Letter to the editor: Why you should be party agnostic — locally and nationally



I had a “Jerry Maguire” moment. It wasn’t exactly a “Fewer clients. Less money,” moment (I’m a self-professed capitalist so I’ll always take more clients and more money), but definitely an epiphany. Traveling from San Diego back to Seattle after engaging with some high-profile organizations on a Veterans border to border initiative, I started scribbling on that little airplane cocktail napkin why America really needed to be party agnostic. It was my Jerry Maguire moment.

For those of you not familiar with the movie, Jerry Maguire is a fictional sports agent who “wakes up” to the idea that he should be more caring about the game, and the players, and his own life. So, he pens this manifesto called The Things We Think and Do Not Say (Fewer clients. Less money), prints a 100-plus copies and shares it with all the agents in his company. They applaud him — and he gets fired.

As I was writing furiously on this napkin at 35,000 feet, sweat beading down my face, I knew at that moment that if I ever shared my thoughts — if this napkin ever got out — on why Americans should be party agnostic I would likely never get elected to public office.

But then I remembered, the movie ended well.

Years ago, when I finished watching Top Gun and marched into that Navy recruiter’s office at 17 years old, I was ready to save the world. I raised my right hand and took an oath. To this country. Not to any specific political party. When I served, I was surrounded by fellow sailors who didn’t always agree with my politics, but we did agree on “one team, one fight.”

Is it really too much to ask to be ONE NATION instead of Only My Party?

In politics, the elects seem to align with Only My Party and forget that we are America. I get it. America is made up of two primary political parties (God forbid you are an Independent). But when the political parties become feuding gangs, bashing each other, instead of talking about how to make the America we all live in better together, I find myself being agnostic. Last I checked, my God is party agnostic too.

As a party agnostic, I get to look at the issues, independently of party politics. It’s refreshing. Locally we have had candidates that gathered monies from special interests or aligned themselves with specific party lines for…get this…non-partisan positions.

Bottom line: What makes America great is that we do think differently — but instead of telling me why the other party is evil, tell me why you’ll make this city or this country better. Give me The Rule of Five – the five reasons why I should vote for you and the five reasons I shouldn’t. I’m likely a Kennedy Republican or a Reagan Democratic — which today means, I’m party agnostic (and burning the napkin).

Mike Schindler

20 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Why you should be party agnostic — locally and nationally”

  1. Thanks Mike for this well written perspective. Yes, we can’t solve tough issues without listening to many different perspectives. I served in public office for 12 years and attended hundreds of public meetings – and met thousands of individuals. Most people fell in the middle, politically. All agreed that we need to have good schools and medical care, safe streets and clean air and water, etc.
    But the political parties required absolute adherence to a doctrine or particular policy or project.
    That was tough for this fiscally conservative Democrat. And no that is not an oxymoron!


  2. Good stuff Mike, you provide us some things to think about. Hopefully this election season in Edmonds will be one that helps us all think more clearly about our issue and what we much do to gather the facts, sort out potential solutions and them make the best decision for all the people.


  3. Nice piece. I consider myself as a fiscally conservative liberal. And in today’s world this really is an oxymoron. There are no conservative democrats or liberal republicans anymore. Seems like once they get elected (or sometime in the election process) the are forced to follow the party line. From my opinion, the RNC and the DNC have ruined each party. There is way too much power in these two parties that take away a representative’s ability to vote as he/she wants because if it goes against the party line, a major funding source goes away.

    Instead of creating a third party, maybe we should abolish the two parties and just have people running for the people. Depending on the message, it would be easy for people to allign with a person.

    We are broken today, the parties are out of control. I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

    With that said, what I am looking for in a politician is someone who believes government growth has exceeded our ability to sustain it. I am looking for a person that will say ENOUGH, we need to rein in taxing, new taxes for a project should be the last resort, we need to downsize government, we need to reprioritize the spending. It has become to easy for governments to “find” money through fee increases and new taxes. They no longer spend the funds like it was their money. It is easy to spend when it is not yours.


  4. Remember the advice to define the problem, then deal with it? Hmmmmm. We all will find ways to do that. First: encourage everyone to vote. Second: support thinking people to run for office. Third:cancel Facebook. Fourth: keep thinking ourselves! Mike – you continue to inspire. Thanks.
    Nancy Crim


  5. Mike, well done. I, too, remember taking that Oath of Enlistment, and remember we swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It did not say we could pick and choose those parts we liked and those we did not. It was the whole Constitution.


  6. I don’t disagree that it would be better if we’d just decide on candidates by issues and not parties – that makes perfect sense to me. But guess what? If a specific party aligns far more frequently than not with one’s views, and the other aligns with views that are contrary to mine, I’m going to vote with one party, not the other. And if an Independent has views I approve of, given the system we’re working with, I would still vote for the major party candidate whose views are most in sync with mine because I want to block policies I oppose from being implemented. So I don’t feel like I’m being a party hack if it turns out that I almost always vote for someone of one particular party and not the other.


  7. Well written. I would like to see debates in the media that are not sensational and so far left and right. When people name call they are insulting half of the nation.
    Sometimes it is best to keep one’s opinion to one’s self.


