Over the last two national elections, the number of voters who identify as independent has eclipsed both Republicans and Democrats. According to Pew Research, 38 percent of voters now identify as independent compared to 32 percent, Democrat, and 24 percent, Republican. Robin Koerner, political writer and coiner of the term 'Blue Republican,' sees this rising tide of independent-minded voters as a reaction to both parties' failure to uphold one of the nation's fundamental values: liberty.
Koerner, a British transplant as of 2004 and Washington state resident, made a splash with voters in 2011 when he introduced the Blue Republican concept in the midst of campaigning for then-congressman Ron Paul. The article spurred voters to organize on social media by the thousands and 10 chapters now inhabit states like California, Colorado, Maine and others.
"There's a wave here to ride in the U.S.," said Koerner. "We are setting up Blue Republican chapters all over the country... I want this open-minded, pro-love, non-dogmatic, pro-peace, pro-civil rights, kind of skeptical flavor or approach to politics to take hold wherever it can under anyone's auspices if they're genuine about those things."
The group is open to all comers interested in finding common ground with one another, while being rooted in a non-dogmatic foundation of classical liberal ideals and individual freedom. Yet, Koerner's primary focus is to engage and connect with liberal Americans who say they are passionate about issues like social justice, economic justice, and civil rights, but are not seeing the outcomes they voted for.
"I'm trying to suggest an account of American politics that is both more comprehensive and more accurate than the Republican versus Democrat account, which nobody really believes anymore. People are hungry, people can see it's failing."
Koerner has found allies throughout the entire political spectrum from religious conservatives to Democrats who voted for Obama. Likewise, Blue Republican chapters will be making nonpartisan endorsements running up to the 2014 election.
"We will be endorsing candidates who are humble, have integrity, and are broadly pro-liberty from various parties," Koerner said.
Yet, there won't be any single-issue litmus test for a Blue Republican endorsement.
"If you're making anything a litmus test then you are saying that issue is the most important thing... More important than people's liberty and even people's lives and a lot of people inadvertently do that in politics on the left and the right and I'm sure even people who identify as libertarian."
Given that campaign season in many states has already started, Koerner's primary focus now is to get the various local chapters up and running. Potential chapter volunteers apply by filling out a short questionnaire and submitting it online.
Whether or not a Blue Republican endorsement will make or break candidates on the national stage remains questionable, but local races, even as far down to a county's school board, will be within the purview of local chapters.
The Blue Republican brand is still in its infancy and just now gaining momentum outside of Koerner's writing. Nevertheless, it could help unite the widening gap created by disillusioned Democrats, Republicans who have been left out of the party's ever-shrinking tent, and the growing number of independents who aren't being met at the table in good faith.