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October 22, 2012

The Answer to The Question

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

This column started life as an ode to the question that I get asked the most. It relates to my decision to dis-affiliate with the Republican Party.


While still essentially a fiscal conservative by nature, and one who has every intention to award Barack Obama with a well-deserved and long-overdue early retirement, the rhetoric of the national and state GOP holds no appeal for me at all.


The fact that state Republicans continue to be led by Alex Mooney, a marginally competent (being very generous) former state senator, suggests to me that the blind will continue to lead the blind toward political oblivion, at least in Maryland, for the foreseeable future.


Nationally, the focus is on stuff that just doesn't seem to make sense, like attacking contraception, refusing to consider raising taxes on the ultra wealthy, or arguing for massive increases in defense spending that the military isn't seeking. These things stand as examples of misdirected policy that gives Democrats an unneeded and unjustified advantage.


Last week, an Annapolis reporter from The Gazette called to ask The Question. Sometimes people who ask why I'm unaffiliated don't know the whole story, and often seem surprised with the rapidity and thoroughness of the response.


Essentially, the response is that I am not surprised by the fact that unaffiliated and independent voters make up the fastest growing segment of our electorate. In fact, I'm amazed that so many remain loyal to a broken, bankrupt and meaningless system of political designation.


The surprise should come from the fact that smart, focused people on both sides continue to associate with others merely because of a national party platform that is controlled and managed to deny differing points of view and dissension.


Just look at how the Republicans took control of their national convention platform process to squelch input from Congressman Ron Paul supporters. At the first hint of thinking that deviated from the party bosses’ acceptable line, platform committee leaders swooped in and shut down the voting.


The best part is that the Democrats have done exactly the same thing before. Get too far off script, and the loyalty police storm in and shut it down, all the while claiming brotherhood for the party machine and message.


At the state level, voting shenanigans were also in evidence, as the party bosses’ preferences in selection of the national committeemen and women had to be protected at all costs.


On one hand, both party leadership spokesmen want you to feel a part of the process. A party affiliation helps you by down selecting the best qualified idiot who most closely follows your thinking, or so you should believe.


There is almost no other aspect of our lives where we're willing to make an important choice simply because of a connection, but we'll send people to public office because a party tells us to.


You'd walk out of a car dealership, or appliance dealer, if they told you to buy a car or fridge because Republicans or Democrats preferred a particular model, but for a governor, congressman or president, it's A Okay.


It was satisfying to admit on the record that party affiliation is meaningless to me. Being a Republican or Democrat just tells me what brand you connect with, like Miller or Budweiser. It says nothing about your intellect, your logic or your thought process.


If all of your voting preferences always follow your partisan party identity, if you consider it a violation of a core principle to contemplate voting for a candidate with a different affiliation simply because of that fact, it might be time to re-evaluate your role in our political process.


Not because you're wrong, but because guys like me will be making your choices for you in the future. Sort of like the 7-8% of likely voters who will choose our next president.


Those who answer The Question that they're Republicans/Romney-ites or Democrats/Obama-ens will cast their votes on Election Day and then go home and sweat out how independent and unaffiliated voters voted.


Well, everyone but me, anyway.


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