Unbreaking America: focusing on popular nonpartisan state ballot initiatives to build momentum for national anti-corruption legislation

I have issues with the nonpartisan political action group RepresentUs. I don’t like, for instance, that, at their upcoming “Unrig Summit” in Nashville, their speakers are going to include the likes of Tulsi “I’ never met a dictator that I didn’t like” Gabbard, Howard “I want to run as an independent even if it means helping Trump to win another term” Schultz, and Nina “I’m too politically pure to vote for Clinton so I’m giving my vote to Stein” Turner. With that said, though, I like the organization’s focus on building nonpartisan movements at the state and local level to push through ballot initiatives, like the recent anti-gerrymandering legislation we passed here in Michigan, that will one day make it easier for us to get a federal anti-corruption bill, like the American Anti-Corruption Act, through Congress.

I don’t love the fact that they seem to go after Democrats and Republican with the same fervor, implying, for instance, as they do in their materials, that Clinton and Trump were equally bad alternatives. With that said, though, I share their ultimate goal of restoring our democracy to the people by curtailing corporate influence and strengthening ethics laws, and I appreciate that, in order to see that done, we need to get beyond the the seemingly insurmountable “Republican vs. Democrat” divide, and build a broader movement. And I get that the most effective way to do that right now is to tap into the populist anger that’s building across the nation, saying things like, “The system is rigged against you, and no one in Washington, regardless of party, wants to change it,” even if it’s not technically true. [If you’ll recall, House Democrats just passed the For the People Act of 2019, only to have Mitch McConnell refuse to bring it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. This Democratic bill, if passed into law, would provide for states to establish independent/nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end gerrymandering, roll back voter suppression laws, make Election Day a federal holiday, and establish an alternative campaign funding system, among other things that RepresentUs is calling for.]

Again, I get why RepresentUs is framing it this way, and I think, strategically speaking, they’re probably right that, if we want to see these vitally important reforms made, we need to build a nonpartisan movement. With that said, though, it concerns me that, going into the 2020 election cycle, their message seems to be, “No elected officials are accountable to you, and we need to vote them all out.” That’s the thinking that sent enough Democratic voters into the Jill Stein camp to give Trump a victory in 2016, and I’m concerned that we could see the exact same exact thing play out again in 2020 with Howard Schultz, who could never get enough votes as an independent candidate to win the White House, but could certainly pull enough votes from the Democratic candidate to give Trump another term.

So, with all of that said by way of background, I really like this video that was just put out by RepresentUs. I think it’s incredibly well-done, and gets right to the heart of what we need to do, and how we need to do it, if we want to save this at-risk democracy of ours. Again, I don’t love the framing, but there’s a lot of good stuff in here, and I think we’d all be well served to take the time to watch it.

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  1. Kit
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    I too am torn on this. I completely understand the strategy but it seems to me that they’re playing with fire.

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I’m all for the work RepresentUs is undertaking structurally, but the idea that independent or third-party candidates are inherently superior to those who run within the two-party system is inherently flawed. All candidates deserve vetting. Period. And the chances of passing the legislation they seek is a fuck of a lot better with Democrats, even establishment Dems, in power than otherwise. The current Dem slate of presidential nominees is impressive. Even though Sanders has already set his attack dogs on many of them, I hold out hope that we can have a primary season that engages and educates the public on progressive policy options. They each represent different policy focusses, except Beto who seems to represent bright shiny objects and platitudes. Some candidates like Yang center one issue. In his case, UBI. (He has a bunch of other policy proposals out there too but in the back pocket) If more primary candidates chose such singular focus, we could have a Dem party that functions more like a multi-party system based on forming coalitions representing multiple interests.

    I loathe populism as everyone here knows. but I’m all for non-partisan grassroots coalitions. We’ll see which direction RepresentUs veers towards.

