Leave the Party!

If you're a Republican—leave the party!

If you're a Democrat—leave the party!

Frequently Asked Questions
About Independent candidacies, House & Senate rules,
and the LeaveParty Think Tank

The Muser gets mail—and also looks at Twitter comments and Google search questions.


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The Answers:

What exactly is LeaveParty?

LeaveParty doesn't exist yet. You'll build it, and create what it becomes.

Its initial purpose is to create a body of political knowledge to elect competent independent (and minor party) candidates to U.S. House and Senate seats. It is intended to be a crowdsourced, open, democratically operated, online think tank, using a wiki-based website (similar to Wikipedia). Politically-minded people will learn and teach other how to identify and develop winnable districts and viable candidates.

The intention is to ultimately deny majorities to both the Democratic and Republican Parties in both houses of Congress, and then for the House and Senate rules to be changed so that legislation can be introduced and passed on its merits, with genuine debate and collaborative effort.

If that sounds huge, it is. But it starts with forming the wiki website and beginning to learn from each other. Top ↑

Why are the House and Senate rules so important?

Those rules are a huge part of our political problems—and most of them are seldom discussed. The Senate cloture rule is the best known; it requires the vote of 60 Senators to close debate on a bill, and bring it to the floor for a vote. It means that either party can stop almost all Senate action, for any reason or no reason at all.

But there are dozens of other rules that govern everything from committee leadership and membership, to how bills are assigned to committees, to whether C-Span can show that a member is giving a speech to an empty chamber. Many of those rules are manipulated to block legislation, so bills can be defeated without Senators and Representatives having to vote against them.

Of course any rules can be manipulated, but new rules could certainly be written to make it easier to get bills to the floor for a vote, to distribute power more evenly, to limit the power and participation of lobbyists, and to hold House and Senate members more accountable to their constituents. And rule changes don't require constitutional amendments, or even laws; they can be passed by a majority in one house.

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Is LeaveParty a PAC?

No. LeaveParty will be organized as either a 527 or a 501(c)4 political organization, but not as a Political Action Committee. PACs, and many other types of political bodies are also 527s or 501(c)4s. The difference is that LeaveParty will not funnel money to candidates or other political campaigns. It's funds will be used to maintain the website and wiki, to publicize its purpose and build participation, and to support necessary research and organization. LeaveParty will be a democratically operated educational entity where citizens like you and me will learn, then teach each other how to win House and Senate campaigns. It will be a resource for candidates and for the citizens working to elect them. Then it will help those victorious candidates learn how to organize the House and Senate, and change the rules so legislation can be voted on its merits.

All along the way, you'll build LeaveParty. You'll make it what it becomes. Top ↑

Is LeaveParty just another party, by a different name?

No. A party is a group of citizens and candidates who supposedly have common political and ideological goals A party typically selects one candidate for each office, then runs a unified campaign to win that office. Parties gain power either by winning majorities, or by banding together to establish governing majorities.

LeaveParty is an idea, not a party. The idea is to deny House and Senate majorities to all parties, then to change House and Senate organization and rules so that legislation can be passed or defeated on its merits.

LeaveParty has no ideology, and no political philosophy other than representative democracy. LeaveParty will not select or endorse candidates, but will help citizens learn how to find and develop candidates on their own, with their neighbors. LeaveParty will not run campaigns, but will help citizens and candidates learn how to run effectively against parties. Top ↑

Can LeaveParty accomplish anything in 2012?

Yes. We can help you and your neighbors prepare to begin changing everything in 2014. It's essential to be working now, when political interest and passions are running high.

Then, when people begin next year to understand how little has changed through this presidential and congressional election, you can move into the hard work that will be necessary to find and elect solid, independent congressional candidates in 2014.

If you believe you have to work to elect Mitt Romney, or to reelect Barack Obama, or your Senator or Representative, by all means, do what you believe is right. But if somewhere down deep inside, you doubt that it will matter, please consider devoting some of your energy and resources to LeaveParty—for 2014 and beyond. Top ↑

How is LeaveParty different from Americans Elect?

In two essential ways: Americans Elect tried to nominate a presidential candidate; LeaveParty is working to elect Representatives & Senators. Second: LeaveParty will not choose or back specific candidates. Instead, it will help citizens learn, and teach each other how to find and develop successful candidates. Top ↑

How is LeaveParty different from independentvoting.org, indecan.org, independentvotersofamerica.org and other sites I find on the web?

People are angry and frustrated with our political system; so there are many new political organizations with websites. Some of them have a similar goal—to help strengthen and build support for independent candidates. LeaveParty's initial goals are very specific:

  1. The LeaveParty wiki will be built by politically minded citizens like you and me, so we can learn together how to identify and build viable, successful candidacies for the US House and Senate.
  2. We intend to help elect enough of those candidates to deny US House and Senate majorities to all political parties.
  3. Then we intend to help those newly elected members reorganize the House and Senate, and write new rules, so no party will dominate, and so that legislation can be fairly debated, and voted on its merits.

