When I turned 18 years old, I registered to vote. I indicated on my registration form that I was a Democrat. I stayed a registered democrat until 2004. That’s when I became an officially designated “non-affiliated” voter. In truth, I was just this kind of voter all along.

I was raised to believe that if you were going to judge someone it should be based on their deeds and their integrity. Even if you did not follow the same drummer down every path, so long as no one was harming someone else and so long as people used common sense, people should be afforded the same respect you would want for yourself.

I was raised in a Democratic family, more in name than in absolute doctrine though. I was taught to respect all people who treated others well. I was taught that religion or race were insufficient to judge a person. I was taught that sexual preference was irrevelant. I was taught that government should look out for the people first and foremost. And I was taught that politicians often were not what they pretended to be. But I was also taught that crime should be punished with more than a slap on the wrist. I was taught that taxes were not meant to be frittered away, but should be spent judiciously. I was taught that citizenship means more than just sitting around complaining.

I am proud to see that the ideals that I was taught took root and sprouted into a citizen who would be able to weigh the politics that guide our country by their merit and not by their label. Even when I was a registered Democrat, I voted for Republican candidates when I thought they had more common sense than the Democrat candidate. But as I grew older, it became clear to me that neither party had a lock on rationality. Neither party was immune from the virulent politics of today. And neither party represented who I was.

The Republican party has long been the party of corporate interest and restrictive social policy. Their tendency to view things in black and white (and mostly White) left little room for imaginative government and social growth. But their traditional sense of a less intrusive federal government, fiscal restraint, and individual rights appealed to my sense of common sense. I could identify with these characteristics as an American citizen. It was their primary ideology of “us vs. them” though that kept me out of their ranks. And their leadership in Congress over the past decade has managed to erode the values they once had that I identified with. I think that they are increasingly marginalizing even their own base as they embrace a purely corporate philosophy where one man calls all the shots and the only thing that matters is improving the bottom line. Money and power are the new Republican gods and the average American is merely a pawn for the slaying.

The Democratic party has long been the party of the common man. Or at least that was their claim. Professing to stand up for the rights and freedoms of Americans while ensuring that the standard for a quality life was an even playing field, I could identify with their social stances and ability to see the nuances in life. With this party, the possibility for mutual respect and effective but fair legislation seemed possible. And then they began to overreach. 40 years of control in Congress turned our government into a morass of bureaucracy that often hampers the ability of average citizens to live a relatively free life. The belief that every problem can be solved with money and a creative study meant that we were losing our ability to find our own way while the money that could really help those in need was wasted away on feel good politics. By embracing every fringe ideology to increase their inclusiveness, the Democrats diluted their power and became paralyzed. Too afraid to hurt anyones feelings, I guess.

They choice was clear. I could embrace the social aspects of the Democrats and the former fiscal policies of the Republicans, but I could not embrace either party for neither party would embrace me. And they don’t embrace you either.

I know you probably want a government that is less intrusive to individuals while protecting all of us from abuse. I know you want a government that spends your money wisely while promoting social interests. I know that you were taught that integrity counts and honesty is important. We may not agree on all the same things, but I know we can agree that this government is broken, the parties are broken, and Americans don’t fit into neat little labels.

You’re already an independent. Why not make it official and break the stranglehold the parties have on our government?