    PS It pisses me off when HRC is presented as the least popular candidate in US history. At what time? And how much of that represented disaffection with the whole system? How much of that represented misogyny? How much of that represented the 30-year disinformation campaign against her playing to misogyny and disaffection. She won the popular vote by more than Obama. The narrative that she was universally hated created a lot of the suspicion around her that was unwarranted and legitimized the disinformation.

    If RepresentUs can’t see how playing to disinformation undermines the democratic process then it’s doomed to step in its own shit and fail.

  3. wobblie
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Progressive citizen initiatives and 3rd. parties have been central to reform in in other periods. Late 19th. early 20th. most obvious. Bull Moose, Farm Labor, Socialist all fielded presidential candidates at various times. Citizen initiatives ran the gamut including election and judicial reform, creation of civil services and suffrage movements. Like today the Democratic Party thought it was more important to hit left and move right.

    I would be neglecting my Putin Puppet duties if I didn’t get a plug in for Tulsi,

    “People first, people before profit, people before politics, people ahead of the powerful. My policies will be measured by how does this best serve the people and the planet.”

    In answer to the final question at the end of the video. All the rest is about how she is in favor of talking to foreign leaders instead of engaging in regime change wars. How she has the courage and the leadership (unlike Trump) to take on the military industrial complex and reorient US policy to make the government serve the people–turn that money into saving the planet from climate change, you know that kind of socialist appeasement hogwash.


  4. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I like Tulsi. She’s doing the same thing re foreign policy that YAng is doing re UBI– not trying to win, just trying to get her position into the discussion, in front of the public and so in the platform.
    “It does appear to me that her candidacy is really not one that’s trying to win, it’s one that’s trying to bring a foreign policy perspective to the race in terms of nontraditional alliances and nonaggression and form a peace plank,”

    I love the idea of multiple more formal coalitions forming under the umbrella of the Democratic party and reforming it from within. Otherwise, third parties mainly function as spoilers which does not get their positions any traction, quite the opposite.

  5. wobblie
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Tulsi needs another 20,000 unique donors to be part of the Democratic Party debates. Any amount counts towards unique donor. If you want the issue of endless wars, full spectrum dominance, and what kind of policies create the future you want then send a buck her way.

    Also in the spirit of aloha I will no longer be disrespectful to those on these pages. The future belongs to all of us, the young more so than me, so my apologies to FF, HW, EOS, Jean Henry, Lynn, and those who are no longer about.

  6. Bob
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Sanders has set his attack dogs loose? Oh brother.

  7. Sad
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Sanders is bad enough but if Biden really throws his hat in I’ll vomit. Multiple times.

  8. Sad
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    All the Ann Arbor techies are going for Yang. The Yang Gang. Get your thousand dollars.


  9. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    For Bob: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/03/sanders-promised-civility-hired-twitter-attack-dog/585259/

    luckily the press isn’t going to Gove Sanders a pass this time.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    My feeling is that if you are being paid by a presidential campaign for consulting then you should not, at the same time, be getting paid by the Guardian etc to write hit pieces on his opponents for months…. The guy got caught and became a full-time hire at the Sanders campaign. No wonder Sanders thinks the mainstream media is corrupt. He’s the one corrupting it.

    I know, I know, none of the Sanders loyal believe he ran a negative campaign that moved focus off the issues. Cult of personality makes for some weird goggles.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Bob– you guy, the asshole, decided to run again. Not my preference but it’s done. Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy primary. Or he could just run on the issues this time.

  12. Bob
    Posted March 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    What the hell did Bernie do to make you so crazed? A lifetime of service and integrity. But he dared to challenge the anointed Hillary Clinton. You really are just as loopy as Warlord. Who are you proposing? Warren? Biden? God forbid, not Harris. She’s got so much dirty laundry.

  13. Sad
    Posted March 21, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Duh, we’re all sending money to Mayor Pete. Haven’t you donated yet? Really?


