Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Comic Relief



Originally posted at The Hankster

Utah specific edit to the naughty and nice list coming soon here! Done 12:45 Dec. 24th!

Thanks to the nearly 800,000 independent voters in Utah and the many committed volunteers who worked on various campaigns, causes and initiatives to open up Utah Government to the people.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2 Party System

Monday, December 6, 2010

One election debrief (mine)

I now have a life experience that I share with a very small group of people; I ran for public office as a non-partisan candidate in a partisan race. (and I polled over 20% in doing so, even 39% and 42% in the 2 highest precincts)


Utah is home to 1.5 Million registered voters, 51.5% of which selected "unaffiliated" on their voter registration. Not to come off as a statistician, but I postulated that the votes cast in my race would not deviate far from a representative sample of voter identification (which for Davis County is 49% R, 42% u, 8% D and 1% all others)*----
*From memory, not authoritative


Well, needless to say, I did not prevail in the race. It was hard not to take disappointment personally when the results didn't even match a reasonable projection of a point spread. Near record low voter turnout clearly did not help. Initially I wanted to write something like losing doesn't feel good no matter how unlikely a victory was at the outset. Upon closer examination of the results I can make a more realisitic even optimistic assessment by comparing the experience to scrimmaging an NFL team with close friends and family, some borrowed dirty practice jersey and no pads or helmets. While we took a shellacking, we put some numbers on the board against the pros, and that feels pretty darn swell!


it took over 70 years of organizing to enfranchise women



So, since Nov. 2nd until now, I have had to pinch myself daily to remind myself that it (the election) never was about me. It was about people having representation without a party obstacle in an admittedly very obscure office.


I am positive I am not the first or last independent just this year bemoaning the fact that a better, more pro-active, better qualified candidate could not surmount the illogical sole support for a candidate based on partisan affiliation.


Personal relationships are paramount


After working so hard distributing flyers and posting engaging content (facebook.com/Davis.PLS), writing white papers, speaking at meet the candidate nights and filling out candidate questionaires for a handful of groups and newspapers, the week following the election was somewhat of a personal vacuum. That and the pay cut I have taken in this economy will now persist for the forseeable future.


But, it is what it is, and 0-1 is a record for quitters. And it is only a loss if I forfeit for nothing worse than being a little behind at halftime against a professional party machine.

Lessons learned



  1. "There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come" Victor Hugo. While that may be true, I have learned to expect to slow down. Just because the public is ready to promote systemic political reform does not mean it will burst onto the scene just like that. (It took 13 years to ratify the constitution and over 70 years of organizing to enfranchise women).


  2. Personal relationships are paramount. In a recent conference call with independent organizers, Jackie Salit, President of CUIP stated 'the media has figured that the internet will change everything. Not so. People change things.' While I agree with that, I will add that the internet is simply another arrow in the quiver to sustain connections. The internet is not the end-all-be-all, but it can be a powerful component in networking. And the internet is turning the advertising revenue model of media outlets upside down. Traditional media now has millions of competitors just like that--including me!


    I'm convinced that personal relationships are the untapped power of an independent force in our wayward and exclusive politics. It is also the crutch many partisan candidates lean on--the personal relationships of others in the party that they did not cultivate themselves.


  3. Don't quit
  4. Success is how you define it
  5. Never stop networking


Happy Holidays


Randy










Saturday, October 30, 2010

Independents' Midterm Campaign

Dear President Obama,

First of all thank you for volunteering to do something I would never want to do.

I do need to tell you how much I have stuck my neck out for you as an independent leader in an independent state heavily influenced by a conservative establishment.

I served a year in Iraq as a First Lieutenant in the Army in 2004. I was incensed by the ineptitude of Secretary Rumsfeld and the zeal in former President Bush's heart that led him to justify and even defend deplorable human rights abuses of detainees in U.S. custody. I can go into detail some other time about how the treatment of these prisoners is the De facto policy of what the U.S. will tolerate without objection in the treatment of U.S. service members

In the fall of 2008 I purchased a large piece of canvas upon which I spray painted the words "HONOR VETERANS, VOTE OBAMA". I helped a Democratic voter win our election for mayor. Her Republican opponent attends my church and has repudiated me and my family directly and indirectly. I have worked on campaigns for Democratic candidates and non-partisan issues such as independent redistricting. In all this I have never changed my voter registration from anything but unaffiliated, yet I have organized for some local Democrat candidates more ardently even than your own party. You owe me at least one.

I will temper my criticism; I know how lonely leadership can be. Realize however that your best advisers will always give it to you straight.

Leaders make mistakes. Just like in a marriage, conciliation can be powerful even essential. What our country needs is not a liberal agenda, not a conservative agenda or a centrist or even a libertarian agenda. What our country needs is leadership. Washington is a place dominated by oscillating factions of 'bullies on the playground' as it were. Your faction, newly in control of the 'playground' has acted very exclusively and you have gone along with the crowd. Sir, you are in a historic position to make it right or make it worse.

My recommendations:
1. Tell your party to stop it. Enough with the partisanship already. A stiff arm approach tears at the fabric of our Constitution--a system by which disagreements and policy can be settled civilly with consensus. We are like Velcro--we cannot pull too hard in opposing directions without coming apart.
2. Be a leader. Make a bold statement. Change your party registration to none. Right now you are effectively the President and leader of a third of this nation; the DNC third. You have got to assert yourself as the servant leader of ALL. We will continue to languish as a people divided if you cannot find the courage to do this, and it will be lonely for a time.

Come back. Be a uniter. We miss you. God bless you in your efforts to be the servant-leader of ALL Americans; the kind of leader we need--the kind of leader we had before when consensus was in vogue.

