Independent — Adjective — (1)not subject to control by others; (2) not affiliated with a larger controlling unit; (3) not requiring or relying on something else; (4)not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct; (5)not bound by or committed to a political party

I am an Indepent Voter. I do not consider myself to be Liberal, Conservative, Democrat or Replublican. I look at each issue, each candidate and each news story through an Independent lens. What this means is that no one in my life really agrees with my politics. Even more, most don’t seem to comprehend my unwillingness to pick a side.

“I don’t like either political party. One should not belong to them — one should be an individual, standing in the middle. Anyone that belongs to a party stops thinking.” — RAY BRADBURY, attributed, Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction

I am a child of the 1970s and 1980s. I grew up in Massachusetts, quite the Democrat stronghold, and now live in Texas, a state in political party flux. I have voted for candidates who were Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents. I think I may have even written in a name once or twice.

I watch and read the news from a variety of sources to try to piece together some semblance of truth in reporting. I watch, listen and read to CNN, Fox News, NPR, BBC and more. I read articles that support my viewpoints and ones that do not. I do this because I was raised in a time where political dialogue was encouraged. Early in my career, I worked for a man who taught me the value of looking at an issue from all sides and being able to debate from either side. I don’t believe you can truly decide where you stand on an issue without investigating it from multiple perspectives. It is only when I read or listen to the viewpoints of others that I truly learn about those perspectives.

I have friends that fall all along the political spectrum from different political parties. It can make for some interesting conversations, but it can also make for some uncomfortable situations. Many try to convince me of the merits of being on their side and swearing allegiance. That I refuse to do so seems to infuriate them. That it infuriates them makes me dig my heels in further. When I was unwilling to vote for Hillary Clinton, I was accused of white privilege, inner shame or a lack of knowing my own womanhood. I am met with shock by those who can’t believe that I can disagree with President Trump’s boorish behavior but still see value in some of his accomplishments. Some are astonished when I can say that I disagree with Elizabeth Warren most of the time, but am happy to state when I agree with her position on a specific issue. Others are confounded by my support of Ted Cruz but my ability to state that I disagree with him on a particular issue.

I will not be forced to be a part of the very party system that I see tearing our country apart. There is no mention of politics parties in our Constitution. I believe there’s a reason. George Washington believed that political parties would harm our country.

However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. —

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

Watch the news for just a few minutes and you’ll soon see his point.

Turn on CNN. The recent midterms and the next Presidential election are the most important elections of our lifetime. President Donald Trump is a misogynistic, narcissistic, xenophobic ignoramus drunk with power. The Republicans are going to strip away abortion and contraception rights, the rights of everyone who is not a white male, and take us back to the 1950s. The Democrats are our only hope.

Turn on Fox News. The recent midterms and the next Presidential election are the most important elections of our lifetime. The Democrats are socialist, communist, progressives who are going to take all of our weapons, require abortions, strip away our freedoms, and bankrupt the country. President Trump is our savior and the Republicans are our only hope.

Listen to Hollywood. Actually, just don’t. I’m sorry but the fact that you can pretend for a living does not increase the weight of your political opinion.

So, what’s an independent to do?

Well, for this independent voter, I will keep going forward — independent of party affiliation and misunderstood by most. I will rely on the words of one of the greats — President John F. Kennedy — and keep looking at the world through the lens of my own conscience. Will you?

“Of course, both major parties today seek to serve the national interest. They would do so in order to obtain the broadest base of support, if for no nobler reason. But when party and officeholder differ as to how the national interest is to be served, we must place first the responsibility we owe not to our party or even to our constituents but to our individual consciences.” — JOHN F. KENNEDY, Profiles in Courage

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