It has finally come to this: our two major parties politicizing a potential health epidemic in America.  Of all the things an average person would think would not be politicized and would be off limits, even the coronavirus epidemic has succumbed to the rabid partisanship that continues to worsen in Washington.

Alan Calandro

The Democrats say that President Trump is “pathetic” and “incompetent,” has botched planning for the epidemic, and is more interested in the performance of the stock market than people’s lives. The Republicans say that that the Democrats are trying to panic everyone, including the markets, so that the economic advantage that Trump happens to enjoy will disappear, setting the stage to capitalize on any bad news resulting from the virus.

Trump has tried to downplay it by saying on Feb. 25, among other optimistic messages, that “it is very well under control.”  Trump later appointed Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the virus response which mirrors what President Obama did with the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

It is certainly understandable that strategically these positions make political sense.  But that has nothing to do with what is right. Quite the opposite.  It is noise intended to shift the fortune of the parties, not your fortune, or that of America.  These parties’ main concern is not you and your welfare.  Their main concern is the party.

Individually, these people are not bad people.  Most of them are genuinely good and likable people.  But that is a sideshow to the real purpose of a partisan professional existence: advance the party so it will pay back with professional aggrandizement: power, jobs, influence, fame, money, and get some policy goals accomplished within the party structure.   For many pols, but certainly not all, the last goal is the reason they entered politics – to make a difference.  But the party holds the power to their future and they soon are forced to learn subservience.

You see it every day in the news,  The party comes first, almost every time, regardless of what an individual pol may believe.  The party line votes that are routinely taken both here and in Washington serve the party not the best policy solution to a particular problem.  Party line votes now make up about 90% of votes in Washington and are routine in Connecticut.  Those who buck the party line, will lose favor with the party, and risk losing their seat because the money and party machinery (another form of currency) needed to get elected will be turned off.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to see the puppet cable news guests every night supporting their party at any cost of honesty.  This is no secret, most of us know this.  But again, this has nothing to do with you and your welfare.  That is secondary – nothing personal.

The political system is essentially rigged.  Who can get elected without the support of one of the two parties?  Almost no one.  The entire current Connecticut General Assembly of 187 members has only Democrats and Republicans.  The U.S. Congress, made up of 535 members, has a total of two independents (not including Bernie Sanders who is a declared independent but must affiliate with a party machine when running for President to have any hope of success).  And by the way, the party machine includes all of the various non-office holding special interest constituencies that benefit from the largess of the party they support with money and time.

But what REALLY makes the system dominate politics the way it does?  Well, I hate to say it, but it’s the majority of us: those that advance the parties with donated time, money and affiliation – whether they be from concerned citizens or the individuals behind a Super PAC.

According to Gallup  people are wising up to this nefarious domination.   In 2004 (the beginning of the polling data), independents sometimes outnumbered either of the two parties and sometimes did not.  But since about 2010, the number of people identifying as independent was consistently larger than those identifying as Republican or Democrat, often by fairly wide margins.  In the two polls taken in 2020 so far, the average for those identifying as independents was 43.5%, which beat Republican identification by 15 points and Democrat by 16 points.

So do America a favor and shed your party affiliation. (You can still vote for whoever you want to).  It’s easy and it’s free.  It will actually save you money if you currently donate.  Although it might make policy positions less clear since there won’t be as automatic one-stop shopping for opinion formation.  Or keep your affiliation and watch the parties descend even further into the abyss dragging all of us with them.

Alan Calandro lives in Burlington.

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11 Comments

  1. The problem is not party affiliation, citizens aligning themselves with those of similar ideology to promote their causes is Democracy in action. The problem is the high bar to entry for unaffiliated candidates, ensuring that high bar is in place to protect the two major parties is truly bi-partisan.

    1. Party affiliation is not “The Problem” but it is one of the problems. Giving money to the machines is a far worse problem. The high bar is driven by the machine and their hold on the human and monetary machinery at their disposal. Imagine a state where every voter was unaffiliated? Would it change the outcome of the election, maybe not, but it would water down any perceived support, yes and would make the machine political agenda harder to sell to the less biased public.

      1. I do not donate to any political party. I will only donate to a specific candidate, regardless of affiliation.

  2. While I’m a Libertarian-minded, normally unaffiliated voter, I often re-register with a party to either support a primary candidate or to thwart a primary candidate opposing a candidate that I unenthusiasticly support (i.e. the lesser of 2 evils).
    I see little difference between the 2 major parties, and I also see how the process has been rigged to discourage the creation of 3rd or 4th parties.
    Until there are open primaries in CT I will continue to do this.
    I evaluate the person running and I really do not give crap as to their party affiliation.

    1. I hate to contradict what signs like a method that works for you, but there are major differences between the two major parties philosophically. No they do not always follow the philosophy and cave in for all sorts of machine reasons. I would imagine that if you examined your voting over your illustrious life that you would discern a pattern in favor of one party or the other.

  3. I agree with much of what the author wrote. But I must pick one bone with him: he consistently talks about being “independent” (which is actually a political party) when what he means is “unaffiliated”.

    I registered Republican when I turned 18, but after 43 years I finally had had enough. So as of two years ago, I am now unaffiliated — and relieved to be so. Party affiliation has never dictated which candidate I vote for anyway; there are good and bad candidates on both sides. Now, if I could just get those darned Trump PACs to stop calling me….

    1. I must admit that I conflated the two: independent and unaffiliated. Although there is no “one” independent party – there are several independent parties with their own names which in mind if you register with one of them such as the Green Party (no offenses to them) you are no longer independent. Some states like Maryland, upon selecting “independent” will automatically slot you into “Others-Independent.” So unaffiliated should be the option you select, even though all states are not like Connecticut and do not force you to select a category.

  4. I would take it further. – break up the parties!
    The two major political parties have gotten too powerful and the parties have their foot on the throat of every politician who has been elected or wants to be reelected. 90% of votes along political line is unacceptable. It is a statistical impossibility. Our elected officials are not thinking for themselves they are following the dictates of the party. Both parties should be broken up into 3 new parties and while they will still be able to make back room deals, their funding sources must be exclusive.

    Other countries have multiple parties and things get done more efficiently. Washington warned us about the dangers of two-party systems and his fears are correct.

    “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism”

    The two-party system is de facto despotism

  5. Your article hits a wonderful point, but how to change it? Since 18, I’ve never affiliated with a party.
    Maybe its because 40 years ago I didn’t understand it or it didn’t matter. I don’t see many rushing to disaffiliate with their established party roots. I believe the message has to go out to the young voters and the high school kids who are registering to vote. They need to see that the system isn’t working and the only way to fix it has to be the lack of party affiliation. Run a campaign to tell high schoolers to register to vote but not affiliate with a party. How would that go over?

    1. Good for you. Everyone should be like that. It makes sense to begin social messages young to fight through the fog of everything else just like all the other political messages do and have formal vehicles to deliver their messages on behalf of the parties. I don’t think it would go over poorly except to the extent the party machines actively undermine and mischaracterize it as undemocratic or some such.

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