    ( And no HW I don’t mean dirty Pete. )

  14. Bob
    Posted March 22, 2019 at 11:57 am | Permalink


    Here’s Jean’s corporate Democratic party in action. Fuck these people. The Clinton’s. The Debbie Wasserman’s and Nancy Pelosi’s and Schumer’s. I’d rather go down swinging with Bernie or AOC than have more of this. Hillary would have been marginally better than Trump anyway. She would have gotten more legislation through than he has. All of it beholden to corporate interests.

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted March 22, 2019 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Bob I have zero allegiance to the Democratic Party but your blind spot fir Bernie was created by the outsized shadow of the false narrative you have about hrc.

    ‘Marginally better.’
    —you must live a very insulated existence.

  16. Bob
    Posted March 22, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    And Jean, you like Tulsi? Anti-gay, conversion therapy supporting, anti-Islam, kind of nutty. Great judgement.

  17. Sad
    Posted March 22, 2019 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s pronounced Boot -Edge-Edge.

  18. wobblie
    Posted March 23, 2019 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Aloha Bob, you should check out what Tulsi actually has to say. She has rejected the beliefs she held about gays when she got out of high school. 15 years in the military taught her that those beliefs were wrong. What she says now is “No one has the right to tell anyone else who they can love”. Her legislative record in Congress on LGBT rights are better than other Democrats running. I have no idea where you get the “anti-Islam” from. She was one of the first to stand up for Ilhan Abdullahi Omar when she was falsely accused of antisemitism. The MSM smears of Tulsi are nearly continuous. Tulsi represents a real threat to the military industrial complex’s “American Exceptionalism” which has fueled the US’s generational war on Islam. This is why the MSM will be anti Tulsi.
    Aloha Bob, may you have a great day.

  19. Sad
    Posted March 23, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Tulsi is not all bad. But will she be able to connect with those important Midwest voters like Mayor Pete can?

  20. iRobert
    Posted March 23, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Mahalo, motherfuckers!

  21. Jean Henry
    Posted March 23, 2019 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Not allowing for change in perspective over time is not a progressive position, Bob.
    Why would you hold anyone their whole lives to positions they assumed when in high school? Do you talk about friends who grew up Christian comservative as though they still practice? If not, why would you speak in present tense about TG’s teenage belief system?
    Did you Learn This quick jump to negative tactics from your Bernie?

  22. Bob
    Posted March 23, 2019 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Bernie was organizing on behalf of the civil Rights movement as a young person. And has been arguing for working Americans and the environment, with the same message for decades. Sorry you like sucking that same old corporate dick.

  23. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Buttigieg won a prize for writing some sort of essay when he was a teen praising Bernie.

    If Bernie really believed all that stuff he extols he might throw his support to someone from our generation to allow for some real change. His work against Hillary and the corporate dems was heroic. But he’s just too old.

    You seem to view cock sucking in a negative light. Is that why you don’t like Mayor Pete?

  24. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Bernie would be great in the Buttigieg cabinet. Maybe at HHS.

  25. wobblie
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Aloha Sad, What is Pete’s position on regime change wars? Monsanto/Bayer poisoning our environment? Universal Health Care/Medicare for all? The new cold war with Russia? The climate catastrophe? Corporate/Dark money in politics? Clearly getting elected in South Bend means he can attract conservative voters, but other than being a gay millennial military officer what does he bring?

  26. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Take a few minutes to research Mayor Pete Mr. Wobblie and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    He wants to limit our involvement in foreign wars and – god forbid- he actually served in the military.

    He believes in climate change and would like to see a carbon tax and dividend.

    I could go on but just take a look, he’s starting to get his message out there. And after you look into him please send him some money so he doesn’t have to go to the corporate overlords.

  27. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Here’s something.


