Top photo: Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl discusses political gridlock with former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy’s State of Our State Conference on Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Independents may bridge partisan divisions, say experts at ASU event

Morrison Institute conference addresses how voters are turning away from 2 main parties

Independent voters, who resist being identified with either of the main political parties, could be a way for a deeply divided electorate to move forward, according to several experts at the annual “State Of Our State” conference on Wednesday in Phoenix.

“It’s important to understand that independents, now 43 percent of the national electorate, represent a force of motion that is crying out for a new kind politics in this country,” said Salit.

Some panelists said that the two-party system disenfranchises people who don’t want to choose either Democrat or Republican.

“More than 60 percent of Latino millennials are independent, and 43 percent of Latinos in this state are independent. The party structure does not work for the Latino community,” said Ortega.

“Per capita, our voting percentage is down even though we have more registered voters because they can’t vote in the primary.”

(From left) Former Sen. Jon Kyl, former Congressman Ed Pastor and moderator Grady Gammage Jr. discuss the future of politics after the presidential election at the “State Of Our State” conference Wednesday in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“We’ve allowed politicians to get to the point where a candidate can take the populist, demagogue position to get elected and then they find themselves in a governing situation that’s very difficult,” Kyl said.

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat, said that politicians must develop personal relationships with each other. Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991 and served as the first Mexican-American congressman to represent Arizona, retiring in 2015.

“I have felt for months that it was incredibly difficult to talk to people about politics, and for me that was incredibly painful,” said Gammage Jr.

“I think society is advanced through intelligent argument.”

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