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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Independence Party - A Closing Window Of Opportunity

Category: Independence Party
Posted: 06/09/14 01:32, Edited: 06/09/14 11:48

by Dave Mindeman

The following are the words of MN Independence Party Director Kyle Lewis in a Facebook resignation of his position.........

"To this day, the IP cannot tell who it is or what it stands for.....the IP (is) in worse shape than when I joined....... I cannot keep my name as a leader of a party that I do not believe is the best option for the voters of this state."

Yes, the Independence Party of Minnesota is in worse shape now than it has been in the past. And there are a myriad of reasons for this....

1) They never built a core organizational structure. They were, essentially, victims of an early success when Jesse Ventura won a stunning upset as Governor in 1998. That success, too often led them to seek a similar shortcut to winning - namely the celebrity candidate.

2) They forgot that all politics is local. And by local, I don't mean statewide politics. I mean real local - commissioner, school board, legislative politics. That type of local politicking can be time consuming and a long term project. However, the IP never really started it.

3) Swinging with an issue du jour. Although the IP has a reasonably good party platform, they tend to swing with the politics of the moment. Term limits, balancing the budget, marijuana.....the publicity issues stick but a consistent message is lost. The average person can't point to a party position that is up front year after year.

The Independence Party still has major party status and its candidates can still qualify for public financing. But the money is too small to be really competitive and their status is tempting for single issue instigators to take over one office run or another.

The current Senate candidate Hannah Nicollet (check that: she ended up filing for governor - see comment below) comes out of the Ron Paul movement - and although she denies that her background will dominate her message - it is hard to take seriously given the fervor with which Paul supporters cling to their core ideals.

Too often the IP is forced to take "anybody" willing to file for office. The messages get mixed up and sometimes are uncertain.

In the end, they are a protest vote. A frustration vote against the two party system - and although that can be relevant, it is not a method for winning elections.

I have always believed that the IP has to first and foremost concentrate on a few key, local legislative races and have a presence in the legislature. They need to think in terms of a very specific strategy. Find weak spots and a particular message that will appeal to that place and time.

Even if they could find another celebrity type lightning in a bottle, it would still not solve their long term problem. Mr. Lewis was spot on with his statement. That is the IP in its current state.

But with the right strategy going forward, they might still have the opportunity to make something happen. They still have a window, but it is closing fast.
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A Few IP Wins in the Legislature Might Not Be A Bad Thing

Category: Independence Party
Posted: 09/07/11 17:33

by Dave Mindeman

I note with interest that the Independence Party is not going to be promoting a Senate candidate next year against Amy Klobuchar.


(IP Chair Mark) Jenkins says the party will instead focus its limited resources on trying to win legislative seats for the first time.

Finally...somebody is thinking over there.

The Ventura success of 1998 turned the Reform/Independence Party into a celebrity showcase party. They put all of their eggs into a statewide race basket and left legislative candidates to fend for themselves.

If they had utilized a two prong approach (statewide and local) to build a party base, then the IP would probably have a little more to show for these election cycles. As it stands now, their celebrity focus has led them to near extinction.

Jenkins early statement on an abandonment of the 2012 statewide Senate race is the first sensible approach that I have seen the IP make. It will be challenging, but a focus on legislative races in places where they may have an outside chance to win will be crucial to finally building a real party.

Now, there will be an IP Senate candidate. In Minnesota's open primary system, all anybody needs to do is come up with the filing fee and they can get a place on the ballot under the IP banner. And again, this is not a bad thing.

However, the temptation for rank and file members to give resources and time to the statewide race needs to be resisted. Strong local campaigns are key to making a respectable showing in 2012. And that will require a narrow focus of resources (money and volunteers) in areas where they can be competitive.

Personally, I have thought that an IP caucus in the legislature would be a good thing for the state. The idea of compromise could not be ignored in a closely divided legislature. IP members, even in small numbers, would force more substantive negotiations by all parties.

IP Party issues would fall more in line with Democrats than Republicans in my estimation. Which, I think, would lead to good alliances and force the Republicans and Democrats to moderate.

So, Mr. Jenkins, I may be an unlikely source of encouragement (as I am often accused of being "hyper partisan";).... but an IP legislative win here or there could very well put a slight smile on my face.

So go for it, IP. A strategy that finally makes some political sense.
comments (1) permalink

Dean Barkley's Political Usefulness is Over

Category: Independence Party
Posted: 02/24/10 23:32

by Dave Mindeman

I think it may be time for the Independence Party to find themselves a new leadership model. Dean Barkley has lost all credibility.

In his newest absurdity, he wants to invite the Tea Party crowd to join them. Not only that, he encourages them to take over the party entirely.

Mr. Barkley, earth is calling. You seem to be short a few satellites.

I have to confess that, at times, I have rooted a little bit for the Independence Party to succeed. I have been annoyed that, in the recent past, their existence has done little but assure Tim Pawlenty elections. However, their focus on the two party system gridlock was a valid argument to make. They just made it badly.

And now, even that is gone.

Barkley used to have pretty good political instincts. But in his desperation to reignite the "shock the world" temporary success of his celebrity candidate, Jesse Ventura, Barkley has dropped all pretense of long term party building, to again latch onto the politics of the moment.

The Tea Party crowd has gained a certain notoriety. But it is a temporary movement. It is a place that can gather all the anger and frustration that has besieged this country's economy. If you examine what they say closely, you will see no solutions offered. No new ideas. No policy changes. They are just an outlet for a frustrated populace that is getting impatient with a slow and painful economic recovery.

As economic conditions improve (and they will), the Tea Party influence will wane and settle back into the fringes of political society from whence they came.

If the Independence Party truly wants to latch onto this temporary phenomena, then that union will, most certainly, be the IP's final death knell.

I am not sure Barkley really speaks for the Party anymore. I think there are a few serious folks still willing to do the hard work. Barkley did spark the birth of the IP and he was necessary for it to get its first 15 minutes of fame.

But, if the IP is to continue to be a serious party entitiy, someone else will have to make that happen.

Dean Barkley has moved well beyond his political usefulness.

comments (7) permalink
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