  8. I agree with Ginny Mayer, that’s how I vote and probably most people. Which makes you wonder how Trump got elected. Well, I am not a Republican (nor Democrat), and I had never voted for a presidential candidate belonging to that party. Yet I was sick and tired of politics as usual, plus my dad was a CEO, and I know that a good CEO can turn a company around. My father specialized in bringing companies from the red into the black. But I cringe at Trump’s environmental record; that’s “sad.” Also, his anti-choice (anti-abortion) stance; equally “sad.” I have always been pro-choice; grew up in Europe where people take birth control much more seriously. Personally, I don’t like Trump, couldn’t stand being in the same room with him. But if there is anything positive about his presidency, then it’s that he is actually DOING stuff, not just talking. Yeah, he is bombastic, but actions speak louder than words. How many presidents (or any other politicians) have you ever know who actually tried to follow through on campaign promises? Take Inslee, as an example of a died-in-the-wool “tax and spend” Democrat. He is going to run on an environmental agenda. Sounds suspicious for several reasons, at the forefront of which I would quote the fact that we have lost that fight already, what’s the use of spending additional billions of dollars? On Whidbey Island (just to grab an example out of the air), the Navy has poisoned almost all homeowners’ wells. All over the country, the abandoned mines continue still to poison everything, hundred years later, and will continue ad nauseam. Does anybody believe that an agenda such as Inslee’s can reverse that? Let’s not be native. I am just glad that I hiked in the wilderness areas when I was younger and can tell our offspring what a beautiful country this used to be….. Anyway, I personally have learned a lot from the Trump presidency, even though I may not agree with a lot of what he had done. You can laugh all you want about his meeting the North Korean head of state, but who has tried that before? I am waiting for Cuban relations to open up again, as they did under former Pres. Obama. Sometimes, you have to give it time, as in the case of China. I read a lot of newspapers & magazines, in three languages (don’t watch TV and am not on FB), and it’s interesting to read how other countries see us. You should give it a try! Gives you a more balanced perspective.


  9. This was a very thought provoking and well written article. In reading the comments this one by Chris Brevik resonated with me the most…“Instead of creating a third party, maybe we should abolish the two parties and just have people running for the people. Depending on the message, it would be easy for people to allign with a person.” I couldn’t agree more, thank you.


  10. Thank you for the thought provoking letter. I’d like to add that if those who hold elected positions would see themselves as stewards of the resources they’ve been entrusted with (tax monies, ability to change laws/policies), then perhaps they would focus more on truly serving the communities they govern rather than their own agenda or that of a special interest group. I also hope they would approach an issue by asking fruitful questions like: what is the problem are we trying to solve? Will our actions have unintended consequences? Is it a sound decision to make? Does it make financial sense? Will it create an undue burden and actually create more problems? Are there community solutions we can tap?

    Personally, striving to count my blessings (no matter how small) and showing kindness to those who cross my path with a “hello” or friendly smile results in being more joyful rather than propagating an “us” vs “them” attitude.

    While I may not agree with someone’s point of view, if we have the same end goal then we can work together to find solutions. If our end goal is not the same, then we won’t be able to find common ground. I’m hopeful that the majority of Edmonds residents have many more goals in common than not. At least that’s what I’ve found personally to be the case.


  11. Great letter, Mike (as always) and compelling comments, Rebecca and others.

    I would hope that none of us would calibrate our values totally with the platform of a political party, especially as they currently represent themselves. And where we may align ourselves more or less to one of them, based on our personal experiences, family history, or media preferences, I hope, as many here have expressed, that we look at the character and positions of the individuals seeking to serve us at the local, state, and national levels. I hope we can all look past the rhetoric, and into the heart. We should evaluate our candidates’ personal values, what they can do for us, our country, and our community–as a thoughtful, involved, and caring representative of our collective interests.

    Locally, many of us believe there is little place for partisan politics in non-partisan elections. Likewise, many of us believe there is little, if any, justification for candidates for non-partisan, locally elected positions to accept contributions from outside the community or from major party sources.

    In other words, many of us, if not most of us,
    want to keep Edmonds politics at the community level. We are neighbors, we want neighbors with similar interests to represent us, and we all want what’s best for our community. Outside influences aside, let’s continue the positive, but locally driven, discourse that will lead us to an even better Edmonds.

    Congratulations and thanks to all with the love of community, passion, courage, and (regrettably) thick skin it takes to throw your hat into the ring.

    And Mike, I trust that will be you soon. You have my vote. Just name the position.


  12. Great comments and insight. I believe that most people are good (sounds like a country song), that most people have the right intentions, and that most will do right by others. Steve, loved “I hope, as many here have expressed, that we look at the character and positions of the individuals seeking to serve us at the local, state, and national levels. I hope we can all look past the rhetoric, and into the heart.”
    And in full disclosure, the only position I’m running for (at present) is Keeping My Wife Happy.


      1. So far, so good Darrol. Focusing on family first – and learning to say no. Except to the wife – I think I’m close to mastering my Father-in-Law’s words, “yes, dear.”


        1. I know I am older than you and these techniques have worked for me for 45 years. At my age I have stopped asking “how high” when asked to jump. I found that using photo shop helps make it look like I am jumping higher and faster.


  13. I don’t understand why this disappeard when I corrected myself right after writing my letter. Looks almost like somebody doesn’t want my writing to be correct…..

    dyed-in-the-wool (not “died-in-the-wool”)
    naive. (not “native”)


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