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Op-Ed: Citizens to blame for gridlock, not parties

By Jordan Chester
Posted Dec 30, 2012 in Politics
Many believe that the ideological shifts of the two respective political parties is to blame for gridlock in Washington D.C. Many believe America's are divided along partisan lines, and that the two parties are controlled by ideological extremes. But, this is not really the case - for the most part. America's are not divided 50/50 as many pundits would have the public believe. According to PEW Research for people and the press, In more than 13,000 interviews conducted so far in 2012, 35% of registered voters identify with the Democratic Party, 28% with the Republican Party and 33% as independents. The share of Democrats has fallen three points since 2008, while the proportion of Republicans has remained steady. So, the truth is, there are more democrats than republicans, but not by a huge margin, and a third of the electorate are not affiliated with either political party. However, party registration is not the tell-all of how people think or vote. For, only political elites generally align with their prospective party on every issue or vote for every candidate their party nominates for office. Additionally, registering as part of a party is different from aligning with a party. As Gallup noted in 2009, The percentage of Americans identifying as political independents increased in 2011, as is common in a non-election year, although the 40% who did so is the highest Gallup has measured, by one percentage point. More Americans continue to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, 31% to 27%. So, while a majority have registered democratic, voters often identify as "independents" or members of neither of the two major political parties. However, elites in both parties seek to make every issue one about ideology, there seems to be little room for compromise in national debates. So, who truly controls the two major political parties? Many would say the people who contribute to either party. While that would explain why candidates for office take certain positions, it would not explain how they are elected. For example, if candidate A takes a position that would favor the pharmaceutical industry because the drug companies funded their campaign, that would explain why candidate A took a specific position, but it would not explain why candidate A won or lost a given election. Therefore, it is the voters responsibility to choose wisely, and it the voters responsibility to hold their elected officials accountable.

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