We believe the crowdsourcing idea can be highly effective in achieving the LeaveParty goals—that it can create more effective representational democracy. But you'll build LeaveParty. You'll make it what it becomes. It may well cooperate with other similar organizations, and will certainly learn from them. Top ↑

If no party has a majority, wouldn't Congress be just like a parliamentary system?

No. In most parliamentary systems, if no party holds a majority, two or more parties agree to vote together to elect the head of state, forming a kind of ruling quasi-party.

LeaveParty will work to elect independent candidates who will not cooperate with one party, or with each other, except to change House & Senate rules, and form committees. In the House, they might have to support a Democrat or Republican for Speaker, but in exchange, they'll get support for the independent agenda: for rule changes, for independents as committee chairs, and for divided leadership—before agreeing to support any major party members for positions.

The independents will stick together for this organization process because that's how they'll gain power. After that, they never have to agree on any legislation or policy, and individual members will form alliances as they see fit, on an issue-by-issue basis. Top ↑

Won't big money just run all over LeaveParty?

They'll try, of course. But in reality, money buys ads, not votes. Real grass-roots organizing and campaigning—in the right House districts and Senate contests can elect candidates. When people are truly active, money loses power.

On the other hand, when we shrink from the battle because we've accepted the idea that moneyed interests win, they do win, without even opening their checkbooks. Top ↑

Won't the parties find a way to destroy LeaveParty?

They will try mightily! But people working together for real democracy can be more powerful. If we accept the notion that the parties are too powerful to resist, they win without a fight. Top ↑

Won't the big parties just join forces to make the independents powerless in Congress?

No—for two reasons—remember that both of the big parties will be in the minority. Neither of them will allow the other to win back majority power—and if they actually were to join forces, they could only succeed by opening the legislative process to each other as minority parties—which is exactly what we need—that would empower the independents. Top ↑

Won't the victorious candidates just join or caucus with the Democrats or Republicans, like Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders have?

No—with both big parties in minority positions, the independents gain power by not caucusing with the bigs. It will be in their best interest to stay independent. Top ↑

Can Representatives & Senators who are already elected just declare themselves as independents?

They can, and they might—after they see that the big parties have lost their dominance—and when their constituents begin to demand their independence. Some will be eager to leave the parties that have controlled and stifled them for years. Top ↑

How is LeaveParty different from Ralph Nader?

Nader, and all the other well-known independent and 3rd party candidates of the past forty years, were running for President, without a supporting structure to give them legislative power if elected. Also, a presidential run is necessarily a nationwide campaign—congressional campaigns are local—Senate campaigns are statewide. LeaveParty's goal is to help citizens win one local or state race at a time. Top ↑

Won't LeaveParty take hundreds of millions of dollars; won't it take twenty or thirty years?

No. Not if we learn to identify viable candidates and winnable congressional districts and senate seats. For example, urban House districts are geographically small, and are often won without media campaigns. Small-state House or Senate campaigns are contested in three or four small media markets, where advertising is relatively cheap.

Remember—we only have to win a few seats—perhaps two or three out of a hundred Senate seats, and thirty or so out or 435 House seats.

No one knows how long it will take. LeaveParty could successfully deny majority power to the big parties in the House or the Senate in 2014 or 2016. But however long it takes, it happens sooner if we start now!

And we will win if all we ever accomplish is to make the big parties responsive to citizens, and change House & Senate rules so that legislation can be voted up or down on its merits. Top ↑

Why would an independent do a better job representing me than someone from a major party?

Well, are you being represented by the big-party candidate you've been electing and reelecting? An independent candidate who has won your vote by actually listening to and talking with you, and who will win reelection in the same way, will work to represent you—perhaps in ways you've never dreamed of. Top ↑

Doesn't LeaveParty have to take most of the seats away from Republicans in order to win?

Right now, in the House, yes—because Republicans hold the majority there. But in the Senate we need to take seats from the majority Democrats. Remember that our goal is to deny a majority to all parties. And when we win a seat from one party, it doesn't go to the other; it returns to the people—who own it in the first place. Top ↑

If I'm a conservative, won't I be better off just supporting Republicans?

How's that been workin' for ya? When Republicans held both houses of Congress and the Presidency, Democrats had no choice but to stop them through obstructionism. When Democrats held it all, the same thing happened. Now, with divided power, nothing happens. We've been in this situation for more than thirty years. Top ↑

Isn't this just too big to ever succeed?

No. When the Republicans won the House in 2010, fifty-four seats changed parties. In 2012, only twenty-four house seats would have to change. No one knows how many will be needed in 2014, but it's likely to be fewer than thirty. Of course, if we believe it's too big, it is. Top ↑

Why don't we just get the money out of politics?

