People are increasingly unwilling to place a party label onto themselves. Though they are unwilling to put a party bumper sticker to their car, in practice, studies suggest independents are not that at all, as their voting habits lean one way or the other. However, regardless of leaning, not identifying as a Republican or Democrat, suggests a more open-mind than registered party men and women. They may lean one way, but they’re not opposed to going the other. This is significant when put it into context.
While political parties fight over demographics, using immigration and gerrymandering to try and gain power over each other. The American people are and have always been dedicated to issues first and foremost. Losing track of this could hurt both parties in a devasting way.
FDR Defies Party By Ending Prohibition
Let’s look at history to give us some insight. The prohibition of alcohol was an explosive issue during the Great Depression. When it became apparent it was time to repeal the ban, a race began between the political parties to claim the anti-prohibition position held by the populist. FDR and his Democrats seized the moment and united as the party to vote to overturn prohibition. FDR declared it an economic issue.
Combining the economy with voters desire to have their drinks back was brilliant. It took the two most important issues of the election and made them one. Not only would prohibition allow them to drink legally again, but it would also have a positive economic effect. The nation rejected the Republican ticket, and people that had never voted for a Democrat in their lives chose to vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Showing despite political affiliation to party, it is the issues that matter most to voters. FDR was the first Democratic President to enter office in a decade, the 1920s were dominated by the Republican party.
Issues Are Still The Reason We Vote
Today we live in a nation filled with many citizens who are second amendment voters. Anti-second Amendment voters are growing just as passionate. In the past, it wasn’t likely a candidate could gain votes through an anti-second amendment strategy. Though you could lose votes for it quickly, you weren’t gaining many by pushing gun control. Take for example the campaign put together by the mass shooting victims of Stonemen Douglass High School.
They have started campaigns endorsing politicians who support gun control. If by some voodoo magic, Republicans began a campaign against the right to bear arms and Democrats countered with positions in defense of it. We would see a massive change in the bases of the political parties, and these students would find themselves supporting a party they were previously against, would they not? We have seen issues unfold parties like this in the past.
Civil Rights Causes Party Realignment
In 1964, then-Senator and Republican candidate for President, Barry Goldwater, voted against a now-famous Civil Rights bill. Incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson was pushing for this bill, which gained him the support of Martin Luther King Jr. These switches on the issue of Civil Rights effectively gave the African American vote to the Democrats. A party historically connected to groups and policies against Civil Rights.
Four years later Richard Nixon ran with the successful “southern strategy” which aimed to pick up the “Dixiecrats.” Dixiecrats were a southern block of voters historically against Civil Rights. Nixon had to pick up the votes lost by Goldwater, and he would no longer find them in African Americans, who were amid the Civil Rights era and now firmly with the Democrats. Why did all this shifting happen? It’s simple; Americans care more about issues than we do parties. Slavery, Civil Rights, prohibition, abortion, the second amendment, time and time again Americans prove our votes are connected more to the issue than the party supporting or opposing it.
The Parties Are Failing The People
I consider myself an independent — more importantly — I am an American. Because of that, I often think to myself, “what is our nations largest problem?” It appears to me; drugs are at the root of many of them. So, I usually stake my vote on the candidate that seems to me, most dedicated to fighting the drug epidemic. Right now, it is a part of our discourse, but it has not become divisive enough for either party to stand up and make it the centerpiece of their campaign. I am hoping in 2020; addiction rises as an issue that could make or break elections, though it doesn’t look promising.
Aside from my views, my point is this, most millennials identify as independent, they consider themselves independent-minded and like many generations of the past, they care about issues more than they do political parties. With our numbers and power increasing, you’d think the political parties might take note of these things by finding and fighting for the right issues. Issues close to Americans hearts. It’s not a matter of when, or where, or why, it’s a matter of which. Which issue has the power to bring the independent and millennial vote together, rendering party affiliation useless? We have seen issues trump party in the past, it is just a matter of time before it is done again in the future.
Sources are linked in the article