2012 has been an incredible year for independent voters. Years like this give one hope that the current two-party system will begin to change. Even if the two-party system itself doesn’t go away, I believe there will be more voters that don’t vote straight party lines. Here are some of my highlights from the 2012 election season:
IVN Hosted the first online Presidential Debate. My thoughts of this debate can be found here. This debate was held completely online between Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Even though there were some technical difficulties, overall it was a great debate. It was amazing to watch a debate with to very different viewpoints. Unlike the big two-party debates, both candidates took very different positions and treated each other with respect. Being the first to offer such a debate IVN had set the stage for the future of politics in the United States. As a side-note I have also found IVN to be one of the best places to read non-partisan political news on the Internet.
Free & Equal hosted two online third-party Presidential Debates. As election day approach the Free & Equal group hosted two third-party candidate debates. The first debate was hosted by Larry King and broadcast on TV by CSPAN and RT. Many online media outlets also broadcast this debate digitally. Four candidates were included in this debate: Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (Green Party), Virgil Goode (Constitution Party), and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party). This debate was by far the best of all Presidential Debates this fall (including the Obama/Romney debates). My thoughts from this debate can be found here. I’ve heard it said having Presidential Debates with more than two candidates would be a nightmare. This debate proved that to be wrong! Even better Free & Equal let the viewers choose the winners of this debate and participate in a second debate. The second debate was held between Johnson and Stein just before the election. I still feel the networks should have covered this final debate (if not all of them). But no matter what Free & Equal has shown that debates can be done very well with more than two candidates.
Percentage of Americans self-identifying as “Independent” are on the rise. In early 2012 Gallup released poll results showing that 40 % of Americans self-identify as Independents. That is much greater than the 31% who identify as Democrat and the 27% who identify as Republican. An interesting addition to those statistics is that most of the independent voters are against big government. Independent voters take away that advantage the Democratic Party has over the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see how many people self identify as Independent the next major election cycle. If this trend continues politicians will need to work harder to find out what Americans want, instead of just doing what their extremities want them to do.
Now, just because more people are self-identifying as independent doesn’t mean third-party candidates will increase in popularity at the same rate. But between more coverage for third-party candidates and more individuals self-identifying as independent it gives me hope that future political debates will have more true content.. and actual DEBATE. It will be interesting to see how the next few years turn out!
Apparently its never too soon to announce a bid for office. The 2012 election season is barely over and former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds has officially announced he will run for South Dakota US Senator in 2014. While the move is not surprising, I really thought it was too soon for such a move. He could have at least let newly elected officials take office before launching a campaign.
Not to be outdone current US Senator Tim Johnson also put his pre-announcement into the ring. At least Senator Johnson admits it’s too soon for such announcements by this statement: “As in past campaigns, I will make my formal announcement later next year”.
I for one hope neither candidate is chosen during the state primaries.
In Mike Rounds case I believe he is the wrong direction for the Republican Party. What the Republican party needs is true small government conservatives. The South Dakota US Senator should have the high moral values to lead coupled with fiscal conservatism this country is in need of. Looking back at Rounds two terms as Governor I don’t see him being the greatest representative of either high moral value or fiscal conservatism (that’s not meant as an attack, just an observation).
I would also like to expand upon ‘high moral leadership’. A true leader sets an example that people can look up to and follow. If a leader has to dictate (or in this case legislate) their morals then they have failed in becoming a good leader. Going forward the Republican Party must stop trying to legislate their moral code upon everyone else. “Forced morality” is in itself a contradiction. But, I expect the Republicans to continue down the same path to irrelevance. They can always blame licentious libertarians for that I guess.
As for Senator Tim Johnson I believe it is time for him to leave office. He has served three terms as US Senator for South Dakota. That will make 18 years Tim Johnson has spent in Washington. That is simply too long for any single person to hold such a politically powerful office. I am a supporter of a two-term limit on US Senators. The longer a Senator stays in Washington the more they become disconnected with their home state. I feel this way no matter what party the Senator happens to belong to.
It would be better for the South Dakota Democratic Party to choose a new leader from among their ranks. Senator Johnson could then use his political power and popularity to assist the campaign of that chosen candidate. To gain independent votes the Dems should focus their campaign around what the Democratic social programs are doing for people in South Dakota. Instead of attacking the Republicans they should show how the Democratic candidate can work within the Senate to make the social programs work. The only attacks they should place towards the Republicans is to point out their lack of alternative plans.
When the primary elections happen I really hope both parties consider their actions and what is truly best going forward. However since we are talking politics I cannot imagine that either party will show an abundance of wisdom in choosing their candidates.
