Good piece on HuffPo today about the possibility that both Democrats and Republicans could make some real gains in upcoming elections by pitching a values message to those people in the voting public who characterize themselves religiously as “none”. (Which leads to an interesting play on words when we refer to them collectively as “nones”.) 🙂
The nones, of which I am a dues-paying member (well, I would be if we had dues), are a substantial demographic, accounting for 20-33% of the electorate depending how you define them and whether you look at the younger end of the age range or the totality of it. Having just turned 70, I’m at the upper, upper end of that particular scale.
We are not motivated by party labels or affiliation or history (thus my 2014 switch from a lifelong Democrat to a Green) but rather by the understanding that it may be possible but is a bad idea to divorce politics from personal values. We understand budgets are moral documents, that how you choose to deal with global climate change and income inequality and the death penalty will be based not on your political label, no matter how much you protest that it will be, but on your personal values. Note, this is not a discussion about “family values”, whatever that turns out to mean to any one individual. Even “family values” are held by individuals and are thus individual in nature.
It happens that most of us nones are also progressives. That is due, at least in part, to the fact that we have chosen to investigate for ourselves the religious teachings and traditions of our parents and grandparents and sometimes found them wanting. It is also in part due to the fact that change is anathema to conservatives while it is embraced by progressives. But there are some positions that conservatives take with which we nones can and often do align. Those members of the conservative movement such as Rand Paul, e.g., who dislike the idea that America should go to war at the drop of a hat and become the world’s policeman, are people with whom we can identify, at least on that one issue.
But many nones would embrace a more conservative political label if it were more viable today. If, that is, the Republican Party hadn’t become the TEApublican Party and many (most?) of its prominent elected officials lost their moral compass in a sea of re-election fears. In fact, it would not surprise me if by tapping into the nones who are inclined to adopt some key conservative (but still rational) policies, the GOP could regain its status as a legitimate and badly needed alternative party.
Progressives who view some of the extremist views of the Democratic Party as a bit too big a reach might also help reign in some of its policies to be more accountable on the basis of meaningful personal values.
There is less difference every election between mainstream Republicans and mainstream Democrats. This is in part what has created the right-wing backlash that takes the form of the Tea Party (a “party” that doesn’t actually exist, isn’t on any ballots, has no stated candidates and takes no independent positions). And it is what has given rise to an increasingly viable splinter party group on the Left including the Greens and the Socialists.
To us nones, what really matters isn’t the detail of every policy you stand for, every vote you make. It’s the fundamental principles and values by which you live. As we begin to flex our spiritual-political muscles in coming months and years, we will become a force to be reckoned with. And that will mark the time when America begins to return to some sense of civility and respectability and governance, a situation in which a viable two (or multi-) party system is vital.