Democrats represent 27 percent of U.S. voters.
Independents, whose candidates won't appear in any debates over the next 15 months under current rules, represent 45 percent of voters. The proportion of independents, reflected in an NBC/WSJ poll reported recently by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, is a record.
It's also a manifestation of the unhappiness Americans feel with their political system and what they see as a polarized and unresponsive government. The summertime rise of Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders in the polls is evidence of the rejection (even among partisan voters) of conventional politicians and our two-party system.
If our political system were not controlled by a rigged duopoly, people like Mr. Trump and Sen. Sanders - not to mention Dr. Ben Carson and former Sens. Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee and current Sen. Rand Paul - would almost certainly be running as independents. But they would rather take their chances with the hordes of party nomination aspirants.
Why? Because they know that no one will pay any attention to them as independents since they can't get into the final fall presidential debates under current rules. And if you're not in the debates, you aren't a valid or official contender, so you won't get media attention and you can't raise campaign money.
And this is just the way the two parties want it.
But how long can they continue to ignore nearly half of all Americans who consider themselves independents, the two-to-one majority that wants an independent on the stage in the fall of 2016, and the 60 percent-plus who say they would vote for an independent for president next year?
The answer: as long as the Commission on Presidential Debates, an unelected body dominated by party regulars, sets the rules. But the CPD is coming under intense criticism, and, if it keeps stonewalling, its days may be numbered.
As of this writing, the co-chairmen of the CPD say they are seriously considering a bold proposal by distinguished members of Change the Rule - Lee Hamilton, Bob Kerrey, Tom Kean, Vin Weber, Mike Hayden, and Larry Diamond - that would establish a month-long set of nationally televised debates and other events, culminating in an national online vote to choose the single independent to stand on the stage in September and October with the Republican and Democratic nominees.
The CPD's role here is merely to say that they will allow the winner of what's being called America's Independent Primary to be one of the three debaters next fall.
But the CPD needs to act immediately. To qualify for America's Independent Primary, a potential candidate must get on the ballot in states constituting at least 270 electoral votes (a majority), and some states - including Ohio (!) - set December 2015 limits on collecting and submitting signatures for ballot access.
If you're like most Americans, you may not agree with much of what you hear tonight, as Republicans try to toe the party line as they speak to a small slice of the electorate - just as Democrats will do when their debates commence. But there is a vast other world out there: the world of independents who don't accept party orthodoxy. And they deserve another choice.