Sincerely,

Randy N. Miller
Syracuse, Utah
randy@uliv.org

Friday, October 29, 2010

I told you so

Randy Miller April 28, 2010 via http://ivoteutah.blogspot.com/2010_04_01_archive.html
The independent paradigm that is taking shape today is both epic and historic. We are confronted with the task of completely changing the way we do politics and conduct elections. We are charged with returning to a government by and for the people. It is a remarkable form of government. It is not a suitable governing framework for a lazy and apathetic citizenry. It requires involvment. It requires discourse. It requires reconciliation and apology at times. It requires that we now begin doing what the two parties have taken upon themselves to do for us. It requires that those factions who are disappointed by the various outcomes of the voice of the people remain committed to our union of states and not let insurmountable differences fester with the feverish plague of secessionist thinking.

Kirk Jowers, October 23, 2010 via http://www.deseretnews.com/mobile/article/700075916/Utah-voter-turnout-A-state-of-apathy.html""Democracy is not for the lazy, but instead requires engaged citizenship," Jowers concludes. "Almost all of the ills in society today occur in vacuums created by apathy. Thus, our elected officials will always more readily respond to motivated voters, but when constituents do not turn out and vote, the special interests will always fill that vacuum.""

Book Review, Mad as Hell by Doug Schoen and Scott Rasmussen

Mad as Hell
How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking our Two-Party System


I was not impressed by this book initially. I started with an open mind thinking maybe the Tea Party movement is more mainstream, less ideological or effective than I thought according to the claims in the introduction of Mad as Hell. The first half of the book left me the impression they were trying to affirm the relevance of the Tea Party as means of selling books as if to say ‘See, you are mainstream. Our book says so. Now buy our book.’

It is worth noting that the editing prior to publishing was not done. The book is rife with spelling and grammatical errors as many reviews for Mad as Hell on Amazon.com will point out in detail. I can't help but wonder if this publication was just a get-rich-quick for-profit venture.

Granted the challenge to Rasmussen and Schoen is the rapidly changing dynamic of what the Tea Party movement is and who it is led by. Even since I started this review things have taken a turn with the Rand Paul campaign violence episode. Some old questions are now up in the air again: Who or what is the Tea Party? Who are the leaders? Is the Tea Party a bunch of racist hillbillies or a legitimate political force? Is the Tea Party grassroots or Astroturf? Pinning an accurate label on the Tea Party is probably not impossible. Just about anything one might say could stick with some truth and relevance. But being a groundswell movement, any labels subscribed to the Tea Party can only be transitory at best. Time will still have to tell what the movement will definitively stand for and more importantly accomplish long term.

From page 5 of the introduction of Mad as Hell: “It is not only America’s most vibrant political force “at the moment” to quote The Economist, but a movement that has unprecedented broad-based support, and the power to influence the 2010 and 2012 elections and, indeed, the future of American politics in ways that have been fundamentally misunderstood and not appreciated.”

From their own statistics later in the book on the demographics of Tea Party sympathizers: 80% are White, just 2% African-American. 68% are Protestant. Are we to conclude that White and Protestant is the new mainstream?
According to the University of Washington study on the subject (http://depts.washington.edu/uwiser/racepolitics.html) 45% of White Americans support the Tea Party movement. White support is evenly divided in enthusiasm: 23% strongly support, 22% somewhat support. White population (18 years old and older) from the 2000 Census is 205,158,752. Translation, nearly 1 in 3 Americans is a Tea Party supporter. One third is hardly a majority but still a substantial showing. Mad as Hell opens by asserting that the Tea Party movement can be classified as mainstream. I was skeptical of that assertion, but given these numbers it is safe to say that the Tea Party in general terms is in fact a mainstream movement.

Effectiveness


The effectiveness of the Tea Party can clearly be measured in the short term, but what about long term? The Obama administration has advanced a number of ideological agendas and the Tea Party is a largely dare I say ‘knee jerk’ ideological reaction. Neither persuasion addresses the issue of the necessity of systematic power to the people political reforms. Each side of this short term ideological skirmish is looking at the outcome of this skirmish as an ominous indicator of the future of this country. Although those concerns probably have some merit, where are the strategic thinkers looking beyond this relatively brief skirmish? And why or how did we wind up on opposite sides seemingly on grappling for control of our republic?

More insight into the Tea Party direction and affiliation with the GOP from Mad as Hell: “”the plurality of GOP voters (43%) say their party has been too moderate over the past eight years, and 55% think it should become more like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the future.” These numbers reflect a party driven by a populist core increasingly uninterested in compromise.” (p.171) More like Sarah Palin? Uninterested in compromise? Let me know how that works out for ‘ya. I guess I draw a lot of my skepticism from the fact that factions uninterested in compromise usually have a limited lifecycle in this country or go to great lengths to maintain their control unconstitutionally and unethically (Jim Crow for example).

The Palin Factor


Perhaps my skepticism is related to the Palin factor. I just assumed that both conservatives and liberals know that more appeal is better than less when it comes to winning elections. Like, love or hate Palin, or somewhere in between, I thought it was pretty obvious that Sarah Palin only appealed to party loyalists and evidently white protestant GOP loyalists at that. Truth is, Sarah ‘Fox News’ Palin does not have wide appeal. And the Tea Party movement seems OK with these types of ideological purist arrangements. So, I guess I am skeptical why they think the inequality 33%<51% isn’t an impediment from the start. The best consensus builder (Obama) won in the 2008 Presidential election. He hasn’t done much for that consensus in the meantime, but the basic logic has not changed. I don’t know. Perhaps they are banking on continuing to manipulate the Electoral College and to gerrymander districts (something Karl Rove has unabashedly sworn to do) —another testament to how radically we need to reform the political process away from party manipulation and control. GOP 'tea party' gains in 2010 are from a different kind of establishment power assertion and manipulation of the system, not from a wider appeal and building coalitions of groups who disagree on some points. It appears to me to be a line in the sand when success depends on a successful sales pitch.

So, I started the book skeptical that the Tea Party movement could be considered truly ‘mainstream’. I’m much less skeptical now, but the definition of the Tea Party changes so much from day to day, that it will just be interesting to see what shakes out.

