Unite NY: People Over Party
The Unite NY initiative is a new political base for moderate and middle of the road voters and candidates left behind by hyper-partisan shifts on both the Right and the Left. The extremes in both parties continue to pull them further to the fringes, refusing compromise and cooperation at the risk of being bi-partisan or giving someone from the other party a perceived victory.
By building collaboration among leaders from all parties, Unite NY will seek to address New York’s greatest problems with common sense solutions. For far too long, we’ve been told that to participate in our democracy, it is necessary to choose one of the two major parties, often the lesser of two evils. This two-party doom loop leaves New Yorkers out in the cold and diminishes the voices of more than 2.7 million voters that don’t feel at home enough to register in either party.
Of those 2.7 million, more than a half million were recently thrown out of their parties by a disingenuous effort to limit ballot access by the powers that be in Albany, as five of New York’s seven minor parties lost their ballot access. Until recently, ballot status was achieved by getting a candidate on the ballot for Governor (by gaining 15,000 signatures of registered voters) then having that candidate earn 50,000 votes statewide.
However, under the cloak of last year’s COVID relief bill and after a court ruled the same requirements unconstitutional, the Governor and Legislature in 2020 acted to triple the required signature minimums and votes earned on election day. This effort further disenfranchised any voter looking for a non-major party alternative beyond the political extremes on the Left and Right.
Rather than seeking to blame or disenfranchise anyone, UJP is launching this new political movement in New York to bring together our friends and neighbors around common sense principles. This is an effort seeking to unite, not divide. You won’t see us pointing fingers at party labels but instead advocating for consensus on issues that really matter to the huge number of voters who are weary of partisan bickering and clamoring for leaders who put party politics aside to address the very problems hindering our progress in growing stronger families and communities.
Where has petty partisan gamesmanship gotten us? In New York, we have an underperforming economy depending on government money for success, an electoral system that forces voters to be part of a two-party system, and a broken government that hides public information and ignores its own rules, eroding any sense of trust in the electorate.
Unite NY will work with Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, and most importantly independent voters to seek solutions to the issues that face us. We won’t seek Republican or Democratic solutions, but common sense, nonpartisan solutions – and support candidates that do the same.
Some of those key priorities will be as follows.
Fixing a broken sense of public trust:
- Reform the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to empower independent leadership, rather than allow the Governor to appoint his own investigator.
- Expand public integrity responsibilities to include violations of FOIL law and open government rules.
- Overhaul campaign finance rules to limit total contributions to Statewide candidates to prevent massive war chests from dissuading opposing candidates.
Fixing a broken democracy:
- Reduce ballot access requirements to ensure a variety of voices can be heard at the polling place, not just the two-party duopoly.
- Implement good government reforms like initiative and referendum, as well as recall provision, injecting more democracy into our government and putting power in the hands of the people.
- Considering creative approaches to election reform, including independent redistricting, non-partisan primaries, ranked choice voting, vote by mail, virtual petitioning, and other ways to encourage more voter participation and engagement.
Fixing a broken economy:
- Address a failing approach to rural and upstate broadband access to allow our businesses, families and students to succeed in a digital world — no matter where they’re based.
- Reforming economic development practices to get government out of the business of picking private sector winners and losers.
- Addressing real problems of tax and regulations crippling investment across the State.
- Investing in education and workforce programs to enable job growth in industries of today and tomorrow, not just a college or bust approach to education.
- Supporting entrepreneurial and innovation economy investment — not with government dollars being the first ones in, but rather supporting private sector risk-taking.
Fundamentally, we believe that it is only through the collaboration among reform-minded leaders across partisan lines that can make it possible to stem the outflow of New York’s population that continue to erode what were once vibrant and strong communities. But doing so means all of us as New Yorkers will need to seek to unite and demand our voices be heard. Join the movement today!