This is the eighth post in a series by Independent Voters of America founder Bill Hillsman. We’re calling it the “Why Be Independent?” series, and will be posting POV on why a number of typically aggregated groups like women, seniors, people under the age of 40… why all should be independent voters. This post is crossposted at Huffington Post.
When political independent and Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998, the first organizations to approach him to try to set up a meeting were Minnesota’s unions.
The unions hadn’t supported Ventura in the election (even though he was the only one among the three major candidates who was a union member). Like always, they supported the Democrat in the race.
The Democratic Party has depended on unions for a long time. Their candidates depend on unions for money, for campaign volunteers, and to provide armies of canvassers or people to pack their rallies. But over the past four decades, union support has come to be taken for granted by the Democratic Party.
It’s once again a situation of “where else are they gonna go?” Democrats believe that union members would be out of their minds to vote for a Republican candidate (and they’re probably right).
Unions understand loyalty. And unions understand clout. The problem is, they’ve provided too much of the former and had too little of the latter for too many elections.
If you’re a union member, it’s time for a new approach. Even though union leadership backed the Democratic candidate in Jesse Ventura’s race, many, many, many union members ended up voting for Ventura. And that helped make possible one of the biggest upsets in American political history.
It’s time for unions to quit their co-dependent relationship with the Democratic Party. It’s time to become “free agent” voters again — voters with clout. It’s time to become voters who can decide elections instead of voters who are taken for granted.
It’s time for union members to become independent voters.