Last nights election results were hardly a surprise. To me Obama didn’t win the election, Romney and the GOP lost the election. Obama’s policies have been faltering in popularity for a long time. So how does the GOP choose to run against a candidate that has unpopular policies? They run a candidate that has the same policies! Huh? What was the GOP thinking? Oh well, from a libertarian point of view both parties constantly attack liberties (social and economic). All I can say is the American people decided the known evil was better than an unknown evil.
On the state level here in South Dakota we have Kristi Noem. She won the states lone seat for United States Representative with 57% of the votes. The only reason I can see for her win is a simple vote of party lines here in South Dakota. This race was interesting because it pitted a known incompetent Republican (claims to be Tea Party) against an idealistic liberal Democrat. I thought the race would be close, and possibly lead to a recount. However, as with almost all races in South Dakota, people seemed to vote right along party lines. Voting along party lines means it is very easy for someone with an R behind their names to be elected. In this case that suits me fine. It might suit liberty better to retain an incompetent Republican that barely shows up to work than an idealistic liberal that will find ways to deteriorate more liberties.
With that said all I can do is say “The world looks just the same, and history aint changed!”. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again!
Since I’ve taken quite an interesting this election I thought it would be good to see how close my votes were to the actual results. I am using the Secretary of State Election Results Page to grade myself on this.
For this race I voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson. However being realistic I really thought Mitt Romney would win. And yes, South Dakota gave its few electoral votes to Romney. Obama winning should wake up the Republican party. Maybe running someone against Obama that has almost the exact same policies was a bad idea!
United States Representative:
Kristi Noem (R) – 57.45% | Matt Varilek (D) – 42.55%
For this race I voted for Democrat Matt Varilek. Even though I disagree with his stances I just couldn’t vote for Noem, she is almost the perfect example of someone who shouldn’t be in politics. However, having said that I thought Noem would win all along. She has the R behind her name, she has the ‘hot farm-wife’ thing going on, and she has had a LOT of facetime with South Dakotan’s the last two years (instead of doing things like doing her job). I really am surprised the race was not closer though. I figured Noem would win by 51% to 49%. Oh well, hopefully someone does better in a couple of years.
Public Utilities Commissioner:
Kristie Fiegen (R) – 53.92% | Matt McGovern (D) – 40.41% | Russel Clarke (L) – 5.67%
I voted for Russel Clarke, as a support for a fellow Libertarian. However I thought the race would be tight between Fiegen and McGovern. All I can think is the attack against McGovern for changing his name worked. Or Fiegen having the R had more impact in this race than I thought it would.
Chris Nelson (R) – 67.03% | Nick Nemec (D) – 32.97%
This second PUC race was no surprise. Actually I thought Chris Nelson would get over 75% of the votes.
Referred Law 14 – Large Project Development Fund: NO 57.63%
I voted no on this and am not surprised it lost. Giving the governor’s office free reign to corporate welfare to hand out is just bad policy.
Referred Law 16 – Random Misguided Education Changes: NO 67.23%
I voted no and have been against this RL since I first read it. It is so random that it just had to fail.
Initiated Measure 15 – 1% Sales Tax Increase: NO 56.72%
I voted no and have been opposed to the large tax increase this represents. However I am surprised it was not a more overwhelming vote for no.
Constitutional Amendment M – Update Constitutional Language for Corporations: NO 70.40%
No surprise this lost. I voted no because there was no ‘con’ was published and the language of this question was too vague for the average person to care about.
Constitutional Amendment N – Remove Travel Reimbursement Restrictions: NO 63.17%
I voted no because SoS Gant didn’t provide a con. However it probably lost because few understood what this issue is about. I seen someone say (maybe tweet) last night that next time they should change the language to “Have the legislatures get travel reimbursed the same way any government employee does”. That would probably have passed.
Constitutional Amendment O – Distributions from Cement Plant Trust Fund: YES 56..77%
I voted no because no con was provided by SoS Gant. However it is not surprising this won. At its face value this may be a good amendment.
Constitutional Amendment P – Balanced Budget: YES 64.60%
I voted no because no con was provided by SoS Gant. I knew this would win based purely upon its name. My only question, now that it has won will a legislature that was opposed to this and fought to get a con provided legally challenge this?
Supreme Court Retention – Justice Glen A. Severson: YES – 80.18%
I voted against him because of the South Dakota Supreme Court refusing to hear an important Hutterite case based on freedom of religion. However since most people don’t care about this type of ballot issue I figured it would pass with no problem.
Overall I’ll give myself a C for calling this election. I called a lot of the ballot issues, but honestly those were easy to call. The part that surprised me was the legislative and other politician votes: I really underestimated just how RED South Dakota is. I think in other states candidates such as Varelik would have been a contender.
