Millennials Aren't Apathetic

Posted by Andy Smith on June 26, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Between September and December, 2014, you probably heard a lot about Millennials. Prior to the election, the conversations and articles likely focused on "Will they vote?" Afterwards it shifted to, "Why didn't they vote?"

The apathetic voting habits of young Americans is a constant fixation during each election cycle. The challenges facing this generation are generally accepted across age groups, with majorities of Gen X, Boomers, and Silents saying young adults face more economic challenges today than they themselves faced when they were starting out. The apathetic brand is a convenient way to explain why more Millennials don't engage with the system: they don't care.

Apathy is not the mass character flaw of an entire generation. It is a brand allowing the economic challenges Millennials face to be recast as problems of our own making, while shifting attention away from the root cause of our low participation.

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How to Talk to Your Senator

Posted by Andy Smith on June 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Although the last Congress was the least productive Congress in recent-history, this new Congress isn't shaping up much better. Previously the domain of the Republicans, the Democrats have now adopted the mantle of "all-or-nothing" political brinksmanship, employing the same obstructionist methods which drove a government shutdown and a complete collapse in American trust in government. The battle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership fast-tracking authority was a prelude of what was to come, and now both parties are gearing up for a multitude of political battles coming in the near future.

"A summer of gridlock is bearing down on Washington, threatening to put an end to the burst of legislative productivity that kicked off Mitch McConnell’s reign atop the Senate.

Minority Leader Harry Reid foreshadowed the shift recently with vows to essentially shut down the appropriations process and block highway and defense bills unless Republicans move markedly to the left."
Politico

The endless cycle of partisanship and gridlock has renewed itself once again, as the Democrats have adopted the same damaging, irresponsible tactics that they derided when holding the majority, while the Republicans, in their criticism of the Democrats, have selectively forgotten how gleefully they employed the same tactics less than twelve months ago.

Americans deserve better than this. It is not just the hypocrisy of both sides in flipping roles. It is not just their complete disregard for public opinion, or the fact that continued use of these tactics further damages American trust in government, something no democracy can function without. Americans deserve a Congress that simply does its job, that fulfills its most basic roles without creating more problems. Americans deserve a Congress that is not constantly teetering on the edge of collapse.

This isn't to say that either the Democrats or the Republicans should cave to the other's demands, but rather than demanding "all-or-nothing," our leaders should seek compromise. They should address the issues head on, maturely assess their positions, and recognize that their first responsibility is to the people. Each Senator is elected as a leader, it is time they acted like one.

None of this will ever change with out substantial political pressure, and that starts with you, the voter. If you are sick of seeing Congress accomplish nothing but making things worse, now is the time to act, before the season of gridlock begins. Keep it simple -- call your Senator's D.C. office and demand that they assume the responsibilities of leadership. Not sure how to get started? We are here to help.

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The Ferguson Effect

Posted by Andy Smith on June 05, 2015 at 8:30 PM

Murder and violent crime have risen dramatically in several major cities in 2015. In New York, the murder rate has gone up 20% compared to the early months of 2014. In Los Angeles, violent crime is up 27%. In Houston, murders are up nearly 50%. In Baltimore, murders are up 37%.

Some are attributing this spike in murders to a so-called "Ferguson effect." The Ferguson Effect is the theory that the recent protests and public outrage against police brutality have causes police to draw back from everyday enforcement, leaving a 'criminal element' feeling empowered.

Facing the hard challenge head on is part of American culture. It is George Washington at Valley Forge. It's Susan B. Anthony and Women's Suffrage. It's the Civil Rights Movement. It's going to the moon and John Wayne movies. It is grit and determination in the face of considerable odds. It may not be a uniquely American trait, but it is a distinct part of American culture.

Yet there is another culture, birthed out of electoral politics, that says everything boils down to one cause and one effect. It allows candidates to identify a problem, brand its cause, and prescribe a simple solution to win votes. It operates under the assumption that modern Americans are nothing like our predecessors, and we can't be trusted with the hard answer.

This approach is deeply damaging to the American public, and the propagating of the "Ferguson Effect" is representative of that.

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How To Be An Agitator

Posted by Andy Smith on May 29, 2015 at 8:30 PM

Right now in America a broad movement exists calling for change. It cannot be defined by any single label. Independent, Common Sense, Moderate, Centrist, they have all been used to characterize aspects of something much larger.

It is a movement driven by a deep disillusionment with politics. Its members are the crazy voters, the ones who view the low standards of leadership, the lack of government responsiveness, and the failure of Congress to do anything meaningful, and say "Enough is enough."

Right now, these voters represent a minority, but they shouldn't. In April 80% of Americans disapproved of how Congress was handling its job. Americans identify the government as our greatest national problem. Party affiliation has been in decline since 2008, and public approval of both parties is below 40% for the first time ever.

