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Local View: Political parties becoming irrelevant as independents flex their muscle

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2559880","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"120","title":"Tom Wheeler ","width":"120"}}]]Calling the 2016 presidential election a political party pogrom may be an overstatemen...


Calling the 2016 presidential election a political party pogrom may be an overstatement - but not by much. Consider what we’ve been observing: Both Democrats and Republicans struggled with relevance among their candidates, the media and their supposed constituents; independents now lead the electorate with 40 percent versus only 30 percent each within each of the aforementioned political parties.And it is precisely that 40 percent who will decide the election. Parties and the media, have you picked up on that yet?Both the parties and the media severely underestimated and misjudged the anger, resentment, and feelings of betrayal and helplessness that exist among us “common folk” - “we the people.” Sometime back I wrote a tongue-in-cheek op-ed piece advocating for the emergence of a “We the People” third party. Ironically, this appears to be what is happening - and it’s not unlike what the Founding Fathers had in mind.Yes, democracy is complex, even ugly if not spiteful, but the will of the common folk can prevail. We the people are not powerless; we do not like to be manipulated, ignored or mistreated.Political parties are not used to folks speaking out, pursuing their own objectives and exercising our freedoms and rights. Parties are used to marshaling forces and pushing ideas to persuade their own narrow views versus harnessing us outliers. Money and power have become paramount versus the underlying needs, wants and desires of those paying the bills. Special-interest groups, lobbies and “dark money” are the exceptions.Does this not explain the emergence of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both speaking largely for the disaffected, apart from the “establishment”? Politics and political parties have been turned on their ear, and rightfully so, for not listening and for not being responsive.Why then the hesitation to open up primaries, making them more meaningful and accessible to we the people? Why is the media allowed to manipulate debate schedules and ask meaningless questions? Although the Democratic debate in Miami on March 9 included an outstanding moderator performance, there was actually little competition until then.Republicans should be ashamed of the childish attempts at bravado by their candidates. Ben Carson and John Kasich were exceptions. Actually, I have found the televising of town hall meetings to be more meaningful and instructive than were the actual “debates.”Independents can and will decide the 2016 presidential election. The Democratic and Republican parties are becoming irrelevant. A political pogrom is at hand. This is not a sad event but rather a resounding, positive statement by we the people. Tom Wheeler is a longtime Duluth-area businessman, civic leader, philanthropist and regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.
Calling the 2016 presidential election a political party pogrom may be an overstatement - but not by much. Consider what we’ve been observing: Both Democrats and Republicans struggled with relevance among their candidates, the media and their supposed constituents; independents now lead the electorate with 40 percent versus only 30 percent each within each of the aforementioned political parties.And it is precisely that 40 percent who will decide the election. Parties and the media, have you picked up on that yet?Both the parties and the media severely underestimated and misjudged the anger, resentment, and feelings of betrayal and helplessness that exist among us “common folk” - “we the people.” Sometime back I wrote a tongue-in-cheek op-ed piece advocating for the emergence of a “We the People” third party. Ironically, this appears to be what is happening - and it’s not unlike what the Founding Fathers had in mind.Yes, democracy is complex, even ugly if not spiteful, but the will of the common folk can prevail. We the people are not powerless; we do not like to be manipulated, ignored or mistreated.Political parties are not used to folks speaking out, pursuing their own objectives and exercising our freedoms and rights. Parties are used to marshaling forces and pushing ideas to persuade their own narrow views versus harnessing us outliers. Money and power have become paramount versus the underlying needs, wants and desires of those paying the bills. Special-interest groups, lobbies and “dark money” are the exceptions.Does this not explain the emergence of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both speaking largely for the disaffected, apart from the “establishment”? Politics and political parties have been turned on their ear, and rightfully so, for not listening and for not being responsive.Why then the hesitation to open up primaries, making them more meaningful and accessible to we the people? Why is the media allowed to manipulate debate schedules and ask meaningless questions? Although the Democratic debate in Miami on March 9 included an outstanding moderator performance, there was actually little competition until then.Republicans should be ashamed of the childish attempts at bravado by their candidates. Ben Carson and John Kasich were exceptions. Actually, I have found the televising of town hall meetings to be more meaningful and instructive than were the actual “debates.”Independents can and will decide the 2016 presidential election. The Democratic and Republican parties are becoming irrelevant. A political pogrom is at hand. This is not a sad event but rather a resounding, positive statement by we the people.Tom Wheeler is a longtime Duluth-area businessman, civic leader, philanthropist and regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.

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