Our first president, George Washington said, "I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them." His vice president, John Adams, once wrote, "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution." [Emphasis added.]Toward the end of the piece, Avlon notes that younger Americans are more likely to identify as Independents than the rest of the population:
And the third president -- and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, observed: "I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."
Today, that independent spirit is alive and well, if under-represented in our political debates . . .
45% of voters under the age of 35 identify as independent. They have grown up with a multiplicity of choice in every area of their lives -- partisan politics is the last place they are expected to be content with a choice between Brand A and Brand B.