Op-Ed: Independent Voters Should Rejoin Political Parties

The Republican debate last week reminds us that another primary season is drawing near.  If you are one of the voters registered as an “independent” or “no party” who bemoans the Democrats and Republicans putting up ever more extreme candidates in the general election, I have news for you: you’re a big part of the problem.

Unlike some states that allow you to arrive on the day of a primary and announce what party’s primary you wish to participate in, New York State requires you to be a registered Republican or Democrat to vote in their primaries. Over the last decades, moderates who have become more disillusioned with the two parties have renounced their membership and chosen to be listed as “independent” (an actual party in New York) or “no party”.
The problem with that approach is that it removes the moderate voices from the parties and leaves the most extreme members to choose the candidates we all get to vote for in November. The candidates know this, and so spew extreme views prior to the primaries to attract the extreme voices to vote for them.  The candidates then have trouble walking back these extreme views in the general election, and we are left with two candidates that appear to have little in common with centrist America.
The good news is that you can do something about it.  Change your registration to one of the two main parties.  In this cycle most of the competition is on the Republican side, but if you don’t plan to change your party every 4-8 years, simply register for the one that makes you least uncomfortable and vote in their primary.  Sometimes there are primaries for local elections as well.  You might see an uptick in spam, but dragging the Democrats and Republicans back to the center is worth it, don’t you think?

One Reply to “Op-Ed: Independent Voters Should Rejoin Political Parties”

  1. According to the latest statistics, 49% of registered voters nationwide are now registered independent. Those of us who are independent regard this as a good thing, up from a single digit percentage when John F. Kennedy was President. I would encourage those who are registered independent to stay the way they are, rather than registering as members of political parties. The first two Presidents of the United States did not have a high opinion of political parties and warned Americans not to start or support political parties in the kind of government Americans had started. George Washington’s comments about political parties can be found in his Farewell Address from 1796. Four years two contentious parties dominated the election of 1800, and Americans have been subject to party control since that time. The question that Americans need to answer after more than two hundred years is, Was George Washington right about political parties, or are they giving us good government?
    We can talk about some of the things that the two-party system has given Americans, two World Wars, a Civil War, numerous lesser undeclared wars, economic recessions and depressions, corruption in government, and all of the things that George Washington predicted would happen. I say, Go the other direction, and get independent voters to 51%. Then political party members will be a minority in our country. Why not?
    Maybe independent voters can agree on what would improve our conditions. Political party politicians certainly do not seem to be able to improve things.

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