October 19, 2018

From Independent Thoughts: Independents need to stand up to the two-party system

The United States of America is in trouble. Democrats and Republicans are not only still in charge, but they both have become a nuisance to people like me. Being a supporter of Independent voting, the “establishment” two-party system continues to dominate the American political environment. Despite lower percentages of support, the Democratic and Republican parties managed to maintain a firm grip on Washington, D.C. This will be an ongoing problem for Independents until a drastic change happens.

That does not go without thoroughly questioning the Independent voters, first and foremost. This cannot happen, however, unless the problem is identified. The Gallup Institution for Research and Advice released data covering American political party affiliation from Jan. 2, 2004 to Jan. 7, 2018. Over the 14-year timespan, 315 surveys were conducted to determine the Democratic, Independent and Republican support. According to the study, Democrats averaged 33 percent while Republicans averaged 29. Independent support topped both at 36 percent.

The Pew Research Center corroborated these percentages. According to the study, ranging from 1992-2016, Democratic support stayed the same. Republican support did not change. Independent support was two points lower, at 34 percent. Pew and Gallup showed nearly identical percentages, despite the additional 13 years. The consistency is one thing. The greater Independent support is the impressive part.

Why is the two-party system still dictating the White House? What are the Independent voters missing? What are we doing wrong? Us Independents do not act truly independent when it’s time to really make a move. The data proves a lack of influence from the primaries and caucuses to the general election.

If there were ever a moment when an Independent Presidential Candidate could have made a legitimate run, the 2016 Election was it. Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were wildly popular candidates. One reached the Democratic Nomination, before losing, and the other became the 45th President of the United States. They ran under the two-party machine, and benefitted from it. They resonated, before that, with Independent voters because of their disdain for the “system.”

The media plays a key role in American political campaigns, according to Democracy without Citizens: Media and the Decay of American Politics by Robert M. Entman. Do you wonder why Independent candidates are rarely taken seriously by the public? Not enough coverage from the major news organizations. Historically, the media institution catered the Democrats and Republicans. They still do. Independents are not represented well enough. That is on us.

Most of the time, Independents forget to understand that a collective effort is needed to finally topple the Democratic/Republican empire. Once again, the data proves a lack of influence to be true. Those who dislike the two-party political system in the United States must do a better job at voicing their disagreements, especially at the polls.

Back to the numbers. This is embarrassing. From 1992-2016, only eight percent of registered Independent voters did not lean Democrat or Republican. More embarrassing, 92 percent did, according to Pew’s study. The 14-year poll conducted by Gallup showed only nine percent of Independent voters who did not lean toward the two-party system.

Again, if being independent means striving away from the Democratic/Republican establishment, then eight or nine percent is unacceptable. Sometimes, though, potential candidates can make things quite difficult.

For years, as an Independent, Sanders criticized the corruption in both political parties and how it was time to go in a new direction. Trump, despite being a registered Democrat for most of his life, also disowned the two-party establishment from 2011-12. Independent voters could have been hopeful for real change, but were reduced to the status quo once again.

It is one thing to blame candidates for turning away. It is another thing to blame the media for their lack of coverage. Both criticisms are true. Independent voters, however, need to start with themselves. We cannot claim to want real change, cry about it, then sit on our hands when it is time to do something about it.

What makes the United States of America such a great country? Our ability to change the way our government handles our best interests. If Independents are truly tired of the way this system currently operates, do something about it. The establishment is against us. It is designed to be. No more tantrums. No more crying wolf. No more statements about making change. Be independent. Make the change. It starts with us.

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