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Toppling the Duopoly

Toppling the Duopoly

By Shawn Griffiths
Tired of a political system that is rigged to serve only those in power? Join nationally-recognized expert in election reform Shawn Griffiths as he follows the historic movement to give power to all voters -- at the ballot box, in state legislatures, and in the court room -- including exclusive interviews with election reform leaders across the nation.
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A Message of Hope for Democracy in America
On this episode of Toppling The Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined by Andy Moore, the executive director of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers (NANR). NANR is a coalition of several organizations that span the political spectrum and advocate for a broad range of reforms. However, they are united behind the shared goal for solutions that will give voters more competition, choice, accountability, and transparency in elections.  The group is hosting its annual summit on Friday, December 10, at 2 pm EST. Due to the ongoing state of the COVID-19, the summit will be held virtually and is open to both members and non-members to attend. It is an excellent opportunity to not only learn more about the coalition, its diverse membership, but also get up to speed on how dozens of organizations are making history each year with election innovations that millions of Americans want to see.  Andy says reformers have a message for hope that Americans need to hear at a time when so many are disenchanted and disenfranchised by the electoral process. 
22:12
December 08, 2021
Veterans Are Joining The Fight For A Better Democracy
On this episode of Toppling The Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined by Eric Bronner, co-founder and COO of Veterans for Political Innovation (VPI). VPI's mission is to mobilize veterans and supporters to advance reform measures that produce a more competitive and less toxic electoral process. It's the first national group of its kind. Eric talks about his own journey in helping create the organization, and why veterans are a critical segment of the population to get behind reform. According to Eric, half of veterans do not identify with a political party and would be better served by a political system that is not controlled and dominated by the Republican and Democratic Parties.  We need a system that does not force voters into two divided boxes. We need a system where candidates have to actually compete for voters, and is accountable to citizens. This is how we shift the incentive in the political industry to put the public interest above the self-serving interests of public officials and their parties. Eric talks about what elections need to give voters a system they desperately need and deserve.
21:06
December 03, 2021
Andrew Yang Is On Board to Topple the Two-Party Duopoly
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined by the leader of the Yang Gang himself, Andrew Yang. Yang is a US business leader, a former Democratic presidential candidate, a former Democratic mayoral candidate in New York City, author of the book "Forward,"and has been featured as a commentator on national media outlets. Now, Yang has founded the Forward Party with a focus on bringing systemic democracy reform to the US political process that will give control back to voters. Griffiths and Yang discuss his decision to leave the Democratic Party, register independent, and form his own political party. They also discuss the short- and long-term goals of the Forward Party, and why he supports reforms like ranked choice voting, open primaries, independent redistricting commissions, and term limits. It's a candid conversation on what's wrong with the way the US conducts its elections, why the duopoly must be toppled, and where the country needs to go to move Forward.  Note from the host: Apologies for the occasional choppiness in the audio. There were some brief but sporadic connection issues during the interview.
23:04
November 10, 2021
Anti-Corruption Awards to Honor Entrepreneurs Investing in Better Elections
On this episode of Toppling The Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined by Cathy Stewart and Amikka Smith, who are co-hosting IndependentVoting.org's 20th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards on Monday, October 25 at 6 PM EDT. This year, Independent Voting is taking the event national by hosting a virtual event available to anyone who wants to register to attend. The awards honor individuals that span the political spectrum who are working to advance the independent voter movement. This year, the honorees include former Gehl Foods CEO Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation and leading advocate for Final Five Voting, which would implement a nonpartisan top-5 primary with ranked choice voting in the general election. The event will also honor Farhad Mohit, founder of Flipagran (which was acquired by the company behind TikTok), who started an open source platform to help independent candidates be more competitive called the Good Party, and Gaby Cardenas, Principal and CEO of the multicultural marketing firm The Colibri Collective, for the strides she has made in connecting independent voters. Cathy and Amikka promise attendees will have a good time as they learn more about the honorees and the growing independent voter movement. You can register for the event here. 
22:07
October 08, 2021
Do California Elections Need Ranked Choice Voting?
Toppling the Duopoly host Shawn Griffiths is joined by Tom Charron, who is representing a new group called the California RCV Coalition (Cal RCV). At a time when ranked choice voting is having a moment, the group is set to officially launch on September 21 during an online Zoom event that is open to the public. Charron explains why more California cities and the state as a whole need ranked choice voting for their elections and the benefits it would bring to bolstering representation across sociopolitical demographics. The goal is twofold: (1) Work toward a statewide ballot initiative, but also to (2) help local RCV efforts in cities across the Golden State. Charron further explains the nonpartisan nature of ranked choice voting, which now has broad support across the political spectrum. If you liked this podcast or found it informative, be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and leave a review where possible. 