The Conclusion chapter of Mad as Hell was the best. The book would have held me better had I read the conclusion first. Still, if any chapter received any solid editing, I would think it would be the conclusion and the editing is noticeably absent. Perhaps coverage of such a mercurial subject as the Tea Party requires that you publish quickly to get out in front before the subject reinvents itself. I’ll give the authors that one, but I do wonder if there is a niche of sorts for a new style of relevant content much lengthier than a blog, not suited for published video content, but not worth publishing as a hard cover or even e-book as the content may not be relevant in six weeks.

About the author: Randy Miller is an independent in Utah, founder of the Utah League of independent Voters and an independent candidate for County Surveyor in Davis County Utah.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A little indulgence--my own candidate biography

I am Randy Miller, a licensed Professional Land Surveyor in Utah and also a Certified Federal Surveyor. I am running for Davis County Surveyor as an unaffiliated candidate because I feel the race for County Surveyor should be a non-partisan race. The office of Davis County Surveyor needs to be filled by a candidate who is keeping up with modern technical trends in the surveying and geospatial fields.

A vision for how to improve the office of County Surveyor may not be glamorous or make for great reading, but I do have one. My aim is to be of valuable assistance to the private sector of surveyors and the property owners they represent. To achieve an elevated level of service, I have a number of projects I would like to tackle:
1) Make survey records and data accessible online
2) Protect public assets by setting up blue stakes notifications for jeopardized survey markers
3) Publish modernized geodetic control for critical survey markers

The work and value of surveyors is often not seen until it is needed so I frequently get the question “What does a County Surveyor do?” A county surveyor maintains records, data and survey markers that are used by surveyors in private practice to mark the location of boundaries for private land owners.

The next question you may be asking yourself is how is Randy Miller a better or more qualified candidate for the position of County Surveyor. The minimum requirements to hold this office are that one must be a resident of Davis County and hold a Utah Professional Land Surveyor’s license. Check and check. Additionally, I have studied diligently on my own time to become licensed in Wyoming which is a much more difficult and thorough examination process than the Utah requirements. I also spent the evenings and weekends for 4 months to complete the course work and 8 hour examination required to become a Certified Federal Surveyor (CFedS). The CFedS program (see http://www.cfeds.org) is a rigorous program of understanding thoroughly how to apply and perpetuate the Public Land Survey System. The CFedS program includes substantial training on how to gather evidence and special considerations for standard parallels, military reservations and meander corners; conditions that all exist in Davis County.

What does all this mean? It means Davis County needs a County Surveyor that really leans into it. It means we need a County Surveyor who strives to uphold the highest levels of competence and who is committed to publishing information in the easiest formats available and referenced to the most current and accurate GPS positions. I have prepared myself to meet these demands and feel I am the most qualified to serve as the next Davis County Surveyor.

It is important to me to run as an unaffiliated independent candidate. I have declared my independence from the two parties as a matter of conscience and principle. Public service is as simple as understanding the wishes of the people and acting upon their needs and desires. For more information about my candidacy and the growing independent movement of unaffiliated voters, please contact me by email: public@uliv.org. Please take time to also visit our collective website www.uliv.org.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dave Glissmeyer commentary on Friedman

Dave Glissmeyer www.congressmandave.org has this to say about Friedman's New York Times article:

"Politics in the U.S. can be pretty discouraging these days, so when a positive development occurs it merits our attention. Accordingly, I take a certain amount of pride in noting that many of the fundamental themes I’ve been hammering home for the past year are now being confirmed by some of the country’s top syndicated writers.

Of great interest, I encourage you to take a minute and read Thomas Friedman’s opinion piece in the New York Times about our decadent two party system and the potential emergence of independent candidates and an independent party."

full text

Dave Glissmeyer's commentary on Friedman

Dave Glissmeyer www.congressmandave.org has this to say about Friedman's New York Times article:

"Politics in the U.S. can be pretty discouraging these days, so when a positive development occurs it merits our attention. Accordingly, I take a certain amount of pride in noting that many of the fundamental themes I’ve been hammering home for the past year are now being confirmed by some of the country’s top syndicated writers.

Of great interest, I encourage you to take a minute and read Thomas Friedman’s opinion piece in the New York Times about our decadent two party system and the potential emergence of independent candidates and an independent party."

full text

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Political Reality String Theory

So I transcribed a number of notable quotes from Lou Dobbs book “Independent’s Day” and started adding some commentary. First I sorted Dobbs quotes into 5 or so categories and started looking at which I would comment on first. I had to add a category of sorts that I’ll call string theory. My first concern is the lamentable progress in the War on Drugs. I have 3 young kids and the prevalence of drugs is a serious concern to me as a parent. Following closely on the heels of the war on drugs is a concern for what I will call Disorderly Immigration (illegal only speaks to a small portion of the problem) followed by our disjointed Political Process aggravated by an overwhelming prospect of staggering national debt. The political string theory goes like this in my thinking tonight. The drug trade largely underwrites and necessitates illegal immigration of refugees from this war. Their trips are often subsidized and capitalized by acting as couriers of very harmful substances (far in excess of marijuana). And nothing productive will emerge in the foreseeable future because of the corporate shills on Capitol Hill namely the Democratic and Republican parties. And on that note I’ll quit for tonight—there isn’t much need to frill reality up with a bunch of fluff. We have serious problems to address. We need leaders to do it. And true leaders seldom emerge from the partisan cesspool of the GOP / DNC.
Out.
Randy

From Lou Dobbs “Independent’s Day”

As is often the case, the Bush administration and I don’t appear to be looking at the same statistics. Or perhaps we just have different concerns. Or perhaps I simply have an unrealistic expectation of what our government leaders’ responsibilities are to ensure all Americans “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” How can anyone of any ideology, political persuasion, or religion who claims to value each and every American and treasure his or her rights as citizens tolerate our government’s failure in the war on drugs? p. 188.

