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The Declaration of Independents

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  373 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Everywhere in America, the forces of digitization, innovation, and personalization are expanding our options and bettering the way we live. Everywhere, that is, except in our politics. There we are held hostage to an eighteenth century system, dominated by two political parties whose ever-more-polarized rhetorical positions mask a mutual interest in maintaining a strangleh ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by PublicAffairs
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Zeb Snyder
Sep 19, 2011 Zeb Snyder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book if you are even remotely interested in 21st century politics.

With this book, Gillespie and Welch provide an excellent explanation for general principles of modern libertarianism. Perhaps more importantly, they explain how and why many of us are inherently libertarian, even if we don't admit it, and even if we don't neatly line up with organized libertarian positions on every issue.

The most compelling argument they make as that those of us who belong to the internet generations ar
Chris Collins
Dec 15, 2011 Chris Collins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Only a madman or a mental defective would take a punch for Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner."

That line pretty much sums up the book as well as the state of the current era of American politics. The so-called "two party system" is a scam. If you think "our guys" are angels and the "other guys" are rat bastards, you're missing the point. They're all (with very, very few exceptions) rat bastards. But don't feel bad. It's what they want you to believe. What you've been told to believe. Instead of feel
Cathy Reisenwitz
Jan 10, 2012 Cathy Reisenwitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a fun, quick read that will give you a reason to feel optimistic about politics. This is a rare feat, so I give Gillespie and Welch credit. I learned a lot about political history. My favorite story was of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, a fun, heartening tale I'd never heard.

As a long-time Reason reader and libertarian who'd long been disillusioned with our two-party political system, there weren't many aha moments. But I did feel like I got a clearer, more detailed picture of how poli
Sep 10, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young people (college-age and up) and others not completely consumed by cynicism
Recommended to Robert by: Not directly, but thanks to my friend Dan Carey for his unwavering enthusiasm
Four or five stars? Let's start at four, but I may change my mind.

I began reading with my usual skepticism, frequently reacting to the seemingly relentless optimism with, "yeah, but..." and other expressions of my reluctance to accept the authors' simple, straightforward assertions. But what ultimately grabbed me was that what I was reading was sensible, plain, and well-reasoned; and consistently based upon principles to an extent that - well, I can't remember reading anything political that adh
Jul 28, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
This was a lot of fun. The two Reason editors are witty and urbane and totally fed up with politics in America and the whole left/right Democrat/Republican thing. There was good solid information here, lots of ideas for those of us who are sick of the whole mess, and although I don't agree with everything the authors said, there is a ton of truth in this book. I was especially pleased with the "case studies" from real life of how, in every part of life OTHER than those controlled by government, ...more
Jul 15, 2011 Naomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some who read this book may be confused at how the authors have written this book. In the beginning, until I got into the jist of how they were getting to the point in the chapters, I didn't think much of the book and almost rated it poorly. As I slowed down in my reading, I was able to figure out how they were taking the incredibly long way around to get to Libertarian tenets. Thus, the 4 stars..if it was a bit clearer and I didn't need to put so much thought into it, it easily would have been ...more
Feb 04, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a libertarian myself there is little to disagree with in the book.
Its a fun read.I enjoyed the case studies , the historical examples of libertarianism in action. the review of rock n' roll and the fall of the Communists in Czechoslovakia was brilliant, So was the example of Southwest Airlines how it overcame government regulation and government protectionism in favor of already existing airline corporations.
I think that especially the Sneering Lefties who all lack a sense of humor along
Sep 01, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is a bit too,, not sure. The introduction seems about 40 pages too long.

Great stories about Alfred Kahn and life before deregulation, Nate Silver, the Velvet Revolution, the microbrew movement, and a lot of other stuff. At the end of the day, I'm not sure the non-believers will be any closer to believing, even if they get through it.
John Maniscalco
Declaration of Independents is so positive about the future of libertarian politics that it borders on the utopian. Gillespie and Welch argue that individual freedom and abundance of consumer choice has made virtually everything about life better than it was in the past. Except for politics.

