“I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism, and what we’re lead to is a life not fully lived. Cynicism is fear, and it’s worse than fear – it’s active disengagement.” – Ken Burns
There is a growing problem in our political system, and it doesn’t involve Democrats or Republicans. This problem relates to, and may even stem from a certain ambivalence on the part of the millennial generation. More and more, I am finding myself frustrated—not with liberals, or liberal ideology (that remains a constant), but with people who label themselves as “independent.”
We all have them—the friends who claim that they don’t see merit in either side of the aisle. They claim to side with Democrats on some issues, but with Republicans on others. They don’t make a decision regarding whom they will vote for until days before the election, because they are still “undecided.” They watch all the debates, but still manage to remain on the fence. They proudly proclaim their independence to the world around them, as if it makes them special—as if it means they are more evolved and nuanced than everybody who chooses sides so primitively. They talk about the divisive nature of politics, and trumpet their belief that the Two-Party system is outdated and stifling (because we’ve NEVER heard that before). If only people were as thoughtful as they, politicians could compromise, and we’d all be living in a utopia. In essence, these people are completely ignorant, and somehow, simultaneously pious. They lack the motivation to take a stand, or they lack the intelligence. Either way, they simply refuse to make a commitment.
According to Breitbart, the Millennial generation has become one of the most “independent” generations ever:
“But 50% of Millennials now describe themselves as political independents, ‘near the highest levels of political disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century,’ according to the latest Pew Research poll.”
The article goes on to discuss the possibility that Millennials have become disillusioned with Obama, which has caused them to disavow the political system entirely. This is very possible, given just how terribly both Parties have behaved over the last two decades. But here is where I branch off.
I understand being turned off to politics. I do. Both sides have violated our trust enough times. However, the actions of men don’t invalidate policy. Despite what these self-righteous “independent” voters would like to think, conservatism, and liberalism are nearly mutually exclusive. It is nearly impossible to pick and choose various bits from both ideologies, and mix them into a nuanced salad. But that is what so-called independent voters want to do. They want to be “smart,” and “above it all.” They want to offend the fewest people with their beliefs.
When it comes down to it, they just want to be cool.
Generally speaking, most people will strongly identify with the beliefs, and platforms of one of the two major Parties. However, they will refuse to commit to a side because “politics is all corrupt, man!” It is that mentality that leads to further corruption, and destruction. Opting to be “independent” because you are resentful of a few corrupt jerks in Washington is like opting to not go to the gym because there are people there who will never commit to getting in shape. The gym is still a valuable place, just as political policy is valuable, even with corrupt men, and women using it to their personal advantage.
It is during times like this that it is all the more important to get involved, and choose a side. If you don’t like our elected officials, find new ones, and vote for them. Just get out of this “I’m independent because I’m above it all” attitude. Find what works in terms of policy, then look for representatives who believe the way you do. Reject corruption, and support decency. Just don’t be ambivalent.
An “independent” generation is an absolutely useless generation. An “independent” generation could even be directly damaging to our democracy.