Tonight Free & Equal hosted a Presidential debate between Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. RT was the only network to broadcast the debate. RT also provided their DC studio to house the debate. This meant for most in America that actually wanted to watch the debate it had to be done online. It’s really sad the ‘major’ networks won’t broadcast any debates that don’t involve the Republican or Democratic Parties.
But enough about that. This is actually the third debate I’ve seen involving both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The first debate was hosted by IVN and was a head-to-head debate between Johnson and Stein.. The second debate occurred on October 23, 2012, and was also hosted by Free & Equal. The second debate also had Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) included. Since Gary Johnson and Jill Stein won the second debate they were both chosen for this final debate.
I don’t have time for a full analysis of this debate. Instead I will post a few of my tweets from this debate and add some additional notes if necessary (I had about 75 tweets during this debate!).
- Gary Johnson: Advocating Fair Tax!!! yes! #NowThatsADebate – End ALL income tax (personal and corporate) and replace it with a consumption tax! Fair Tax!
- All I hear from Jill Stein in opening so far is: Rich people are bad. #NowThatsADebate
- I disagree with Jill Stein, free trade is not the problem, too much regulation here in US is the problem! #NowThatsADebate – Stein really love to play the anti-rich and pro-government rhetoric.
- Gary Johnson; We need to act as an example, as opposed to being a bully. YES! #NowThatsADebate – Johnson on foreign wars.
- Gary Johnson; Lets stop with foreign aid… Foreign aid is propping up governments…. not poor. #NowThatsADebate – Johnson on foreign aid.
- No, not a climate change question, we’ve heard too much of this Jill Stein already! #NowThatsADebate – Stein kept tying everything into climate change. It was getting ridiculous.
- Isn’t an attack on Sandy also an attack on womens issues? #NowThatsADebate – That was my own smart-ass statement, but thought it was funny.
- Yes Gary Johnson knows how private sector can do better at handling disasters. #NowThatsADebate – Johnson wants to reduce the worthless FEMA and let the private sector do what it does best. Stein wants more government control of disasters.
- Gary Johnson asked Jill Stein if she wants the government taking over the Internet! #NowThatsADebate
- Jill Stein wants the government to take over the government??? #NetNeutrality #NowThatsADebate – Net Neutrality is just bad policy and would be the end of open internet as we know it!
- By supporting Net Neutrality I have lost about the last of my respect for Jill Stien. #NowThatsADebate
- Question for Jill Stein, if the government was in charge of the internet do you think this third party debate would happen? #NowThatsADebate – Net Neutrality is a huge issue for me! So I have my own question for Stein now.
- So the person leading the “Green” party is not an idealogue? #NowThatsADebate – That was Steins claim?
- Jill Stein talking about the Occupy movement, instead of ignoring them like the dumbass Democrat Party. #NowThatsADebate – I still think the Democrat Party missed a huge potential asset by ignoring the Occupy movement.
- HuH? Jill Stein wants to nationalize the weather? Does that mean we can share our blizzards with Florida? #NowThatsADebate
- Does Jill Stein realize not everyone lives in metros, mass transit isn’t a ‘win’ everywhere! #NowThatsADebate – I’m not sure if Stein actually lives in the real world at times.
- Gary Johnson wants to spend less money than we make, Jill Stein wants to spend more money than exists. #NowThatsADebate – I think this sums up their budgetary approach.
- How come a non-ideologue doctor is going against science? #NowThatsADebate – Stein, a Doctor, believing the non-scientific attacks on GMO.
- Gary Johnson takes on the “Wasted Vote” myth! Vote for someone you believe in! #NowThatsADebate
- This debate was overwhelmingly won by @GovGaryJohnson #NowThatsADebate
- Thank-you @freeandequal @RT_America and everyone involved in the third party debate tonight!
Other than that most of the issues were covered in the other debates. Having watched this I feel confident in my vote for Gary Johnson!
South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant released the 2012 voter registration numbers as of November 5, 2012. I have included the Nov 1, 2011 numbers in the table below to see how things have changed in a year.
Overall the changes are not huge. But the Democratic Party appears to have added only 170 registered voters; while the Republican Party added 7,933 registered voters. Considering South Dakota is a “red” state these numbers are not surprising. However the number of voter registrations choosing “Independent” grew by 6,696. The number of registered independent voters almost matches the numbers added by the Republican Party.
Statistics for the ‘battleground states’ show that the Democratic Party is losing number like this to Independents. The battleground states are also losing ground in the Republican Party; but they are losing a tenth of the numbers the Democratic Party is losing.
Hopefully this trend continues. If enough of the country starts to identify as independent it gives me hope that third-party candidates will get more votes. All it takes is for people to realize that its better to vote for a real candidate you believe in; as opposed to the current ‘lesser of two evil’ approach taken by many now.