I stood in the DMV and registered to vote. The 2020 election was over, Biden was sworn in, and I wanted to throw my boot through the TV silently playing the news there in the lobby. This was just the second election I had participated in since turning 18 and I was so fed up with the party line politics.
"Which party do you want to affiliate with?"
This should be a simple question. Most people choose Republican or Democrat. However, with everything that had gone in the last four years, I did not want to be affiliated with either one.
I chose Independent.
According to a Gallup poll updated in early 2021, they asked Americans, "In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent?" Results found that 50% of those interviewed considered themselves Independents.
Pew Research also reports that roughly 34% of Americans are registered as Independent. Reasons can range from ideological differences to political leadership, to just being fed up with the two-party system. However, depending on the state you live in, you may not get to vote in certain elections.
The National Conference of State Legislators, or the NCSL for short, outlines state primary election types. Nine states, including New York and Florida, only allow registered party members to vote in primaries. Twelve states, including Oklahoma and Illinois, have partially open or partially closed primaries. Nine states, including Colorado and Kansas, have primaries open to unaffiliated voters. Twelve states, including Missouri and Texas, hold open primaries. The remaining four states, California, Washinton, Nebraska, and Louisiana, have unique voting procedures best explained by the NCSL.
Here's the thing, the two party system has become worse than the Hatfields and McCoys. Violence has responded with violence for far too long and both sides are to blame. Enough is enough.
George Washington said it best during his farewell address in 1796, "However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."
Let's face it, the two party system is no longer working. Members on both sides of the aisle have adopted party lines as a personality and it's (for lack of a better term) disturbing. Our first president saw what would happen before we even got to this point and he warned us against it. And if we go down the conspiracy theory tunnel, we have to wonder, are the elite pitting us against each other so we do not unite against them?
No matter who you vote for or which party you affiliate with, harassing your fellow Americans for exercising their right to vote is abhorrent. Thousands of voters are getting fed up with party lines and throwing in the towel. I am among them. We aren't Republican. We aren't Democrats. We aren't red, blue, or whatever other label is out there. We are American and proud to exercise our right to vote based on our beliefs, not by party lines.