Despite the well-oiled argument that independent voters are merely Democrats and Republicans in sheep’s clothing, independents are becoming more organized outside the confines of partisan politics. Many have been compelled to do so by the glaring shortcomings we have seen evolve out of the current two party system and the realization that this system will not reform itself. It will take a grassroots movement to transform it from party-centric to people-centric. Recently, on a Spokesperson Training call, independents in the IndependentVoting.org network were asked to answer the very basic question – in 60 seconds or less – why we became an independent.
I described that years ago. I wrote a paper in college and in the process discovered I am primarily a “both/and,” not an “either / or” thinker. As a young voter, I registered as a Republican because I generally endorsed the “Party of Lincoln’s” values. It worked well for over 25 years. Eventually, the Republican Party rendered impossible a “both/and” orientation. Consequently, I became an independent upon moving to Arizona. Political parties are now so violently “either/or” that they default on the major issues requiring our attention. That’s why I’m a vehemently independent American voter.
To be clear: “independent” describes a divorce from the rigid partisan constraints of political parties. Ironically, it also embodies belief in a powerful interdependence among Americans that the parties actively deny. Parties won’t go away. But their insistence that they are the only legitimate game in town is no longer acceptable because they leave too many people out and their system no longer works.
We Americans must be able to speak out forcefully about putting runaway partisanship in check. Independents are pushing essential structural reforms in every state, including Arizona, as we become more organized in building our movement.
Through our local organization, Independent Voters for Arizona, thousands of letters are being directed to state and party leaders, seeking equal voting rights as independents in primary elections! And, thanks to a recent Morrison Institute study, more is known about Arizona independents than in any other state. It is too late for 2016. It is just right for 2020.
Al Bell lives in Peoria.