“The Democrats like eliminating the borders between the three countries because they see potential voters coming out of Mexico. The Republicans see benefits because big business, one of their big constituencies, sees cheap labor and resources from Mexico and even Canada to be exploited.
“So both parties, in other words, Lou, have a vested interest in keeping this all hushed up.” p. 167.

Five decades ago, there were only four congressional caucuses. Today there are approximately two hundred, most of which are dedicated solely to particular countries, regions, races, ethnicities, specific issues, and special interests. We should be better served if we rid Congress of these spurious and divisive caucuses that serve narrowly focused special interest groups and instead create the “We the People” Caucus. p. 163.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independents Day (book by Lou Dobbs)

I finished The Kite Flyer yesterday and picked up Independents Day by Lou Dobbs. I had time to read just the inside flap and introduction but I think I am going to really really enjoy this book. Quoting from the inside cover of Lou Dobb's Independents Day Awakening the American Spirit:
In his bestselling War on the Middle Class, Lou Dobbs reported from the front lines of a conflict that threatens to tear our country apart: the war that the government and big business have waged against working Americans. But in every war there comes a counteroffensive, when resistance arises, stirred by the fundamental human desire for dignity and self-determination. Independents Day is a rallying cry for a new vision of what the country could--and by all rights should--be in the twenty-first century.

What has happened to America? Lou Dobbs opens Independents Day with a critical and sobering view of where we stand today, and how a century of misguided policy and misplaced values has brought us here. A government that was created to be of the people is now one dominated by elites; a government intended to be by the people has become one run by politicians who are unresponsive to the needs and will of the American citizens who voted for them; a government founded for the people has become instead a willing partner in serving the demands and interests of business. The casualty of this betrayal of our national legacy is nothing less than democracy, and Dobbs charts its tragic effects in every aspect of our society. From the expenditure of trillions of dollars to underwrite a war in Iraq that the great majority of voters does not support, to an administration that has brazenly done away with public accountability while amassing debt that will burden taxpayers for years to come, to a steady decline in jobs, education, and health care, we stand on the threshold of a future that only a generation ago would have seemed inconceivable.

But with the most important election in years facing us in 2008, there are signs that the public has begun to reclaim its voice in the national dialogue, asserting its right to be heard in a new, vitally engaged populism. Having been failed by Republicans and Democrats alike, the electorate is rejecting the pointless turf wars of partisan politics and confronting the genuine challenges that face us with a passionate commitment to the ideals of independence and equality and to the common good. Independents Day is a stirring celebration of the emergence of this populist spirit, and an inspiring vision for an America that will flourish by honoring the cherished principles on which it was founded.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Wingnuts" Book Review

A couple of weeks ago I was traveling on one of the more remote stretches of the Interstate Highway System between Fillmore and Nephi Utah. There isn’t a lot of FM radio reception to be had on this stretch, so I flipped the dial over to AM where I can tune stations from more distant locations as the sun sets lower. On this particular evening, I was able to pick up a right leaning independent radio host who was interviewing the Constitution Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Utah. I can appreciate a healthy skepticism of candidates of the Big 2, but the gist of the Constitution Party tenets seem polar opposites to me.

The radio show guest, Senate Candidate Scott Bradley more or less stated that we need to get back to the constitution in its original form (I'm paraphrasing from memory). He went on to postulate that every public or civic action could and should be settled by an examination of the U.S. Constitution. And therein is the paradox. This approach would mean city governments could be done away with and that state legislatures would only need to carry out those duties specifically detailed within the constitution. However, the constitution was a framework for a system of self-governance “by and for The People”. The Bradley plan is kind of a throw it out and embrace it at the same time kind of logic.

As for me, I support a different paradox, one embraced by the authors of the constitution; a system of by the people government that envisioned competing and divergent interests which made allowances for amendments and for differences to be voiced and settled. The Big 2 have embraced a very partisan model of what Mr. Bradley thinks will work; a top down autocratic inflexible application of the constitution as they understand it. Wrong. Though there are vast portions to be rigidly adhered to, the whole of the mission and intent is to establish a republic to be governed by the people—a statutory state of rigid flexibility if you will.

When I sat down to begin writing this, the Scott Bradley interview synopsis was supposed to be a segue into a review of John Avlon’s book Wingnuts, How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, so I better get started.

John Avlon is clearly an independent and a successful writer, but I started the book not looking for something to disagree about, but not wanting to be the centrist version of a super-ultra-mega-dittohead if you know what I mean. I would say I like 90% of the book. It is for the most part an insightful chronicle of the inciteful (its in the urban dictionary, good enough:). From a literary standpoint, Wingnuts is heavy on inflammatory quotes that are admittedly way over the top and problematic as the book indicates. I found the quotes overwhelming. They shed light on the crazy talk crowds, but I had a hard time keeping up with who was currently shouting.

My 10% disagreement was probably the first 10% of the book, predominantly his criticism of moveon.org and "Bush Derangement Syndrome". I'm not defending moveon.org, I am not even sure I've ever visited that website, but Mr. Avlon portrays radical reactions to Bush administration policies as "wingnutty". I was independently incensed by a number of Bush administration blunders, and I mean livid mad--and I voted for the guy......twice. Oops. I'll give you my personal stories.

First, I was in Iraq with the Army in 2004 and I was well, quite unimpressed about stories emerging about prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and torture and injustice at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I was particularly concerned about these abhorrent acts because it could and did elevate my personal risk of injury or death, though thankfully I came through unscathed.

Second, and this is still a very disturbing insult to me. I was driving to work in Draper, Utah, just listening to NPR when they broke a disturbing story that a U.S. Army and Navy whistleblowers revealed, without meritable dispute from the NSA, that NSA personnel were recording, transcribing, distributing and mocking intimate conversations between GI's in the Middle East and their spouses or partners here in the states.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTOoZYRYfM0
So, on this point, I will disagree vehemently with Mr. Avlon, I don't think any vociferous objection to that breach of the law and decency is vociferous enough. It is crazy and wingnutty NOT to be incensed by such immoral and illegal activity directed against the real warriors and their families in these wars.


