The growth of the independent voter is derived from dislike of dysfunction in Washington DC tied to our way or no way practices. Political Parties have become swamps.
If we are not elected officials, the best way to avoid that swamp is to just get out of it. How? Well, to get started, we could register and identify as an Independent voter and then we could, regardless of Party, stop voting for far right or far left candidates. Instead, we could vote for moderates in Primaries that have an impelling vision not tied to Party or historical dogma.
Political Parties are supposed to bring order to the process of policy making. As party members, individual politicians have a ready-made group of allies that will usually cooperate with their efforts to pass and implement legislation. At the national level, this means that a rookie Congressperson is supposed to arrive with a network of allies that would support their efforts and that he/she would support in turn. That best works when the Party is made up of flexible and willing to compromise INDIVIDUALS. Otherwise a newly elected person basically votes as they are told.
Clinton Rossiter begins his classic book “Parties and Politics in America” with this declaration: “No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no politics without parties, no parties without compromise and moderation.”
- Clearly we have little compromise and moderation in American politics so that would say we might be better off without Parties, doesn’t it?
Fareed Zakaria stated that a partyless system would lead to political dynasties, celebrity officials, and billionaire politicians.
The Democratic and Republican Parties have moderates and extremists but extremists are growing in numbers. Extremists typically don’t compromise with moderates, not even within their own party. The political process has become overly competitive and combative. The result is gridlock and public anger with government.
The Founders of the United States warned against Parties because they thought politics was supposed to be rational and collaborative, not competitive.
Not since 1912 has a new Party been created and it didn’t last long. Theodore Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party of 1912. It was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party. However, in France this June 2017, President Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party is set to trounce France’s traditional main parties in a parliamentary election and secure a huge majority. France’s socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.
The Declaration of Independence includes these words: “We foremost hold truths to be self evident, that this nation was conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle for control of the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.
Does America move in the direction where we believe that all people are born free and equal before the law, that we all possess at least certain minimal rights that have to be mutually respected, and that we are capable of self-governance?
Or, does America move in the direction where we believe we are born into bondage, that our liberties are granted as a privilege, that most of us are not capable of self-governance, and that only a very few of us should enjoy the full blessings of liberty.
None of us can make that choice independently if we too tightly identify with a Party because members of a Party typically succumb to group think and we won’t make that choice independently if we are a single issue voter.
The Problem of Force taking the place of Power.
Force is used to achieve a means through the use of a hammer. Power is used to achieve a means through logic that serves the best interests of people.
The Problem of Obstructionism
Obstructionism’s roots lie in the powerful fringe wings of each party but carries over to the rest of a party’s membership due to party affiliated voting. Obstructionism is not leadership. Obstructionism is to leadership as sarcasm is to humor. There is a need to promote something tangible and in most cases that requires compromise.
The problem of deceitfulness
Voters are no longer being told the truth or given the facts. Voters only get spin. We should demand to get spin-free news. That starts by giving ourselves permission to recognize spin.
Politicians are destroying their profession by falsely discrediting the other party or members of it. Spin has become a game played by too many politicians and it includes defaming, libeling, slandering and intentionally trying to put a false negative label on the opponent or the legislation.
The problem of group think
When voters register with a Party they begin to participate in Party Group Think and now, more than ever, voters have stopped thinking as individuals. Non office holders need to register as independents and vacate allegiances to current Parties if they want to free themselves from Party Group Think.
In the case of voting for president and the US Congress, since the 1970s, party identification on voting behavior has been increasingly significant. By the late 1990s, party identification on voting behavior was at the highest level of any election since the 1950s. People overwhelmingly voted for their party’s nominee in the general election. If voters can’t get themselves to vote for candidates from the other party, then a third party is needed.
This problem is magnified by Party’s platforms being pulled away from their historical center where the majority reside and instead pushed into the fringe wings where the money and energy reside.
