What Does Apartisan Mean?

Our political system traditionally divides us into three categories – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (and all but ignores those of us who support other parties). Political scientist Russell Dalton suggests that “independents” should be further distinguished between “apartisans” or “apolitical independents” (or apoliticals for short).  Apoliticals are not political – they do not pay attention to or care much about politics.  Apartisans do pay attention and do care about politics, but they do not permanently align themselves with either party.  Sometimes they may side with the Democrats, other times with Republicans, and other times with neither. 

But even some of us who feel more allegiance or agree more frequently with one party can often act or think in an apolitical or apartisan way.  We are all busy people.  We have many dreams and aspirations.  We have many responsibilities and concerns.  We have jobs to do, careers to pursue, family members to take care of, friendships to maintain, hobbies to continue, books to read, videos to stream.  Even if we do care about politics at some level, it is usually low on most people’s list of priorities.  This is true even when we are not busy, and we are seldom if ever not busy!  This is why so many of us are apolitical, or sometimes appear to be so.

Likewise, few of us have no doubts whatsoever about the party we may lean towards, or don’t admit – at least privately – that they may disagree with some of its positions.  Neither party is ideologically homogeneous or able to maintain an ideologically consistent platform, and very few – if any – people are either.  The world is messy, ideas are messy, and they don’t always map well to each other.  This is why many of us have apartisan thoughts at least some of the time, and it also explains why many of us have apartisans inclinations.

Thus the apartisan is both singular and plural, and is both an identity and an idea. The apartisan may be an individual person, a group of people, or a political attitude that surfaces even among those who are typically described as partisans.  This is the range and richness of the “apartisan” that this website will explore. 

Click below to learn more about the diversity of apartisans.

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