Response to Comments on Independent Voters

More

voters-Logan Mock Bunting-getty.jpgBy questioning the presumed virtues of independent voters as a group, I was not suggesting that individual voters have paramount civic obligations to identify with either major party. Independents share Democratic perspectives on some issues and Republican perspectives on others (according to Pew,) so I'm not denigrating them for eschewing party membership.  There are also logistic reasons not to enroll in a party: I'm officially un-enrolled partly in the hope of cutting down on junk mail and partly in response to the Massachusetts primary system. 


But individual voters do have obvious civic obligations to remain politically informed and engaged as well as principled -- not whimsical or simply self-interested - when they enter the voting booth. Of course, self-interest is a powerful motivator for partisan as well as non-partisan voters, which is why presidents like to hand out tokens of their affection, like $300 tax rebates or $250 in recovery assistance to social security beneficiaries (regardless of actual need). But the less voters know, the less attention they pay to politics and policy and the less they trust the basic processes of democracy (elections,) the more likely they seem to be guided by self-interests unmitigated by information and ideals. And, (again, according to Pew) "independents score far lower than either Democrats or Republicans" on "an index of political interest and engagement." They are also "consistently skeptical about the electoral process."  
   
You can take pride in this skepticism, considering it a sign of sophistication (and when skepticism means a disinclination to believe what you want to believe, regardless of evidence, I applaud it). But you might also ask yourself why, if skepticism is on the increase, so is misinformation: facts have rarely seemed to matter less. You might regard skepticism about representative democracy with some wariness: As I suggested earlier, it can devolve into cynicism, crude situational ethics, and a tolerance for self-interested lies, none of which signals sophistication so much as surrender. 

(Photo: Logan Mock Bunting/Getty Images)
Jump to comments
Presented by

Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In