Why I cannot be an “Independent”

8 Nov

I first need to state that this in no way addresses people who are part of the American Independent Party. The focus on this political blog, or pog, are the anti-party “independents.” They are individuals who are opposed to political parties and reject identifying with them. They have come to the conclusion that political parties are the problem, or that, by identifying with a political party, a voter somehow stops becoming objective in their decision making process. This is a position that I could not disagree with more.

Significant portions of both parties still vote across party lines, for president. This also carries over to state and local politics. The strict party line voter is not the dominant force that some would have you believe. An individual does not cease to become objective once they join a political party. Those who are active political party members are simply more politically engaged and have reached firm conclusions concerning certain policies that inform their voting habits. The opposition to parties, by independents may simply be an overreaction to vocal hyper partisanship.

If it is the case that, these individuals have confused their opposition to hyper partisanship with an opposition to political parties themselves, they have made the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water. This is an often repeated error where one behaves in a rash manor and fails to realize that they are getting rid something good by rejecting something they dislike. They fail to realize that the symptom that they take issue with, hyper partisanship, is in fact not the result of the party system, but the result of the failure of them, and others like them, to get involved in party politics.

When people reject the party process they all but guarantee that the voices of hyper partisans will become dominant. By rejecting party participation you have acquiesced the decision making power to the hyper partisans that you oppose. Your rejection of party labels has allowed the hyper partisans to become the dominant voices in politics. You have cut off your nose to spite your face.

Primaries usually attract only the most passionate and interested voters. But, by not participating in primaries “independent” voters, have all but guaranteed that they will end up with major party candidates who don’t represent them. Your opposition to participating in party politics is only hurting you.

One of the greatest benefits to joining a political party is the ability to influence the decision of who that party will put forward as their candidate. As a political libertarian, I am registered with the Republican Party. That party best reflects my positions concerning issues of federalism (if you think that is just about the federal government you should return your high school diploma), judicial philosophy and various fiscal policies.

I was able to cast my primary ballot for Ron Paul, the candidate that most closely reflected my positions on key issues, excluding Iraq. While Paul did not win, my vote expressed to my party that the issues Ron Paul addressed were of significant concern to me. The point of voting is not that your candidate always wins, but that your opinion is expressed and you have the opportunity to try to convince others of the value of your position. By being an “independent” you have thrown away a significant opportunity to express your views.

Calling yourself an independent has become “cool” in recent years. Many consider themselves more enlightened or open minded by adopting this label. I could not disagree more with their rational and I hope that this pog will inspire some to reconsider the value of the “independent” label.

One Response to “Why I cannot be an “Independent””

  1. Melina November 15, 2008 at 6:50 PM #

    Unfortunately, being an “I” means you take votes “away”, rather than votes “for”.

    Good post.

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