OPINION: Independents are seldom independent by choice

“Perhaps instead of voter ID laws, the USA might want to try voter IQ laws.” – Angela Hatfield

While American politics continues to play out like a roller derby grudge match between Democrats and Republicans, off camera more and more voters are choosing not to affiliate with either party as the number of registered independents continues to grow. The share of independents has moved so far upwards the last few decades that moderate party line voters are an endangered species.

Turned off by the partisan wars in Washington, the electorate continues to move away from past loyalties to the traditional red and blue teams. The smart politicians are aware they must find the “sweet spot” before the next election. But this is getting increasingly difficult since campaigning to the center means walking a primary tightrope to maintain allegiance to factions within the party.

Based on the metaphor of bringing light to the Dark Age, the Enlightenment Age shifted allegiances away from absolute authority, to more optimistic attitudes about human nature, religion and politics. Enlightenment thinkers like Thomas Paine, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams used these ideals to form the embryo of their nation, “United States of America.”

In an effort to appease 13 independent colonies, our framers purposely avoided addressing regional, cultural and religious ideologies that would conflict with principles of the Enlightenment. It was their goal to develop a moral and ethical nation that allowed independent thinkers to self-govern.

“Whenever you do something, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson

Due to its very Enlightenment virtue, America has always been a right-of-center nation. The goal of our founding was to allow free thinkers to coexist in a republic under a constitution of statutes to maintain law and order without restricting innovation, independent thought or ideas from “thinkers.”

In her 245-year history, America has endured deep divisions between its political parties. The Civil War, women’s suffrage; civil rights, two great wars, the Vietnam conflict, gay rights and today, the right to life vs. abortion have divided America’s party affiliations. But “when the going gets tough the tough get going,” behind the closed curtains of the polls they move back closer to the center.

A recent phenomenon of the past few decades is that voters have become more openly reactive to the political divide that has gripped our nation. Independent and unaffiliated voters are having their day in the sun and this time it appears that moment is something more enduring than those in the past.

“Good intentions are ubiquitous in politics; what is scarce is accurate beliefs.” – Bryan Caplan

New data from Ballot Access News that tracks voter registration in some 31 states shows that the waves of discontent are driving more voters to register as independents. Today, independents now account for 29.09% of voters compared with 28.87% for Republicans. What looks bad for the GOP is worse for Democrats since this independent growth is coming directly from defecting Democrats.

Reading between the lines of this poll, while independents have surpassed the Republicans, there hasn’t been a drop in GOP party registration since President Donald Trump left office. In fact, since President Joe Biden took control, the number of registered Democrats declined by 2% and is dropping sharply each day. These new independents are former Democrats, fed up with the progressives.

Independents are typically “closet voters” who fear admitting how they voted due to peer pressure, such as black conservatives and anti-abortion Catholics. Others, especially Democrats, won’t admit that their party has been abandoning their core beliefs for years. Over half of the voters polled said that they reregistered as independents due to the progressive makeover of the Democratic Party.

In a recent Gallup poll, more independents admitted that they are planning to vote for a Republican candidate than ever before. Last election, independents gave the Democrats a 9-point advantage. Today, independent preference shifted to a 5-point Republican advantage. That’s the biggest swing in independent voters from one party to another since Gallup started tracking independent voters.

Dan Pfeiffer, former communications director for former President Barack Obama, said the Democratic brand has been damaged by Biden and the progressives. The Democrats are struggling with an identity crisis between the Democratic socialist and the progressive extremes with the party and the moderates.

“If you believe in your identity, you won’t alter its course if you know that it is right.” – Helmut Lang

Since the election of Donald Trump, Democrats moved further left on social and economic policy, along with progressive social justice issues, to stand more firmly with allies like environmentalists, unions, abortion rights activists and radical race baiters. They have abandoned key Democratic policies and ideals of the past. By doing this they have lost universal support from more moderate Democrats.

Democratic strategist James Carville told PBS, “What’s wrong with this party is wokeness! Look at Minneapolis, and Seattle, Washington. This defund the police lunacy does not appeal to rational Democrats. We’re seeing this with the Democrats across the nation. These people need to go to a woke detox center.” The woke infestation has almost completely destroyed the Democratic Party.

Carville, James Axelrod of CBS, and Barack Obama have been warning progressives that they had become too self-righteous, extreme and shrill for years. Progressives have waved away, ridiculed, and denounced too many core traditional American institutions claiming that they are racist.

“There is nothing cool about being woke. Canceling people out makes you look stupid.” – Barack Obama

Obama told us, “Elections have consequence.” Joe Biden is a gift that keeps on giving to the GOP every day he is in the White House. Independents made the difference last election when they moved left, and they have been sorry that they ever did. Biden has not only lost the moderate branch of the Democratic Party, but he has alienated independents with his progressive wokeness.

Considering Biden continues his endless pursuit of an all progressive agenda, there is little hope that Democrats will recapture the independents responsible for last election’s blue upset win. Progressives seem determined to stick with their message even though it is costing them elections. And when they lose, they will continue to blame every progressive loss on hyperbolic white racism.

There is no question which way the independents will lean during the midterms since Republicans are polling 5-points higher with them than Democrats. The question is, will the GOP do a repeat of 2016 when independents wanted “change they could believe in” and elected Donald Trump. Or will they move too far right?

“This is not a center-left nation. This is a center-right country. That’s being shown, and we ought to be able to recognize that! We can’t go too far left.” – Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV.

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