Number of Independents Continues to Grow [data]


As a social sciences education major I was required to take a mix of social sciences courses. I got to take my beloved history, but I also had to take the boring political science courses. The only relevant thing I remember from either of these courses is that the political world is fairly even except for 1/6 of the population. Basically, 1/3 are registered Republicans, 1/3 are registered Democrats and 1/3 are registered Independent. But, within the third that is registered Independent, only 1/3 truly are independent of either party. The other 2/3 evenly lean towards the right or left. So in all actuality, only 1/6 of all voters actually pay attention to campaigns to vote, the rest already know who they are voting for.
But, according to statistics, that third that are registered Independent are growing. This shows at least two things about our society: our independence from others’ opinion, and the increase in communication. Traditionally, if you voted Republican, it was because your father did (and mother over the past century), and his father before that, and his father before that. People learned all values from their parents and didn’t second guess them. They also weren’t exposed to as much as they are now. If a child moved away, it was to get married to someone similar to them in values and they moved to a town similar to theirs. They weren’t able to open a news paper and see what happened just hours before. They couldn’t turn on a television and see what was going on in that moment, and they couldn’t log on to the internet and view everyones opinion on everything in the moment.
People are being exposed to more than just ones family and community. They are being exposed to the whole world, and the whole world’s opinions. On top of this, with the increase in the ability to travel and the ease of semi-permanaent movement, communities no longer have the same values. People in one’s community may have grown up on the other side of the country or world.
Discuss this with your students. Where do their values come from? What would it be like if everyone around them were the same? Would like be easier or boring? Using video and pictures, make them aware of the way life used to be, in which everyone dressed in the same fashion, participated in the same activities, and generally had the same heroes. What this must have been like!

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