The problem of campaign financing
There is too much private money in campaigns. The campaign season is too long. Public funding of candidates is needed. Campaign reform is needed to retain our democracy.
The Democratic and Republican parties receive so much money from the powerful few that elected officials are overly dependent on that money to get elected and thus are too often puppets to the puppeteers that hold the strings. Who cares about the qualification of the politicians when they vote as a block and as told.
The voters that volunteer thousands of hours to help a candidate win an election are part of the fringe. They represent less than 15% of party membership. They are usually very liberal or very conservative. Politicians can’t vote against these people or they will support another candidate.
The problem of false wedge issues
There are issues that both parties have for decades supported conceptually but couldn’t agree on the details to pass legislation. Today those same issues are wedge issues. If one party is for something, the other party is against it. For decades both parties have wanted some form of universal health care and now it is a wedge issue. The Trans-Canada pipe line has its pros and cons but it is a wedge issue with one party talking about the pros and the other party talking about the cons. The list keeps growing.
The problem of Independents not having the power of an entrenched Party
Independents need unification and while “unified-independent” is an oxymoron, there needs to be a platform that attracts a voting block in order for moderates to advance from the Primaries and compete in National elections. That platform needs to attract moderates from both parties.
The problem of not knowing the basic platforms of current Parties
Why are Democrats or Republicans? Have we asked ourselves that question and tried to be honest with ourselves? When did it happen? Why did we stay? Are we Republicans because we associate the Party with upper-crust status? Are we Democrats because we dislike aristocracy?
- Demographically has the oldest set of white Americans as members.
- Philosophical roots are tied to the aristocracies.
- Marked by elitism and respect for authority.
- Include a disbelief in natural equality and a general disinterest in public participation in politics.
- Believes in trickle-down economics.
- Want to reduce entitlement spending, i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Universal Health.
- Supports private school voucher systems.
- Tend to be skeptical of both community investment and attempts at social engineering.
- Members often have strong emotional ties to single issues such as Right-to-Life and Right-to-Guns.
- Highest percent of members are located in rural areas.
- Are less supportive of a path to citizenship.
- Support deporting undocumented immigrants.
- Desire to weaken laws pertaining to the environment and banking.
- Support corporations.
- Demographically has the youngest set of Americans and broadest ethnicity as members.
- Philosophical roots are tied to immigrants of middle and upper middle class.
- Marked by advancing the good of the community before the good of the individual.
- Desire cultural diversity and commerce.
- Supports entitlement spending, i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Universal Health.
- Tend to support strong communal institutions.
- Supports public education.
- Are more likely to proselytize American culture to the rest of the world.
- Value a large tax base and government funded infrastructure.
- Supports strong minimum wages and higher education.
- Members often have strong emotional ties to single issues such as Pro-Choice and LGBT.
- Has mixed voting records on gun control.
- Highest percent of members are from large metro areas.
- Support strong laws to protect environment and restrict riskier banking practices.
You may be an Independent if:
- Are part of the middle class.
- Ethnicity and ideology is not a priority.
- Political opinion is moderate to apathetic.
- Believe Government should benefit ordinary people.
- Have a live-and-let-live mentality.
- Support a strong government financed infrastructure that creates jobs and supports commerce but do not want Federal government to intrude in their lives or the lives of people in other nations.
- Believes affordable health care should be a priority of government and is open to moving from private insurance model to Medicare for all.
- Believes taxes are a way to promote good paying infrastructure jobs and to keep wealth from moving from the middle class to the top ten percent of Americans and that those infrastructure jobs should replace, job for job, those lost to manufacturing moving out of the USA.
- Are a little more dove than hawk but don’t push it.
- Believe in community advancement but not social engineering.
- Are independent, self-sufficient, adaptable, and work-oriented.
- Generally believe in diplomacy backed by strength.
- Are not an activist and are not emotionally charged toward a single issue.
- Prefer Cabinet Appointees to be moderates especially regarding regulations including the environment, banking, and immigration.