Polls show time and again that a majority of Americans are deeply dissatisfied with politics, but have lost faith in their own power to make a difference. It is the belief that we can do better, and the confidence to make that a reality, that sets this movement apart.

To effect the change we wish to see -- be it election reform, more independent candidates, a better functioning Congress, etc. -- we need to reawaken the self-confidence of the American voter and invigorate the calling of American democracy. Americans want change. What we need now is an army of agitators to show that change is possible.

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Celebrating Crazy Voters

Posted by Andy Smith on May 22, 2015 at 8:00 PM

That our political system is dysfunctional does not need to be overstated. The latest implosion over the Trans-Pacific Partnership demonstrates that enough, and a litany of polls and statistics reinforce the failures of Congress and the shared responsibility of both parties.

Yet when Americans decide to vote their minds and break from expectations, they are derided as crazy and denounced for refusing to conform to one side.

We have a different opinion. In a political system aching for change, it is the voters who disrupt, who break the status quo, that we need the most. They are the ones who see the problems endemic in politics and are willing to demand better.

So rather than deride them, we should celebrate the Crazy Voters, those of you crazy enough to make a difference.

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Greg Orman: We Need Independent Campaigns For President

Posted by Andy Smith on May 21, 2015 at 12:53 PM

Former Centrist Project Voice endorsed candidate Greg Orman has released an op-ed, calling for Independent presidential campaigns, and the reforms that could make them happen.

"The status quo is oftentimes very difficult to change, and those with something to lose are keenly aware of what’s at stake. But ask yourself a question: in a country where 43% of the people are politically independent, should candidates automatically feel like they need to be funneled into one party or the other to have a voice?"

You can read the full article here.

Greg Orman ran for Senate in Kansas in 2014, shocking politicos across the nation by his strong campaign in a two way race against incumbent Republican Pat Roberts.


The TPP Reveals the Cycle of Partisanship

Posted by Andy Smith on May 15, 2015 at 5:00 PM

This week there was considerable partisan fighting in Congress. Driven on by partisan ideologues within its numbers, one party vowed to hold up a key bill until other legislative items were addressed. A Senator, who had spent months crafting the bipartisan language of this bill, denounced it to the applause of his colleagues. While the party in support of the bill called for their opponents to act in the best interest of the nation, the vote failed on the Senate floor.

You would be forgiven for thinking that it was the Republican party in opposition to this bill, but in actuality it was the Democrats, led by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Harry Reid (D-NV), who orchestrated the party revolt. It was Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) who denounced his own bill, while House Majority Leader John Boehner who called for the Democrats to act in the best interest of the nation.

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Standing Up To The Bullies

Posted by Andy Smith on May 08, 2015 at 7:17 PM

Scrolling through the political news sites today, we found something very interesting: a story about a voter who believes they can make a difference. This voter, Justin Robinson, is a resident of the District of Columbia, who was frustrated with Rep. Andy Harris' (R-MD) efforts to block the legalization of marijuana in D.C., something approved by 70% of D.C. voters.

As he scrolled through scores of comments left on Rep. Harris' page by frustrated D.C. residents, he realized that all this opposition would produce few results. And then he had an idea:

"What's the one thing that politicians actually care about? It's re-election and it's money. That's the one thing that actually makes them tick."

And so he launched his very own Political Action Committee, the "Not Your District PAC," intended to target members of Congress who interfere with D.C. affairs. You can read more about his PAC here. This story is fascinating, here is why.

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CenterLine: Race and Politics

Posted by Andy Smith on May 05, 2015 at 11:20 AM

We at the Centrist Project have spent several years highlighting episodes in national politics that speak for themselves, that underscore the nature of a political system that just doesn’t seem fair anymore, that works for itself and not the people.

The following is taken from last week's CenterLine, our weekly newsletter that highlights important issues around the nation and attempts to bring to light those that you might have missed. You can sign up to receive CenterLine on our homepage, HERE.

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IVN Article: South Dakota Voters Lose Choice At Ballot Box

Posted by Andy Smith on March 26, 2015 at 4:47 PM

IVN Covers South Dakota Election Law

Independent Voter Network (IVN) has published an article detailing the passage and opposition to South Dakota's SB 69, which was signed into law by Governor Dennis Daugaard on March 20.

SB 69 is drawing severe criticism from Independent organizations and activists, including The Centrist Project, for its restrictions against voters registered with a political party from signing Independent nominating petitions. Supporters of the bill have argued that it represents an effort to establish consistency for candidates of all political affiliations, while opponents argue that it will ultimately eliminate the competition for the two parties.

You can read the full article here:

http://ivn.us/2015/03/26/south-dakota-voters-lose-choice-at-ballot-box/