By Brandi Martindale
Across America, voters are rejecting the political party system. For many, it’s a decision that stems from feelings of disconnect, as the parties spiral into warring factions. Fewer can relate to the political blame-game playing out in the mass media. While leaders point fingers, America grows impatient, and asks, “When is something going to get done?”
The independent movement is a sign that “When?” is “Now!” And rather than wait for the system to serve them, Americans are rejecting it completely, and demanding a new kind of non-partisan politic.
The deadlock between partisan factions - the failure of our national leaders to respond to our voice - may be precisely what America needs to rally us to action. While Washington drags its feet on issues that are clear-cut to ninety percent of Americans independents mobilize. With the success of the National Conference of Independents hosted by CUIP last February, the demand for non-partisan solutions is growing faster than ever.
Igniting conversations that remain focused on solutions, the independent movement isgrowing in all directions. The robust non-partisan scientific community offers us strongdata on the cost of cutting social welfare - that one dollar spent on head start programs earns twelve in future economic gains, highlighting where partisan policy falters. The words “Democrat” and “Republican” carry little value when solutions requires facts, and opinions require evidence.
The independent movement grows as constituents call and write to their Congresspeople, unhappy with officials’ behavior in office. Congresspeople are being reminded they are public servants first, and partisan loyalists second. After gun control legislation failed to pass, Harry Reid mentioned bringing it back for another vote, after a seething backlash from the public. The issues we face are neither Democrat, nor Republican - they are American. This unity is understood by the independent movement, and represents the nature of change so many want to see.
After compiling the registration data of nineteen states with closed primary elections, I have put a hard number to the independent movement. That number is thirteen million, fifteen-thousand, two hundred thirty-one. In these nineteen states with closed primaries, twenty-two percent of the voting population have no say in primary election outcomes - the first round of selection- because they do not wish to participate in the political party system. As an American, and as an agent of democracy, I find this fact appalling.
The spirit of the independent movement is strong and simple - disregard allegiance to partisan cronies, and pledge allegiance to our flag, our nation, and our people - all people. This sentiment resonates deeply with every American, regardless of which box they checked at voter registration - which more and more often is ‘other’, ‘unaffiliated’, No Preference”, or simply “I do not wish to join a political party”.
Brandi Martindale is an activist with the NYC Independence Party, and is currently working as a research intern for Columbia University, at independentvoting.org. Brandi is completing her MA in Organizational Social-Psychology this summer, and brings an understanding of organizational structure and group behavior to the conversation of non-partisan politics.