The Swing Vote is the title of a recent book by Linda Killian that laments the lack of power independents have in Washington and their impotence in determining government policy. It is a strong affirmation of the need for independents to get involved in politics to bring about change. The percentage of Americans who self-label themselves as independents already constitutes the largest political bloc and is continuing to grow as more and more citizens are turned off by the partisanship of the Republicans and Democrats, and their inability to get things done.
Members of Congress and Senators are increasingly from the far fringes of their parties and unwilling to compromise on needed legislation to move the country forward. This polarization has made Congress an ineffective body with public approval ratings in the single digits, their lowest levels ever. Moderates from both parties are either retiring in disgust at their inability to legislate and the lack of comity, or because they were defeated in general elections or primaries by more partisan candidates. Centrist politicians and voters from both parties bemoan their lack of input in the political process and the way ideological gridlock in Washington is damaging the economy and the nation’s future prospects.
In addition to the usual published sources, Killian wrote The Swing Vote after interviewing independent voters as well as officeholders and politicians from both parties. She focused particularly on those who were independents and centrists, capturing their frustration in bringing the two parties together to generate solutions to the nation’s problems, such as the national debt and budget deficits, tax policy and entitlement spending. Along with many others, she perceives the ascendancy of extreme partisanship as being caused by the redistricting process and gerrymandering, voter registration and voter rules that exclude many citizens, and the dominance of the special interests in campaign financing.
Killian sees change coming only if more independents are willing to become involved in politics, demanding more transparency from public officials, obtaining election reform, more equitable redistricting, and campaign finance reform. She does not mention the formation of a centrist third party to unify independents and centrists, to give them a strong voice in reform efforts, which I believe is necessary to effect change. Killian is an intelligent writer who makes her points cogently and concisely. The Swing Vote is recommended reading for anyone interested in politics, and the role of centrists and independents in changing the political dynamic.
A VietNam vet and a Columbia history major who became a medical doctor, Bob Levine has watched the evolution of American politics over the past 40 years with increasing alarm. He knows he’s not alone. Partisan grid-lock, massive cash contributions and even more massive expenditures on lobbyists have undermined real democracy, and there is more than just a whiff of corruption emanating from Washington. If the nation is to overcome lockstep partisanship, restore growth to the economy and bring its debt under control, Levine argues that it will require a strong centrist third party to bring about the necessary reforms. Levine’s previous book, Shock Therapy For the American Health Care System took a realist approach to health care from a physician’s informed point of view; Resurrecting Democracy takes a similar pragmatic approach, putting aside ideology and taking a hard look at facts on the ground. In his latest book, Levine shines a light that cuts through the miasma of party propaganda and reactionary thinking, and reveals a new path for American politics. This post is cross posted from his blog.
Political junkie, Vietnam vet, neurologist- three books on aging and dementia. Book on health care reform in 2009- Shock Therapy for the American Health Care System. Book on the need for a centrist third party- Resurrecting Democracy- A Citizen’s Call for a Centrist Third Party published in 2011. Aging Wisely, published in August 2014 by Rowman and Littlefield. Latest book- The Uninformed Voter published May 2020