Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Launch: Not Invited to the Party

There is a new book on independent politics that is supposed to be available in stores starting tomorrow called Not Invited to the Party: How the Demopublicans Have Rigged the System and Left Independents Out in the Cold. The author is George Mason University economics professor James T. Bennett.

From the product description:
Not Invited to the Party demonstrates how the dominant political parties -- the Democrats and Republicans -- have co-opted the system to their advantage. James Bennett examines the history and array of laws, regulations, subsidies and programs that benefit the two major parties and discourage even the possibility of a serious challenge to the Democrat-Republican duopoly. The American Founders, as it has been generally forgotten, distrusted political parties. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution are parties mentioned, much less given legal protection or privilege. This provocative book traces how by the end of the Civil War the Republicans and Democrats had guaranteed their dominance and subsequently influenced a range of policies developed to protect the duopoly.

This book, therefore, makes an argument for structural electoral reform along the same lines as Theresa Amato’s excellent book Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny which I reviewed in this blog. If Bennett’s book turns out to be as good as Amato’s then this signals a watershed year for pro-electoral reform activism with the release of two important books along these lines for major publishers. I fully intend to get a copy and review the book when it comes out and spread the word.

The Free and Equal Elections Foundation will hold a public forum on these two books tomorrow at the (strangely enough) Libertarian/Conservative think-tank the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. The event will be webcast live in the Cato Institute web site and an e-mail writing effort is underway among Free and Equal Elections’ supporters to have the event covered in C-SPAN.

Free and Equal, by the way, is one of the pro-electoral reform organizations out there doing great non-partisan work. They have as a member of their Board publisher of Ballot Access News, Richard Winger probably the most knowledgeable authority in the U.S as it concerns ballot access issues for independents and minor parties.

I support these books and activism because I am a supporter of electoral reform and participatory democracy. We can’t have real participatory democracy in the U.S. if we don’t open up and level the political playing field to independents and minor parties. Encouraging more competition and a wider spectrum of ideas in the public debate can only be good for democracy. So I urge you to check these resources out!

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