Tom writes an open letter to Arizona's underwhelming independent voter

Dear independent voter:

Boy, was I wrong about you! I used to think that the folks in your little clique were people who went through life sideways, wearing mismatched clothes and driving cars with "I'm a Maverick!" bumper stickers. Well, that's probably still true, but as it turns out, there are a lot more of y'all than I had fear- ... thought.

According to figures released last week by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, registered voters with no party affiliation now outnumber both registered Republicans and registered Democrats. It's stunning, really. Who knew that a "movement" based on a collective shrug could become so popular? More than 1.1 million Arizonans are registered as independents. Do you realize what that could mean for the political landscape in the Grand Canyon State? Well, if the past is any indication, it will mean exactly two things—jack and dookie.

As it turns out, you guys are the least engaged of any voters. You turn your noses up at both major political parties and then you show everybody what's what by declining to show up to vote. You do understand that muscle that goes unused will atrophy, right? (More on that later.)

I sincerely understand your ascribing to the philosophy of "A pox on both their houses!" when it comes to the two major parties. All too often, those parties allow themselves to be bullied by the shrieking minorities that inhabit the fringes. Democrats are certainly guilty of it, but Republicans have raised it to an art form. With the addition of the Tea Party as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party (or, perhaps more correctly, vice versa), you probably find that you have a lot more to sneer at in that direction than in mine.

For example, some Democrats want to close down coal-burning plants because of the harmful effect that the emissions have on our environment. Meanwhile, just last week, Republicans in Chicago elected a congressional candidate who believes that gay marriage causes tornadoes. And autism. And hurricanes. And this wasn't in Incestville, W. Va.; this was in Chicago.

I want you to try something. Go into a dark, cool room, the kind people go into when they have a migraine headache. Close the door and sit on the edge of the bed. Then say the words, "Gay marriage causes tornadoes."

You will either bust out laughing or you'll run out of the room lest the words somehow bounce back on you and become part of your fiber.

If you read my column with any regularity, you'll know that Hypocrite is high on my Don't Be That Guy list. That's why it has always bothered me that, after making a public display of not wanting anything to do with either political party, you guys whined and held your breath until the butt-kissers in the state Legislature passed laws that allow you to vote in political-party primaries.

Why would you even want to? You've made your point; you don't like the parties. They're strangling the political process in America. But now you want to reduce your status to Part-Time Virgin. You proudly show your disdain for the political parties but then you turn around and demand the "right" to stomp around in our garden and gum up our selection process. It seems like a rather extreme example of wanting to have your cake and eat it, too.

You're like the home-schooling parent who wants to protect his/her child from the evils of society, lest that poor child be walking down the halls of a public school next to some kid wearing Beats by Dre and suddenly get struck by some of that dreadful Negro rhythm. And then that same parent turns around and wants that kid to be able to play on high school sports teams with real students who have to get up in the morning, actually go to school, dress right, act right and get good grades. You guys all sing that same song: Me me me me mine. Gimme. Me me mine me. Selfish. Me me mine me me. I want that. Me me mine me mine me mine me mine. Selfish. Me.

It takes a certain amount of strength to be a member of a political party. You have to come together with a wide array of people with whom you agree on some—but certainly not all—things. You have to work with people to help nudge the United States onto a path where it will become a better country for all Americans. It takes strength to stand up for something; not so much to flap in the breeze.

What's really funny is that former Phoenix Mayor Phil Johnson refers to what's going on as "the independent movement." Well, it's not a movement; it's a slacker-a-thon. Do you know how I know that? First of all, because independent candidates almost never run for office. And on the rare occasions when they do, they get hammered. More important, however, your "statement" apparently ends with registration. After throwing a tantrum and being allowed to vote in primaries, guess what percentage of independent voters partook of that unfair privilege in the big-time 2012 election?

Why, it was 7.4 percent. Yes, one out of every 14 registered independent voters took the time to vote. Seven point four. Y'all are mavericks, all right.

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