Thank goodness that’s over with. Now, we can all get back to peaceful nights at home without our phones ringing off the hook and enjoy getting lost in our favorite sit-com without having to sit through endless political commercials. And, hopefully, our newly elected officials can get back to representing their constituents like they did decades ago, rather than their parties, like they’ve been doing lately.
The simple fact is, most of us are independents, not Republicans or Democrats. According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2015, about 40 percent of American adults call themselves “independents.” That’s up from a low of about 20 percent in 1961.
The problem is, however, that independents don’t run for office, while Republicans and Democrats do. But, it’s important those parties remember that independent voters are the ones who really decide our elections. Why don’t they?
If you’re a fan of political history, you’ve seen what happens time and time again after national elections. One party wins and immediately claims it now has some huge mandate from the people to deliver on its promises.
The party then goes about delivering on its promises, which are generally only supported by the party’s members—less than 30 percent of the public—and rams through their legislative agenda without any compromise with the other party. “We won, so we get to make all the rules!” How many times did we hear that during the recent U.S. Supreme Court nomination battle?
So, when the party does what it wants and rams through its agenda without compromise, the remaining 70 percent of the nation begins to take notice that things aren’t happening the way they’d like, and at the next election they give power back to the other party, which starts the relentless cycle all over again.
In 2016, despite the fact that the majority of Americans voted for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, and Republicans actually lost six seats in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, Republican leaders declared a mandate after the election.
The same thing happened in 2008. After the Democrats won big, they declared a mandate and pushed through their agenda without compromise, including Obamacare, which was widely unpopular at the time. They then failed miserably in the 2010 election, losing the popular vote by seven points and dropping 64 seats in the House.
With the 2018 election behind us, here’s a thought for all those who won on Tuesday: Don’t go do all the things you promised you were going to do! Why? Because that’s not what most of us want!
Instead, take your proposals and discuss them with members of the other party, bring them into conversations with independents, build a consensus, and then move forward. Work to represent the biggest number of constituents that you can represent and do what is best to meet the needs of the many, not the needs of the few (as Spock would say).
If the winning political party from Tuesday has smart leadership, that’s exactly what they would do in order to keep power the next time around. Cooperation brings people together, and that’s what we need.
While you can’t make all the voters happy, our elected officials should at least try to make most of us happy.
Will they? It’s unlikely.