30 days.
LIV sent the following letter to Andrew Yang in c/o the Forward Party a week ago. Feel free to reach out yourself and suggest they work with LIV's agenda here in Texas.
Dear Mr. Yang:
We watched your recent interview on PBS and were inspired and elated!
The League of Independent Voters of Texas is an all-volunteer 501c4 non-profit organization. Our small board is an amalgam of people from across the political spectrum who have been looking for a way forward to competitive elections. We have deep experience in various significant independent campaigns, third party efforts, and citizen ballot measures.
This involvement includes the historic rupture with two-partyism led by Ross Perot. One of us was the chief organizer for the Reform Party of Texas and served on the party’s national committee. Several of us participated through and beyond the Reform Party’s heart-breaking demise in four short years. We wrote about it when Perot passed from this world in 2019 “Ross Perot Memoriam from his grassroots: The Imperfect Insurgency.”
As we mourned the death of the Reform Party, our involvement in the profound independent experiment kept us going. We refused to spend any time worrying about how little money we had. We did what we could by going local.
We believe the Forward Party effort leading with electoral reform (rank-choice-voting and open primaries) is exciting and commendable. At the same time, we wonder if the horse might be before the cart? This is a question, not a critique. And the answer might be more like the horse and cart should be side-by-side.
Perot’s 1992 campaign forged a mass independent electoral revolt. It was such a vast rupture we didn’t know what to do with it. Let us not forget that Perot was leading in the California primary at 45%. He was on his way to unbelievably winning the presidency when he abruptly dropped out.
Perot’s message led with economic populism (the “crazy aunt in the basement,” aka, the federal debt and fair trade, anti-NAFTA). It was not long after that he articulated the need for electoral reform, especially campaign finance reform.
The independent movement was still kicking in Texas in the 2006 Governor’s race. With two independents running, receiving a combined 31%, 40,000 more votes than the Democratic candidate assured us that Texas independents were ready and willing to vote independent. Rick Perry was reelected with only 39% of the vote.
Inside the national parties, both the Obama 2008 rupture and the Trump 2016 rupture are instructional. Though quite different in their politics, both presidential campaigns carried a similar message: economic populism – the appeal to the grassroots, combined with political reform.
When Barack Obama took the presidency, his campaign team had a rigorous debate about what to do with his grassroots volunteer organization (an amalgam of Democrats, Republicans, and independents) – Organizing for America (OFA). We wholeheartedly agreed with Obama’s ground game architect, Marshall Ganz, who lost the debate.
Ganz urged that OFA remain an independent organization with independent leadership outside the presidency and the DNC. Ganz argued that this would provide the tension necessary to keep the Obama movement moving forward while Obama entered the government. In our view, the decision to house OFA under the DNC was one of, if not the failure of Obama that gave rise to the Trump movement and right-wing reshaping of economic populism and political reform.
We also fear that leading with electoral reform is too sterile for it to galvanize a broad-based movement of the American people. Economic populism and political reform belong together. And an independent political movement and a party do too. Without this, it may not be possible to adequately mobilize the 40% of Americans who identify as independents.
Again, these are questions we have. We’re sure you have noticed that Texas is in a terrible one-party lock-down following the aggressive gerrymander that was very recently completed by the Texas Legislature. The candidate filing deadline is on December 13.
In essence, we are in a scramble, so we hope you will forgive us that we haven’t yet read your book.
Though regretfully, Texas does not allow statewide measures by petition, we have been exercising municipal petition rights in Texas for years. Local measure petitions can reach folks living in home rule cities where the vast majority of Texans live.
Taking the risk of the massive failure -- the Reform Party -- was Perot’s most significant contribution to America. It taught us some painful but invaluable lessons.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for taking the risk to move out of the two-party arrangement.
In closing, we want to encourage you and work with you in any way we can. We hope to hear from you.
Linda Curtis, Board Member & Co-founder
Thanks to the work of Paul Robbins, and the Austin Bulldog, you can read this five-part series about the lack of trust in our energy grid that has spurred many folks to seek backup power at great expense. This link has links to all five articles.
Though it is mind-boggling as to why certain items become amendments to the Texas constitution, we still encourage you to vote on the eight statewide constitutional amendments on your ballot. Early voting ends Friday, Oct. 29. Check the League of Women Voters Nonpartisan Voter Guide. If you want the deep dive, read thereport by the House Research Organization. Election Day is Tuesday, November 2. Be sure to check out what else is on the ballot in your local area.