I don’t think most of us should register for a political party. Here’s why.
When registering to vote, I was asked (well, insofar as a piece of paper can ask) to choose a political party. Given that no listed party in my state aligned wholly with my political leanings, I checked the “No Party Affiliation” box. Now I am regretting that decision and perhaps others ought to rethink their choices (whatever those may have been) as well.
I tend to agree in part with each party’s platform but entirely with none of those. Party affiliation for most of us is just a mark on paper which limits our ability to vote in primary elections and modifies the stream of election (and issue) propaganda pointed in our direction. I think being restricted to a single party choice ignores our constitutionally protected right to associate with whom we choose, especially as regards those things we choose to allow governed. I may carry signs to a TEA party rally and in a March for Social Justice, watch a Pride parade and enjoy Friends of NRA dinner. That is free exercise of rights. So why cannot I also list three political parties on my voter registration form?
There are no dues paid to ‘join’ a political party. There is no oath of allegiance required. I can choose to change affiliation at will (except when the state thinks it inconvenient for tallying votes).
So how did we surrender these rights? “[I]n order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, […] declaratory and restrictive clauses [have been] added” to the US Constitution, among those “ Congress shall make no law […] abridging […] the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Further, “enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The most practical consequence of a single party choice is not being allowed to vote in a primary for which people/ideas I’d like to see compared against one another. But the very concept of a primary election proves that parties each hold multiple viewpoints. Well, so do I, and sometimes those cross party lines.
Of course, if we recognize our ability to think independently of single parties, primary elections will cease to add value exceeding their costs (and one would hope become obsolete). We might then force coalitions in legislative bodies. With more parties sharing votes, we might see not bi-partisan but omnidimensional politics first in corpus, then in law.
Perhaps I will tell my elections supervisor the three parties I wish to have listed on my registration. Perhaps you should as well. Let’s see what happens.