Day: February 14, 2010

The Growing Number Of Independent Voters: Not A Smart Move!

Disillusionment with the economic conditions of America have led growing numbers of Americans to abandon their party loyalty and registration in the Democratic and Republican parties, and to register instead as Independents.

This is supposed to be a good thing, as it indicates separation from the two major parties. But in actuality, it is NOT a good thing, as it decreases a voter’s opportunity to affect political change.

This concept going around that an “Independent” or third party can somehow win over enough support and revolutionize the party system we have had since 1854, when the Republican party was created, is a fallacy, as our political system has never allowed for such a concept, certainly not for the White House, and only very rarely for a seat in Congress or a Governorship.

One can count on the fingers of both hands the number of independent candidates for office that have been elected. We can think of Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent Socialist who managed to be elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate as a true independent.

We can think of Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who most recently beat out a Democrat and Republican to retain his seat.

We can remember Governors Angus King of Maine, Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, and Jesse Ventura of Minnesota, but all were actually party members who broke with the party and won a three way race.

There are a handful of other people who at some point were elected on an independent or third party line, but after being identified as a Republican or a Democrat in earlier elections. These include three senators who were part of the group that I wrote about in my book TWILIGHT OF PROGRESSIVISM: Senators George Norris of Nebraska, Robert La Follette, Jr. of Wisconsin, and Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota–all during the New Deal era of the 1930s.

As far as the White House, the closest any third party or independent candidate has gone is Theodore Roosevelt, former Republican President running as a Progressive in the 1912 election, winning six states, 88 electoral votes, and 27.5 percent of the vote.

So the thought that an “Independent” party or candidate is the future of American politics is just a dream. It will not happen, and by people abandoning the major parties in their registration, they actually are cutting down their voting power by half, as in most states, they cannot vote on Primary Day, and therefore only can vote for the choices made by Democrats and Republicans who have stayed with the party and tried to bring change from within.

So, truthfully, the move toward independent voters is actually based on ignorance of the realities of our political system. How it will play itself out on Election Day 2010 and 2012 is anyone’s guess!