26:20
September 10, 2021
Ranked Choice Voting Was A Success in NYC
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined once again by FairVote Senior Research Analyst Deb Otis to discuss the historic ranked choice voting (RCV) primary election in New York City. The election was not without controversy, as a human error caused the initial tally to be off in the hotly contested Democratic primary. Critics and individuals skeptical of RCV used it as an opportunity to raise doubts on the alternative voting method. However, it is widely acknowledged that the error was not a result of RCV, but human error on the part of election administrators. Deb explains exactly what happened in the election that caught the attention of media outlets across the country, and how ranked choice voting was a huge success in the Big Apple. Not only did it prevent a candidate from winning the Democratic primary with 32% of the vote, but voters reported that they found the voting method simple, fair, and easy. Check out this episode to learn more about the NYC primary under RCV and other additional wins in the RCV movement. 
23:17
July 09, 2021
Why It Is Important To Understand What the Duopoly Really Is
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths takes some time to discuss the purpose of the podcast and what it means when he and others talk about the "duopoly." This is not about dumping the two major parties. Parties have an important role in a democratic process. However, that role should not be to control the electoral and political processes. In any other industry in the United States, we would be outraged if one company or two companies had such an iron grip on their industry that competition cannot emerge. We should be equally outraged that this happens in our political industry.  The rules have been rigged to protect the major parties from competition, and thus the incentive at every level is to put party first. We need reforms that shift the incentive to put voters and country first because that is the only way we will see long-term solutions to the nation's biggest problems emerge. This is what it means to "topple the duopoly."
12:51
June 18, 2021
How to Curb The Influence of Big Money in Politics
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths talks with Jeff Clements, the president of American Promise, a nonpartisan group taking on the challenge of big money in politics. Most Americans, across the political spectrum, agree that moneyed interests have too much influence over politics in the US, yet the Supreme Court has made it difficult to do anything about it, which is why American Promise is proposing a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution. It may sound like a tall hurdle to clear, but Jeff explains how it is not impossible.  Shawn and Jeff discuss the process to getting to a 28th Amendment, overcoming partisan barriers, and the strength this movement already has, particularly in relation to the broader movement to give voters a fairer, more accountable, and less corrupt political system -- a system that serves the people first, not the parties or special interests.
35:24
May 14, 2021
When Missouri Lawmakers Decide The People Have Too Much Power...
On the latest episode of Toppling The Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths talks with Benjamin Singer, the executive director of the cross-partisan organization, Show Me Integrity, about the effort to stop Missouri lawmakers from making the ballot initiative process all but impossible to use as a means to effect the direction of government and elections in the state. Missouri lawmakers are proposing legislation that would raise the threshold to pass an initiative on the ballot to two-thirds of the vote, while also reducing the time campaigns have to collect petition signatures and raising the amount of signatures needed to put an initiative on the ballot. But, it doesn't stop there as legislators have decided that the people have too much power  Singer discusses in detail the consequences the proposed legislation could have on politics in Missouri, and what this means for voting rights in the state. It is an important discussion about a blatant power grab at the expense of the rights and will of voters. You don't want to miss it.
23:02
May 07, 2021
Future Leaders in the Pro-Voter Reform Movement
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined by Elena Ashburn and Dariel Cruz Rodriguez, the co-founders and co-directors of the recently launched national group, Students for Open Primaries. Students for Open Primaries originally started during the campaign for Amendment 3 in Florida, which would have implemented a nonpartisan top-two open primary for state executive and legislative races. These two young civic engagement activists are now taking their efforts nationally. Amendment 3 in Florida garnered overwhelming support from Florida voters, getting many more votes than either presidential candidate in the 2020 election. However, because it fell 3 points shy of 60%, under Florida law, it didn't pass. However, Elena and Dariel say their experiences during the campaign have motivated them even more to push for nonpartisan primary reform in other states across the country. Elena and Dariel discuss their ambitions for their organization and the future of reform in the US. Growing activism among young voters and young people on the cusp of voting age are needed to keep the momentum behind nonpartisan, pro-voter reform going. Dariel and Elena are showing their own peers what's possible when young people take action.
18:44
April 16, 2021
Voters Have A Right to Choose The Election System They Want
In the latest episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths  and his guests discuss a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the will of the people in Alaska, who approved a comprehensive reform amendment in November 2020 that: Shines a light on dark money in state politics Implements a nonpartisan top-four primary Makes Alaska the second state to adopt ranked choice voting Joining Shawn to talk about this is Jason Grenn, executive director of Alaskans for Better Elections, and Scott Kendall, attorney for the group. Alaskans for Better Elections spearheaded the campaign for the amendment, which was on the ballot as Ballot Measure 2, and is now an intervening party in the lawsuit against it. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit assert that the new system harms individual rights to association on the ballot, but the courts have already weighed in on this in multiple states for similar systems, and found this claim to hold not merit since it treats voters and candidates equally from the onset of the electoral process.  Jason and Scott talk about Ballot Measure 2, the lawsuit, and continued efforts to increase voter education on the new electoral system created under the amendment, which they say is boosting support even more. Even legislators are coming together and forming cross-partisan coalitions as the new system shifts the incentive structure to put voters before party. Check out this amazing conversation, and if you haven't already be sure to like or subscribe to Toppling the Duopoly wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening, and as always... stay independent. 
