Independent? Not So Much.
All of the talking heads who cover politics spend a lot of time talking about the Independent vote. Some of us are not sure what that means. Most Americans love the word independence. We started out with s Declaration of Independence. We generally envy people of “independent means” and, of course, nobody wants to be dependent. But in politics, especially national politics, the only real alternative for an Independent is Democrat or Republican or “Throwaway.”
The Independent can stomp his or her feet in frustration and say “no, no, no. I don’t accept that as a choice!” But come election time a choice still gets made, only without you. And worse yet, every Independent who bows out of the whole political process inadvertently doubles the voter impact of someone who may not be your cup of tea (pun intended!)
Of course, there are third parties in our history. We’ve had Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party, and the Farmer-Labor party and we’ve even had Socialists and Communists on the ballot once or twice. They all lost by very wide margins.
We’ve had charismatic single-issue dark horses: Huey Long, George Wallace and Ross Perot, all of whom lost. At least they were interesting. The rest are simply spoilers.
The best example of a spoiler is that tireless (and tiresome) egomaniac Ralph Nader. He has never come remotely close to carrying a single state but he probably siphoned off just enough votes in Florida to give that state to George W. Bush. We all know how well that turned out.
We realize that many Independents are simply people of conscience who can’t seem to find a way to express their views. But there are also the Slackers who are too intellectually lazy to do the hard work of sorting through the issues. There are also more than a few Snobs who find the current political process just too contemptible, especially some of the candidates. Finally, there are some Refuseniks who see not voting as a meaningful protest. Dream on.
If any citizen wants to be a part of a throw-away-your-vote movement, he or she runs the risk of giving it to some nitwit. That’s any citizen’s privilege. But they won’t get much sympathy from the rest of us if the person who comes out on the Inaugural platform in January is someone they consider totally unfit. “Hail to the Chief!” That person got your vote even if you didn’t vote.