Is America becoming Independent?
March 9, 2016
As we get closer to approaching the 2016 presidential elections, talk about one’s political affiliations is becoming more prevalent in daily conversations. Recently, there has been a rise in voters who identify themselves as independent voters. An independent voter is one who refrains from committing to a singular political party and instead of voting on a partisan basis, they vote for the candidate who they feel best represents their views and will best run the country, no matter the political party.
In the past two decades, the number of Democratic voters have remained the same while the number of Republican voters decreased from 29% to 25%, and Independent voters have increased from 32% to 42%. At this point, almost half of Americans identify as Independents.
Why is there this sudden increase Independents when, historically, America has been a very partisan nation? A common claim is that Americans are losing trust in their political parties and the government in general, causing them to reject political parties altogether.
It is clearly evident that America’s political parties are vastly different from one another, so why are people so separated and conflicted on which parties to chose? What makes one person favor the Republican party whereas others favor the Democratic party, or some obscure third party?
According to Bryce Wilson, senior, his “strong [belief] in Laissez Faire and a little government interference” is his main reason for picking Republican candidates at the polls.
Chase Sigman’s, junior, “love for social enhancements” gets her to throw her support to the Democratic party.
On the other hand, Katie Sims,senior, has an entirely different perspective on who she supports, stating that “I know what I believe and think morally and it tends to differ from subject to subject and I don’t want to be tied down because of a specific political affiliation.”
This supports the fact that Independent voters are becoming wary with partisan politics and are willing to keep an open mind while making decisions on voting.
In fact, we can even see changes in political affiliation in young voters.
Sims said that “when my brother registered to vote last year, my great-grandmother reminded him that when he votes we’re Democratic, given that my great-grandfather was the only Democratic senator ever to come from South Carolina;” however, she prefers to base her votes on her own morals and principles rather than based on party loyalty.
On the other hand, Wilson attempts to uncover the reason behind the fall in Republican support, saying that while he has always considered himself a Republican, he was more “conservative at one point, but decided there are certain aspects that you can compromise on,” which tends to be the general mood of the Republican party, explaining why many are abandoning their affiliation with the Republican party and instead changing to Independent voters.
Not to mention, Wilson feels that he has certain stances which are “more liberal such as [being] a proponent of gay rights,” which is a stance that many young Republicans take, making them more moderate, or in some cases, Independent.
The different levels of trust in the government is evident throughout each political party.
“Trust is a tricky thing especially for a large governing body and I’m inclined to be wary of it … I can say with certainty that I trust the government to fail as a system and keep going thanks to the tenacity and borderline stupid stubbornness abundant in its workers just like it was 200 years ago when this hot mess of a country started, which is reassuring,” said Katie Sims, proving that independents do not entirely trust the government.
On the other hand, Wilson has a more positive outlook saying that “you can’t allow a few bad people to make you distrust the government altogether.”
So is this shift towards independence due to a lack of trust in the government, or is it proof of a more liberal populace which is tiring of the aura of social conservatism that our current Republican front runners exude?
Currently, it is hard to tell; however, it is evident that this rise is Independent voters is real and it seems as though our nation will continue this trend. Maybe with time the majority of the country will all become Independent voters, finally giving George Washington what he wanted for this country more than anything: the end of partisan politics.