Stories From Independent Voters: Why Independents Don't Have Power

Today's stories from independents include stories from Steven Lowery, Matthew Sinkovich, Sandi Hebley and others. If you'd like to share your own thoughts and be featured in a future Wednesday release, click here to share your story.

I think you'll like this one.

Last week, I asked you and the LetUsVote community for feedback on a question we've been wrestling with: if nearly half of all Americans identify as independents, why don't independent voters have any power?

It turns out that many independents are thinking about this. Of any email we've sent out, this one received - by far - the most responses.

So, on this week's story segment, we share your answers: why independents don't have any power, and what we can do about it. You'll also see several incredible videos from the community.

And hang around until the end for a (fun I promise) homework assignment.

If you want to be featured in next Wednesday's email, click this pretty pink button:

Share: Why Are You an Independent Voter?

We heard tons of incredible answers from you and the community as to why independent voters don't have the power we should. Your answers tended to land into two buckets:

1) The major parties are deliberately holding us back.

Some exclusively blamed the existing political paradigm, and overt suppression from the major parties. Examples of this thinking from our community include Steven Lowery and Matthew Sinkovich:

"The Republicans and Democrats don’t want [independents] to have any power. Both parties have power, money, and control that keeps independents from gaining traction." 

-Steven Lowery, Michigan

"We don't control the media. The American people have been told time and time again: if you are voting for an Independent, you are throwing your vote away. We are excluded from primary voting so that independent candidates don’t receive any notice (or very little). Both parties actively belittle, ignore or exclude the independent candidates."

-Matthew Sinkovich

They have a point. And you know what? This isn't the first time we've heard this sentiment before. In two recent Citizen Spotlights, David and Tim expressed similar concerns:

David explains how the two major parties use closed primaries to suppress independent voters and maintain power.

Tim laments how good independent candidates get buried by the two-party system, robbing citizens of real choice in elections.

They're right. But there's another factor at play, our community says: we independents are letting the major parties hold us down:

2) Independent voters haven't organized.

I think Sandi Hebley, an independent voter and supporter of LetUsVote, sums this up perfectly:

"We aren’t organized. We don’t have the organizational infrastructure to “make noise” as a group. We don’t have recognized leaders with titles and name recognition. While we don’t want to become just another political party, we need ways to be visible."

-Sandi Hebley, Texas

Sandi is right. Independent voters haven't organized. Sure, there are flash-in-the-pan moments in which independents are deeply energized. Ross Perot's presidential candidacy in the 90s is a great example. The candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr this year might be another.

But after the election, what happens next? The momentum - and any hope of an organized community of independents - disappears.

So, in many ways, both ideas are true: the major parties use their organizational infrastructure to suppress the voice of independents, and independent voters think they don't have much in common with one another, so they accept their lonely fate in political no-man's-land.

This is the whole point of LetUsVote. This is why we exist. We:

  1. Share the real, personal stories of independent voters to push back on the narratives the major parties use to hold us back. More importantly, we push back on our own internal self-talk that we're all alone.
  2. Engage and empower independent voters with the tools, knowledge and training to lead a movement.
  3. Build an ongoing, sustainable community of independent voters that lasts long after a single election or flash-in-the-pan moment.

I hear it in your head right now, though: independents are, by definition, independent. How can you build a movement of people who don't share common values?

It's a fair question.

Since February, we've heard the stories of 200 independent voters (we'd love to hear yours, too). Though independents look, think and behave in all kinds of ways, we do see clear common threads. Let's see if you can spot them.

I have a homework assignment for you.

  • We've now published 33 Citizen Spotlight videos. Click here to see a YouTube playlist of all of them.
  • Watch a handful that look intriguing to you (they're short - almost always less than a minute).
  • Then, come back, click this button and answer a question for us: What common threads do you see between the very independent voters in these videos?

Answer: What Do Independents Have In Common

So that's it for this week. But before I go: if you've made it this far, I have to assume you're pretty interested in what we're up to. I want you to know three things:

  1. We're always looking for more stories. If you haven't yet, share your story here. Video is better than written, but the choice is yours.
  2. We're looking for local leaders across the country. If you have 2-3 hours to spare on a weekly basis, I'd love your help. Click here to let me know you're interested and I'll drop you a line.
  3. If you support what we're doing here at LetUsVote, please know that any contribution - big or small helps us keep up the work of building a unique and totally new community for independent voters. It would mean the world if you can contribute.

Okay, that's it for this week's story segment. We're well on our way to 10,000 supporters and 500 stories by Memorial Day. We're currently at 7,796 supporters and 250 stories. Remember to share yours.


Will Conway