Where monolithic corporations such as Pan Am and Kodak once rules their respective industries (and, as the book shows, often through collusion with the government) the Democratic and Republican parties repres

"The government is broke in literal, figurative, and even spiritual terms. The programs and mentality that still darken too many aspects of our daily lives are relics born of prehistoric fears that people really can’t be trusted to live their own lives according to their own desires. Power, goes this line of thinking that still patrols Washington’s corridors, statehouses across the country, and city halls in every zip code, must be centralized and titrated into small but immensely influential co
Jul 25, 2012 Erika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
I read this because I'd enjoyed the authors' "Ask a Libertarian" youTube vidoes and I was hoping to get more insight into Libertarianism, a political philosophy about which I am not very knowledgeable. However, the snarky tone that worked well in the videos was only irritating on the page. Additionally, the authors spend the majority of the book bogged down in marginally illustrative, pop culture-focused case studies that do little to explain their philosophy and that fail to make compelling cas ...more
Paul Hinman
For a book whose title suggests actual solutions, there are very few such solutions offered.

In one sense, I respect the concept that libertarianism purports to make a stand. But in practice, I think these authors at least are just as hypocritical as the politicians they decry. Simply saying "free markets" isn't a solution. I think the financial collapse of 2007-8 is a prime example of the failure of free markets in select situations. You can claim that government rules propped up what should ha
Greg Bates
Jan 10, 2012 Greg Bates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Enjoyable and enlightening, The Declaration of Independents may be the most relentlessly POSITIVE book on politics i've ever read. It's wonderful deconstruction of the false left/right duopoly that's kept American voices from being heard and freedom of choice from entering the political sphere. It's also a really life-affirming declaration of all things good about freedom and decentralization: from the global bombshell of the internet to the rise of the microbrewery. Time and again, Gillespie an ...more
Jan 26, 2013 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, economics
Declaration of Independents is interesting, though far from perfect. The authors detail their belief that there is a coming independent revolution in American politics that will sweep aside the current political parties and leave America with a distinctly more libertarian and open political landscape.

Whether or not the thesis about an oncoming libertarian storm is correct, the book does make a good point that spontaneous, individual and collective action outside the realm of government control c
Sep 28, 2012 Matthew rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
I'm not a Libertarian, but I do hold to the libertarian view that the government should be very limited. So, when I saw that Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, from Reason Magazine, had put together a book on how Libertarianism could save America, I decided to give it a go.

They begin by building a case that in America consumer choice and our personal affiliations have changed dramatically over the past 60 years. Few people work for the same company for the duration of their career, and many people n
Dec 11, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I read this last year just after it came out, and found it to be an uplifting bit of encouragement for those, like me, of the libertarian persuasion. Since then, we've had an election, and more significantly perhaps, an election year, when everything becomes political and one is inclined to cringe whenever one signs on to Facebook to see what inanities one's friends are spouting as assumed verities shared by all right-thinking people. (Twitter, which one can populate with people one doesn't know ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The gist of the book is simple, but I have never seen it articulated this way anywhere else. There is a lot to be happy about and areas of our lives that are independent from politics are improving and getting better all the time, while heavily regulated and government-managed areas of our lives are struggling. Some examples: schools, health care and retirement are all mired in political squabbling and budget troubles. The areas of our lives that have less intervention from government interventi ...more
Aug 13, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays-ideas
The Declaration of Independents is an important book for anyone interested in politics or seeking to understand the mindsets of America’s political “third rail,” the libertarians. By the editors of Reason Magazine, it sets forth the basic premises of libertarian argument, stating that they “have responded to the stale theatrics of Republican and Democratic misgovernance by making a rational choice. We ignore politics most of the time and instead pursue happiness.”

Clearly, the libertarian value s
Aug 18, 2011 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Usually when people talk about "moderates" or a "third way" they are taking a political stance similar to the Democratic party ca. 1976 — which was not all that different from that of the Republican Party ca. 1976.

And when libertarians get going, they often start out strong — the government that governs best governs least — and then flounder on the reefs of legalizing all illegal drugs, or adopting a McGovernish foreign policy. (See Ron Paul.)