All that being said, I am going to give Wingnuts 3.5 stars on my Amazon.com review for being better than average but not great. And now I have a new book to add to my booklist--"The Shadow Factory" by James Bamford.

Closed Primaries = Subversion + Dead Wabbits

Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free. Utah Phillips
So I came across this op-ed in the small local paper here in Davis County Utah written by the editor Rolf Koecher on the topics of open primaries and the dysfunction of a 2 party duopoly. Mr. Koecher articulated the 2 party shrinking tent problem in a way that I have not been able to, though his concern is directed primarily at the Utah Republican Party.


"I took advantage of early voting last week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the candidate I wanted in the race for U.S. Senate. And neither could the majority of Utah voters. 
...in Utah there has been a concerted, and noticeable, effort to circumvent the voters. And whenever the Clipper has challenged actions by the Legislature or by city officials in Davis County, it has ultimately hinged on this key issue...we are troubled when efforts are made to keep the ultimate decision making from the voters. 
Ironically, that means the party that fancies itself as the protector of the Constitution is in itself subverting this document when it 
(a) sanitizes the process by making sure voters only get to select from hand-picked and approved candidates, and 
(b) tries to do everything in its power to keep citizen-drive initiatives from reaching the ballot box.... 
Some of the world’s most despotic dictators have done the same, keeping themselves in power by offering only sanitized slates of candidates at the ballot box, making sure the public does not get a meaningful choice." wrote Mr. Koecher.

My first afterthoughts were "yes, that is exactly right. The two parties ardently pressing for, in most cases some positive policies, but in being so suspicious of opposition, closed and exclusive as a means to their ideological ends, are subverting the constitution they are loving----------to death." The immediate literary connection I made was Lennie from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and the poor loved to death rabbits.

Our constitution is a framework for a government by and for the people. The parties are suffocating symbolic rabbits day in and day out.

But what about us? There are two conditions that can handily subvert our ingenius by and for the people system of government. The first and most obvious and most discussed is the 2 party small and shrinking tent syndrome. The other toxic dose is administered by We the People when we allow it to happen, when we don't get involved. It happens when we don't get active, when we don't talk about it with associates, when we do not write letters to the editor, and when we do not connect with neighbors with similar concerns. In short, it happens when a government by and for the people doesn't govern.

I cringe when I hear lamentations that government is too big. That suspicious perception has missed the point entirely. Sure, our bureaucracies are a bit unwieldy, but until every eligible voter is involved to at least some small extent, our government is not big enough.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wait a Second

Earlier this year, April 4th to be exact, I spoke with State Senator Mike Waddoups and KSL host Richard Piatt about independent redistricting. Here is a transcript and a commentary.

Piatt: OK, so Fairboundaries wants to change the process of how these boundaries are drawn. How do you propose to do that?

Miller: Yes, the Fairboundaries initiative that's been drawn up proposes to establish an 11 member commission to redraw these boundaries. One thing to realize though is not just the Utah Constitution but the United States Constitution charges the legislature to redraw the districts after each census. The only problem is inside of that, there is an inherent conflict of interest, you have the fox watching the henhouse essentially.

Initially, I think when they framed the constitution, I don't think our founding fathers, with as much skin as they had in the game, having gone through a bloody revolution, they essentially were traitors to their country, and what they went through they could not have possibly have imagined the low level of character that it would take to manipulate these districts for a particular political gain.

Piatt: Lets take a look at that graphic again and show what exactly this petition purports to do. It purports to create a commission that's independent.

    11 member commission
    No more than 4 from any political party
    Anti gerrymandering standards
    Open, transparent process

Sen Waddoups, do you believe that can be the case? Is the system as it exists right now better than what they are proposing it should be?

Waddoups: I think the current system works very well, for proof of that I would point to the fact that Utah has never been sued for a gerrymander for innappropriately drawing the districts. Most states where they have gerrymanders have lawsuits. The Texas example, there was a suit going on for 10 years until the next reapportionment. Utah never gets sued because we have people that are representing their constituents that are doing the right things.

Piatt: But you don't purport to say that gerrymandering doesn't exist. There are examples, the ones we showed you have a couple in your folder there. So is gerrymandering a problem do you think?

It does exist in this country yes, it doesn't happen in Utah because
of the constituency that we're representing. In Utah it's expected that we will represent our constituency and if we don't it's expected they would vote us out of office.

Piatt: Do you resent this notion that you're one of the foxes guarding the henhouse in this process?

Waddoups: I certainly do, because it says in the constitution that the legislature will draw their boundaries and those boundaries are drawn by people that are elected by the public. I would say this maybe is the rooster guarding the hen house but certainly not a fox.

Commentary


1. So, if I am understanding the Senator correctly, 'Utah is a rare example where politicians do the right thing and represent their constituency or they are voted out, not like other places in the country where unresponsive representatives are not voted out'? Alright, general public, please weigh in on that one. I for one think a jury will not buy that argument.

2. We've never been sued, so see, no gerrymandering. C'mon. If we all took that attitude at work how long would our companies be in business. We've never been sued for negligence, so naturally our product or service is superior

3. We have legislators doing the right thing and representing their consitituents? Like Kevin Garn and Sheldon Killpack?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Open Primaries, Play by Play

Unrivaled in popularity perhaps only by curling is the issue of open primaries. I had a letter published in the Davis County Clipper today clarifying the finer points of unaffiliated voter registration and voting in Utah Primary elections. As luck would have it, the letter appeared in print next to the bi-monthly left/right column Her Point / His Point by Dawn Brandvold and Blaine Nichols. The column is aptly named "Political parties should stop playing games and just cooperate"

You can read the links for yourself, and I encourage you to do so, but if you have perservered this far and just want the highlights so you will have enough time for the curling highlights, here is the play by play action summary for you.

