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Danehy

Independents: What gives you the right to have a say in the decisions of parties you've rejected?

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I sometimes mention a classic Buck Henry skit done in the early days of Saturday Night Live. He's a radio talk-show host who starts his show by saying something to the effect of, "Today, we're going to discuss municipal bonds. Give me a call, and let me know where you stand."

After about 15 seconds of silence, he says, "Well, let's broaden our topic list a bit. Tell me what you think of the municipal-bonds election, or who you think might run for mayor against the incumbent next year."

Another horrible silence ensues, after which he blurts, "Oh, what the heck! Let's just have open phones today. What do you want to talk about?"

This goes on and on, with each period of silence lasting longer and being ever more painful, while he tries in vain to get somebody--anybody!--to call. Finally, he says something like, "Well, I think that all Catholic nuns are really drug-using hookers who have been trained by the Communists to infiltrate our community! What do you think of that?!"

Anyway, to all you incensed Independent voters out there, I would like to say that I am not that guy. I don't throw words out just to see what kind of response I'll get. Actually, that kind of stuff might be fun, until you reached ... oh, high school. After that, reason tends to sink in for many of us, steering things in a more intellectually satisfying, if occasionally frustratingly inconclusive, direction.

My saintly Italian mother, who was born under Mussolini (not directly under him; that would have been gross) told me that I should always have an opinion on things, because if I didn't, someone else would have my opinion for me. And so I have tried my best to have opinions on important topics and issues, and I have done so by reading and listening as much as possible before forming a conclusion. That has allowed me to disagree with others while still having an understanding of from whence they are coming.

I understand vegetarians. I don't agree with them, but I understand them. I understand Republicans, and on a few rare occasions, I even agree with them. But these Independent voters who are getting slobber all over everything because they weren't allowed to meddle in the internal workings of political parties which they have, by registering as Independent, publicly rejected ... them, I don't understand.

I cannot wrap my feeble brain around the concept of someone proudly, almost vainly, shouting to the world that they want nothing to do with either major (or any of the minor) political parties, and then turning around and saying, "I want to participate in this most important function of your (but not my) political party."

How is that not selfish? How is it not hypocritical? It's like saying I don't want to play for the Boston Red Sox in the regular season any more, but when the playoffs come, I want to play shortstop and bat third.

Don't like sports analogies? How about: I don't like the fact that the pope is German, and I'm not happy with the way that the altar-boy scandal was handled, so I'm no longer a Catholic. But I still want to take Communion on Palm Sunday.

Religion not your thing? Let's try: I have chosen to send my kids to Ironwood Ridge High School, but I want the right to go over to Canyon del Oro High and tell them who I think they should hire as the next principal.

Do you want to move out of my neighborhood but, every now and then, come back to piss in my yard?

Somebody please explain it to me. Why would you want to have anything to do with that which you have rejected?

And how long did it take for someone to try to subvert the system on a grand scale? Formerly influential blowhard Rush Limbaugh tried to get people in Texas to vote for Hillary Clinton, claiming that she'd be easier to defeat in the general election. An "open" primary is nothing more than an invitation for scandal, trickery and all sorts of things un-democratic in nature.

So tell me: What do you want? Do you want two votes each, so you can screw with both parties' primaries?

Do you want everybody to become an Independent, just like you? That way, we could throw all the names in a hat and just have the top two vote-getters face off in the general election. Of course, there would be no political parties any more, but maybe that would be better. There would just be a bunch of single-issue screamers running around, bumping into other screamers.

If, as one letter writer claims, Independents now make up 40 percent of Arizonans, perhaps the tide of history is about to engulf us. Perhaps in 20 years, we'll all be Independents, and the political parties, those archaic gatherings where Americans found common ground in an effort to facilitate some public good, will be relegated to the history books.

But what of the early (i.e., modern-day) Independents, those who originally thumbed their noses at political parties? Surely, being the same as everybody else won't be enough for them. They'll have to declare themselves Super-Duper, Extra Heavy-Duty, Industrial-Strength Independents. And they'll still want to screw with the system so they can feel special.

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