From Michigan's Supreme Court race to the many incumbent losses in the House of Representatives, to the incumbent losses in the Senate (Oregon's Smith, N. Carolina's Dole, New Hampshire's Sununu), the anti-incumbent vote made its presence very visible in this election. It was decidedly an anti-incumbent vote against the GOP. However, both major parties can no longer ignore the power of the independent voters (6% of whom decided the Democratic direction of this race), nor the power of voters exercising their right and obligation to vote out incumbents when government disappoints the voters.
Adding to the momentum of the anti-incumbent vote of the 2006 races, this election marks, what has all the appearances of becoming, a national anti-incumbent trend in American elections. This trend is underwritten by several factors.
- First, is the dramatic growth in registered Independent voters. They now out number either Democrat or Republican registered voters.
- Second, is the growth in interest, memberships, and signs of Vote Out Incumbents sentiment.
- Third is the dramatic growth in 3rd Party candidates on ballots all across the nation.
- And lastly, the growth of state based 3rd and independent parties, not yet well organized or competitive, most conservative oriented, but growing.
Anti-incumbent leaning voters go to the ballot and find two parties they recognize and reject, the Democratic and Republican, and some third parties they don't recognize and do not trust for a variety of reasons. However, like all growing factions of discontent, one day these splinter groups are likely to find or create a national 3rd party to challenge the duopoly party, with name recognition, extensive media coverage, a growing grass roots revenue stream, and a party platform that is lean and focused on key challenges facing the nation.
Until then, however, the anti-incumbent sentiment is going to mostly be presented with the choice of a democrat or republican incumbent and the other party's challenger. Which inevitably leads to Republicans and Democrats alternating roles as the majority and minority party in federal and state government. These swings do give the major parties cause to reevaluate their agendas, their ideology, and their policy plans. To the extent those changes reflect demands of the voters for more responsible, more accountable, and more transparent government, this very good.
The problem however, is that such changes are marginal, fleeting, and typically get reversed each time the majority and minority parties switch, giving no continuity and sustainability to reform measures over time. That is why, at some point, there must be a third party choice on the ballots across the nation that reflect the demands and wishes of the broad center of the political spectrum and which moderate working class and college educated voters can get behind.
This party must be based on reforms primarily, as opposed to temporary short term issues, though they must be capable of dealing with short term issues as well. But, their focus will likely have to include campaign finance reform, lobbyist reform, fiscal responsibility and plan to lower the national debt and end deficit spending save for national emergencies, voting reform to include moving election day to a weekend and providing accountable mail in voting, verifiable but easy voter registration, as well as extending early voting to permit everyone to vote without wasting precious time and money, or having to overcome other obstacles to voting. Lastly, this party will have to present credible foreign policy credentials along the lines of maintaining a highly effective but vastly lower cost military structure with the ability to defend our nation, while supporting international organizations designed to effectively deal with nations which threaten the peace of other nations.
This new centrist, moderate, pragmatic, independent party will have to avoid adopting divisive cultural and religious values issues, leaving those to be championed by the duopoly party. Unity, common sense, pragmatism, and a laser focus on solving the international, domestic economic, and infrastructure challenges will have to be the cornerstones of a new broad based third party to give the anti-incumbent voter not only someone to vote against on election day, but, challengers to vote for on election day as well.
The anti-incumbent movement is alive, well, and growing. If this does not seem immediately obvious from the election results, it is because the challenging party to the Republican incumbent Party was the Democratic Party. And where there were 3rd party choices, the moderate, centrist, pragmatic voters had little trust or confidence in those 3rd party candidates. As long as government continues to disappoint voters on how government is run however, there will be an anti-incumbent sentiment awaiting leadership to chart another course on election day.
To all of you who voted against an incumbent this election, you fulfilled your obligation in attempting to change the future course of this government which has failed 10's of millions of Americans and hundreds of ways, and failed the American ideals our nation was founded upon. You will strengthen your cause by finding opportunities to share your hopes and vision for a better future with the others in your life. This is a growing movement. The more we communicate our common purpose, the faster this movement will grow and become an effective counter to the destructive, short sighted policies of the Democratic and Republican Parties, based more on securing power than saving and elevating our nation's future.
In 2012, Democrats will have had sufficient time to prove whether they are making solid progress on solving the international and economic challenges of our day. It is up to each of us to fairly and objectively evaluate whether or not that progress exists. If it doesn't, we must be prepared to seek and solidify unity amongst ourselves to create an alternative choice on the ballot to the Democratic and Republican musical chair parties.