I sometimes wonder if one of the outcomes of this period of our nation’s history will be the emergence of additional political parties: at least one, but perhaps even more, once we get started and see how much things improve. It’s clear to me that neither of the two political parties currently in existence provides a “home” for me, and they may not for you either if you give it some thought.
On the one hand, we have the Republican party, apparently still in the sweaty clutches of Donald Trump and the so-called MAGA fanatics. There are undoubtedly more than a few Republicans, both politicians and voters, who wish Trump would just sit down, but so far the momentum has not swung firmly enough in that direction to allow for any but the bravest and most conscientious party members, such as Liz Cheney, to announce clearly and publicly that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes (yikes, get that picture out of my head!).
Republicans who even attempt to work across the aisle with Democrats, regardless of the urgency and common-sense necessity of the legislation they are attempting to draft, are treated like pariahs. Texas Senator John Cornyn, for example, despite having staunch conservative credentials, was booed at the Texas Republican convention recently for having the audacity to join with Democrats in crafting a very modest gun control bill. The bill made some tweaks to the regulations surrounding access to weapons of mass destruction like those used in the horrendous Uvalde school shooting and others, but left many of the bigger changes behind in order to have even a chance of passing. On the other hand, we have the Democratic party, which contains both progressive and centrist elements, but the progressives seem out of touch with the average American, despite their strength in the cities. They support expensive programs and policies that will rely on raising taxes for funding. While I agree that many wealthy individuals and corporations find loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of income taxes, and I do lean toward strengthening social programs and financial support systems to loosen the harsh grip of poverty, I worry that the progressive Democrats are as resistant to compromise as the MAGA folks are. They lost me at “Defund the police”. They act like everyone who disagrees with them is an ignorant racist.
The more moderate branch of the Democratic party often comes across as confused and dysfunctional, partly a result of having no clear majority in the Senate (once you don’t count DINO Joe Manchin) so that they can’t reliably get even the most reasonable legislation passed. They were also unable to block the hijacking of the Supreme Court by the blatant maneuvering and the shameless dissembling of the Court nominees and the Republican Senators who confirmed them. President Biden, wisely I think, has not supported the more extreme measures for changing the power balance such as expanding the Court or kidnapping Joe Manchin (just a joke, really!)
Currently, though it is definitely too early for any reasonable predictions, our two political parties are offering us a Presidential race in 2024 that will be a replay of the 2020 ballot: Trump vs Biden. It is unlikely that this scenario will actually occur, but for the purpose of my discussion let me suggest that this is the point where you break your shackles to either party and start calling yourself an Independent. Neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden is an appropriate candidate to be our next President. Biden has served his purpose admirably: he got us out from under the loose-cannon, bridge-burning, tyrant-loving “leadership” of Donald Trump, and helped the US to reconnect with nations wanting to function globally and cooperatively. For this, we owe him our deepest gratitude. But the Presidency ages even younger men, and Biden was old to begin with. We should appreciate him, thank him, and look for another candidate. As for Trump, it is becoming obvious even to those who want to support him that he seeks only the personal power of the office, not the power to unite and lead the country. He has no vision, no policy, no actual thoughts in his head that are not tethered to self-interest. His litmus test for his supporters is that they focus on the 2020 election that he claims was stolen from him, despite the failure of numerous lawsuits and recounts. His role in encouraging the assault on our Capitol has been well documented. And, like Biden, he is not a young man. Despite his enhanced image of himself, he will not be able to maintain the connection with the voters that a Presidential campaign requires. Yawn!
So there you have it: two mediocre political parties, two unacceptable candidates (so far). Free yourself from having to choose a pre-printed label, and instead, think of yourself as an independent voter who is really listening and waiting for a candidate who might actually have some useful and realistic ideas about where our nation should go next. Independent voters have the power to influence elections, if they demand more than just rubber stamps from the candidates. You can use that power to make a difference in our world.
Susan Hull is a retired clinical psychologist and an Independent voter. Despite all that she knows about human nature, she continues to have hope that we can find our way forward together.