Can Independent Politicians be the Key to Political Reform?

Author: Greg Dorsey
Created: 09 April, 2015
Updated: 15 October, 2022
5 min read
I have participated in many casual debates that have argued whether nonpartisan candidates, if elected, could actually stimulate political reform from within; versus a “voter/constituent only” movement from outside the walls of state legislatures or Capitol Hill. Would these unique and new to the scene independent public servants be able to retain that free-thinking, reform-based, objective, and nonpartisan mindset that championed their campaigns, or would they simply fall in line with the “politics as usual” status quo?

Would they allow their calls for change and reform to be silenced by the hopeless feeling that they cannot go about “it” alone? Would they start to dote over their possible re-elections and join forces with wealthy beneficiaries, political action committees, international business special interests, and local advocacy, so they may develop a more widespread voter base for a second term or a fifth term or a “career” in politics? Would they ultimately start to self-identify with and -- for lack of a better term -- “enjoy” the stature and authority that comes with a political chair?


Would they stay true to their original intentions? Would they feel comfortable without concern for re-election? Would they embrace and champion the idea of leading a “movement,” not just serving a district or a state? Would they tenaciously -- in an “uphill both ways” battle -- continue to “buck” the system while seeking reform knowing they are very alone and isolated from the partisan caucuses and party committee majorities?

Why not the latter?

Why might the idea of selfless, ethical, responsible, and objective nonpartisan public servants be so hard to imagine? Is it a sentiment that nonpartisan candidates have no legitimate chance against the well-financed and “experienced” (and I use that term loosely) partisan career politicians and the millions of dollars that back them? A “we give up,” so to speak? Is it because so many Americans have lost faith in partisan career politicians, which in turn produces a lack of faith for the prospective nonpartisan candidates?

I have heard comments like: “How could these nonpartisan public servant leaders stay true to their original platforms and free from questionable or devious influence once they get caught up in the system?” Talk about a lack of faith!

Why have an overwhelming majority of “We the People” decided to submit to partisan party (and partisan politician) control and dominance, and then complain about it? If a tremendous amount of Americans feel that their vote does not matter and that their participation is futile, is it not because of the two-party partisan paralysis and domination -- that deep rooted feeling that nothing politically in this country is going to change?

Well, I have faith that nonpartisan public servant leaders would have a platform -- a soap box, if you will -- that would be extremely beneficial to the nonpartisan movement, and will most certainly be the key to “expediting” political reform.

Wouldn’t an elected nonpartisan public servant leader have access to the eyes and ears of thousands, or millions, of state or district constituents? Wouldn’t an elected nonpartisan public servant leader have direct and quick access to multiple media outlets within multiple media formats? Wouldn’t an elected nonpartisan public servant leader, with relative ease, be able to stretch across district and state lines to promote the “nonpartisan movement” and reform agendas? Wouldn’t an elected nonpartisan public servant leader greatly amplify our nonpartisan voices when compared to trying to lobby the incumbent Democrats or Republicans that supposedly “serve” us?

Well, my friends, I would rather go to sleep at night knowing that I gave the nonpartisan candidate a chance at keeping their word before I simply write them off; and maybe you should, too!

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Why would we put limitations on what nonpartisan public servant leaders are capable of with regards to the betterment and transcendence of American democracy?

So, to fine tune my argument, the battle MUST be fought from both sides of the metaphorical fence; from within as nonpartisan public servant leaders, and from the outside as well-informed and hardworking constituents (i.e. voters).

I will finish with a few points as to why nonpartisan candidates, within today’s world of social media networking, “can” have a chance, and to reiterate why nonpartisan candidates “should” have a chance:

  • The fact is that an average successful House candidacy can cost $1.5 million and an average successful Senate candidacy can cost up to $10 million, but always remember that “YOUR” right to vote is absolutely free. Do you allow money and influence -- in the form of candidate “branding” and market saturation -- to buy your vote? Partisan market saturation is very powerful, but what about a “viral” nonpartisan candidacy within the realms of social media?
  • Social media is absolutely free. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (and email and text) are used daily by millions of Americans, usually multiple times a day. We “like” things, we “share” things, we “tweet” things, we “text and email” things. Could we not support and promote exciting and inspiring nonpartisan candidates for $0.00 multiple times a day (assuming these potential nonpartisan leaders were capable of getting the disenfranchised and discouraged excited enough to participate)? Might this modern era of social media be the “vehicle of change”?
  • The nonpartisan movement is not faring so well with the litigations and ballot measures that we are creating and supporting. Fortunately, we are at least getting off the starting block, but we must “win” to see tangible reform, and unfortunately, second or third place nets us nothing. So, what if there were more nonpartisan state and federal legislators influencing nonpartisan judges and representing more nonpartisan voters? Would we not “win” more of these contests? Would political reform not be more tangible?
  • It is well known that U.S. congressional approval is in the mid-teens (and remember the current partisan make-up: two independent senators on one side, and 533 Republican and Democratic representatives and senators on the other side; I rest my case); and it is well known that only a handful of congressional districts are even competitive anymore (thanks to gerrymandering). It is also well known that voter turnout is despairingly low (as low as it has been in decades, because we feel voiceless).

So, I ask you: Can “nonpartisan public servant leaders” be the key to political reform?

I will most certainly support the effort, and I sincerely hope you will, too.

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