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Opinion

Who Will Speak For Independent Voters?

Independent voters choose not to affiliate with a party for many reasons. I would say the common ground for registering as an independent voter is a frustration with party politics and dogma, and a sense that internal party politics and power structures are more important for many partisans than coalition building and advancing overwhelming popular public policy solutions where they exist. I have been registered as both an independent and a Democrat in the last five years.

In a presidential election year, all eyes are on the Trump-Biden race — a race that both reflects and creates the political polarization that plagues our country. Coalition building and compromise have become all-too-rare commodities.

For independent voters, “turning our state Red or Blue” rings hollow. I can hear a collective groan when they are asked to support “The Team”, either "Team.”  Most independent voters yearn for authenticity and favor politicians who will look for best-practices and consider the interests of all Americans in public policy decisions.

Independent voters tend to care about competency in government. They tend to care about government living within its means. They overwhelmingly care about equal opportunity and an end to institutional discrimination.

Independent voters reject extreme positions of any political stripe. They also, generally, reject that embracing equality under the law and an end to discriminatory police practices has anything to do with rejecting capitalism and also reject that America was founded on fundamentally flawed or vile principles. Most don’t want to hear about defunding police, open borders, embracing socialism or a revolution.

Independent voters believe that capitalism offers the best means for our society to prosper, and they want corporations to play by the rules.

Independent voters tend to believe that immigrants strengthen our country but that our immigration system must be fixed so that people go through the process legally. At the same time, they want fair and humane treatment of people who have crossed the border illegally, including an end to family separation and children in cages.

Sadly, the Republican Party of old that stood for fiscal responsibility, free trade, personal responsibility and personal freedoms has disappeared. The Democrats need an honorable and thoughtful opposition party. I am hopeful the Republicans will reject Trumpism up and down the ballot.

At state, county and local levels of government, independent voters can reach out to both sets of candidates and take their pulse about fiscal responsibility, security, open primaries, health care, charter schools and so much more. Independent voters can then choose the candidates that best align with their values and vision for the future.

The media amplifies our differences—but we are not that different. Candidates who speak to classically liberal values including our common humanity, compassion and sense of social responsibility will earn independent votes. And independent voters will decide nearly all the close races this election cycle. 

Thus my advice to candidates: do not ignore these thoughtful and important voters.

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About the Author

Bob Perls

Bob is a former New Mexico State Representative and former U.S. Diplomat with the Department of State. Bob founded both a c3 and a c4 focused on election reform in New Mexico and currently volunteers extensively for both.

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