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Who Are Independent Voters? Diverse Ideologies; Open Minds

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

The most difficult part of maintaining a news platform that is open to all ideologies and opinions is that people often rush to judgment about the motivations of the entire operation based on the content and context of a single article. In short, is biased ... in many directions ... by hundreds of authors who are given wide latitude to write about any topic that helps advance our political dialogue in a positive direction.

IVN exists to give our authors and our audience a forum where they can discuss important topics in U.S. politics and elections in a civil and productive manner -- to go beyond the headlines and look at the biggest issues facing American voters that escape the two-sided dialogue prevalent in the mass media. We are an open, online platform for independent-minded authors from across the political spectrum.

The only litmus test for our writers is that they adhere to a simple 4-point etiquette: No partisan attacks, no personal attacks, substantiate sources, and no self-promotion. To the best of our knowledge, there is not another website like ours -- and it is evident when we see positive feedback on what we are trying to accomplish:

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Yet almost everyday, we will get a comment or a message that accuses us of being "closet Republicans" or "Democrats who do not want to be called Democrats." Think of any traditional political label -- e.g. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, progressives, libertarians, etc. -- and chances are we have been accused of being biased toward that party or ideology.

I know what you're thinking: how can a news site be accused of both liberal and conservative bias, of being shills for the Republican Party in one post and then undercover operatives for the Democratic Party in the next -- sometimes even in the same post? See for yourself:

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Being a truly open platform for independent-minded authors, the perspective you get depends on whose article you read, and we have published content from over 400 contributors and counting.

Being independent, to us, means that political ideology and opinion are not substitutes for substantive discussion. It also means that coming to a different conclusion on a particular issue should not prevent us from discussing other issues with a clean slate.

Being independent-minded, most simply, is a mindset ... one that is open to persuasion, and recognizes that there is merit behind even conflicting opinions.

When political commentators in the mass media run headlines like, "The Independent Voter is a Myth," they argue that over 40 percent of the electorate cannot be independent because most Americans are not "neutral" or fall in the middle of a linear, left-right scale.

To us, being independent does not mean being "moderate" or "neutral"; it means that you don't subscribe to a narrow set of conscripted positions and follow them faithfully to the group-think conclusion that "we are always right" and "they are always wrong."

As a society, we have become accustomed to the simple red-versus-blue, liberal-versus-conservative goal posts that have been set up by the drivers of American politics -- from the political consultants, to the mass media, and even the research institutions that do their bidding. At IVN, we are trying to move beyond the false two-sided narrative to a real discussion -- where thought leaders understand the importance of nuance and the sophistication that good policy actually requires.

The authors and readers of IVN cannot and should not fit neatly into the red and blue boxes that color our political maps. America is more diverse than that. And our political discourse should be too.

Editor's note: This article was written with the help of IVN intern Gabriel Saint Cyr. 

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