In my latest post on over at WNYC’s Its a Free Country, I talk about how disappointing the conference of independents was, that I flew halfway across the country to see.
I was expecting a conference… an event where you’d have networking, sessions where you’d actually learn something, etc. Since IndependentVoting.org says one of their focuses is nurturing local groups, I thought they’d have some kind of training for them, but the event really was a rally for almost entirely left leaning to left wing independents, not just independents. I was uncomfortable as a centrist… I would have probably walked out if I had been a right leaning independent duped into coming to this thing.
I actually offered to run a training session for people on websites, social networking and related things… they turned me down. Apparently a friendly chat between the president of their organization and a long time local activist was deemed important enough to take up a chunk of time there. A cheesy mock trial took up the end of the event… clearly more important than teaching activists the basics of grassroots organizing, which I found they were seriously lacking in:
One organizer told me something about learning, after years of trial and error, that personal contact activities yielded the best results. This is, of course, is true, as door knocking, phone calls and events have literally been proven statistically to be the best use of volunteer time. But he should have learned this in the first couple of hours of contact with someone who had any level of experience with grassroots organizing, not after a few years of trial and error.
After talking to activists from several states, I found this was the norm, even among those who’d been working with this organization for years. This event was a missed opportunity to educate their activists on these things, rather than merely entertain and preach to their choir, which is what the event mostly consisted of.
I knew IndependentVoting.org is a liberal group, stating openly (in classic liberal spin) that they’re the “Progressive Wing of the Independent Movement”, but I thought they’d set that aside, ala No Labels style, for a conference of independents. Instead I heard just as much vilification of the right at this rally as you would find a meeting of democrats.
Calling this even the Conference of Independents makes as much sense as their spin, and outright lies, on Top Two “Choke Point” Primary rules, their claim that Obama is (I kid you not… Jackie Salit says this all the time) an independent and their doublespeak calling what is going on with independents around the country is a movement.
IndependentVoting.org has been a pillar in the independent community for years. They’re charting a course that is damaging to the possibility of a REAL independent movement, and I hope I can help convince them to turn themselves around. More on that soon, and in coming months… until it stops.