Belonging to either political party means getting to vote on more stuff

When journalists talk about President Trump’s approval numbers, they sometimes break out subgroups (“but among Republicans…”) which got me curious: how big are those groups? According to Gallup’s most recent survey (Mar 1-5), in response to the question “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent?” the U.S. is 26% Republican, 30% Democrat, and 42% independents.

In light of that, this is going out to my independent friends.

I belong to a political party; I’m a registered Democrat. Here’s what that doesn’t mean:

I don’t have to vote for Democrats if I don’t want to. I vote for whoever I think is best in each election, just like an independent.

I don’t miss out on hearing from Republican candidates. When local canvassers go door to door, they knock on my door, give me fliers, and answer my questions.

I don’t get hit up for fundraisers any more than I used to. Same level of ads and spam, pretty much.

I don’t have to pay any kind of membership fee. Nobody bugs me to show up for meetings or put signs in my lawn. (I bug them.)

Presumably, the same is true for registered Republicans. It’s pretty much the same as being an independent. Except…

We get to vote in primaries to select the candidates that run in the general election. We also get to vote for the people running the DNC or RNC, and the people who write the party platforms. If we’re worried that neither of the parties is accurately representing us and what we want, we have more levers to pull at least one of the parties closer to what we think is right, instead of leaving the big decisions to the super-partisan diehards.

Think about it. You could consider joining one of the parties in secret to preserve your independent mystique. You won’t get branded with a bumper sticker. What you’ll get is extra chances to goad a party that’s getting too far out there – or not far enough out there. If you want better candidates in the general election, this is how you get them.

And when it comes to the actual vote, you’re still free as free. Forever. Guaranteed by electoral law.

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