The page opens up with Davis County independent Randy Miller thumping for a non-partisan option to be added to Utah primary elections allowing the non-partisan Utah majority to advance worthy candidates regardless of party. The ball rims in and out with just under 12 to go here in the 2nd quarter.

Brandvold clears the rebound and speculates that maybe this is the year that independents will support Sam Granato over the yet to be determined tossup between Republicans Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater. Maybe, but from where I'm sitting I see a lot of independent voters headed for the concession stands on this one.

Nichols inbounds to himself and crosses the half court line. Nichols holds up, yo-yo's left and heads for the extreme right. 19 on the shot clock, Nichols pulls up and shoots for 3. Airball, and that is the Morgan Jeweler's play of the game. When asked, Nichols says "Until recently Republicans held “open primaries”, encouraging everyone to show up and vote. It became apparent that those primaries were being infiltrated by Democrats fruitlessly trying to swing elections to the more liberal candidate. One day, Republicans woke up, slapped their collective forehead and said, “Hey, Why don’t we close our primaries so Democrats can’t play games?”

I guess now that 'their' primaries are closed they are encouraging everyone to not show up and vote? We'll have to go to overtime on that one.

(What Mr. Nichols doesn't know is that we have secretly switched the voter registration of thousands of Utah Voters, and less than 9% of all voters in Utah are registered as 'Democrats', so the extent of their 'game playing' is really quite limited.)

The buzzer sounds and that's it folks. You declare the winner and let me know please. Hopefully in the end it is the people of Utah that win. I mean, for Pete's sake, I'm tired of losing to the dog gone Washington Generals.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A time for thanks

Andrea and I hosted a barbecue Saturday for friends of the Utah League of independent Voters. We wish to extend a special thanks to our call in guest Dr. Omar Ali of Towson University in Maryland who visited with us about open primaries equating the practice of closed primary elections to a broader application of Jim Crow practices upon a larger group--the large bloc of independent voters outside of the 2 party establishment.

Special thanks also to our other candidate class guests:
Dave Glissmeyer (independent for Utah's 2nd Congressional District), Joe Puente (independent for Utah's 3rd Congressional District), Jared Stratton (Libertarian for Utah's 1st Congressional District), Morgan Bowen (Democrat for Utah's 1st Congressional District & Ross Perot supporter back in the day), Burke Larsen, independent voter and Davis School Board candidate for precinct 6.

Blogger Nancy Hanks was also a distant guest who live blogged about our event: The Hankster

Dr. Ali commented on a video which appears on independentvoting.org regarding open primaries. Here it is, enjoy.



about the author:
Randy Miller is the founder and President of the Utah League of independent Voters. He lives in Syracuse Utah and is an independent candidate for Davis County Surveyor in 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Crisis of Democracy? Voter Turnout in the Pennsylvania and Kentucky Primary Elections

...is the non-vote a vote of no confidence in the two-party state and duopoly system of government? Less than a third of all voters participated in the Kentucky and Pennsylvania primary elections. Democratic and Republican US Senate candidates are capable of scoring "major upsets" with the support of just 7% of registered voters. Of course, the apologists of the ruling parties explain such facts away by alternately, and contradictorily, asserting the existence of voter apathy or voter contentment. But is this not a crisis of democracy? read more

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

But Wait There's More

Before I can even get the html unfolded and a post up discussing Carl Wimmer's foiled "opperation chaos" diabolical plot, the conservative loyal underground is right back at it. Evidently undeterred by the appearance of deliberate crossover election manipulation, some behind-the-curtain figure has brought to life a website encouraging Utah 2nd Congressional District Republican voters to infiltrate the Democratic Primary race between Claudia Wright and incumbent Jim Matheson on June 22nd; http://www.jimmatheson.com. Interesting it is not independents advocating for this.
The Salt Lake Tribune story on that pesky operation chaos. Yet another no acknowledgement that this is a 4 way race between the Morgan Philpot, a yet to be named Democrat, independent Dave Glissmeyer and Constitution Party Candidate Randall Hinton
Besides, you had an itch for another music video didn't you?



Big Hat, No Cattle

Time for open primaries (still)

Last week, another glaring reason to adopt fully open primaries emerged and immediate steps were taken by the Utah GOP to distance themselves from the appearance of anything-to-win subversion. I'm talking about Utah Representative Carl Wimmer's admonition for the state Republican party faithful to infiltrate the Democratic primary election to advance who he views as a weaker and too-liberal-to-beat-Morgan-Philpot candidate Claudia Wright.

    Says Wimmer"OK, Time for opperation chaos Utah style. Utah Democrats have an open primary election, so EVERY Republican in the Utah 2nd Congressional District needs to go and vote for Claudia Wright against Matheson. She is very liberal, and would give Morgan Philpot an almost certain victory in that district."


At the heart of this hypocrisy is our election code which allows political parties the discretion to close 'their' primaries or leave them open. (I say 'their' primaries because they do not pay for these elections.) Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has wisely advocated for open primaries as early as January 2009 and again this month.


The Salt Lake Tribune calls it both ways depending on the year according to its own editorial staff.





Illegal Immigration

The Utah GOP is all abuzz about illegal immigration when Gov. Gary Herbert considered a special legislative session to address the issue then recently backed down. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints admonishes compassionate and reasoned approaches to the matter. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695253048,00.html



The Stats Don't Lie

Legitimate polls of Utah voters chronicle the disconnect between a moderate Utah populous and extremist candidates victorious in the party convention caucuses. http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_14971056



The Snub

Corporate media chronically excludes non D/R candidates as if these dominant party figures are the only game in town or that there are only 2 sides to the complex issues facing our state and nation.



There is no mention of an independent or Constitution Party candidate in this article? Is it an article or a paid infomercial?