We probably can't win meaningful campaign finance reform unless we dis-empower the two major parties. We've been trying for decades to get the money out, with almost no progress. Top ↑

Why don't we just get the lobbyists out of Washington?

We probably can't win meaningful lobbying reform unless we dis-empower the two major parties. We've been trying for decades. Top ↑

Won't this just lead to chaos—everybody fighting with everybody; how will anything ever get done?

What's getting done now? In 2011 and 2012, Congress passed fewer bill than at any time since 1947! They often pass non-controversial business and meaningless legislation, but are impotent on most critical matters.

If we had House & Senate rules that moved legislation efficiently into and through committees, and required voting on the merits—if we had divided committee leadership and committees with no party majorities, the entire legislative process would be changed. Then, if citizens had the power of real choice in electing or reelecting their representatives, the officeholders would have to be responsive in ways we haven't seen in decades.

Sure there'll be some deadlock and chaos, but probably much less than we see now. Top ↑

How can LeaveParty possibly organize in all fifty states?

LeaveParty won't organize in any states. We're not a party. We'll help guide and assist local efforts. And we don't have to win in fifty states. If it were happening today, we might be successful by winning elections in as few as half a dozen or a dozen states. Top ↑

As a candidate, how can I win the LeaveParty endorsement?

You can't. There won't be any endorsements. Our purpose is to help citizens learn, then teach other how to find and elect viable Congressional candidates. Top ↑

Does it matter whether the independents we elect are liberal or conservative?

It will matter a great deal to the constituents who elect them. But it won't matter to LeaveParty.

We have no interest in ideology or policy. We are interested in denying House and Senate majorities to both the big political parties, so that the rules of the House and Senate can be changed to promote better legislative governance. To do that we will have to unseat both Republicans and Democrats.

And when we win a seat from one party, it doesn't go to the other; it returns to the people—who own it in the first place. Top ↑

Does it matter whether the independents win their seats from Republicans or Democrats?

Both are necessary. Right now, we'd need to win more Senate seats from Democrats than Republicans—because Democrats hold the majority there—but more House seats from the majority Republicans. Remember that our goal is to deny a majority to all parties. And when we win a seat from one party, it doesn't go to the other; it returns to the people—who own it in the first place. Top ↑

Why don't we just stop paying Congress members until they do their job?

People chatting on the Internet, in coffee shops and in bars often present ideas like this one. Sometimes serious political organizations adopt them. Most such notions have no merit. And even if they're good ideas they have virtually no chance of being voted into law by the very congresspeople they would affect.

The LeaveParty idea requires nothing from the sitting Democrat and Republican officeholders. Its power is in the hands of citizens. Top ↑

Suppose I have a better idea; suppose LeaveParty fails.

If you or anyone has a better idea than this for actually solving our leadership problem, we'll cheer you on and hope you succeed. As individuals, we may even work with you.

And we hope you'll help us—so we can all learn and teach other how to make the changes we seek. We encourage every citizen to work with any effort to restore our political systems. We only want to get American democracy on a better track. Is that what you want, too? Top ↑

How do we generate widespread enthusiasm for this idea?

Talk about it. On Twitter, Facebook, over the backyard fence. Blog. Send letters to editors of newspapers, political websites, etc. Emphasize that all the things people want to change, like money in politics, lobbying and safe congressional districts, probably depend on curtailing big party power first. Know in advance that people will ALMOST ALWAYS reject or dismiss the LeaveParty idea at first hearing. Listen to their objections, and use the answers from this FAQ to respond respectfully. Ask people to expand on their objections—sometimes they'll find their own reasons to think differently. When you find allies, invite them to help spread the word. Use this website to organize. Top ↑

What's all this about learning and teaching, and building a body of knowledge—what will we learn?

The citizens who will find and elect these independent candidates will need expertise in: demographics and statistics, political strategy and organization, election law in all 50 states, social and conventional media, publicity, fund raising, and much more.

And they'll need to share successful strategies for finding and developing candidates, running grass root campaigns, managing media and meeting other challenges.

Nobody knows how to fix our political system. What we know how to do is what we've been doing all of your lifetime and mine—and we know that those things no longer work. But many people know some of what we need to learn, and we can all teach each other. Top ↑

Please Speak Up…

  • If you have a response or an additional thought regarding these pages,
  • If you'd like to write an article for possible publication on these pages,
  • If you have an idea or suggestion about developing the think tank…

…Send it along to: leaveparty@greatreality.com

And if you're interested in helping to build the Think Tank,
please tell us about yourself.

You Can Help
Leave the Party

Contribute your thinking
to these pages

Write an article, or add to content that's already here. Until the wiki is ready, just email your material to: leaveparty@greatreality.com

Help create a Think Tank for Independent Political Power

If you're interested in helping to build the Think Tank, please click here to tell us about yourself.

Other Musings

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at a Glance

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