As a card-carrying political independent, I can't help but wonder why anyone identifies themselves as a Republican or a Democrat. I mean regular folks. Obviously it makes sense to align yourself with one or the other if you want to run for office. It's the rare candidate who can win without associating with one party or another. (Of course, in Santa Cruz it's a Hobson's choice -- Democrats are the only ones who can win.)
As for the rest of us, why associate with either party? With congressional approval at below 10 percent in the latest polls, neither party is exactly winning over the hearts and minds. And that's because they're simply not appealing to most voters. They're fighting the partisan fight -- and in doing so they're going for big dollars from the special interests.
Or, as Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson says: "Let's banish the budget fictions of left and right."
In a devastating Post column this week, Samuelson details how both parties are avoiding any real progress on a budget agreement, choosing instead to insist on talking points -- none of which adequately address what everybody knows needs to happen: a blend of new revenue and serious cuts to entitlements. As he details, Republicans are focusing on an almost-meaningless no-tax-hike argument, while Democrats are as equally far out in left field focusing on defense cuts and tax hikes for millionaires. None of these by themselves are a solution.
Perhaps Samuelson is a voice in the wilderness. But as he argues that President Obama and the Congress could, if they wanted, "elevate popular understanding by proposing a plan justified by a vision of government's collective responsibilities and the public's reciprocal obligations."
Hmmm. That won't fit on a bumper sticker. And so far, no one from either party is talking with that level of seriousness.
So I ask again: Why would anyone associate with either of these political parties?