  28. wobblie
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Aloha Sad, Tried to check out his web page, but it seems to want me to donate before I can find out his positions. I’m sorry though, if going to the “corporate overlords” for funding is even a consideration for him, then it is a disqualifier in my mind. “Limit our involvement in foreign wars” is not the same as stopping them, and a carbon tax might have made sense 10 to 15 years ago, today that would be horribly inadequate. But as time goes on I will try to find out more about him.
    By the way Tulsi is an Iraq war veteran (two tours in the ME) and a current Major in the Hawaii National Guard. Happens to be the same age as Pete, and because she served with folks like Pete, changed her positions on people loving one another. Both Pete and Bernie would probably work well in a Gabbard administration, and vice versa.
    By the way, what did Pete think about Russiagate, he didn’t drink the kool-aid along with MM did he?

  29. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    There are some exciting candidates. But we really need to get away from these really old people. Especially Bernie and Biden.

    Time for a change.

  30. wobblie
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Aloha Sad, I agree that a youth movement is necessary to reinvigorate our democracy. As Tulsi points out, in 2020 millennials will be a majority of the electorate. So many older Democrats have done nothing but drink the russiagate cup since 2016 I seriously wonder if they will be able to move beyond it in time for 2020. Trump can be beat on the issues, particularly those that resonate with millennials. Allowing russiagate to suck up all the media energy just distracts from those issues and ultimately empowers Trump–much in the same way that the right helped Obama get elected by constantly harping on Obama’s birth certificate. Two years wasted solidifying support for Trump while ignoring the real evil he represents. To me, and I think to your generation the key issues must be, corporate money in politics, and why we fight wars. Those two issues will frame the next decades of your life. Mine will be over soon, but my daughter is of your generation and I want a better life for her.

  31. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    It’s official: Mueller finds no collusion in Trump campaign. Mueller finds no collusion. Whiffs on obstruction of justice. DOJ determines no obstruction.

  32. Sad
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to see Trump lose to Mayor Pete!


  33. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 24, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I like turtles.

  34. Sad
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Well since no one else seems willing to say it.

    Seems you were right HW. No collusion!

  35. wobblie
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I go to a number of web sites dominated by Democratic Party loyalist (I was kicked out of one because of my being critical). I can’t believe the war mongering among them. To them Russia is the enemy and we have to invade Venezuela now to get the evil Ruskies and their Cuban side kicks out. They are absolutely bat shit crazy if they think most Americans are going to want yet another war.

  36. wobblie
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Aloha Sad, what about me? I was against going down that rabbit hole from the beginning. Just as a reminder, according to this article we are spending 32 million an hour on our wars.


  37. Sad
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    And you Wobblie.

    But you’re alway right. You know that better than anyone.

    Can you believe anyone is backing Biden or Bernie? Shame on them.

  38. wobblie
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Matt Taibbi’s thoughts on the media and Russiagate. For those who actually want an unbiased media, well worth reading.


  39. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    “Well since no one else seems willing to say it.
    Seems you were right HW. No collusion!”

    To my ears:


    Very honorable, Sad.

    Good article, wobblie. Pleasant to see consensus reality beginning to align properly.

  40. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    No collusion?


  41. wobblie
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Aloha, Maybe now we can start demanding the politicians address the most critical problem instead of engaging in kabuki theater


  42. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    This is incredible! I love it.

  43. Sad
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I love it too. Now that we’re done with the circus we can remove Trump the proper way. At the ballot box.

    It will be extremely satisfying to watch Pete Buttigieg, a man with compassion, integrity and intelligence destroy Trump in the election.

  44. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I mean all the shutting the fuck up going on. Sans contrition it’s satisfying enough I guess. At least you acknowledged the reality. Circus time is over, yes. Now the real show starts. You have to deal with the legal repercussions of all this shit before trying to beat the President at the ballot box.

  45. wobblie
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Another take on the media debacle called Russiagate by another journalist with integrity.


  46. Sad
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Stupid Hick. Have you ever eaten a Chick-fil-A?


  47. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 27, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Meetup at Nothing Burger. Mark’s buying.

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