Why I'm A Political Independent

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[The Independent Voice]

As I watch President Barack Obama and his Administration work tirelessly to fix the country’s failing economy I am reminded of why I became an Independent.

In spite of the Democrats’ honest efforts to revive the ailing economy, Republicans in both the House and Senate are working tirelessly to find reasons to oppose any plan the President tries to implement.

As both parties try to win the partisan ideological battle the American people lose in the long run. They lose their jobs, their homes, their 401(k) plans and possibly their futures.

The same Republicans that are now accusing President Obama of reckless spending through his Stimulus Package are the same people who either endorsed or stood idly by as former President George W. Bush took a $128 billion surplus and turned it into a $490 billion deficit. Does any one remember the "peace dividend"?

These are the same Republicans that failed to hold the Bush Administration accountable for no-bid contracts associated with the war in Iraq and post-Katrina efforts. The same Republicans who supported and continue to support less government intervention of those institutions whose irresponsibility led to the financial crisis we are now in.

Now, instead of contributing honest ideas on how to make things better for the 95% of the American population that are suffering, Republicans are spending their time scheming on the best way to obstruct anything President Obama does.

Rush Limbaugh is not the only Republican hoping that President Obama fails; he’s just one of the few that’s willing to say it out loud. Imagine what will happen to the Republicans if President Obama’s stimulus package works. How many more seats will they lose in the House and Senate?

I’m not suggesting that Republicans are evil. The two party system forces one party to act against the other regardless of what is best for the American people. With only two parties working feverishly to satisfy their own best interests, there’s no countervailing force to bring Republicans and Democrats to the middle and work in the best interest of the American people.

The Democrats are no better. Many of them failed to question former President Bush after 9/11 for fear of being called "unpatriotic". It is reasonable to ask if the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis would have been spared if Democrats would have spoken their conscious when it was unpopular to do so. Some only found their voice after public opinion started turning against the war.

Some of those same Democrats that got into office by opposing the Bush Administration, have suddenly lost the desire to hold the former Administration accountable for some of the fiscal and legal atrocities committed during the eight years of the Bush Administration. If laws were broken, who gave our lawmakers the right to decide not to prosecute those responsible? Instead of taking action to make sure that the media and fact manipulation that led to the war in Iraq never happens again, Democrats calculated what was best for them politically, shirking their responsibility to represent the best interest of the American people in the process.

Pay close attention to any of the news networks when they discuss politics. Much of the discussion centers on party strategy and things like "staying on message".

"Staying on message" is a form of repetition where members of the party memorize key talking points and repeat them publicly. The talking points don’t have to be accurate, just persuasive. They only serve to convey the message the party wants the public to hear.

An example of this would be the repeated charge during the 2004 campaign that John Kerry was a "flip flopper". Republicans repeated the accusation so much that the media and even many Democrats picked it up without any substantial proof to support it. Television commentators talk admiringly about a party’s ability to stay on message as they provide analysis. They analyze party tactics, but stop short of holding the parties accountable for real legislation that improves the lives of Americans.

The truth is that both parties exude much more energy trying to increase their power than they do trying to improve our lives. Even those elected officials that enter into politics with sincere hopes of improving the lives of their constituency often find themselves having to choose between their party and their principles.

One of the worst outcomes of the two party system has been the attempt to brand values. We’ve now seen countless examples of politicians espousing "values" to get into office, only to later be exposed as frauds. The spectacle of politicians trying to gain popularity by exploiting "wedge" issues such as religion, abortion and homosexuality has only led to further polarization of the country. They pay consultants to come up with terms like "pro-life". Who isn’t pro-life?

If I express concerns about abortions only being available for the upper-class and the health of poor women being in jeopardy, does that make me "anti-life"? If so, does that exempt me from being a Republican? If I don’t believe in gay marriage can I not be a Democrat?

Imagine how much more we could achieve as a country if the 100 Senators and 435 members of Congress voted their conscious and truly represented the long-term interests of their constituents? How much better off would we be if we could be sure that the same platform on which a candidates runs, will be the focus of that candidate’s time in Congress?

I believe that if each elected official was held accountable for their own accomplishments and not the actions of a party we would finally be able to have open, honest dialogue on issues such as stem cell research, legalizing marijuana and gay marriage.

Another result of the two party system is that the citizens of my home town, Washington, D.C., do not have representation in Congress or the Senate, even though they pay local and federal taxes. The main reason this atrocity has not been corrected is that DC is a largely Democratic city. Republicans are afraid to grant DC statehood for fear that it would give Democrats an advantage. I’m sure Democrats would do the same thing if DC were a Republican town.

Lastly, people cannot be defined by party platform or agenda. We are much more complex than that. I’m, for example, a social liberal with conservative family values that while fiscally conservative does not believe in trickle down economics. I want government regulation of any industry that provides services that the population cannot do without.

What does that make me? American, I hope.

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