Having voted in all presidential elections since Carter vs. Reagan, I have always felt that my vote was significant. But I now realize that it was slowly taken away while I wasn’t guarding it. I can still go to the polls and mark the candidate of my choice, but my vote no longer counts.
I live in a one-party system. The party in perpetual power in my state determines the winners long before Election Day. It chooses the winners based on the wishes of the major political donors. The donors decide based on ideologies. In my state, therefore, a handful of far-left ideologues indirectly make my choice for me.
But looking at the bigger picture, I realize that voters in our state are not the only people to have their vote stolen. In fact, 40-percent of the voting public—those of us who register as Independents—have no real vote in selecting a president. Even though we outnumber the Republicans (29-percent) and Democrats (31-percent), we have no big donors, no candidates, and no ideology.
How did this happen? Why have so many voters left the major parties? The major turnoff for many voters is the switch from specific issues to the fully packaged ideologies driven by each end of the political spectrum.
Political ideologies are very much like fundamentalist religions. Whether you follow the left or the right, your ideology has a set of rules that you must follow. Once people buy into the ideology, they are compelled to criticize anyone who fails any of the many litmus tests presented in packaged talking points.
Consider a voter who holds the following positions:
- Favors a strong military.
- Favors fiscal restraint and a smaller government.
- Believes the government shouldn’t have jurisdiction over abortion.
- Believes the government shouldn’t have jurisdiction over who can marry.
- Supports universal healthcare, but not Obamacare.
- Favors an energy plan that gets to renewables gradually in 25-years.
- Believes in clean air regulations, but not at the expense of undermining the economy.
- Favors licensing of gun users, but not in government control of guns.
- Favors controlling the border, and strong laws to stop future unregulated immigration.
- Favors a logical program to legally settle the immigrants who are already here.
Each of these positions is approved by either the right or left, and loudly and emotionally rejected by the opposite side. The voter who has these views can’t be a Democrat or a Republican because the ideological bases of both parties will each reject some of these positions.
Full Disclosure: These are my positions. That’s why I am a registered independent.
The problem we face is that many of us are from the middle-of-the-road and see some value from both sides. At one time, the parties embraced the middle and elected people from the middle. Until the last few years of the 1990s, it was OK to be in the middle. There were conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. We elected people like JFK and Ronald Reagan. Neither of those two former presidents would be welcome in the “Land of the Ideologues.” Even Bill Clinton, touted as a liberal, ran a middle-of-the-road administration.
In 2011-2012, a group of political professionals started an organization called American Elect. They recognized the problem of the ideological divide and tried to drive a third party. That didn’t work, probably because there were no funds to explain the positioning in TV ads. Without a push from TV, social media has long reach, but no direction.
Though I’m not a Donald Trump fan, his candidacy might help to break the logjam. Both the left and the right are criticizing him. That’s a good thing. He has no ideology, and that’s a good thing too. He’s not dependent on George Soros, Tom Steyer or the Koch Brothers for funding. That’s a VERY good thing. Can he govern? We may find out if he’s elected.
My book “The Victory that Wasn’t” offers a fictional alternate history with a different kind of Military, and better outcomes for all Americans. It’s available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1GUL8oX