An Ode to Those Who Believe Both Political Parties Suck and Neither Represents Our Views

Todd Kashdan
5 min readApr 7, 2021
Victor Garcia, used with permission

Three months after the presidential inauguration and I am still waiting for Democrat and Republican platforms to prove that there is a home for people like me.

I am a pragmatist.

I am a scientist.

Outside of close friends and family, my trust is conditional.

I voted for Democratic Presidential candidates my entire life. As of today, I find neither party represents people like me. People who judge candidates based on what they have done in office (not on their free time), what they accomplished (not what they look like). I am worn down from being alienated by a party I once identified with. I am a guy — so I am often told my comments don’t matter. I am White — and often the target of tropes that I can be dismissed because of my race (definition of racism: harmful or unfair things that people say, do, or think based on the belief that their own race makes them more intelligent, good, moral, etc. than people of other races). I grew up with a single mother who didn’t get child support in a lower middle-class situation — but I am often told to “check my privilege.” I spent years of education and training to help humanity. But that doesn’t matter. I had my share of early (and late) trauma, loss, and adversity just like many (some of which I publicly describe in articles and books). But that doesn’t matter.

After years of alienating pragmatists such as myself, I am often asked to just choose the lesser of evils. Well, the sources of problematic ideas keep changing, as each party fuels the extreme margins of the other. And extreme members have the loudest voices and the biggest platforms.

I am not broken. I am discouraged. I am waiting for a party, or at least a candidate, that can adequately represent me.

There is no political party in the United States for people like me. Who among other things:

1. Believe strongly in social progress, caring for those who cannot sufficiently care for themselves and protecting those who are being unfairly harmed.

2. Carry a low-grade libertarian streak who believes government should aim for minimal intrusion into citizen’s private lives and respect individual differences in who people are and how people live. Which means actively rebelling against totalitarian ideas. By banning water and food on a voting line, you are no longer Republicans for small government. You fit nicely into the definition of totalitarian control. An excerpt:

In the broadest sense, totalitarianism is characterized by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion and repression.

3. Rely on scientific evidence and data when available for high-quality decisions. When you fail to acknowledge where sex differences do and do not exist, when you fail to entertain alternative hypotheses and explanations for unequal outcomes among demographic groups, you are no longer a party that holds scientific evidence as a hallmark feature. Consider this scientific meta-analysis of muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance in men and women with a sample of over 100,000 individuals:

Sex differences were large for upper body…and lower body…muscular strength tests. However, total-body tests had the largest effect size.

Consider this succinct summary of personality differences:

The probability that a randomly picked individual will be correctly classified as male or female based on knowledge of their global personality profile is 85% (after correcting for the unreliability of the personality tests).

This is a topic ripe for dialogue. The problem is government officials skip dialogue and instead, start creating laws based on disingenuous beliefs that men and women are identical. A more honest depiction would be a series of overlapping bell curves where on many qualities, the average rating is higher for men or women, depending on the target (such as compassion, kindness, self-disclosure, emotional stability, aggression, or impulsivity)

4. Believe that heterodox ideas and dissent are essential to finding the best ideas, expressing the best ideas, and leading with the best ideas. Republicans have recently shown that they cannot handle dissent. Democrats have a long history of the same push for unanimity.

Both blues and reds let many of us down. Which allows us the freedom to explore each topic and policy individually, with no group loyalties. But don’t get me wrong, it’s lonely and disappointing. And yet, mobilizes energy to pave the way toward better solutions.

What prompted this blog post today?

Voting law changes in Georgia. Laws that suggest Republicans mischaracterize themselves as being for small, non-invasive government. Instead, these laws show a precedent for totalitarian control over even simple gestures:

  • Fewer opportunities to get mail-in ballots: With this law, there will be a shorter time period when voters can request ballots. The default is on voters to request a ballot, especially an absentee ballot. To be clear: the default is that voters will not receive ballots. It should be the opposite. With work, family, health, and home responsibilities, this law puts a lot of unnecessary weight on voters who have little time and energy to make requests and might lack knowledge of how to do so. But that’s not all: it is no longer enough for a voter to match their signature to what is on record. There is a new requirement to also add an ID. Republicans didn’t pay attention to any of these issues….until they lost the last election. This is not the sound judgment of people looking to fix a system for posterity.
  • Elected official have less power, and local governments have expanded powers: The elected secretary of state is no longer in control over local elections. Power is being redirected to a newly created, appointed position. The floodgates are open for partisan bias in these appointments, which means who controls the election has nothing to do with the decisions and will of those who are being governed.
  • Food and water are illegal: If you are within 150 feet of a polling place, no food or water can be sold to you. No food or water vendor is allowed within 25 feet of voters.

Banning food and water? Threatening companies with unrelated economic sanctions who do nothing more than disagree? Refusing to consider the implications of said laws on lower income, hardworking citizens? Refusing to contemplate the historical precedent of such laws on marginalized citizens for years?

I suspect that like many Americans, my frustration and disappointments serve as energy to be mobilized. As strange and dysfunctional as these laws are, there is a bigger battle. It is essential to fight against initial, bad precedents. This is a bad precedent. Where do you go next after disallowing the provision of food or water on a line of voters? I don’t know. I do know it will be unhelpful for fair, democratic elections by the largest number of citizens.

Today, I am disappointed in Republicans and Democrats and their moral hypocrisies, where myside bias overrides common sense and evidence.

It is time to show that group allegiances are earned and lost, and are far from a given. It is time to rise up when problems and dysfunctions emerge in your group. Through dissent and defiance, we can increase the odds of an influx of better ideas and rational solutions.

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan is the author of The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively and Professor of Psychology and leader of The Well-Being Laboratory at George Mason University.



Todd Kashdan

Professor, psychologist, well-being researcher. For my latest writings read my Provoked column at: and my new book THE ART OF INSUBORDINATION