It has been 27 years since our political system has experienced a revival. A recent Gallup poll has revealed what I believe is a very positive statistic; 43 percent of American voters claim to be Independents; having no allegiance to Democrats, Republicans, or TEA Party members. A broken, ‘do-nothing’ government has taken its toll on our political system and voters loyal to a single party.
There are an abundance of reasons why this is a very good thing, but one stands far above the other. It was very clear after the 2014 midterms how voters made their decision about the candidates. The voter turnout was extremely low. Across the United States more registered Republicans voted than Democrats or Independents. Exit polls were very clear; the vast majority of voters cast their ballots for a letter. Although they knew nothing about the candidate, if he or she had an ‘R’ next to their name, they received a vote.
Around 30 percent of possible voters describe themselves as Democrat, and 26 percent Republican. Significant to the total number of Independents are those who ‘leaned one way more than the other.’ Seventeen percent said they were more disposed towards Republicans, fifteen percent towards Democrats, leaving eleven percent not leaning towards the right or the left.
The fear is that many of those polled claimed to be Independent simply to receive the label. When elections come, a large percentage of the 43 percent may likely once again vote along party lines.
Our founding fathers feared that if the two parties became too powerful, they would be a destructive force to our form of Democratic government. Today we know they were correct in their assumptions. If our nation is to recover from its present political debacle, voters must vote for the best candidate and not for the party he or she belongs to.
The majority of the 535 members of Congress are unqualified to be on the board of a PTA, much less allowed to make decisions about which direction our country will be taking in the future.
Independent voters will be watching carefully as the Republican controlled Congress begins functioning; or if it continues to do nothing of importance in 2015. The general election of 2016 is less than one year and ten months away. At present the only power Democrats have in Washington is the President’s veto. Virtually everything which does or does not happen in our legislature will be directly attributed to Republican rule.
Although declared Independents are the majority, that is not the case in our government. There are only two Independents in the Senate; Angus King, and Bernie Sanders. There are no Independents in the House of Representatives.
An internal situation in the GOP has also divided it into two parties; each with goals which are diametrically opposed. Republicans seek to follow the ideals of past GOP members and pass more conservative legislation favoring private business and smaller government. Members of the TEA Party are extremists who want to destroy everything that was accomplished for the American people in the last 60 years, and they refuse to work with the other side of the aisle. Deliberation and compromise are words which have been removed from their vocabularies.
This article is personal for me. With the exception of a short period of time, between 2000 and 2008, I have been an Independent. I vote for candidates, not for parties or colors. I believe labeling states Red or Blue simply adds to the separation of voters who cast their ballot for ideals and issues instead of and ‘R’ or ‘D.’
Commentary By James Turnage