These guys, from Reason magazine, are charting a thir
Kevin Bensema
Welch and Gillespie make the rather obvious case that people are fed up with both large political parties in the United States. They look at some different small-government, big-culture success stories in the past fifty years, though their conclusion that punk rock music brought down the Soviet Empire is incomplete at best, dishonest at worst. I daresay the Pope's trip to Poland had more to do with the fall than punk rock, military build-up more to do with the Pope's visit, and a collapsing soci ...more
David Robins
It has some cool stories, like the chapter on the airline industry highlighting Southwest's fight to compete, but it's not all that systematic. There are also some very overdone metaphors (e.g., "It's a simple observation free of the ideological cant that covers right- and left- wing ideologues like so much flop sweat during open mike night at a school board meeting.", which would merit a Bulwer-Lytton were it fiction), and frequently in close proximity (perhaps one writer was more prone to them ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Shadowcat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Absolutely loved it! I am a libertarian so I'm familiar with a good chunk of the content they talk about.
Great insights into the flaws within American politics. One thing that I'm very interested in is that even though everything from business to socio-cultural aspects of American civilization has changed except for politics, where we still remain in the 18th century.
I loved the Velvet Underground revolt story, and the references to Ron Paul and this charismatic liberty movement he brings with
The American Conservative
'If there’s not much of that transformative spirit in our current two-party system, neither is there much in Declaration of Independents.

Always optimistic, the authors conclude that they have written this book to “ensure that our own children can pursue happiness the old-fashioned way—far the hell away from politics.”

Well, OK, but absent a more compelling and comprehensive vision that can grab hearts and minds and win elections, libertarian polemicists, whether they like it or not, will indeed
Aug 13, 2011 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great primer on how libertarian philosophies apply to extremely current situations (as current as about March/April 2011) in politics and society. I especially enjoyed the last few chapters, where I think the book makes it's best points regarding how we spend more and more money on programs while yelling flat-lines results. great book! it was admittedly a little bit of a challenge for me towards the beginning, not technically but just in the way it was written. That may have just been me, though ...more
Enjoyed the book and the message, but im not sure if it every actually shows how Libertatian Politics will solve the problems presented. It was good at explaining the Libertarian stance, but not at how it would really change things. I also didnt like how the same sources were used over and over again. Haval was a great guy but when he is your only example used for three chapters then your argument is not very strong. I support the cause and i support what the writers do but i felt the book was t ...more
Jeff Raymond
Another book that tells you a lot of things you already knew, and not enough of the things that may solve the problem. Absolutely worthwhile as a read, but not enough new information for those in the choir it preaches to, and not enough reason for those who need to hear the stories and information in the book to pick it up.

Also, the book is less about how libertarian politics can fix things, and more about how libertarianism is a bigger part of the political discussion. The title is a bit of a m
The seemingly endless similes and smarmy pop references distracted me, but they get across their main argument, especially through airline deregulation and Ch. 10 about the broken K-12 education, health care and retirement systems. They clearly demonstrate how the portions of the private sector whose profits are protected by government regulation align with the status quo even as they claim to want less government. It's a quick and useful read to conclude that our two-part system is hurting our ...more
Feb 28, 2014 Glen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Excellent book. There is a reason a large percentage of citizens identify themselves as independents when it comes to voting. There is little if any difference between the two major political parties that seek our vote every election. They are both puppets of the corporations that fund their campaigns. The time has come to exercise what rights we have left. "Free minds and Free markets" is the message in this book and it is a message we need to send to our public servants.
Skylar Burris
Mar 13, 2015 Skylar Burris marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
I thought I'd be interested in this book because (1) I enjoy reading Reason magazine (Nick Gillespie is the editor) (2) I'm certainly frustrated with American politics, and (3) I probably lean libertarian on 70% of political issues. However, after sampling the first twenty or so pages, I am relegating it to my abandoned shelf. Today I decided that life is too short to read any book that uses phrases such as "deconstructing contemporary narratives."
Cassie Walker
Mar 09, 2013 Cassie Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with many of Gillespie's libertarian leanings, and appreciate his love for generation Y! His humor about our crumbling system is appreciated, but sometimes a little condescending-he assumes his reader is familiar with every nuance of many political/business happenings. I do not think he is right about everything, but I do think a book like his could spark political conversations that are actually interesting and meaningful.
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“Why would anyone with half a brain pledge undying loyalty to the party of John McCain or John Kerry, to name the two most recent losers in presidential elections? Only a madman or a mental defective would take a punch for Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner.” 0 likes
“The real question is whether the brighter future is really always so distant. What if, on the contrary, it has been here for a long time already, and only our own blindness and weakness has prevented us from seeing it around us and within us, and kept us from developing it?” 0 likes
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