More U.S. Politicians Should Run as Independents

With his veto yesterday of the scandalous education bill passed by Florida’s Legislature, Charlie Crist (photo above) tacitly signaled he will run as an Independent Senate candidate in November. The veto was a slap in the face for conniving Republican leaders who seem intent on destroying the state’s public education system as a prelude to bringing back school segregation (see yesterday’s blog). So Crist can say goodbye to any hope of support from the party machine in the Republican primary.

Crist has been talking like a died-in-the-wool Republican lately, but actions speak more loudly than words, and as governor he acted like a populist rather than an ideologue controlled by any political party. Even in his campaign for governor he seemed in many aspects to be politically “left” of his Democratic opponent.

This is one of the confusing things about American politics: Party labels really don’t mean much. Once elected, politicians can vote any way they choose, and they often vote according to the contributions they receive from special interests rather than in support of their party’s agenda.

Take those Blue Dog Democrats who sabotaged President Obama’s health care bill. They ran as Democrats but often opposed planks in the party’s platform. To me, that’s flat-out fraud. If you wear the party label you should support the party platform. If you can’t honestly support either party’s agenda, you should run as an Independent.

Of course, that’s not why Crist will run as an Independent. His motivation is purely practical. His opponent in the Republican primary, a Miami Hispanic named Marco Rubio, is a rabid conservative and has benefited from the prevailing right-wing fervor dominating the party. Rubio has far outpaced Crist in fund raising and has a commanding 20-point lead in the polls.

The rabidly conservative Tea Party movement is backing Rubio. And the Tea Party has become the dominant force in Republican politics. Formerly “moderate” Republicans are scrambling to the right in a desperate bid for primary votes. But there will be some who can’t pull it off – because of conviction or circumstances. Perhaps some of them will also run as Independents.

Some so-called Democrats should also take off their masks and confess they are really Independents (or even secret Republicans). That would make it easier for voters to pick candidates who truly represent them in November.