When I registered to vote at the age of eighteen, I registered as a Republican. My parents were Republicans, and just as I followed their religion of Christianity, I also followed their politics. By the time I was twenty-five, just as I had taken issue with a lot of what Christianity told me was true, I also realized that I didn’t feel that what the Republican Party was striving for really resonated with me. However, the Democrats didn’t seem very appealing either. So I became spiritually and politcally independent.
In Florida politics, being Independent means that you don’t have the right to vote in primary elections. Primaries are reserved for those adherent to one of the two dominant parties, so since the system doesn’t work for Independents, Independents have to work the system. Although many of us realize that the system is rigged, some still have enough naive hope and blind faith to register for whichever party we resonate more with in order to vote in the primaries, and those of us who care enough, then change our designation back to Independent for the other 1,454 days of the election cycle.
Now, I only have 1,440 minutes every day so having open primaries would allow me to use the precious moments I spend re-registering my affiliation on other, more productive things. It would also give all of the other 3,872,351 Independents in Florida, the freedom to vote in all of our elections, not just the ones that the Democratic and Republican Parties allow us to. It would also expand that freedom to the 256,220 members of the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Reform Party, Unity Party, People’s Party, Ecology Party, Constitution Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the rather ironically named Independent Party.
Currently, members of Florida’s nine “third” parties (a mathematical anomaly, I know) and Florida’s independent voters, roughly 27% of the state’s electorate, have no right to vote in primary elections. The definition of primary is “of chief importance; principal”. Eliminating 27% of voters from the most important and principal choice of our government does not make for a stronger democracy nor goes it give any regard to the voice of the people?
And now, our governor has limited our freedom even more. Under the argument of election fraud in other states, although he heralded how flawlessly the Florida electoral system worked, in late April, Desantis signed a bill to create a police force to investigate crimes that didn’t happen, and cravenly banned the use of Ranked Choice Voting in any election in any Florida municipalies.
Under current Florida law, the duopoly demands that all potential public servants remand themselves to the service of either of the two dominant political parties, and all voters must in turn also confirm their allegiance to one of these disorganized organizations. Although they only serve to divide us and make compromise an anomaly and solutions an impossibility, the restrictions of our freedom keep us beholden to them. Following the leaders we elect, and the limitations we are forced to subject them to, as a populace, we are finding ourselves just as caught up in the battle between good and evil that our political system manufactures, believing that whichever party we’ve come to favor is good and followers of the other party are evil.
The US Constitution starts with the phrase, “In order to create a more perfect union…” so we have to expect that the development of democracy is a process, one that may never be entirely complete. And although it may never be altogether perfect, we can make it more excellent. Although the path toward excellence is often frought with mistakes, like the one that Desantis just made, history has proven that we do have the capacity to overcome them.
I look forward to the day when this bill banning our freedom is overturned. It may be a few years before we enact open primaries and Ranked Choice Voting, but the day is coming. Independents want their vote, and one day, we will get it, and our union will be made more perfect.