Truth is, it's
Anybody's Game

And don't forget the other legislative shenanigans this year,

    1. Afraid of the voice of the people rather than responsive to it, the Utah Legislature made the initiative and referendum process more difficult with SB275

    2. Rather than enact an independent ethics review process, the Utah Legislature cobbled together in record time a state constitutional amendment in response again to the voice of the people vis a vis Utahans for Ethical Government The amendment will be difficult to modify when it proves to be more ineffective than the Federal Elections Commission by design. Hopefully the amendment is not enacted as it still must be approved by voters.





Where to From Here?

"The times they are a changin'" Bob Dylan

The traditional left versus right, or in the case of Utah, right vs. righter, is waning in popularity. It never was all that popular unless you were a policy profiteer. Everybody except the extreme right and left it seems, have grown tired of Red rover, red rover, send voter right over. Where to from here is a question only you, the involved and empowered citizen can answer. I am looking forward to your many answers.




Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Utah 3rd District Debate Digest #2

Part 2 of the Utah 3rd Congressional District Debate

Jake Shannon


Thank you Randy for providing this forum, what a great idea! Ok, on to the issue of the "War on Drugs":

Prohibition does not work, as demonstrated by the end of the "Noble Experiment" heralded by the repeal of the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution (the ONLY Amendment to be repealed, with the passage of the 21st Amendment).

While its aims may have been wholly noble, the unintended consequence was the creation of a irresistibly profitable, violent, criminal black-market. This was evidenced by the violent exploits of Al Capone, et al. during Prohibition and now by the similarly violent acts of modern drug suppliers. "The War on Drugs" is even worse than the Prohibition of the early 20th century since it bypasses the Constitution of the United States in a campaign against its very own citizens.

Notice that you've never hear stories of drive-by shootings or homicides over legal drugs like tobacco, alcohol, or Prozac.

Notice how the Federal government raids medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized the substance in a clear violation of state's rights provided by the 10th Amendment.

Notice how hypocritical the "Land of Free" sounds when we actually have the highest rate of incarceration among industrialized nations. The greatest impetus behind this growth is the "War on Drugs." According to the Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, "The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges" (http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/usa/incarceration/). The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

This is unacceptable in my opinion. Law enforcement and courts are here to protect individuals from violent aggression and fraud, not dictating and punishing morality. Morality is the province of civil education and churches, not the government.

The War on Drugs is expensive, inefficient, and destroys American lives. Economists agree that an end of prohibition would benefit millions, creating extraordinary amounts of revenue (see http://www.econjournalwatch.org/pdf/ThorntonDoEconomistsApril2004.pdf and http://videosift.com/video/Harvard-Economist-on-why-marijuana-should-be-legalized).

I personally don't drink much and do not enjoy any other drugs, and likewise I don't support prohibition because it only serves to destroy families and waste money. As a professional hypnotherapist, I have helped many with drug dependencies (mostly tobacco cessation) and understand that the answer lies in education, patience, and kindness, not guns and jails.

Thank you.

Joseph Puente

Jake makes an excellent case for legalizing drugs but I'm curious to know what the effects of such an act might have on our society. My mind is particularly open to the legalization of marijuana for medical use so long as it can be clinicallly proven as an effective medicine. I'm not so sure about the legalization of hard drugs like cocaine, heroine or meth. I've seen what addiction to these substances can do to people. True, there are no drive-by shootings related to tobacco but does addiction to tobacco impact the lives of smokers the way the addiction to hard drugs does? Smokers don't "nod off" in a drug induced euphoria or effect ones ability to function productively. Can the same thing be said for drugs that are presently illegal? I doubt it.

I can get behind easing the penalties for minor drug offenses but legalizing hard drugs across the board is not something I feel comfortable with.

Jake Shannon

To answer your question, you need only ask what effect has the legalization of alcohol had on our society?

As my personal political hero, Rep. Ron Paul writes in his forward to Judge Andrew Napolitano's book "Lies the Government Told You":

"Of course, smoking, whether of marijuana or tobacco, does have negative health consequences-but respecting the right of the individual to be wrong, as long as they don't interfere with the rights of others, is one of the pillars of a free society"

My question to you Joe is this, since when is it the province of the state to concern itself with "ones ability to function productively"? The state does not have a legitimate claim on the fruits of our labor and the state does not own our bodies. This same principle underlies why I seek to abolish both prohibition AND the IRS.

Utah 3rd District Debate Digest Part 1

I setup a fan page on Facebook this week as a means to publicize a historic first in many ways; 1. a civilized debate 2. online between the candidates for the 3rd Congressional District in Utah. The debate to date has been primarily between Libertarian Jake Shannon and independent Joe Puente. I have not been able to contact Douglas Sligting yet. Jason Chaffetz and Karen Hyer have not been invited to participate yet.

I'm hoping this experiment will succeed in generating a very civil dialogue and bring some ideas to the light of day that otherwise would be obscured by the smoke and mirrors of traditional partisanship.

Two topics from 5 topic submissions from each candidate were selected to kick this week off:
1. Publicly Funded Elections by Joe Puente
2. The Ward on Drugs by Jake Shannon

Here is a digest of the debate so far.

Publicly Funded Elections


Joseph Puente


There is legislation in Congress right now to bring about publicly funded elections. It's called the Fair Elections Now Act. Under this law, candidates for the House and Senate who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for public funding—several hundred thousand dollars for House, millions for many Senate races. If they accept this funding, they CAN'T raise big-dollar donations. But they can raise contributions up to $100, which would be matched 4-to-1 by a central fund. The bill also calls for reduced fees for TV airtime, providing an incentive for politicians to opt into this system and run people-powered campaigns.

I am challenging all Candidates for the U.S. Congress in District 3 to put elements of this legislation into practice for THIS election. Most notably, incumbent Jason Chaffetz. I'm calling on him specifically to give up the nearly quarter of a million dollars in special interest money he has been paid and promise to accept nothing more from corporate and special interests and to limit personal contributions to $100 per person. Let's test this legislation and see if it can genuinely level the playing field for all those who wish to participate in our participatory government.

