By John MacDonald, August 27, 2014
So often we hear the word “independence” related to politics. Independence is viewed as a valued hallmark of what most of us desire in a politician and ourselves, but do we really know what it would mean to have someone independent in politics?
Do we know what electing someone who claims to have an independent streak or an independent quality about them is like? Someone who claims they will speak independently, think independently or act independently if they were elected? So often independence is the word the politician uses, but the end result is the exact opposite of what we the people receive. As a direct result of the candidate’s party affiliation the candidate may think they will be independent starting out, but when they arrive to serve, the majority and or minority leaders of their perspective party quickly snaps them into line.
As the electorate, would we have the stomach for someone independent of a party affiliation? In the past independent candidates have come in different forms. Sometimes as candidates running for President like Ross Perot, who started a brief political movement and then formed his own party, really a pre-cursor to the Tea Party movement. Another was former US Senator Joe Lieberman who ran as an independent as a result of being ousted from the Democratic Party primary. And look what happened to once successful lifelong Democrat, Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill when he broke party lines and ran as an independent candidate for Massachusetts Governor. Democratic operatives including Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley who is now running for Massachusetts Governor herself went after Tim. Tim paid a political price… Tim who?
All too often though, our choice for an independent candidate is someone completely independent of any ideas or an action plan at all. The candidate is often some unknown person who has the gumption to acquire enough signatures to put his or her name on the ballot, but never really gets any grassroots support, comes up short in fundraising and organization, then therefore fails to articulate a message that resonates with the electorate.
A sure sign that you may have a potential legitimate independent candidate contender is when the leadership from the Democratic and Republican parties quickly attacks and delegitimizes the independent. The electorate gets buffaloed into believing the perceived power of the political machine behind the democrat or republican is what is really needed. Political parties are quick in proclaiming victory, before the battle was even waged.
We have all seen it and have we had enough? Wouldn’t we like someone only beholden to their constituency? Should we get someone that is beholden to us and not the mantle of their party first? Should we not ask that we have the opportunity to vote for someone who will put their constituents and country first, not the political party?
So often we clamor for the elimination of money in politics. We want the political fundraising to be taken out of politics, so that the candidate can be beholden to no one. We dream that the influence of money in politics can be eliminated, so the candidate can truly be independent. Eliminate the money and then the candidate will not be beholden to special interests and lobbyists. Eliminate the money from the political scene and then the candidates will not be forced to buy and produce the inevitable mudslinging commercials we all get inundated with, hate to watch… but have been proven unfortunately to work on us. Eliminate the money and then maybe we can have candidates that will talk about the issues and solutions to problems that will put this country, our state and town or city back onto the right path of prosperity and properly serving the people. That’s what we say, but do we really mean it?
Is this right? I believe an independent candidate is the overall flavor of what most of America dreams of. We dream of truly independent candidates and elected leaders. Is it achievable?
Time will only tell and for all our sakes I hope it is achievable and possible soon. Soon so that “We the People” have a choice of where we want to see the country move forward, rather than a choice between the lesser of two evils.