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What Are Independent Politicians or Political Independents?

4 min read
Independent politicians
Jack Nagel · Mar 31, 2023

There are two major political parties in the United States, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. However, a growing number of Americans identify as independent voters or candidates, indicating a desire for more diverse representation in government.

Despite the increasing popularity of nonpartisan candidates, it is still relatively rare for them to get elected to office. It is, therefore, essential for voters to understand what it means to be an independent politician, the lack of such candidates in politics today, and the potential implications if these candidates were to gain more traction in the political sphere. Let's dig in.

What Does it Mean to Be an Independent Politician?

An independent politician is not affiliated with any political party or is not running on the ticket of any major political party preference. These candidates can run for office at any level of government, from local to national.

Candidates may choose to run for office because they do not agree with the policies or principles of the two major political parties. They may also run because they believe that the political system is ineffective and that the two-party system does not represent the best interests of the American people.

Nonaligned politicians can be a breath of fresh air in a political climate where the two major parties are more concerned with scoring points against each other than serving their constituents.

Candidates often have to fund their campaigns, and they may have a more challenging time getting their message out to voters without the backing of a political party. However, being nonpartisan can also be an advantage, as they do not have to worry about towing the party line or alienating party leadership.

What Does the Independent Party Believe?

The Independent Party, today, is not one party but rather a movement supporting unaffiliated candidates and nonpartisan politics. There are several independent political parties across the United States, each with its beliefs and principles.

The American Independent Party, for example, is a far-right minor political party founded in 1967. The American Independent Party supports some conservative positions on social, economic, and foreign policy issues.

The party is generally pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage, and advocates for limited government intervention in the economy. The American Independent Party also supports stricter immigration policies and increased border security. The AIP has fielded candidates in state and national elections, although it has never won a major political office.

In 1995, the Reform Party began, and the party's platform includes a commitment to fiscal responsibility, government transparency, and political reform.

What Is the State of Independent Candidates in Politics Today?

Despite the growing popularity of neutral candidates, the two parties still dominate the political landscape in the United States. For example, in the 2020 presidential election, only one independent candidate, Kanye West, was on the same ballot in any state.

While there were other third-party candidates, such as the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, they were not considered nonpartisan because they were running on the ticket of a qualified political party.

There are currently no independent senators at the congressional level and only two unaffiliated representatives in the House of Representatives. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine are the only nonaligned senators in Congress, but they both caucus with the Democratic party. At the same time, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan left the Republican Party to become nonpartisan in 2019.

Autonomous candidates often face significant challenges when raising funds and getting on the ballot. One of the main reasons is that they do not have the support of a major political party. Political parties provide candidates with several resources, including funding, staff, and volunteers.

Additionally, the political system has been designed to favor the two major parties. In many states, for example, candidates must collect a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. This requirement can be a difficult and expensive process for candidates without backing from a political party.

Despite the challenges and the lack of representation in government, neutral candidates are becoming more common in some states. In California, for example, there is a new political party, the California Independent Party, which is not to be confused with the American Independent Party, which has existed since the 1960s. The party is trying to gain traction by appealing to California voters disillusioned with the two major parties and looking for a new kind of political representation.

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What Would Happen if There Were More Independent Candidates in Politics?

If candidates were to gain more traction in the political sphere, it could have a significant impact on the political landscape in the United States in the following ways: 

1. Greater Representation of Diverse Views: They may bring a broader range of perspectives and ideas to the political discourse, which could lead to a greater representation of diverse views.

2. The Two-Party System Could be Disrupted: The presence of more nonaligned candidates could challenge the dominance of the two major political parties in the US, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It could also lead to new parties representing a broader range of views. When there are only two major political parties, voters often feel forced to choose between candidates they do not fully support. More candidates could give voters more choices and help break up the two-party system.

3. Increased Competition: With more candidates, there would be more competition for votes, which could lead to more robust and diverse political debates and increased voter engagement and participation.

4. Uncertainty and Unpredictability: More candidates vying for office could split the vote and make it harder to predict the outcome of elections. This situation could lead to uncertainty and potentially unstable political environments, mainly if no candidate receives the most votes.

5. Difficulty in Forming Coalitions: Forming stable alliances or building consensus around specific policy issues could become more challenging.

Overall, the impact of more nonpartisan candidates in US politics would depend on the specific candidates and the context in which they are running. However, it could lead to a more diverse and dynamic political landscape.

Maverick Politicians and Neutral Candidates

Maverick politicians do not align themselves with any political party preference and, instead, run for office or serve in office as unaffiliated candidates. While there have been some notable nonpartisan politicians throughout history, such as Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders, the number of freelance candidates in politics today is relatively low.

However, there is growing interest in neutral candidates and the possibility of more politicians running for office. Nonpartisan candidates could bring new ideas and perspectives to the political arena and help break the partisan gridlock that often plagues government.

Whether or not nonaligned candidates become more prevalent in politics remains to be seen, but it is clear that the current political climate is ripe for change and innovation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does it mean to be an independent political party?

It is a political organization not affiliated with either of the major political parties in a given country. These parties may have their platforms and ideologies and may field candidates for local, state, or national elections.

What does the independent party believe?

The party does not have a unified platform or beliefs. Instead, it is a collection of individuals committed to nonpartisanship and promoting candidates and policies that aren't in alignment with the two major parties in the country.

Is unaffiliated the same as independent?

While the terms "unaffiliated" and "independent" are often used interchangeably in politics, there can be some differences in their meanings. Generally, an "unaffiliated voter" refers to people not registered with any political party. In contrast, "independent" refers to candidates who are running without the backing of a major political party. However, the exact meaning of these terms can vary depending on the context and the specific political system in question.

Who is an independent politician?

This is an individual who does not align with any political party or ideology. They may hold various political beliefs and values and are often seen as mavericks who challenge the status quo.

Why are there so few independent candidates in politics?

The two-party system in the United States makes it difficult for independent politicians to gain traction. Additionally, nonpartisan candidates often lack the funding and support of established political parties, making it challenging to run successful campaigns. Finally, many voters tend to vote along party lines, making it difficult for autonomous candidates to win elections.

What would happen if more independent candidates entered politics?

There could be a more diverse range of voices in government, potentially breaking down the gridlock of partisan politics. However, it could also lead to a more fragmented government that struggles to find common ground and make decisions.

How can voters determine which independent candidates to support?

Voters can research the candidate's background, policy positions, and previous political experience. Additionally, they can attend candidate forums or debates to hear the candidates speak directly and ask them questions. They can also look at endorsements from other organizations or individuals to help inform their decision.

How can independent candidates compete with established political parties?

Nonpartisan candidates can compete with established political parties by building a solid grassroots campaign, leveraging social media and other digital platforms to reach voters, and focusing on issues that resonate with their constituency. Additionally, nonpartisan candidates can build coalitions with other unaffiliated politicians or third-party candidates to amplify their message and gain more support.

How do independent politicians differ from third-party candidates?

Nonpartisan politicians are not affiliated with any political party, while third-party candidates are affiliated with a qualified political party that is not one of the two major parties. Additionally, third-party candidates often have a specific platform or set of issues they focus on, while nonpartisan politicians may have a more diverse set of views and positions.

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Independent politicians
By Jack Nagel
I lead the marketing team at Good Party. After watching Bernie Sanders get squashed by the Democrat party twice, I knew I needed to get involved in giving outsiders a chance in American politics. I bring entrepreneurship and startup experience to our insurgent team at Good Party, helping us find sustainable ways to grow.