Eliminating “Independent” from Party Names is Insulting and Not a Fight Worth Having

It has never been more apparent that the Democratic Party is in charge of state government in Connecticut. Legislative Democrats and Gov. Dannel Malloy have gotten just about everything they wanted as the 2013 session winds down (budget pending, of course). However, there is such a thing as overreaching. Trying to eliminate the name “Independent” from smaller, sometimes miniscule political parties is simply not a fight worth having.

As part of the larger campaign finance reform bill, the name “Independent” would not be allowed to be used in a party name ostensibly, according to legislative Democrats, because voters could confuse it with “unaffiliated” under which the most voters in Connecticut are registered. The latest numbers quoted in the Hartford Courant show more than 872,000 citizens registered as unaffiliated, more than 767,000 as Democrats and more than 430,000 were registered as Republicans.

First, the “it might be confusing” argument is insulting. The vast majority of voters in the state know the difference between the parties and they aren’t going to vote for a candidate who is in a party that contains the name “Independent” because they are registered as unaffiliated. We’re not a bunch of idiots.

Of course, legislative Republicans seem incapable these days of a proportional response. The usually reasonable Senate Minority Leader John McKinney was apoplectic. “[The bill] demonstrates the power and arrogance of the Democrat majority more than any bill I’ve seen in now my 15th year in the General Assembly,” McKinney is quoted as saying. “It is a disgusting, arrogant power grab. It is unconstitutional, and it is something that all people of good conscience in this legislature should reject immediately.”

Really? The Shad worked on staff at the General Assembly for a comparatively shorter period of time and I saw many more arrogant and disgusting attempted power grabs than this one.

The big knock against the Democrats trying to eliminate “Independent” from party names is that the actual “Independent Party” has been cross-endorsing Republicans in recent years. A lot of good it’s done—Linda McMahon had the cross endorsement and she’s back counting cash from the most recent Wrestlemania. Also, the entire Connecticut congressional delegation is Democratic as are the majorities in both chambers of the legislature and of course, so is Gov. Malloy. So who cares if the Independent Party endorses Republicans?

This whole issue started when Senate President Don Williams wanted to eliminate all cross-endorsements. That seems more than just heavy-handed. In a truly Democratic system, one would think any group can form a party and if they qualify with signatures or whatever is needed, they should be able to get on the ballot and endorse anyone they want. We don’t need legislators worrying about us getting “confused.”

McKinney, despite blowing a gasket over the issue, is right. The Independent Party has been around for many years and now it’s a confusion problem? That makes no sense. There is simply no need for this measure to be in the campaign finance bill at all. Everybody just take a breath, use common sense, and get rid of this provision of the bill. There are plenty of other things to worry about.