It should come as no secret that the polarized political system is broken. Declining party registration figures in state after state don’t lie: American voters are disenchanted with their limited choices in the national parties and are increasingly aligning as unaffiliated or independent.
It’s not hard to see why. Gridlock, partisan bickering, senseless government shutdowns… both parties pander to their activist, loudest bases, often ignoring the big problems to focus on narrow partisan hot buttons as they dismiss the concerns of the vital center of the American electorate.
Meanwhile, the parties get deeper shades of blue and red leaving the growing middle to swing their party support from cycle to cycle (or feel left out in the cold).
But there is hope. Technology and voter frustration are aligning to provide solutions to the myriad challenges of a rising center-oriented politics. Nonpartisan reapportionment and redistricting reform, primary election reform, and expanded ballot access are interesting avenues that can tamp down hyperpartisanship.
But consumer demand is what will ultimately drive the continued growth of the nonpartisan movement. The vast American political middle is underserved and looking. And as the smarter political pros and candidates already understand, it may be great to be loved by a narrow-minded base, but the center wins the big general elections and issue fights.
It’s absolutely true that the “middle” isn’t a coherent political ideology (and likely not going to turn into a viable party anytime soon). Registered independents come from across the spectrum — from social conservatives to economic libertarians. And many independents, while fed up with party labels, are still philosophically aligned with one party or another.
But make no mistake — there is a huge swath of the electorate that wants to dispense with the fringes of both parties dominating current political conversation. They believe there is common ground for reasonable debate and compromise to move the country forward.
Center-oriented independents believe that our politics can be better than the current zero sum, if you-win-I-lose, approach to modern statecraft.
With this blog I’ll aim to demonstrate that effective independent politics has nothing to do with being a “moderate” for moderation’s sake or with kumbayah campaigns. Instead, it’s important to understand that effective, center-oriented independents can and should have firm opinions, positions and core values but can be willing to build compromise and coalitions that can win elections and push progress instead of focusing on winning either/or partisan debates and firing up the true believers on their favorite cable channel.
From time to time I’ll offer comment and commentary on politics, campaigns and elections in Colorado and across the country that showcase center-focused politicians, candidates and causes and how technology and demand can give independents more seats at the political table.
Full disclosure: I’m a political consultant by trade and work with a number of independent candidates and causes across the country. In a previous career life I was a media and communications consultant for numerous Republican campaigns. I was a founder and served as CEO of Unity ’08 and was on the National Advisory Board of Americans Elect (www.AmericansElect.com) — both efforts to create a center-oriented national presidential ticket. You can read my full bio here: Jim Jonas on LinkedIn
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- 7 More Things About the New American Center (esquire.com)
- Experts Skeptical A Third Party Will Rise To Challenge Dems, GOP (washington.cbslocal.com)
- OUR OPINION: California’s path to political moderation (patriotledger.com)
- Kathleen Parker: Most Americans are proud centrists (lacrossetribune.com)
- Redistricting reform is key to fixing our “jerry-rigged” Government (bridgemi.com)