Louisiana has the Prescription for a Fractured Political System: More Independents


Louisiana has the Prescription for a Fractured Political System: More Independents
Pat Bergeron

In just a few short weeks, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. His historic victory in November shocked the world.

All the talking heads, pollsters and pundits — myself included — predicted Hillary Clinton to waltz her way into the White House, but, of course, all the “experts” got it wrong.

Since then, we have been left floundering to find an explanation for how the firebrand Republican pulled it off. Though some have suggested Russian hacking or a poorly-managed Clinton campaign, I think the reason is simpler and something we should have seen all along.

According to a New York Times/CBS poll conducted just before Election Day, voters’ disgust with the American political system is at an all time high. When asked how the 2016 cycle had made them feel, 82 percent of respondents said the circus that surrounded the presidential
election made them feel “disgusted.”
That number shouldn’t surprise anyone — feelings of disgust certainly aren’t something new. Indeed, the results of the poll represent the same upwelling of discontent that inspired millions of Americans to protest as a part of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements — the same frustration that gave a candidate like Bernie Sanders a fighting chance in the Democratic primaries and ultimately led to the election of an outsider like Trump.

It’s a simple fact that people across the nation are fed up and want to be heard. With the exception of a small minority of partisans in both parties, Americans of all ideological stripes — conservative, liberal, whatever — feel disenfranchised, as if they have been left out in the cold by a political system dominated by special interests and wholly-owned by a ruling class.

So, what’s the solution?

In Louisiana, I believe the solution is the Alliance of Louisiana Independent Voters, a grassroots movement poised to shift the balance of power back to the people of the Pelican State — a prescription to the bipolar political system that is plaguing us now.

I’ve been involved in politics here in Louisiana for more than 40 years. I’ve seen both Democrats and Republicans run this state, but I’ve never seen the political system as dangerously polarized as it is today — and I don’t think it’s a problem unique to us.

For many years, America had a strong tradition of independent-minded, split-ticket voting. However, in the past decade that tradition has died, as voters have grown increasingly willing to vote against their own interests rather than vote for a candidate of the opposing party, leading to a culture of hyper-partisanship borne from Washington, D.C. and worse than any episode of House of Cards. It has allowed special interests and the money-elite to brazenly seize control of the political system, as lawmakers in safely-drawn districts worry only about where their next big campaign contribution will come from rather than their constituents’ concerns.

That’s wrong, and ALIV is on a mission to give the power back to the people. Through voter registration, education and outreach, we will enable voters to make informed decisions at the polls for candidates beholden only to the people, starting with a host of legislative races this year.

It’s time to take our political system back, America. We’re doing it in Louisiana, and I hope you will too.

Bergeron has spent four decades as a political consultant on Louisiana campaigns including gubernatorial races and city elections in Baton Rouge. He currently works as a political strategist and communications consultant.

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