Say what you want about 2017, it wasn't the slow and boring year in politics many politicos would have otherwise expected from an odd year -- a year that falls between presidential and midterm elections.
For independents and the reform community, there were significant events that happened in 2017 -- game-changing even -- from ongoing lawsuits against the Commission on Presidential Debates to the DNC lawsuit to the growing movement for electoral reform. IVN was here to report on them all.
Here is the list of the top 10 groundbreaking, most talked about, and/or most popular articles on IVN in 2017:
Published February 2 by Alex Gauthier
"In a surprising decision, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. ruled against the Federal Election Commission in the case of Level the Playing Field et al v. Federal Election Commission holding that the rules governing participation in the presidential debates were decided unfairly and arbitrarily."
Judge Chutkan ruled that the Federal Election Commission "acted arbitrarily and capriciously and contrary to law by failing to notify respondents, failing to consider evidence, failing to articulate its legal analysis, and failing to engage in reasoned decision-making with respect to its conclusion that the CPD’s polling criterion was objective.”
Level the Playing Field is not only challenging exclusionary debate rules that keep out third party and independent candidates, but the nonprofit status of the Commission on Presidential Debates as many of its members have both a financial and political investment in protecting the two-party duopoly.
Those who want change to the way presidential debates are conducted should keep a look out in 2018 for the court's decision on a second complaint against the FEC. It is a lawsuit that could change presidential debates forever.
Published May 2 by Independent Voter Project
A group of Bernie Sanders supporters filed a class action lawsuit against the DNC and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for rigging the primary against their candidate. Plaintiffs argued that they were denied a fair and impartial election and had given money to a campaign on the belief that it was fair and impartial.
In its defense, the DNC argued and continues to argue that "the party has every right to favor one candidate or another, despite their party rules that state otherwise." (From the article.)
DNC lawyer Bruce Spiva told the judge, "The party could have favored a candidate. I’ll put it that way. Maybe that’s a better way of answering your Honor’s original question. Even if it were true, that’s the business of the party, and it’s not justiciable."
The court ruled in the party's favor, saying, "To the extent Plaintiffs wish to air their general grievances with the DNC or its candidate selection process, their redress is through the ballot box, the DNC’s internal workings, or their right of free speech — not through the judiciary."
Lawyers for the plaintiffs have filed an appeal.
Published August 4 by Shawn Griffiths
"The American public is more skeptical of traditional and mainstream media outlets now than at any point in modern US history. So that leaves the question, in the era of 'fake news,' which outlets do Americans trust most?
Here’s a hint: Cable news is not doing so hot.
In fact, while CNN still runs with the moniker, 'the most trusted name in news,' the results of a new survey from the Trusting News Project reveals this to be far from the truth."
Check out the results here.
Published September 20 by Chad Peace
A groundbreaking new report by the Harvard Business School could change the way we think about politics altogether. The researchers take a close look at the damaging consequences of having a public election process and political industry controlled by two private political corporations, who put their interests above those of the people.
“In the politics industry, however, most everything necessary to run a modern campaign and govern is tightly connected to—and often controlled by—the duopoly. Suppliers, then, have limited power to shape competition, but face strong pressures to align with one side of the duopoly. In fact, as elections and governing become more complex and partisan, suppliers prosper and their revenues grow. Rather than supporting solutions and finding common ground, suppliers make partisanship worse.” - Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter, authors of the study.
However, Gehl and Porter express optimism that nonpartisan reform is possible, even if the current system makes it difficult:
“Since much of the design of our political system is not specified in the Constitution, we can change it.
“Already, many outstanding, dedicated, and passionate activists are working to improve our system. Together they are creating a strong organizational foundation on which to build…”
The researchers point to nonpartisan primary reform, ranked choice voting, as well as gerrymandering and presidential debate litigation as early successes in what is becoming a much larger movement to fix elections and the political process.
Published July 12 by W.E. Messamore
An entire family gets paid hundreds of thousands by US lawmakers over several years to do basically do-nothing jobs. Members of this family are under criminal investigation, and some have been charged with serious crimes.
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz kept one of the accused, Imran Awan, as an employee until he was arrested for trying to flee the country. She even threatened a police chief at one point for not returning a computer that was being used in the investigation against Awan.
It's a story full of scandal and intrigue, fraud and potential blackmail of several US lawmakers, yet it was largely ignored by the mainstream media. But it wasn't on IVN.
Published July 28 by Chris Malone
"Once we have aligned ourselves with a particular tribe or social group, it’s relatively easy for manipulative forces to fuel our negative perceptions of outsiders with rhetoric and accusations. These are often designed to cement loyalty to the social group by amplifying potential threats and fueling contempt for rival group members," writes Chris Malone, IVN Independent Author
He adds, "Once each group has become entrenched in its position, facts and reason are readily dismissed as lies or half-truths created by the enemy. In the current election environment, this polarization can be illustrated by the widely varying levels of admiration for previous presidents among partisans."
Published October 17 by Jim Jonas
It's a common thing that people hear when an independent or third party candidate is running in an election: there is no way they can win, so why bother?
Yet with an ever-expanding movement away from the Republican and Democratic Parties, it seems independent voters are in a position where they can make a difference, even as the two-party machine does all it can to maintain control of elections and the political process.
"Voters want options. The parties are on the ropes. So what’s the most effective way to change the perception that independents aren’t electable? Independent candidates need to win a few campaigns.
In concert with the growth of independent voters, there will be more credible, capable independent candidates running for elected offices up and down ballots in 2018 than at any time in modern American political history." - Jim Jonas, IVN Editorial Voice
Published October 26 by Thomas A. Hawk
"Gary Johnson spoke with Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto Wednesday, October 25, where he announced that he has no plans to run in 2020. He says he had his shot, but ultimately the system boils down to two political parties.
Further, Johnson laughed at the idea that the largest voting bloc in America — independent voters — was being represented by President Donald Trump and said he does not think Trump will win re-election."
Former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke to Neil Cavuto from Washington DC, where he was about to hold a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court to further raise awareness of his anti-trust lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates, and its uncompetitive and unfair rules for debate entry.
Published October 23 by IVN News
"Maine became the first state in the nation to adopt ranked choice voting when Maine voters approved Question 5 in November 2016. Yet, lawmakers Monday voted to delay the system until December 2021, and then repeal it if a constitutional amendment is not approved to address a non-binding opinion from the Maine Supreme Court.
Despite voters overflowing committee rooms to testify in support of ranked choice voting, thousands of calls to legislators, over 100 letters to the editor, the biggest newspapers in Maine calling on lawmakers to uphold the will of voters, and one of its biggest opponents changing his mind about full repeal, state lawmakers instead decided to go against the will of their constituents."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the Maine legislature voted to delay ranked choice voting, and set the law up for repeal in 2021. The campaign in support of ranked choice voting is now pushing for a people's veto to overturn the legislature's decision.
Published November 27 by Lynn Marie Morski
"While Bernie is a great catalyst, this entire experience made me realize that political parties are not the vehicle for change. They all have a stake in enacting only the reforms that will benefit their side, but a true democracy should have electoral systems in place that benefit the people, regardless of their party affiliation (or lack thereof).
The political revolution has to come from outside — from the true independents." - Lynn Marie Morski, former Bernie delegate and IVN independent author