As the Independent movement gains strength and momentum, it is only logical to expect a backlash from the partisans in the major parties. In Oregon, Independents are fighting for the very right to represent themselves as Independents.Read the rest for further details on this outrageous measure. In one fell swoop, the bill declares a crisis, asserts the necessity of implementing emergency measures to address the crisis, and employs those measures to stage a frontal attack on the First Amendment rights of the state's Independents. Of course, there is no crisis in Oregon. The state's Independent Party does not represent any kind of threat to the peace, health and safety of the public. However, with just 3% of voters in Oregon registered with the party, it is already clearly perceived as an existential threat to the entrenched interests of the state's ruling political class, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the state's independently-minded voters. From the Independent Party of Oregon:
Today, the Rules Committee of the Oregon state House is scheduled to consider a bill – HB 2442 – that would force the Independent Party of Oregon to change its name or face dissolution. More precisely, the proposal would prohibit any party from using the word ‘Independent’ in its name on the basis of the assertion that such use of the word “independent” causes confusion among voters and even threatens the integrity of the elections process. Absurdly, the bill goes so far as to declare a state of emergency regarding the matter, claiming that it is “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” according to the official summary (.pdf) available at the state legislature’s website . . .
On April 13, the House Rules Committee of the Oregon Legislature will consider a bill to abolish the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO). The bill bans using the word "independent" in the name of any political party, thus forcing the Independent Party to change its name by the end of the year or be disbanded.Over 400 individuals have already signed an online petition declaring their opposition to any effort that would seek to restrict the rights to free speech and association of the members of the Independent Party of Oregon. The comments appended to the petition provide a rare window onto the views of a wide swath of Independent voters from across the political spectrum.
“The free speech and free association implications of this bill are stunning, particularly when you consider that no legislator has listed his or her name as a sponsor,” said Party Chair, Linda Williams. “This is a transparent partisan attempt by a handful of legislators to strangle the Independent Party of Oregon in its infancy."
On second thought, however, maybe such a proposal is actually worth considering. Voter confusion may well rise to the level of a veritable crisis. But we must begin at the top to recognize its true contours. How many Americans cast their ballots for the Democratic party on the basis of the mistaken assumption that it stands for democracy and democratic principles? How many cast their ballots for the Republican party on the basis of the mistaken assumption that it stands for republican values and representative government? Should they not be forced to change their names in order to avoid such confusion? Unlike the case of the Independent Party of Oregon, confusion in this regard is a clear and present danger to the peace, health and safety of the American public. Indeed, it represents an immediate threat to the very existence of the rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution, beginning with the First Amendment. Government of, by and for the Democratic and Republican parties is a crisis of democratic, republican government.