Party faces long odds and bigger, better-financed competitors, but it’s not down for the count.
You may have recently heard about the imminent demise of the Independence Party of Minnesota. As chair of the party, I have never denied the overwhelming odds we face every election season.
Even though the Independence Party is Minnesota’s only debt-free major political party, it is also the poorest. The party has a small, yet dedicated, core of volunteers and an electoral base of 10 percent of Minnesota voters.
Our dedication to better government has been insufficient to win elections or spread our message throughout the state. Despite having a platform that attracted Tim Penny, Tom Horner, Kevin Terrell and Hannah Nicollet to run under the Independence Party banner, limited financial and grass-roots resources have isolated our message to those who seek it out. This leaves our public image to be shaped by the Republicans and Democrats.
Billionaire activists like George Soros and Sheldon Adelson have funded a political system that allows the wealthy to buy candidates and elections on both sides of the aisle. Republicans and Democrats conspire to keep third-party candidates out of public debates, and to hold primaries when only the most extreme political activists are engaged in electoral politics. The Independence Party is not suffering from self-inflicted wounds. It is enduring despite 20 years of attacks from bigger and better-funded opponents.
Over those two decades, we have also had our share of victories. Former Gov. Jesse Ventura supported marriage equality more than 20 years before it became law in Minnesota. The Independence Party supported ranked-choice voting years before it became law in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Ten years from now, history will remember that we were the first major party to support the legalization of cannabis.
Until Republicans and Democrats deliver a government that represents everyone and not just billionaires and extremists, the Independence Party will have a purpose. Until our broken political system improves, we will oppose government as it is and fight for government as it should be — by the people, for the people and of the people. We will never give up on that dream. Please, do not give up on us.
Mark Jenkins is chair of the Independence Party of Minnesota.
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