Monday, October 27, 2008

Three Party System

This image may be taking the low road but with Halloween just around the corner I could not resist it. Incidentally, it is a real photo. No playing with the digital image. McCain said he made the face because he once again tried to walk off the wrong side of the stage. Message there?

I will leave that argument for commentators. I was more interested in a statistic I read today about the numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the United States. For European readers we are not evenly split. Nor is everyone in the United States Republican or Democrat.

In 2004 these two parties were evenly split with 37% of registered voters each. Which left 26% of registered voters "Independent". Read "Independent" as none of the above which is sometimes the only choice you get besides Republican and Democrat. There are Libertarians, Green Party, American Communist Party and yes, the American Nazi Party in some states. But few of those "also rans" manage to rally to the primaries. So some people, especially here in the Mountain West, will list themselves on the rolls as Republican or Democrat in order to vote in the primary and have a voice that early on. But I digress. That may be an entirely different blog.

Today the Democrats are 37% of the registered voters (less the newly registered which have not been effectively counted yet) and the Republicans are only 29%. That less than a third of the voters in the US is now radically split between the "educated conservatives" (their term) and Joe Six Pack or the "religious right."

So both parties have been playing the the independents to put their brand over the top in this election. This is just a guess but I think the 9% drop in registered Republicans defected to the Independents because of their unwillingness to be connected with that extreme religious right the Republicans have been courting the last few elections.

Do we have a three party system? No, because independents are just that - independent thinkers. And that is especially true here in the Mountain West. Many of us moved here because we did not like the rank and file of corporate America or big city living. We are very right on some issues - we want state control of our water and other resources. And very left on others - for me that is a woman's right to control her own life, but we are very independent on our liberal issues. Getting independents to agree on issues of importance to them is rather like herding cats.

Can any two parties pull us into their fold? I doubt it. Can McCain find the right direction to exit the stage? I doubt it.