Independents should become more involved

December 21, 2013

I grew up a Democrat because my Dad was a Democrat – “the party of the people, the common man.”. We were common men. Of course, much has changed since then.

There was a time when I switched from a registered Democrat to an “Independent” voter. I realized rather quickly that all I did was cut myself out of the primaries and had no say in voting on party issues or candidates. And I wasn’t thinking any more independently than before. When I reregistered, I registered as a Republican because that was the party I most associated with.

The ranks of independent voters have swelled in the last decade or two. Some think it registers the great dissatisfaction of the electorate with the major parties. Perhaps it does. But it has also allowed more freedom for dedicated Democrats to follow a more radical agenda, and the Republicans to moderate, until the Tea Party started to get more involved.

An independent has decided not to join any party, as if that allows him or her more room to think. That sounds good. Except that it implies that registered Republicans and Democrats do not think for themselves; and to be sure, some don’t. They are dedicated to those parties, come hell or high water. I want to believe that no matter which party you are registered in, you are voting for candidates and issues that are for the good of the country.

Registering as an Independent does preclude you from party decisions. The two dominant parties are now filled with fewer, but more dedicated members, which skew those parties a bit more than normal.

I believe independents do themselves, and the country, a disservice, because in most states, they have no say as to whether a candidate should be primaried or not; and if primaried, who the challenger(s) should be. They have no say in the discussion of issues and solutions, what the platform of issues should be, and why the platform turns out to be just window dressing, and no one adheres to it. They do not attend meetings and so cannot contribute to either pro or con arguments on any issue, or be a moderating influence. And the parties suffer for it.

Independents are therefore shirking a duty - a duty to be more involved in political decisions - instead of just voting for issues and candidates whose choice was relinquished to others. It is a “feel good” position, and a far less demanding one. It is a good excuse for not being involved, since there are no meeting halls and no meetings, no issues and no candidates. It is waiting to see which way the wind blows. It is allowing things to happen around you, with no input on your part. That is not how a Constitutional Representative Republic works. It is definitely not the way self-governance works.

Voting is not a right, it is a privilege and a responsibility; it is more than pulling a lever. Get off the fence. Get informed. Get involved!

Armand Carreau

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