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  • Writer's pictureJ. Basil Dannebohm

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right: Stuck in the middle with (half) of you.




"Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one."

— Sam Rayburn

J. Basil Dannebohm

In January 2024, a Gallup poll indicated that an average of 43% of U.S. adults identified as independent. Meanwhile, 27% of respondents identified as Democrats or Republicans, respectively. In other words, roughly half of Americans aren’t loyal to a political party.


I make no apologies for saying that I’m one of those people. I believe the left wing and the right wing are part of the same bird. As Charlotte Bronte once wrote, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”


I’ve been eligible to vote since 2000. Since that time, I’ve been a registered voter in both political parties and as a declared Independent. My voting record is as follows:


  • I have not voted for the Republican candidate in a presidential election. In 2016, I endorsed and voted for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. In 2020 I abstained from voting. In 2024, I will cast my vote for Joseph Biden.

  • In every gubernatorial election with the exception of Glenn Youngkin, I have voted Republican. I will cast my vote for Democrat Abigail Spanberger in the next gubernatorial election.

  • In congressional races I have voted for both democrats and republicans. Likewise, in statewide and local races, I have voted for both parties.

  • I ran for (and won) a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives as a Republican. During my absurdly brief stint in office, however, I was never a reliable “partisan” vote.


I suppose you could call me a political enigma.

I strongly believe in a limited government. I prefer fiscal responsibility and think our tax dollars should be spent first on the needs of our nation and its people. It is absurd to me that we spend trillions on other nations while the welfare of our own people and infrastructures are largely overlooked.


I don’t believe in banning books or restricting speech. I favor the legalization of recreational marijuana. I don’t think America should be the global police force. I want a secure border, but I believe there should be a path to citizenship for all people who seek to partake in the American dream.


While I consider myself generally pro-life, I think the matter of abortion should be a woman’s decision, not the government and certainly not the Church. I oppose the death penalty. Similarly, my definition of “pro-life” differs from the standard definition, which I consider “pro-birth.” I believe that environmental stewardship, affordable healthcare, equal opportunities for education, and access to clean water and food are all major components of being authentically “pro-life.”


I don’t necessarily oppose guns, though I don’t see any reason why anybody needs an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. I believe gun owners should be required to submit to annual routine criminal and mental health background checks in order to retain ownership of a firearm.


I believe in the rights of all people and frankly couldn’t care less about a person’s sexual identity. We're all equal. As a heterosexual person, I have no issue with the LGBTQI+ community being entitled to the same rights that I am afforded.


I have a profound appreciation for the separation of Church and State and think both sides should stay on their respective sides of the fence.


Some people would label me a wild card. I’ve never been fond of nor conformed to labels. Rather, I like to think of myself as an open-minded, sensible person that appreciates facts over hype or conspiracy, and favors actions over words. I’m politically selfish, I guess. As a passage in The Count of Monte Cristo reads: “I am selfish, and as a selfish man I think not of what others would do in my situation, but of what I intend doing myself.”

I would tell you to keep your eyes on us this election year, but the beauty of an Independent is that no one voter is alike. We don’t all share the same political views or creeds, and what ultimately determines our vote is never the same. We’re the quiet, calm ones who stand on the sidelines, constantly observing and always thinking. Since we comprise half of all voters, the fate of the nation truly rests in our hands. No amount of peer pressure or intimidation will sway us to support one candidate or another. There isn’t a protest or a rally that will cloud our logical approach.


Some people like to label the politically independent as cowards, but the fact remains that we are equally feared by both main parties. As Tolstoy noted, “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.”


Cowards? Not by a long shot. We’ve got the political bird by its wings.


While the politicos will spend the next few months eating each other alive, you won’t hear much from us Independents until early November. By next year around this time, however, you will either love us or loathe us depending on whether your preferred candidates are elected. Then before you know it, the midterms will roll around and we can do this all over again.


We are the 50%. See you at the polls.


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