On Saturday, hundreds of Independents from across the country gathered in New York City for the CUIP’s National Conference of Independents entitled, “Can Independents Reform America?” The conference was organized by the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, which is perhaps better known by its online portal at IndependentVoting.org. Founded in 1994 by independent community organizers and third party activists, the organization now has local affiliates and chapters in over thirty states. The daylong event, which was hosted at New York University, featured: a presentation by the group’s president Jackie Salit, a panel discussion on “breaking into a partisan system,” numerous “dispatches from the movement” in which representatives of state affiliates reported on their ongoing activities, an open forum for questions and comments from the audience, and even a mock trial that pitted the parties vs. the people.Read the rest for details. Of course, at most conferences the primary attraction is not the individual panels themselves but rather the breaks between them. Between the sessions, I had the chance to meet up with a number of folks I have been in regular correspondence with through Poli-Tea over the last two years including Nancy Hanks of The Hankster, Randy Miller of the Utah League of Independent Voters and Solomon Kleinsmith from Rise of the Center. I also chatted with Joe Gandelman from The Moderate Voice, Raimon Nemar from Legend Mag, Larry Reinsch from the Independent Voters of Iowa, and Theresa Amato, whose recent book The Grand Illusion has been called "the best book on ballot access ever" by Richard Winger of Ballot Access News.
There do not seem to be any reports on the conference in the mainstream press, but there are more than a few in the independent media and blogosphere. A sampling:
• The Examiner: "Party Politics Under Attack at National Conference of Independence"
• The Moderate Voice: "Independent Voters in Major Conference in New York City"
• Black America Web: "African Americans Riding Wave of Independence"
• Nia Means Purpose: "Unpeeling the Power of Independents"
• It's a Free Country: "The Independent Groundswell"
• The Independent View: "National Conference of Independents 2011"
• Celi the Actress: "Find Love in Battle"