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Monday, May 18, 2009

Independents and Politics: An Oxymoron

There are so many people who love to comment about politics who really have no idea of what politics are or how politics work. Far too many people confuse government and politics. Way too many people think that elected officials should be independent, as in not having a political party affiliation. These folks pride themselves on being independent voters. What a true disservice those folks do to the governmental electoral process while all the while believing they are doing a public service!

Politics is all about power; the accumulation of power and the exercise of power. Politics exist in every organization or group of people in which the number of members exceed one. It is not confined to government, let alone the election of governmental representatives. Politics are found and played in churches, charitable and civic organizations, places of employment, school parents clubs, little league sports as well as all amateur and professional sports, scouting, --- well, everything in non solo human endeavors.

In this Roland Hansen Commentary, I am focusing on politics and the process of electing and/or appointing people to positions in the service of government.

In order to accumulate and exercise power, it is necessary to have the support of others who will assist throughout the entire process of gathering, exercising, and maintaining power. That is where political parties come into play of the governmental electoral arena. Persons who identify with a political party do not necessarily give up their individual identities, ideas, or thought processes.

A political party is a coalition of a diverse group of people who may indeed have many differences but who have identified some common concerns, common ideas, and common goals they wish to see in the formulation and application of public policy. In order to accomplish those ends, a political party, as an entity unto itself, will find a common middle ground upon which its diverse members will rally. In doing so, the political party will establish a political platform consisting of many planks.

People who slam political parties and partisan politicians as playing politics are, in fact, in the process of playing politics themselves. Those independents who cry for independents to be elected to public office to the exclusion of those who identify with a political party would condemn us all to a world of chaos. Other than slamming political parties and slamming politics and slamming government itself, these "independents" have no common grounds upon which they think, believe or act. While these so-called independents may cry for less government, less taxes, less governmental regulations on private business enterprises, decry our public education system, despise universal health care coverage, bemoan "corrupt" politicians, condemn a mayor or city council or state legislature or Congress or other government elected or appointed office or body, and all the other negations they so espouse, they generally have no real proposals containing specific methods and means by which public policies may address the concerns of the community in a productive, positive, results-oriented manner.

Without a common platform with specific planks such as found in a political party, it is not possible to have a government that could function and be free of chaos. Thus, independents and politics equate in my mind as an oxymoron.

Meanwhile, here in Toledo, Ohio, there are a couple of factions that seem to be more about taking down the other guy rather than putting forth positive concrete ideas and suggestions on how to improve our community. I don't think I will mention Take Back Toledo or Teamwork Toledo. oops.


Hooda Thunkit said...


What you say should give every voter much to consider.

That said, the "oxy" seems a bit superfluous; moron or perhaps "maroon" (a Bugs Bunny-ism) somehow seems appropriate.

I happened to catch one of the gang of six on the radio yesterday, and he , quite frankly, was an embarrassment; to himself and to the rest of the group.

Anyone even thinking of this "pack" of "independents" would be wise to study each and every candidate and to search the Lucas Co. voter's rolls for their actual political affiliation and then draw their own conclusions from that.

As for my research, I always endeavor to find out if what the candidate says matches what their voter's records with the Board of Elections shows, which it should.

To me, without a public record, the voter's rolls tell me what to expect.

Plus I read and listen to each candidate to find out whether they are a sound bite candidate, or they actually have some ideas and opinions of their own.

Many of these "candidates," IMNHO, are "empty suits..."

Tim Higgins said...


I understand what you are saying here, and obviously it is fundamentally correct. My feeling is the problem is not the concept of political parties in and of themselves, but of the two currently dominant parties in American politics.

You know as well as anyone that the Democrat and Republican parties are not the first in the US, and are actually rather recent entries to the political scene. They have no more (and no less) claim to anyone's loyalty as a consequence.

I no longer believe that the Republican Party holds any of the principles that gave it common concerns and goals with me. Perhaps none of the efforts is a final solution to what is going wrong in Toledo, but am encouraged by the fact that someone is willing to try. Certainly there is inexperience, naivete, and maybe even some bad judgment going on; but perhaps one or more of these new faces will emerge with some new ideas and will find a way to work within the existing sytem. Bad and even misguided efforts are better than political complacency with the status quo; and it's not like the "pros" are giving us any performances that we can be proud of.

As HT has so ably stated, the trick is to carefully study each of the candidates, their platforms, and their beliefs.

Roland Hansen said...

Very good, Hooda Thunkit.
Quite astute, Tim Higgins.
My hat is off to you both.

Roland Hansen said...

There is another slant on political parties that I think warrants your attention. For an interesting read, check out Why Do We Pay For Primaries? from Just Blowing Smoke by Tim Higgins.

Lisa Renee said...

I'm a bit late on the topic, but, I'd point out George Washington's farwell address where he warned us about not letting our government be run by political parties...

Our form of government was not designed to be ran by political parties...and I believe Washington made some good predictions as to what would happen to us:

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. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

Roland Hansen said...


Having taught American National Government at the University of Toledo and at Owens Community College, I am well aware of Washington's Farewell Address.
I am also well aware of the political reality that it is precisely our system of government and our electoral processes of winner-take-all that have given rise to the two-party system that has ruled ever since Washington.

Designed or not --- that is the cold hard fact of reality.