New York, New York— We have passed the midway point for the Primaries and it is still a close race. And I haven’t been this excited and in tune with an Election since Kerry ran against Dubya in 2004. And that was the last time I was registered as a Democrat… until this campaign came around and forced me back into the Party.
Why did I switch party affiliation from the Democratic Party to Independent Voter? Well, I realized that I was just as wary of Democrats as I was Republicans, even though politically I agree more with Democratic Candidates than the latter. And I took issue with the fact that a lot of Big Name Democrats had voted for the War in Iraq, such as:
What was the purpose of supporting a party that is by its own design schizophrenic? An All-in-One package deal. This is the Party that gave us George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and George Wallace. You have Liberal Democrats, a.k.a Moderates [think President Obama and Hillary Clinton* (post-2015)]; Progressive Democrats [Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown]; and Centrist or New Democrats, a Democratic Candidate that might be tempting enough for a Republican to vote for them [Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton* (pre-2015), and Jim Webb]. What the hell, I thought, I don’t need to be labeled this or that to be into Politics. So I changed my registration to Independent and made myself a promise I would never vote for anyone, be it Democrat or Republican, who voted for the Iraq War.
And it looks like I wasn’t the only one sick and tired of a Two Party System blanketing and sorting the wide-range of various political schools of thought into just two factions. It turns out that the majority of voters are registered as Independents. According to Pew Research Center, Millennials (those of us between 18 and 33 years of age) have the widest gap between Independent Voters and the Democratic & Republican Voters. In this area, Independent Voters are at 48% and both Democrats & Republicans combined are at 46%, meaning Independent voters are the majority for this age group.
There we are. But, what does this mean for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders? Well, 51% of Millennial Independent Voters are liberal leaning vs. the 35% that are conservative leaning… leaving 14% undecided or way far left or right to be considered liberal or conservative. And this packs a pretty powerful punch. Considering the fact that more registered Republicans voted in the 2012 elections than registered Democrats in places like Colorado, Mitt Romney should have been a shoe-in for the Winner of the state. But, he wasn’t. Judd Choate, who leads the elections division for the Colorado secretary of state’s office, speculated in an interview with NPR that “but as it was, the unaffiliated [Independent Voters] probably washed out that difference and then created the winning margin for Obama.” So, this can be a very positive thing for Clinton or Sanders. But maybe more so for Sanders.
When Sanders was deliberating on whether to run in the Democratic Primary or to run as an Independent, petitions were circulated to show support for both options. Over 40,000 signatures were collected in favor of him running as a Democrat, but nearly 1.4 million signatures were collected for him to run as an Independent. And that’s it in a nutshell. Liberal-leaning Independents want Bernie Sanders. But, in the end, he chose to run as a Democrat and to take part in the pledged delegate and superdelegate system, which in some states isn’t a very democratic system when it comes to Independents. The American Primary system is set up as either Closed, Open, or Hybrid Primaries. In Closed Primaries and in some Hybrid Primaries, you have to be registered with a party to be able to vote and since there are only Democratic Primaries and Republican Primaries, you have to be a registered Democrat or Republican. In Open Primaries, any registered voter can vote in which ever party’s primary election. And this is where a Two-Party System has failed my generation’s largest group of registered voters. Unless we Independents register as Democrat or Republican, we have no say in many states’ primaries as to who we want as President. So, screw it. I registered as a Democrat just so I could vote for Bernie Sanders in New York’s April Primary. But once that is done, I am going right back to being an Independent.
And it’s been a hard row to hoe for me and those voters like me. Just for picking our candidate, we been harassed and shamed by certain Hillary supporters and/or Trolls. We are often lumped together with “BernieBots” or accused of being pro-#BernieOrBust just for wanting “A Future to Believe in.” Or that we are either not real Democrats or that we aren’t loyal Democrats or that we are hurting the base. Well, yeah. You’re right, some supporters aren’t. We are new or returning Democrats… but some definitely are and have been life-long Democrats voting for Sanders.
And that’s just attacks on the supporters. Sanders gets the same treatment, minus the #BernieOrBust accusation, just with more jabs that he won’t be able to get anything done with a Republican dominated Congress. The “Democratic Base” have already been calling for him to step aside and let Clinton build a strong, unhindered Campaign against whomever the Republicans throw at her, when she herself didn’t drop out of the 2008 Campaign until June 7th. Now, that isn’t an attack on Clinton. Clinton has been running a good campaign and platform for those voters who agree with her… and congrats to Hillary supporters on having a candidate they believe shares their vision of how America and Politics should be. What’s the point in attacking voters during the Campaign Trail? This is the time to be deeply rooted in your support of a candidate. What the New York Times and CNN and many others are doing is just what Fox News has been doing for years … and that is twist and spin the news in such a way as to polarize voters, to turn us against each other.
Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone, recently picked Hillary to be this Campaign’s Rock ‘N Roll candidate just as he had done in 1992 for her husband, Bill Clinton. Now I’m not going to cancel my subscription just because he didn’t pick my candidate to be the Rock ‘N Roll candidate nor do I think any less of Wenner. Why should I? This is America, and we are promised Freedom of Speech and Press and a right to vote. So, I won’t step on you for that… I might disagree with you, but so what. Plus, Rolling Stone still publishes great political pieces. For example, Matt Taibbi’s article “How the ‘New York Times’ Sandbagged Bernie Sanders” lays out the media’s spin on Sanders. He wrote, “Steinhauer [author of the NYT piece] implied that Sanders often acted as a kind of lefty obstructionist, using Republicans to thwart more centrist initiatives. ‘Mr. Sanders is not unlike Tea Party Republicans in his tactics, except his are a decaf version,’ she wrote. […] ‘Sanders is the amendment king of the current House of Representative. Since the Republicans took over Congress in 1995, no other lawmaker… has passed more roll-call amendments (amendments that actually went to a vote on the floor) than Bernie Sanders. He accomplishes this on the one hand by being relentlessly active, and on the other by using his status as an Independent to form left-right coalitions.’” So, what is it? Either he won’t be able to work with Republicans or he has built a whole career on doing just that. Get your goddamn story straight, people…. At least be on the same page!
What can we do about it? Not much. We could push for Independent Primaries that would include every candidate’s name on the ticket. Though, and maybe more realistically, we can start by not telling people how they should vote. It is your vote and use your best judgment as to how it should be used. Sure, this is a double-edged sword and there are some good arguments. If you are voting just because you want a Liberal or Conservative in the White House, then you aren’t all that invested in any candidate. You’re invested in the idea that one political leaning is better than the other. You are open to either candidate, as long as they beat Trump or Cruz. And that is OK. But, if you feel like telling a pro-#BernieOrBust voter (or non-voter, as the case may be) that not voting Clinton is stupid because you are a Hillary Clinton Supporter and fear she can’t beat Trump or Cruz without the votes of non-Hillary voters, the answer you get back might be, “Well, get a candidate I can and want to vote for!” or “Then why don’t you vote for Sanders?” Both statements are true. And that is at heart why the American Two-Party system has failed us as a democracy…. It is no longer (… and maybe never has been) the Best Candidate wins but instead what candidate is the Lesser of Two Evils. Let’s not kid ourselves— this is no way to run a country and has to be just a little bit crippling to the Winner’s self-esteem to know that the voters considered them at the very least a little more stomachable than the Loser. If it ain’t broke, as they say…