The Rise of Independents
I could not be any less interested in politics these days, however a poll released this morning caught my attention. According to MSNBC 30 percent of Americans are likely to vote Independent in the midterms next year. I attribute this to two things: 1) The lack of popularity of the current parties and 2) the inability to maintain a cohesive platform in the Information Age.
On the first point, this one doesn’t need much explaining. The parties are terrible, with the GOP just being more bad than the other side as they seem to be searching for rock bottom. Brother Mark has written a lot about this. All I can say is that from my vantage point, as a non-practicing Republican, I welcome the inevitable realignment.
The second point is more interesting to me as a fascinated observer of social media and the role it is playing in building new communities. I’ve just started reading Seth Godin’s book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Much of what he talks about is how the internet makes it more possible than ever for like-minded individuals to find each other. People with very specific interests are suddenly coalescing around leaders in a very organic way. This creates something I would refer to as micro communities or what Godin calls tribes. Some individuals are tapping in to this and seeing great success. The question of course is what this means for political parties.
Much of my own personal discontent with party politics has to do with realizing that my positions on various issues occupy a fairly wide spectrum. The hardest part for me is finding comfort in abandoning a large group in favor of several smaller ones. What has been interesting is how quickly I lost interest in certain topics when I didn’t feel the need to have an opinion on everything my party stood for.
Questions for readers:
– Is there anyone or any group out there that has the potential to claim these Independents, even in the short term, or are they too slippery to get a firm hold on?
– Is this a long-term trend or a blip on the political history of the United States?
– Will these micro communities lead to single-issue or 2-3 issue candidates at some point?