If Chaffetz chooses to ignore this challenge, then will make it clear to the people of District 3 that he embraces the status quo. That he values corporate interests over the public interest and that he would rather live with a corrupt and hijacked political system that favors a few wealthy people over the average individual.

For more information on publicly funded elections and the Fair Elections Now Act, I invite you all to visit the following web sites:

http://www.fixcongressfirst.org

http://www.publicampaign.org/node/38166

Jake Shannon


Again, this is another example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. Publicly funded elections have been found to be unconstitutional and ineffective, a bad combination in my estimation.

A 2003 study by United States Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that publicly funded elections in Maine and Arizona failed to produce measurable benefits (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03453.pdf). In 2008, "Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that the Matching Funds provision of the [Clean Elections] Act violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it opens up new avenues for possible corruption in the electoral process" (http://goldwaterinstitute.org/article/2534).

Campaign finance is an important issue but must be carefully vetted so as not to infringe upon First Amendment rights. In particular I find my opinion matches that of Robert A. Levy:

"[A]re there any campaign contributions or expenditures that should be illegal?

Yes: First, misuse of a government office by favoring donors who seek government contracts and services. That would breach an official's fiduciary responsibility to his constituents. Second, payoffs to a candidate — secretly contributed, then spent on personal pleasures like a new car. Numerous laws are already on the books to prosecute such abuses. But when a candidate fully discloses a donation and puts the money in a segregated fund that can be used only for constitutionally favored political expression, that is not corruption. And the First Amendment does not allow treating advocacy as if it were a bribe. Our system may not be perfect; but it is, after all, the system that the Constitution has established" (http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11176).

Joseph Puente

Then how do we make sure that candidates are beholden to the people and not the corporate interests that fund their campaigns? This has nothing to do with the first amendment. No one's right to free expression is being infringed through publicly funded elections it simply assures the public the that their interests are placed above those of special/corporate interests.

Jake Shannon


Well, as I quoted earlier, there are already many laws on the books already to prosecute abuses. But first I am concerned that the method you've proposed has been demonstrated to be A) ineffective B) and unconstitutional (having Judge Silver ruling against "clean" elections as a violation of Amendment 1).

My solution has three parts. First, I'd propose enforcing the laws already on the books.

Second, I suggest the most effective way to make sure that candidates are beholden to the people is to require all those that seek office must enter into a "surety bond" type of contract where if the politician does not live up to promises made during their campaign, they would face some sort of penalty or incur a serious cost.

Third, I would propose an Amendment to revise the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States to revoke corporation rights to contract, and to have those contracts honored the same as contracts entered into by natural persons. Corporations are not people, and as such should not be able to be protected by the First Amendment with regards to campaign contributions. This would make the only persons able to contribute to political campaigns be actual, natural persons, not corporations.

I know of no other candidate for office suggesting my second and third parts (but that doesn't mean that haven't been suggested like this before) as a solution.

Joe, do you have any substantial rebuttal to the evidence I've provided that demonstrates publicly-funded elections are inefficient and unconstitutional?


Gentleman, thanks for your thoughts--looking forward to much more.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

American independents: The success of the two parties is also their failure

by Randy Miller
Every American, every thoughtful student is an independent at heart. Many however by means of cowardice and dereliction or perhaps just being uninformed choose the easy path of partisan loyalty over the hard right of independence, liberty and organizing.

Every substantial positive and empowering step in our quest for a more perfect union has sprung up from an independent movement of citizens motivated to organize.

Your children are free to go to school without being exploited for their industry; thank you organized labor.

Women are now free to vote and to own property. I'm sure the women of our state and nation will raise a glass to honor the lifetime sacrifice of those stalwart independent women who took on the establishment repeatedly.



The independent paradigm that is taking shape today is both epic and historic.




All people regardless of race, creed or color can now be citizens and vote. This right always existed. The 2 party aristocracy just needed it's wings clipped. Thank you black independent movement.

Segregation is no longer legal. It was always morally wrong. Thank you again black independent movement, the score is now 2 for you and 0 for the two-party establishment.

The two parties have historically evolved to either oppose or take credit for these popular uprisings.

Women's suffrage, equitable labor conditions, black enfrachisement, desegregation--all these prominent and equitable conditions are great, but there is another shackle that must be cut. This new direction, this new paradigm is bigger than all those great and victorious developments.

We see today segmented uproars over nearly every piece of legislation and a constant castigation of partisan figures of the prominent 2 parties. The success of the two parties is also their failure. The uproar of every jot and tittle is a testament that the voice of the people is not being heard and acted upon. If 'We the People' had a shred of confidence that we were being heard then policy that doesn't go 'my' particular way would be more palatable. Individuals would be convinced that the people had spoken and that they had just been at odds with that voice and lost. However, this confidence does not exist. The two parties in their successful quest to dominate elected positions and policy conversations, have established an accurate portrait of an out of touch aristocrcy with 2 factions.

The independent paradigm that is taking shape today is both epic and historic. We are confronted with the task of completely changing the way we do politics and conduct elections. We are charged with returning to a government by and for the people. It is a remarkable form of government. It is not a suitable governing framework for a lazy and apathetic citizenry. It requires involvment. It requires discourse. It requires reconciliation and apology at times. It requires that we now begin doing what the two parties have taken upon themselves to do for us. It requires that those factions who are disappointed by the various outcomes of the voice of the people remain committed to our union of states and not let insurmountable differences fester with the feverish plague of secessionist thinking.

Thanks to Nancy Hanks for urging me to prepare this and for posting on her blog The Hankster
And for blogger Politea for inspiration and information

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting started

Hi everyone,
Just getting started. It's nearly 11 pm on Friday, but it feels good to be making this kind of progress. Look for some great content soon. Want to be a contributor? Contact me and make your pitch. randy atttt uliv dott org

I think this will soon be a great place to host interviews with stalwart independent activists throughout the state and nation.