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What It Means to be Independent

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

independent voters

There is no universally accepted definition of what it means to be an independent voter. For some, it is their continued desire to remain unaffiliated with any political party. For others, it is more about being independently minded. They may affiliate with the GOP or the Democratic Party, or a third party, but they are not party-line voters. They have their own opinions on various issues and choose not to march to the beat of the partisan drum.

The fact that people have different ways of interpreting what it means to be independent is in and of itself what it means to be independent.

The independent movement is growing nationwide. There are a handful of states where independent and non-affiliated voters outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Roughly 40 percent of the American voting population refuses to identify with one of the two mainstream political parties and that number follows an upward trend.

By definition, these voters are independent because they prefer non-affiliation. However, voters can be registered Republicans or Democrats and still be independent-minded voters. The current electoral system in several states doesn't give these voters very many options, but to register with the party they affiliate with the most. However, they ascribe to their own political philosophy and not the prevailing ideas in the party they are affiliated with.

This type of independence is seen in political figures like Michigan Representative Justin Amash (R) and former congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Sure, both Amash and Paul are Republicans, but they are not afraid to make waves and have been thorns in the sides of those seen as "establishment" party leaders -- the rank and file Republicans.

Would it be right to deny Amash and Paul the title of being independent just because they have an 'R' next to their names? In a partisan state like Texas, the hard truth is that Ron Paul would have never been elected to the House of Representatives if he didn't have the 'R' attached to his name.

Being politically independent has a different meaning for different people, but in all cases it is an aspect that defines who they are. What does being independent mean to you?

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