The current rift between Democrats and Republicans is large and faithful party members are vociferous and adamant in their beliefs. I know people who wear the term "conservative" like it gives them superhero properties and use the word "liberal" like its leprosy. Look up the words conservative and liberal in the dictionary. Many people may be surprised by the meanings of both terms. Many consider "conservative" to be synonymous with Republican and "liberal" to be synonymous with Democrat. Neither is technically true but for all intents and purposes that's where the country is these days.
I'm not a Republican but I happen to think many tenets of American Republicanism are admirable - smaller government, fiscal responsibility, religious freedom, civil rights (yes, civil rights, that's not a misprint), just to name a few. The biggest problem is the current Republican party has very little to do with those tenets. They seem to be driven more by the religious right than by those classic tenets these days. The one thing I will say about the modern Republican party is they know how to stay on message - often to the point of using the same hackneyed phrases countless times in a given day. (Believe it or not, that's intended as a compliment.)
I'm not a Democrat but with the Trump administration in the White House I lean toward Democrat positions more than Republican positions these days. (Open Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the Trump administration and think they are taking this country in a very bad direction.) My biggest problem with the modern Democratic party is they are not strong in their convictions and often seem disjointed. They seem to be playing a different game than the Republicans and are losing by not knowing the rules.
So, I'm not a Republican - although I was once registered as such. I'm not a Democrat although many people assume I am, probably due to my vocal disapproval of many modern Republican figureheads. I'm not a member of the Green or Libertarian parties either. I'm not a Socialist, Communist, Anarchist or Deist. I have voted for Republicans, for Democrats and even for Reform party candidates. I live in a city that hasn't had a Republican Mayor since 1952. Previously I lived in a town that probably hasn't elected a Democrat in equally as long.
I am listed as an Independent on my Voter ID card but I favor the term non-partisan. My main reason for avoiding affiliation with a political party is simple. I have beliefs and values that have been shaped by my life's experiences. Therefore I vote for those who I believe best represent those values and who I think can do the best job for the society to which I belong. Those choices are mine and mine alone. Being affiliated with a "party" seems, to me, to be akin to giving your voting choice over to a group of backroom dealers who tell you what you should think. That is not something I find acceptable.
In this country we use the terms "Communist Party" and "Nazi Party" as pejoratives that reflect masses who have given themselves over to a Nationalist leader and ideology. Think about that. Seriously, think about the concepts that we apply to "party" when it is outside our political system. I believe leadership does not have to conform to an ideology to be successful.
According to Pew research, Independent voters are a larger share of the electorate (39%) than either Democrats (32%) or Republicans (23%). That given Independents a strong position with respect to swaying elections. Not a bad position to be in.
I am an Independent and I vote based on my own thoughts and experiences. And I plan to stay that way.