Are you turned off by politicians, but still care about politics? Are you sick of political parties, but nevertheless passionate about political issues? Do you feel frustrated by the traditional media, but still try to keep up with political news? Are you exasperated by social media, but still want to connect with your friends and family on important issues facing our society?
Then you may be an “apartisan” – someone who does not have a particular affinity to a political party. As the political scientist Russell Dalton has pointed out, apartisans are distinct from both “partisans,” who identify strongly with a party, and “apolitical” people, who don’t engage with politics at all.
Apartisans may be registered as Independents, Democrats, Republicans, or affiliated with a third party. They may identify as moderates, liberals, conservatives, or none of the above. But they are united by a resistance to partisan politics and the idea that one party is always right, whatever the context, and should always be supported, whatever the cost.
Therefore despite their diversity, apartisans have much in common with one another. They lack, however, an organization that brings them together and represents their interests. Their growth in numbers over the past century in many ways has paradoxically contributed to the hyper-polarization we now are experiencing and their own sense of powerlessness. They face enormous institutional obstacles to successfully engage with the political system and advocate for policies they support.
And yet their growing ranks – apartisans may indeed outnumber members of either major party – also imbues them with remarkable potential to effect political, institutional, and policy change. The frustrations of even many partisans with the current state of politics also creates an opening for them to enact that change.
Building on the work of Russell Dalton and others, this website is dedicated to exploring the challenges and opportunities facing apartisans. While it is focused on the United States, the topic is certainly relevant to other countries as well. It includes a more detailed description of apartisans, who they are, and the consequences of their increasing numbers. It also outlines a potential agenda for apartisans to pursue. It includes “The Apartisans” blog, which will feature weekly posts about news, research, and ideas related to apartisans. The site is designed to be a hub of information, a place for exploration, and a call to action for the millions of Americans who are disillusioned by our political parties but still care about our country and want to find new ways to engage and make a difference.
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