In a perfect world there would be no political parties. There would be no red or blue states. Candidates would be elected because of merit, not because of party affiliation. Lobbies would not exist because votes would be difficult to buy from individuals. Of course this could never happen, no one person could raise enough money to compete against the ‘never-empty’ pockets of Democrats and Republicans. However, this year the few Independents in the Senate may find that 2014 belongs to them.
Let’s meet Angus King. Most readers have probably never heard of him. He is a Senator from Maine, and he’s an Independent. He was Maine’s Governor from 1995 until 2003. Running for the Senate in 2012 he ran as an Independent and received 53 percent of the vote, soundly trouncing both the Democrat and Republican candidates.
How can he make a difference in 2014? He can’t, by himself. Senator King has been advising Independent candidates Greg Orman of Kansas, and Larry Pressler of South Dakota about how to run as an Independent, and not to caucus with either party prior to November 4th.
At present only King and Bernie Sanders occupy the role of Independent in the Senate. If Orman and Pressler win their battles the four men could make an enormous difference within the senior legislative body.
Many races for Senate seats between Democrat and Republican candidates are too close to call. A real possibility occurs if Kansas and South Dakota vote for Independents; both Democrats and Republicans could hold 48 seats each and the power would move to the hands of Independents.
King says that he has one goal; to make the Senate work better. In the last two years he has caucused with Democrats. He is quick to point to the fact that he is not obligated to continue on that path. He describes walking down the streets in Maine when he was campaigning for the Senate. People would stop him and ask him questions. Most didn’t question him about the issues; their question was more profound. They wanted to know why the two sides of the aisle couldn’t talk to each other and accomplish something.
King has been able to do just that. He is a man who speaks softly, possessing a low-key persona to get his points across to his fellow Senators.
King has strayed once during this election year. He has endorsed Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. There is little doubt that Alexander would lose his Senate seat in the ‘candy-apple red’ state, and the two men are close friends.
The major party leaders claim that Independents are merely ‘spoilers.’ King does not like or believe that label fits. Referring to himself and other Independents he prefers ‘winner.’
Have faith Independents, 2014 could be your year. You may not only create hope for voters who are not committed to one party, but you may also sway other Senators to break ranks with both parties who choose to do nothing and become like yourselves; Independent from forced loyalty to an elephant or a donkey.
By James Turnage