April 20, 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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  • robertbwinn

    The battle is already essentially won. The two party system is in its last days already. Here is what happened. When the United States started, there were no political parties in the United States. Political parties were unpopular because an English party, the Tory Party, was blamed for starting the Revolutionary War. The country operated pretty much without parties up through the Presidencies of George Washington and John Adams. But a contention between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson resulted in two political parties vying for power in the election of 1800. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison hit on the idea of “caucuses”, the extra legal use of elected public officials in party organization, and their party obliterated Hamilton’s Federalist Party, which gave up completely in 1816. Jefferson’s Republican-Democrat Party continued as a one-party government until 1828, when John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay formed the weak National Republican party, which changed its name to the Whig Party because of the success of the English Whig Party in getting slavery abolished in England in 1834. Because of the growing abolition movement in New England states, Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren re-organized the Republican-Democrat Party as the modern Democratic Party to protect the institution of slavery in the United States. Jackson and Van Buren were the first American politicians to portray political parties as being necessary in American government, which had the effect of reducing the number of independent voters in the electorate, and convincing the voters that the only way to participate in American government was to belong to a political party. The direct result of this was the Civil War. After that the two-party system gave us the Spanish-American War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the economic collapse of 2008. Now we are told that 13 Russians on the internet destroyed American Democracy in the election of 2016.
    So where do we stand now?
    Well, we will have to send these two corrupt major parties down the road. Starting with a single digit percentage in the administration of John F. Kennedy, independent voters have increased in numbers until they comprise almost half of those registered to vote. Republicans stand at 20% of the voters, Democrats at about 30%. Both major parties are decreasing in size. If independent voters just continue to increase in numbers, they will eventually take over the government of the United States because independent voters are the voters who were created by the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Back in those days, all voters were independent voters, and all candidates for office were independent candidates. As President George Washington said, political parties are “self-created societies” that the American people should discourage. So we should discourage the Republican and Democratic parties.
    How do we do that?
    We encourage independent voter registration. To speed the process, we need independent voters to run for public office as independent candidates. If that should begin to happen, independent voters will discover that American elections are not fair. For example, in the state where I live, a Republican or Democrat has to get about 5000 nomination petition signatures to appear on the ballot for a statewide office, a minor party candidate has to get about 100, and an independent candidate has to get between 30,000 and 40,000 signatures without the help of a political party. Don’t worry about that. Register as a candidate and start getting signatures. Candidates for office increase the rate of voter registration. Once independent voters outnumber political party members, the corrupt party-controlled federal courts that now rule that signature requirements like the requirements in this state are Constitutional will have to change their tune and allow independent candidates in our government. The kind of requirements we now have only allow the success of independents like Bernie Sanders and Joseph Lieberman, who are really political party mavericks with support put together in party campaigns, and Michael Bloomberg, who is a billionaire and able to get the number of signatures required in his state.
    We need some independent candidates who do not care whether they lose, who solicit no money, make no expenditures, but get nomination petition signatures and register new voters. Going back to what George Washington said about political parties, we can draw the following conclusion: Political parties and their candidates have a bad effect on governments that hold elections, whereas, independent voters and independent candidates have a good effect, whatever the political beliefs of the individual independent voters may be. When these two corrupt major parties are no longer in power, and we have independent candidates running against independent candidates and being elected, we will know that we have restored free and open elections to the government of the United States.
    The first priority of independent voters should be electing independent candidates to state legislatures where state election laws are made.