28:26
April 09, 2021
UnRepresented: Corruption In Congress Runs Deeper Than You Think
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths interviews Dan Falconer, director of the award-winning documentary film, UnRepresented. UnRepresented "reveals the driving forces behind political corruption and the unprecedented reforms to restore a government that better serves the people." Shawn and Dan discuss the nuances of a topic that is not as simple as many might assume. When people think of corruption, they think of illegal forms of it, like bribery. But, what happens when partisan and moneyed-interests have an outsized influence over policymakers and the way they legislate and it is all perfectly legal? Americans are silenced in a system that is supposed to be "of, by, and for the People," allowing private, gain-seeking interests to treat government like it exists to serve them, rather than voters. This is not just an issue of corruption, this is a voting rights issue... and a voter suppression issue. UnRepresented features a host of luminaries and public leaders from across the political board and/or involved in the growing anti-corruption movement, including Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, Center for Responsive Politics Executive Director Sheila Krumholz, FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, former US Rep. Justin Amash, Admiral Bill Owens (Ret.), RepresentUs Director Josh Silver, Take Back Our Republic Executive Director John Pudner, Unite America Executive Director Nick Troiano, and many, many more. The documentary will soon rollout on PBS stations in markets across the country, starting in Southern California on the week of March 20, but over the course of the next month it will hit television markets from the West Coast to the East Coast. Want to know more about the documentary or when it might air in your city? Check out the film's website and be sure to check your local listings.  Don't miss this fantastic, uncut discussion between Dan Falconer and Shawn Griffiths, and be sure to follow or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening, and as always... stay independent.
27:39
March 19, 2021
Serve America Movement: A Party Built on Mutual Values, Not Strict Ideology
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, host Shawn Griffiths is joined by former US Rep David Jolly to discuss his party, the Serve America Movement. The SAM Party is a unique political organization as it is founded not on a single ideology, but a celebration of diverse ideologies. It is a party that brings people together who are committed to one agenda: To serve and be accountable to the communities being represented.  Jolly discusses what sets SAM apart from other political parties, both major and minor, and how his party can meet the growing desire among voters to see a viable third option emerge in the US political landscape. Gallup recently found that 62% of US voters believe the GOP and Democratic Party are doing such a bad job that a third party is needed. However, the system has been designed explicitly to prevent competition from emerging to challenge the two major parties, and many third parties, Jolly says, have to this point replicated a major failure point of the parties in power. Is the SAM model what Americans are looking for in a new party -- especially as Americans are increasingly rejecting strict partisanship in elections and want public officials to work together, across ideological and party lines to put country first? Listen to the episode and decide for yourself.
26:06
March 12, 2021
Majority Winners Should Be Decided When The Most Voters Participate
On this episode of Toppling The Duopoly, election reform expert Shawn Griffiths is joined by Andrew Allison of Austinites for Progressive Reform, a group with 4 reform proposals on the city's May 1 ballot that would transform how city elections and government operate. One of the propositions, Prop E, would implement ranked choice voting, which Allison said is needed to eliminate low turnout December primaries where elections end up being decided by a marginal percentage of voters.  In order to ensure accountable and fair elections, we need elections that are decided by the most voters.  If you liked this episode or found it informative, be sure to follow or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and leave a review on Apple Podcast should that be where you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening and as always... stay independent.
22:03
February 26, 2021
Why America Is Not As Divided As The Parties Want You to Think
On this episode of Toppling The Duopoly, election reform expert Shawn Griffiths is joined by Dr. TJ O'Hara to take a deeper dive into the manufactured political divide in the US. The national narrative would have us believe that America is on the brink, but this is a perception forced on the population in the zero-sum contest between the Republican and Democratic Parties. The truth is, America is not as divided as the parties would have you think. TJ O'Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, strategic consultant in private and public sectors and the Principal Political Analyst for the IVN Network. He is also host of the IVN podcast, Deconstructed, and is a former presidential candidate. So, in his field and in his experiences in national politics, he has extensive experience examining why the divide between the parties and their members has gotten to a boiling point. However, while the parties have never been further apart, due to how elections are designed, we have allowed an extreme minority to represent society as a whole. The American people have largely expressed not only a desire to work together and compromise, but when presented with a comprehensive look at the nation's biggest issues, people tend to find common ground a lot more often than one might think. It is a fascinating discussion between Shawn and TJ. Be sure to stick around for the whole thing, and if you like the podcast and/or find it informative be sure to leave a review where possible, and follow or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening, and as always... stay independent.
