Independents stake claim in polarized system

Naval Officer and independent voter, Barry Jones, reflects on his political ideology.

Voters in the Washington D.C. area last week explained what it means to be an independent voter and how that affects their participation in a two-party system. The increase in independent voters in the U.S. has welcomed diversity in political beliefs and affiliation.

David Rusk, former Mayor of Albuquerque, N.M. said he’s seen a change within the two-party system, a pull to the left and a swing to the ultra right.

The current political system proves many aren’t happy with the two parties and what they have to offer.

“I just feel that over the past eight to ten years neither democratic or republican parties really address certain issues that are of concern,” said Kentha Stephens, 40, of Houston, Texas. 

A Pew Research Center study shows that there has been an 11 percent increase in independent voters from the year 2000 to 2015.

A Gallup study shows that in the year of 2015 43 percent of U.S. voters identify as being Independent.

Some independent voters admit that their set of political beliefs come from each of the two majors parties.

“Basically I kinda choose the way you would at a cafeteria. Maybe a conservative viewpoint that might agree with me and a liberal viewpoint that might agree with me,” former Naval Officer Barry Jones said. 

Jones, did not always consider himself an independent. He used to vote for republican candidates and then later for democratic ones.

This shift in party identification is common among independents. Stephen said his ideologies were a result of his parents beliefs but later changed to his own.

The increase in independent voters and the trend of changing beliefs, has been a result of the availability of information. The internet created a space for a wide spectrum of ideas eliminating the ability of the parties to control the political narrative. 

“Until the internet came along and changed everything it was harder to find all that diversity of opinion and an opposition to an opinion.”Jones said.