As the presidential campaigns get revved up, I find myself chatting with friends increasingly about politics, the American political system and, of course, the political parties. One thing I find strange is the impressively high number of friends who call themselves independents, despite the fact that they are very far from independent. Rather, it seems to me that the vast majority of my friends who call themselves independents are either disgruntled party loyalists, embarrassed to admit their party affection, convinced that self-declarations of being an independent make them seem more hip, or have never really thought about politics but simply inherited their political positions from their parents along with genes for height, hair color and bone structure.
With that in mind, I decided to create a simple test for people to see whether they really are an independent voter or if they are an independent poser. Please give it a try and let me know what you think:
(1) You have always voted in the presidential election for candidates from only one party, never for the presidential candidate from another party. You are a party loyalist, even if you are a disgruntled or embarrassed party loyalist.
(2) You always vote in primary elections to select your party's candidate. You are a passionate party loyalist.
(3) You would never vote for a third-party candidate. You may be apathetic, dissatisfied with the US's winner-take-all voting system, or independent... the jury is still out.
(4) You are still talking about how the Supreme Court stole the 2000 election and how the world would have been better off if President Gore had been in charge instead of Bush. You are a die-hard Democrat who needs to live in the real world not in the imaginary world of what-ifs. By the way, did you hear the news that the Beatles just broke up?
(5) You are convinced that Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum were all well-informed, qualified, potential leaders of America but that the liberal bias of the mainstream media portrayed them as incompetent. You are a die-hard Republican, perhaps even hoping that Sarah Palin will be part of the 2012 ticket.
(6) Everyone in your biological nuclear family, including you, voted for Bush in 2000, 2004 and McCain in 2008, or voted for Gore, Kerry then Obama respectively. Scientists are still trying to determine which chromosome the political party is linked to, but it is clear that you are homozygous Republican or Democrat.
(7) You are confident that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. You're pretty sure that Saddam Hussein's plans to invade Washington, D.C. were found right next to the nuclear launch button. You are also confident that once we get some proof that Obama was born in Indonesia, we can throw him out of office and finally go after Osama bin Laden Millions have died for you to have the right to vote. To honor their sacrifices, please get better informed before you cast a vote.
Americans take pride in being individualistic. We often look down on the herd mentality of others, yet rarely identify it in ourselves. As with many things in life, when it comes to being an independent voter, actions speak much louder than words. If your actions show that you are a party loyalist, then embrace it. If your actions show that you are an independent voter, then embrace it.
Follow Howard Steven Friedman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/howardsfriedman