Howard Dean: Both Parties Driving Younger Voters to Be Independents

Created: 20 September, 2017
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read

Dr. Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, and a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, recently had some sobering words for the two major political parties in the United States.

On a Washington Post podcast, Dean said, "The most reliable demographic of our voters are the young people across the board, across racial and ethnic lines," but added that this is a major problem for the DNC, because: "These people are not Democrats."

Dean went on to explain:

"They’re very independent-minded. They don’t like politics. And they mistrust institutions. I think our problem as Democrats is, we’re the head of the oldest party in the West, and this party is an institution that looks incredibly unattractive; not because of our ideology, ’cause that is attractive, and that is why they always vote for Democrats. But the Democratic Party means nothing to them because it’s an institution built by people like me who’s 40 years older than them."

That's not exactly great news for the RNC either. The former physician and Vermont governor says that the GOP has pushed young voters away too:

"The Republicans had a shot at these guys because these young folks are libertarian economically, but the Republicans are so cast in racism and anti-feminism and all these other things that these young folks value. Leadership in the ultimate is telling your own people that they have to do something that they don’t want to do. There’s no leadership at all in the Republican Party. None. Zero. They’re all terrified of their monster that they’ve created, which relies on xenophobia and racism and all these other unpleasant-isms."

Dean, who Democratic Party primary voters and caucus goers admired for his fierce anti-establishment rhetoric and independent streak in 2004, went on to essentially affirm support for independent voters and independent candidates for office in response to a question about Bernie Sanders' affiliation:

"Who cares if he’s in the Democratic Party or not? Bernie can call himself whatever he wants, but functionally, he is a Democrat."

Just two days after the podcast, the Citizen Times reported that unaffiliated voters in North Carolina have surpassed the number of registered Republicans in the state for the first time.

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This nearly brings the Tar Heel State into the fold of such states as Alaska, Massachusetts, Idaho, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, and Colorado, where independent voters outnumber voters registered in either of the two main political parties.

While the number of unaffiliated voters in the state has yet to eclipse the number of registered Democrats, the recent shift is no cause for celebration in the DNC.

The figures from the State Board of Elections show the number of registered Democrats in the state has plummeted by nearly 130,000 over the past five years, while the number of Republicans increased by just a little over 26,000- just not nearly as much as the number of independent voters.

As voters flee the ranks of the two major political parties, they will leave behind the more extreme partisan loyalists, which will only worsen the extremism and polarization happening in American two-party politics.

This powerful political feedback loop will likely hasten the descent of the two great American political parties into obscurity, leaving independent voters and emerging third parties to steer the course of the US. government and American polity.

Get ready and pay attention.

Photo Source: AP

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