46:43
February 19, 2021
What Is The Two-Party Duopoly?
Imagine going out to dinner but there are only two restaurant options from which to choose. The customer service may be sloppy in both, and no matter how much a customer raises grievances with the limited options on the menu, nothing changes. Instead of adapting their business practices to an evolving consumer base, they increasingly distance themselves from the interests of consumers. What’s worse, employees of these two restaurants also write the rules and regulations that govern the service industry and other employees enforce the rules. Sounds crazy, right? Why would we ever allow this to happen? Well, this is essentially the situation of the US political system. On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, election reform expert Shawn Griffiths features a segment from a recent conversation he had with author and podcaster Jim Duncan on his show, Independent Riot, which is also a part of the IVN Network. Shawn and Jim give a basic breakdown of what the duopoly is and some misconceptions about what people mean when they refer to the "duopoly." If you are interested in the full interview between Shawn and Jim, check out Independent Riot on IVN.us as well as the other podcasts featured on the IVN Network.
13:49
February 05, 2021
Ranked Choice Voting: Serving Over 9 Million Voters and Counting
In this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, election reform expert and host Shawn Griffiths takes a look at the momentum behind ranked choice voting. Of all the nonpartisan reforms being proposed to transform the political process to one that is truly "of, by, and for" the people, the one that is bringing more voters, scholars, public figures, and reform advocates together is ranked choice voting. Joining Shawn to talk about this is Deb Otis, the Senior Research Analyst for the national nonpartisan reform group FairVote. Ranked choice voting has been adopted and/or implemented in 21 cities and 2 states (Alaska and Maine), representing a total voting age population of over 9.2 million people. It has gone from an optimistic thought experiment to a reform that, in practice, boosts voters' confidence in elections, raises turnout, increases civility on the campaign trail, and has been identified by the DOJ as a remedy to Voting Rights Act violations and racial inequality in elections. Want to learn more about ranked choice voting? Check out the podcast, and if you like it or find it informative, leave a review where possible and follow or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also help keep Toppling the Duopoly going by becoming a financial supporter, an option available on Anchor. Your listenership is greatly appreciated.
22:34
January 29, 2021
The Perils of Extreme Minority Rule in Kansas Amendment Fight
On this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, the focus turns to Kansas where a group of lawmakers are attempting to push a constitutional amendment that by law has to go before voters for approval. The thing is, advocates for the amendment want to put it on the 2022 closed primary ballot, which would have substantially lower turnout and disenfranchise nearly 30% of voters. Why? Because those in power want to game the system to protect and strengthen their majority in the legislature. It is the type of partisan machinations and voter suppression that happens all the time when parties have control over a critical stage of the elections process: the primaries. Shawn is joined by Elaine Stephen, who is one of 3 co-leaders of the new reform group, Kansans Demand Better. Ms. Stephen breaks down the issue and the consequence it would have on Kansans' right to vote. Her organization is asking state lawmakers a very simple and common sense question: Why not put items that affect state law on the general election ballot when the most voters participate? This is also an opportunity for all voters, in and outside the state of Kansas, to reflect on how their state and local governments conduct elections. Kansas is not the only state where these partisan stunts happen. Yet, voters are accustomed and conditioned to look at elections a certain way, so it doesn’t even occur to them that there is something fundamentally wrong with how the system works and how it can be gamed to deny them a meaningful say. If you like this episode or find it informative, be sure to leave a review wherever possible and like and subscribe wherever you choose to listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening!
27:57
January 22, 2021
The Conservatives Fighting to End Dark Money in Politics
In this episode of Toppling the Duopoly, nationally-recognized expert in election reform and host Shawn Griffiths interviews John Pudner, the executive director of the nonpartisan nonprofit Take Back Our Republic. Take Back Our Republic is committed to educating the public on conservative solutions to reform. In the process, it builds nonpartisan coalitions to take on corruption in the political process, shine a light on dark money, end partisan gerrymandering, and implement instant runoff voting (more well known as ranked choice voting) in elections.  John Pudner also expresses his disgust for what happened at the US Capitol on January 6, and the lies and misinformation constantly fed to a segment of voters that led to the insurrection. However, he says if there is any silver lining, it is that it was a wake up call to everyone that we cannot have millions of people who believe election results are illegitimate based on no evidence or reason other than to serve the interests of those in power.  It is a phenomenal interview with someone with first-hand experience fighting corruption in US politics. Check it out, and as always... stay independent. Interested in a deep dive into the issue of election integrity, particularly as it pertains to the 2020 election cycle, and what neither party wants you to think about? Check out Shawn's latest piece on IVN.us here, and uncover the true source of the problem in the US political process.
28:42
January 15, 2021