Two Parties May Hold The Laws, But Independents Hold The Power

Created: 01 March, 2018
Updated: 17 October, 2022
3 min read

As the momentum grows for a third-party and a political system overhaul, Americans are increasingly frustrated, disenfranchised, and fed-up with "politics as usual."

Time and again we have seen our elected officials kick the can down the road to the next generation in favor of doing "just enough" to keep their jobs while doing far too little to make our communities stronger. The truth is, independents hold the power; we just need to use it.

Each state is different so these examples are only exact to my state of Iowa (where I am an Independent candidate); but I gather each state is pretty similar in their laws supporting the two major parties.

Straight-Ticket Voting

Back in 2017, Iowa passed what was dubbed the "Voter I.D." law which changed what types of identification were required at polling places on election day. While we can debate that issue, the one absolutely positive piece from that legislation was the removal of "straight-ticket" voting.

Now, voters will be required to vote for each person for each office.

There was a bill proposed this session that would have reversed that provision, but it has stalled in the legislature.

Voter-Funded Primaries

This isn't an argument against voters paying for primaries and general elections; quite the opposite. But if Iowa is going to continue to have party-driven elections, the parties should have to invest in them, or we must allow independents to play a role in these contests.

Then and only then will we have a fully-functioning democracy at the polls.

Until then, primaries in Iowa are nothing more than a party event.

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Voter-Funded Campaign Fund

In Iowa, as in many states, taxpayers can opt-in to giving a few dollars to the campaign fund when they file.

Unfortunately, to gain access to these funds, you need to be a recognized political party under section 43.2 of the Iowa Code (source), and your party has to approve you as a candidate gaining access to these funds.

Right now, to be a "recognized party" in Iowa, the party must have earned 2% in the last general election. Therefore, right now only the Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian parties have access to these funds.

Furthermore, the party then gets to decide who it funds with these dollars. It is power-politics at its worst.

Committee Representation

In Iowa, if you are lucky enough to get elected to either the Senate or the House as an independent, they are under no "legal" obligation to put non-Republican or non-Democrats onto committees.

Last year in Iowa, "no party" senator David Johnson was appointed to a committee by the Democrats; thereby giving up one of "their" seats.

Of course, this was on a committee where they knew they had Johnson's support, but the fact remains, the laws favor a two-party system with little room for anyone else.

In their current format and use, parties are not good for our democracy. We go from election to election fighting for power instead of listening to the voters.

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In Iowa, independents hold the power (and they do in my district as well), and it is time we use it. Demand action on key issues. Demand fair access to our electoral and law-making process.

A democracy only works when everyone gets to play by the same fair and equitable rules.

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