Introduction to the 2020-21 IPO Platform
The Independent Party is now 12 years old. With more than 125,000 members, it continues to grow faster than either of the major parties in Oregon and is now the largest third party – by share of voters – in any State in the US.
Our party’s growth is driven by a widespread belief that our government, and especially our legislative process, primarily serve the interests of self-interested, non-representative groups of special interests. These groups include partisan funders, corporate lobbyists, rent seekers, public agencies, single issue activists and other powerful players.
Voter cynicism is also fueled by a polarizing, unrepresentative, needlessly partisan system of elections that inhibits collaboration and problem-solving. Our system of elections encourages elected officials to prioritize the positions and values of special interest funders and partisan voters to whom they are most accountable, rather than interests and values that are more broadly shared.
Many voters who believe the two major parties primarily serve the interests of these groups to the detriment of the common good are looking for a rational, public-interest, alternative. Oregon's fusion voting system has kept our party in a position to provide that voice by cross-nominating Democratic and Republican candidates and encouraging them to listen to our ideas, think about what our members want and, crucially, to seek our party's cross-nomination.
The influence of our voice has been felt in a myriad of ways. Our intent and hope is to serve as a source of gravity for policies that serve the public interest and as a counter to the polarization, cynicism and anger that are becoming resonant in our current political culture.
Supporters of the two party system often claim that the concerns of independent-minded voters are too diverse to be organized into a single movement. They claim that independents hold widely differing, highly individualized views on a laundry list of Democratic and Republican priorities in support of that argument.
Our experience is that this is not the case. Independent minded voters have a consensus on many issues. Independent voters have a range of views on Democratic and Republican priorities because independents generally prioritize different issues than Democrats and Republicans, even though on some issues, the consensus among independent and non-affiliated voters is aligned with Democratic or Republican positions.
Careful readers will note that our party's platform is not based on the priorities of Democrats or Republicans. Nor is it based on the financial needs of donors or single issue groups that demand fealty in exchange for supporting our party and agenda.
Instead, we ask our members what issues they would like us to prioritize and we construct a platform that meets the public interest goals they have articulated. We do this by reviewing current policies as well as policies under consideration in light of public opinion research, academic research and policies that have been enacted in other jurisdictions. We also take feedback from policy experts and thought leaders during the drafting process. We will use this platform to make decisions about the specific legislative policies and priorities we will have in 2020 and 2021.
The main priorities our members have identified for us to work on in 2020 are:
Promoting policies that encourage economic development while ensuring environmental protections like clean air, water & recycling.
Promoting policies to decrease partisanship and increase transparency in state government.
Provide common ground solutions on divisive social issues.
Based on those priorities, we have chosen to address the following policy areas for 2020-21
Environment: State policies with respect to environment and climate significantly affect both our economy and quality of life. No bigger partisan split exists than the one between Democrats and Republicans on addressing environmental issues. However, there is a broad public consensus among most Oregonians about dealing with forest fires, water conflicts and other things that are consequences of rising heat.
Public Health: Fueled by lack of affordable housing, addiction and untreated mental health problems, homelessness has quickly become the biggest source of public dissatisfaction toward state and local officeholders. Shared values about addiction, criminal justice and mental health treatment should form the basis of policy in this area.
Economy: Oregon’s economic growth at the lower and upper ends of the wage scale have run contrary to predictions of those who opposed the state’s current minimum wage increases and increases on personal and business taxes. However, wages have still not kept pace with housing prices. The middle class crunch of increasing costs and stagnant wages needs to be addressed. Creating new housing units and reducing the costs of building should be prioritized.as a way to relieve increased housing costs on Oregonians.
Reform: Non partisan redistricting, campaign finance reform and pilot projects for ranked choice voting can make Oregon more responsive to the needs of voters and the public good. Oregon's partisan model for developing legislative policy should be replaced with a non-partisan one.
As we make this platform available to the public, we will continue working with groups to prioritize and develop legislative policies and to build public support for each of these policy areas.
In early 2020 the Independent Party intends to hold an online or mobile election using a form of preferential voting, allowing all Independent and non-affiliated voters in Oregon to participate in our nominating process for Oregon Secretary of State, State Treasurer and President of the United States.
In the summer of 2020 we will hold caucuses to consider nominations for the State Legislature that will take into account the priorities and endorsements of local Independent and non-affiliated elected officials to determine what partisan officials will best represent the interests of Oregon's communities.