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Don Rogers: Yeah, it could get worse

Americans have never felt more disconnected from the parties representing them. That’s a key finding of a joint Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll.

Well, duh.

Just check the voter rolls for registered Republicans and Democrats across the country. The “unaffiliateds” approach 50 percent now as members flee the major parties or declare their parties have left them.



But Nevada County still favors party affiliation, I was surprised to discover. And I’m told that for the first time, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans here. The Dems now make up 37 percent of the total, and the Republicans 35 percent. “No Party Preference” is 21 percent, and the last 6 percent has signed up with minor parties.

Congress is a mess. The highest court is gridlocked. The presidency looks like it’s going downhill from the low bar of this millennium so far. Let’s not even start with the Fourth Estate, my beloved calling.So why do I feel so upbeat?

Maybe it’s a Truckee effect, as Bay area expats finally tip the county’s demographic as well as political scales.




Or excitement over Bernie Sanders has attracted new voters.

Or this is the fruit of some re-registration scheme to vote in the Democratic primary as a Republican under Democratic or No Party Preference sheep’s clothing. (If unaffiliated, make sure you ask for the Dem ballot with presidential choices. Otherwise you won’t get it.)

Maybe this really is about Measure W, essentially asking if the county supervisors or the people should have the last word on whether to ban outdoor marijuana grows. Folks who wouldn’t otherwise bother have registered so they can vote on this, I understand. If so, assumptions about the measure passing easily might be tested on Tuesday.

Nationally, at least, the Dems are blowing ever more socialist. The Republicans, well, it’s hard to say just where they’ve gone. Even party leaders, including the speaker of the House despite his endorsement yesterday, have grown uncomfortable with this turn to Trump. If he’s not exactly conservative, he is extreme in some way appealing to enough of the party’s rank and file to win the party nomination.

In the meantime, the Democrats haven’t done themselves any favors, torn between a would-be oldest-president-ever promising free lunch like he’s running for the student council at an elementary school and the battle-scarred, less-than-trusted former first lady.

And you thought you didn’t like Obama or W.

If ever there were a time for a third party candidate, this would seem to be it. Most of the people I’ve met here and elsewhere describe themselves as fiscally right of center and socially more liberal. Neither party quite serves anymore. A gap has widened in the middle, perhaps opening opportunity.

But Michael Bloomberg came to his senses while considering an independent candidacy, and we’ll see whether Mitt Romney does. Bloomberg feared running would lead inevitably to Trump winning the presidency. Romney surely would hand the office to Clinton if he went for it.

All the pointy-headed pundits, like me, have long predicted Trump’s demise. All he’s done is show us to be the fools. Still, he’s a key reason the poll finds so many Americans frustrated with the presidential race and the major parties.

In equal measure, though, are Sanders and Clinton.

So this is the best the parties could put up for commander in chief, leader of the free world? Turns out our choices could indeed get even worse than the past two presidents.

No wonder the electorate is polling at nine of 10 Americans lacking confidence in our political system and seven of 10 frustrated with this year’s presidential election.

Ah, well, Congress will just have to be the voice of reason, right? (Do I even need a punch line here?)

Meantime, the Supreme Court ties up at four to four following Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death.

Congress is a mess. The highest court is gridlocked. The presidency looks like it’s going downhill from the low bar of this millennium so far. Let’s not even start with the Fourth Estate, my beloved calling.

So why do I feel so upbeat?

Maybe disconnection from what has become more and more a reality show is part of it. It’s hard to see what this has to do with daily life, though governance at least has consequences.

But I think it’s more that I see the parties flying farther out from their poles, getting ever more unhinged and finally breaking. Good. Fly to pieces.

When we have to pick those pieces up, we can fashion something that makes better sense. For me, it’s a fiscally prudent, socially respectful middle ground. Utopian perhaps in politics, but most of us live in this world. You know, the real one.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@theunion.com or 477-4299.


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